August 13, 2009

My Favorite Things

Update: The winner is D. Jain! Congratulations, my fellow gal pal in the Sisterhood of the Masala Marriage. Heh. Shoot me an email to cagey333ATgmailDOTcom for details. Thank you to everyone who shared his/her favorite things. Your comments made my week and it was all I could do to stop blogging about even more of my favorite things because all of you kept spurring more memories for me. It has been such an incredible 5 years of blogging - THANK YOU. I love you, man. And now? I will stop with The Weepy.

One consistent theme I have held here in the past 5 years is that I love me a good book. And since having children, I have even less tolerance for a bad one. Before I had children, I would plod through a boring read, the goal was just to finish. Now? If I am a quarter to half way through a book and I still cannot "get" it, then I put it away and move along.

Life is too damned short to read a bad book.

Over the years, some of my favorite reads have included the following: The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood, A Prayer for Owen Meanyis by John Irving, The Year of Silence by Madison Smartt Bell and Island by Charles Abbott, Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger and The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger (Sidenote: Am I the only one who is excited, yet trepid about the forthcoming movie? What if it is everything the book was? What if it is not? Ack.)

However, my favorite book of all is A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith. I have written about my love for this book before:
I have read A Tree Grows in Brooklyn about 5 times now, but each time is a different experience. Recently, I went through it and was blown away by how much of the mother's story resonated with me. It was like reading a new book because now that I am a mother myself, I understood Katie Nolan's perspective as she desperately tried to care for her children the best she knew how. In previous readings, I thought she was so unfair to Francie.
I was also published in a haiku thingie in the online edition of USA Today in the subject of "Favorite Book":

Francie thirsts for truth

as the tree grows in Brooklyn

against all the odds.

And I have also written what makes a book one of my favorites:
What is a Favorite Read? It is difficult to explain what that should invoke - I suppose it is different for everyone, right? For me, a Favorite Read should continue to contribute something with each additional reading. It should not only just make me think, dammit. It should make me uncomfortable. It should encourage me to mentally re-adjust my attitudes.

So, as promised. I am doing a small giveaway of some of my favorites - a sparkly, brand-new copy of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. Some coffee-themed bookmarks which are two of my favorite things in one! A copy of US Magazine and Brain,Child, both of which I have subscriptions. They are my yin and yang of magazines but they both serve an important purpose (Note: US Magazine will purchased hot off the newstand right before I ship!) A Posh Pocket book of Sudoku which I love so much I want to eat - working a puzzle daily helps calm me, for some reason. And of course, some Choxie chocolate. No splainin' is necessary on the chocolate, right?

And sunflower seeds. Ah, my seeds...... One of my most cherished childhood memories is that of going to the library on Saturday mornings and picking out books for the week. Then, I would go to the corner drugstore, get a malt at the counter and buy some sunflower seeds. I would spend the afternoon reading my book, eating sunflower seeds and drinking orange juice. And to this day, that is still one of the things that brings me down to my zen zone - a bowl of seeds and a good read. Naptime, babysitting time, Miller time. I try to have a handful of seeds and some reading nearly every day if I can fit it in.

Also, I apologize for the size of this giveaway. The cream colored pony would not fit, the snow kept melting, and it is against the law to ship girls in white dresses with blue satin sashes.

I paid for all of these goodies. No sponsors or any of that silly stuff and I have completely blown any revenues I would have made for 2009, but no matter. I wanted to share some of my favorite things with you as a "thank you". A thank you for listening to me for 5 years. A thank you for listening to all my rants and raves. Or, Rancid Raves, if you will.

Thank you.

What gets you going again when the dog bites?

If you would like to enter, please leave a comment telling me your favorite things which have stood with you through the years. I will close the giveaway on Thursday, August 20th at Midnight and will announce the winner on Friday, August 21st.


