Home > Literature, Mangia! Mangia!, Style > On my nightstand this week/Aug. 17

On my nightstand this week/Aug. 17

August 17th, 2009

 

On my nightstand

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I finished The Historian last week. I loved it so much I hated to finish it … I also skimmed through The Gift of a Year this week, but never really got into it. I also skimmed The Art of Simple Food, but wasn’t as enamored of it as I have been in the past, (maybe just my mood).

What is left:

Stalking Susan by Julie Kramer — so far I am loving this book. (OK, not as much as I loved The Historian, but for other reasons!) It is in the same genre as a book I have started to write (with a female reporter as a heroine) and has actually inspired me to begin writing again.!!!! Which is huge!!!

The copy on my nightstand belongs to my SIL (who hasn’t read it yet) but I also ordered my own copy today from Amazon and am giving her back her copy tonight. We have book club tonight and it is her turn to pick. After I raved about the first few chapters, she decided to pick this book, so I’ve ordered my own copy and am returning hers. My other bookclub meets on Thursday. We are going to discuss Run by Ann Patchett, a pretty good book, but not one I would own. What a fun week. I love bookclubs!

When Will There Be Good News by Kate Atkinson: I will probably wait a bit on this one because I own it and I’m waiting on a book from Amazon that I’m super excited about.

This book will soon (I hope) be on my nightstand:

What French Women Know — Debra Ollivier’s new book. I bought it as a pre-order and it wasn’t supposed to come out until September, but I just got a notice that it shipped! Her book, Entre Nous, was a HUGE influence on me and my life.

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  1. Kristine
    August 18th, 2009 at 07:39 | #1

    I have The Historian on my bookshelf where it has been since 2005. I started it, but realized it was going to get scary, which concerned me a little. Now that I have a German Shepherd, maybe I’ll get it back out. 🙂 I miss book clubs. I used to belong to a couple but they dismantled. For some reason they are not easily found in my town.

    • Kristi
      August 18th, 2009 at 08:01 | #2

      I actually heard some women in the hall at my child’s school talking about a bookclub and I jumped in and asked if I could join. A little embarassing, but it paid off. Now I have met a great group of women and love this bookclub — there are always thought-provoking discussions. It is a very intellectual group, just what I needed. My other bookclub is comprised of my SIL’s, neices and MIL and we basically pick a book, never talk about it, but meet to eat at one another’s homes. We jokingly call it Eat Club. The Historian is slightly creepy, it is all about vampires!

  2. Marsi
    August 18th, 2009 at 08:49 | #3

    I’m excited about the news that your Ollivier book has already shipped early. I had that one on my wish list for months and just now ordered it.

    I have a weekly book club at my son’s school; last year, it had three 7th-grade boys in it (one was my son), and we read Orwell’s “Animal Farm,” Spiegleman’s graphic novel “Maus,” Obama’s “Dreams from My Father,” and Golding’s “Lord of the Flies,” among others. This year, I don’t know who will be in the group, but I do plan for us to read classic teen-angsty books like “Catcher in the Rye” and “The Outsiders.” I’m so glad school starts tomorrow!

    Good luck with writing your book! It can be such an overwhelming task.

    • Kristi
      August 18th, 2009 at 08:54 | #4

      Marsi,
      The Outsiders is still one of my all-time favorite books. It helped shaped my view of the world. It had such an impact on me.
      A few weeks ago I read The Book Thief, which is actually billed as a young adult book. I thought it was pretty heavy for kids, but I loved it. Do you want me to send you my copy for you or your son? You may want to read it first before you let him do so …

  3. Marsi
    August 18th, 2009 at 12:34 | #5

    Thanks, Kristi. I tried reading it myself a couple of years ago and found it terribly heavy. My husband’s mother’s side lost an entire branch of the family tree (Parisian Jews) in the Holocaust, and while I’ve read many treatments of that period of time, “The Book Thief” somehow made me feel like I was drowning in grief. I just couldn’t “go there,” if you know what I mean. I appreciate the offer though.

    I will read “The Outsiders” with your views in mind for sure. I haven’t read it myself in probably 30 years and feel like I can barely even remember it. Should be fun to revisit it.

    • Kristi
      August 18th, 2009 at 17:50 | #6

      I understand. Let me know what you think of the Outsiders as an adult … I should probably re-read it as well. I have it on my bookshelf.

  4. August 18th, 2009 at 17:57 | #7

    I pre ordered Debra’s new book too but I don’t think mine has shipped yet. I shall wait patiently. Mirielle Guiliano has a new book coming in October about women and work. I’m really curious to see what she has to say about that as i struggle with my job on a daily basis.

    • Kristi
      August 18th, 2009 at 18:40 | #8

      Argh! I just checked the Amazon website and although I got an email that Strand bookstore in NYC had shipped my book, Amazon shoes my estimated delivery Sept 10 through Sept 24! Oh well.
      Well at least now I won’t be racing to check the mail everyday!
      K

  5. August 18th, 2009 at 19:11 | #9

    I have pre ordered Debra Ollivier’s new book too I hope to get it soon. I have The Gift of a Year but I have yet to finish it. I am always reading about 3-4 books at any given time. Right now though I am trying to finish The Help for my book club on Thursday.

    • Kristi
      August 19th, 2009 at 07:08 | #10

      I sometimes am reading 3-4 as well. Is The Help any good? My priority in what I read usually is based around what needs to be returned to the library. : )

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What is it about those Italian women? You know the ones I’m talking about: beautiful, sexy, dressed to the nines just to take the kids to the park. They have a certain something that is indefinable. It is in the way they dress, the way they prepare their meals, the way they spend their leisure time.

It is because they know the importance of la bella figura. Roughly translated from Italian, it means putting you best foot forward in everything you do. It means cutting a beautiful figura. The opposite of la bella figura is la brutta figura, which is what someone might say about the falling down drunken guy at the party or the super tackily dressed woman at church. It means ugly figure.

La bella figura is much more than your appearance. It goes much deeper than that. It is about how you act. It is about how you treat others. It is about how you care for yourself, your home and your family. Living a life in line with la bella figura doesn’t take money. In fact, it is more about how to have class without a lot of money.

Someone who exudes la bella figura will have clean, pressed clothes and be well groomed. They will not be rude or sloppy. Their fingernails will be impeccably groomed. Their hair shiny and clean and their shoes will be polished. They will not have stray threads hanging from their suit hems. They will not be driving a car in need of the car wash.

La bella figura means driving that 15 year old car and meticulously cleaning it and caring for it. It means keeping your belongings in good repair. It means taking time to clean your house and not cluttering it up with meaningless objects.

When you focus all your spare energy, time and money on the things that bring you the most amount of pleasure, then you are truly living a life in line with la bella figura. The best part about it is that you don’t have to be Italian to do so. You just have to think like an Italian.

Italian children are raised to present la bella figura in whatever they do. From the time they are small and are groomed perfectly to attend church or school, they know that appearances count. They count because it is the first thing people judge about you. That first impression does matter. Appearances are also important because when you take the time to look nice, you are showing that you care about yourself. When you care enough to look good, it shows you have good healthy self esteem. Nothing is more attractive than self confidence.

In addition, dressing nice also shows respect for others. If you invite people over for dinner and greet them in flip flops, baggy sweats and a stained shirt, it is really disrespectful to them. The same if you dress sloppy to go to church or even to the market. By dressing nicely and being well groomed, you show respect for everyone in your world.

Having la bella figura means presenting yourself in the best light possible in all your interactions.