D. Jain said...

I've moved several times since I've been out on my own, but I have to say that my favorite thing that's been with me all the way is my big metal library bookshelf (and books, of course). It used to be my dad's, but he gave it to me when I was a kid, and I love it. It's kind of industrial looking, or like you'd see in a university library, with adjustable shelves on either side. Just looking at it filled with books makes me happy. Last night I packed up all the books (12 boxes of them) because we're moving to DC, so when I saw your post that was the first thing that came to mind!

Cagey (Kelli Oliver George) said...

D. Jain,
I am VERY sentimental about all of my bookshelves, particularly the sturdy, particle board one from my college days! It's ugly, but it has held together so well all these years.

Kelly said...

Books, certainly. and Strawberry cake with white icing.

I don't ever read books a second time, (except for the Harry Potter ones. I did read those agagin before the last one came out), so I don't have a favorite that I read over and over. I just love books. I've read 4 since Saturday, actually.

And Strawberry Cake (the cheap kind, with no actual fruit) is my favorite birthday cake/cupcakes. I get it every year, and have since I was old enough to pick my own cake. I prefer cream cheese icing, but buttercream will do.

Oh, and you.

Procrastamom said...

I love a good reading recommendation! I'll be putting this book on my library reserve list today. Favourite things: salt n' vinegar chips, a good book and lots of available time in the summer for reading (once the kid's activities start in the fall, I don't get a minute to myself).

meno said...

A cup of tea and some silence.

Oh, and silver white winters that melt into spring.

Anonymous said...

Pride and Prejudice is my favorite book of all time, though I didn't read it until after I watched the BBC movie version which is still my favorite movie of all time and I don't mind Colin Firth either.

Tom Robbins is my favorite author of all time, maybe because he wrote about redheads, maybe because I read Still Life with Woodpecker as a socially awkward teenager who just couldn't seem to fit in and everything about that book spoke to me.

I love blueberries, a handful always makes me feel better. I love canning blueberry jam, strawberry jam, blackberry jam, jam jam jam. It reminds me of a special place and time in my memory that sometimes feels like my childhood but isn't.

My husband leaves me post it notes around the house that say obvious thinks like 'I love you!" and "I love my wife" and other things like. "buford was here" and "who is this buford guy?". I save them. I save every card he has ever given me even though the are all signed with fake names. Jake, Buford, Cliff, The guy from the Mall.

And Zucchini and Daisies..I don't know why but they fit.

flybunny said...

As much as you read I am surprised you can pick out your all time favorite book.

I used to spend every Friday night with Grandma Katherine (she wasn't really related, we just adopted her) and on Saturday would get up and walk to the library and get as many books as I could (they usually let me get more than allowed because I always brought them back the next week). I would go back to Grandma's and read, drink Mello Yello and eat the fun size Milky Ways she always kept in the refrigerator.

Man I had not thought about those Friday nights in ages. We both had a different show that we liked to watch at the same time on Friday evenings so we took turns watching our favorite show. I slept on the pull out couch and loved it at Christmas time because she let me cover her tree in those silver icicles.

Because of diabetes, she was blind but she got around pretty good and she was one who taught me how to bake cookies. And every Saturday, we had homemade Macaroni & Cheese with cottage cheese and pineapple.

I loved those Friday nights. Thanks for prompting me down memory lane.

Christine said...

My favorite book is A Prayer for Owen Meany.

My favorite food is grapes. I have a relationship with peanut butter cups, too, but those aren't allowed in the house so often.

My favorite part of a pizza cut in squares is the middle pieces.

My favorite state is Michigan.

My favorite holidays were those spent, sadly, with my best friend's family. But those are the kind of holidays I want my kids to have.

Mojavi said...

is it sad to say I don't have anything? and if i don't am i still entered :)

D. Jain said...

Since I can't comment on your new post, I wanted to say I'm sorry you had two scary experiences losing your kids!

I also love salt and vinegar chips, and anything that my grandmother cooks. She's in her late 80s and still spry. The last time I went to her house, she made all my favorite things: green beans (cooked until soft, with bacon), potato salad, squash casserole, and ambrosia salad.

Unknown said...

Down comforters, very fat books, and black tea with cream. And even better if that all comes together on a rainy day.

I am terribly worried about the Time Traveler's Wife movie. I can't see how it could encompass all that goes on in the book but maybe they can make it good enough.

becky said...

I totally love sunflower seeds. Reminds me of summers as a kid, sitting on the front porch, cracking & spitting the seeds onto the ground.

A bowl of mac & cheese with just salt & pepper (no extras or weird additions) reminds me of being a kid, playing with my cousins.

I used to go to the library and read everything I could in the youth section. I usually read way above my grade & the librarian knew our family & let me check them out. So I love, love reading. I don't do as much now that I'm a mom of a little one, but I hope I'll eventually have more time for it again. I've never read the book you recommended, but I've meant to someday.

It's funny how you talked about a book resonating differently after you became a mom. That's true for me, too. I don't think I can re-read Deep End of the Ocean. Not now, and maybe not ever. It was difficult to get through before I was a mom. Now... I just can't work up the strength.

Two of my all-time favorite books are Count of Monte Cristo and To Kill a Mockingbird. I'll probably think of other favorites to add later.

jayjay said...

Delurking to say these are a few of my favorite things...

Books: Pride and Prejudice, Persuasion and Anne of Green Gables, and new reads from this year: Garden Spells, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

Horseriding...the most relaxing thing in the world

Caramello Koalas. Can't get them particularly easily here, they are an Aussie thing, so now when I do talk someone into mailing to me it's like instant bliss.

My mum's roast dinner. Not gourmet cooking, but still the best meal ever.

The ocean.

Anna said...

Delurking because that's an awesome bunch of stuff.

Favourite things:
Lord of the Rings series - my dad gave me the book set for Christmas the year I was in grade three, and it was like I'd been swallowed whole. Still reread it every few years to recapture that feeling.

Free time, fat books, black coffee, gardening, barbecued ribs, sea kayaking, science fiction movies, good chocolate


D. said...

I definitely can't name a favorite book, but I have tons of other favorites.

Chips and GOOD guacamole. And good guacamole never has tomatoes in it.

Bubble tea. Reminds me of childhood.

The smell of clothes hung outside to dry.

My mom's spaghetti and meat sauce served with a tall glass of cold milk. Another childhood one.

Fried chicken. (Okay, there's apparently a food trend here.)


The smell of my daughter's head.

Now I feel all happy and zen even though I don't have a single of those things on hand. Just thinking about them made me feel good. :)

Chocolate Covered Susan said...

I LOVE A Tree Grows in Brooklyn and would love to have my very own copy of it, so here's my entry!

I love crisp cool days and the sky in November - it's such a beautiful, deep shade of blue.

I love library summer reading programs - I was giddy with excitement when A. completed her first this year.

I love the feel of my kids in my arms and the smell of my mom (Oil of Olay and her perfume).

I love fresh baked chocolate chip cookies (gooey, not crisp) and a cold glass of milk.

I love swimming laps in cool water on a hot day (outdoor pool only, can't stand the warm water and lack of sun in indoor pools). Then I love getting out of the pool and relaxing with a good book while I dry in the sun.

Rozanne said...

A good friend of mine is friends w. Audrey Niffenegger, and she says that Audrey refuses to see the movie. Interpret that as you will.

Favorite things listed without any sort of classification system: An iced latte from Stumptown Coffee in Portland, buttered toast, moss, hiking in Forest Park (a wilderness park in Portland), pani poori, rainy gray weekend days when I can give myself permission to just sit at home knitting and listening to an audiobook, Absolutely Fabulous, A Suitable Boy, Brideshead Revisited, Lolita, a really good hoppy beer like Pliny the Elder or Workhorse IPA.


Rozanne said...

And fresh peaches from our local farmers' market. I'm going to go buy several pounds of them right now! Sooooo good!!!!!

Bethany said...

I love being able to just sit and read. When I was a kid, I used to read Louisa May Alcott and eat tomatoes outside all day. It was wonderful!

kristen said...

I'm in a bit of a funk lately and finding it hard to come up with favorites but here are a few:

Books - The Awakening by Kate Chopin and Cane River by Lalita Tademy

Food - Mom's corn chowder, boiled sweet corn on the cob fresh from the field and salt and vinegar chips

Random - New socks, freshly sharpened pencils and burying my face in my son's freshly washed hair

Me said...

Books have always brought escape and calm for me.

Favorites of all time: Jane Eyer, Pride and Prejudice, Harry Potter.

Currently I'm into more low-brow book candy. These aren't your long-lasting tomes, and are rarely good for a re-read, but are quickly engrossing - efficiently leading to the escapism that relaxes me: Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum Series, Clive Cussler's NUMA series, Jasper Fforde's stuff.

Sitting on my screened porch is also great for relaxation purposes - nothing like it.

My favorite relaxer of all is rocking my kids - even the 5-year-old, if I've got nothing else pressing and they're feeling cuddly. And smelling their hair right after they've been outside.

AP said...

Favorite author: Madeleine L'Engle. I love both the Wrinkle in Time series and her adult books, especially her autobiographical works.

Favorite food: anything with potatoes! Also, anything that is both sweet and spicy.

Love your descriptions of your life! I am a Kansan but living out of state for graduate school, and I hope to move back soon!

Lisa! said...

Some of my favorite things...A stuffed clown I have had since before I was born...his name is Charlie. My Elvis CD's. My Pink Floyd CD's. My two boys. "Yellow Sauce" at GoJo's. Fudge. Getting a pedicure. Stephen King books.

Anonymous said...

Silence...which I dont' get enough of. A pile of unread books and a glass of good red wine. Wish I could enjoy those favorite things right now....

Michaela said...

put me in a bath tub with red wine and chocolate and i'll be a happy camper any day of the week..

but my ultimate favourite, after living in Bombay for 5 years now, is GRASS. fresh, green soft grass.. lying on grass and looking up at the sky, with a nice big tree above me, blowing in a soft cool breeze. and quiet, it must be very quiet..
so to summarise - green grass, cool breeze, quiet, red wine and chocolate.

and a dave eggers book.

lorib said...

Rain drops on roses, whiskers on kittens -- no wait, those aren't mine.

Reading a book by an open window with the lake breeze coming in at our cabin in Michigan. Running hugs from either of my boys. Chips, salsa and Espinaca Dip. My grandma's zwieback. Strawberry Rhubarb pie. The Flint Hills. Beautiful typography and handwriting.

(cue Julie Andrews) These are a few of my favorite things.

Kathy said...

My grandmother was a writer of historical fiction for children, and she instilled in me a love of books at a very early age. I inherited two of her bookshelves (and MANY of her books), and they are some of my favorite things. I would have a hard time naming an all-time favorite book, but A Tree Grows in Brooklyn does rank right up there. I first tried it at too young an age, maybe 9 or so, but read it again at 12 and loved it. I've read it several times since. I always re-read the books I love. And I would love to win your giveaway!

Gori Girl said...

My favorite food of all time is a kebab dinner: one skewer of chicken sans bone with fresh lemon juice squeezed on, one skewer of spicy seekh kebab, spiced rice, CHICKPEAS - the type with a thick, brown gravy, piping hot naan, chutney, and raw onion. Amazing.

My favorite thing about coming home from work is being greeted by my dogs - I'll go in the back and Panda the Malamute will meet me at the open backyard door, looking sleepy and hesitantly wagging his tail. Kajol, our German Shepherd mix is crated because she's insane - and she's awake and ready to party as soon as she hears the car pull up. As soon as I open the crate she'll barrel towards Panda and they'll chase each other around the yard for a few minutes. Never fails to bring a smile to my face.

I can't possibly pick a favorite book, but my favorite memory of reading is when I was about eight and had just discovered The Phantom Tollbooth. It was winter, and I was curled up on my beanbag chair with a blanket and a cup of mint tea that Mom brought me.

Stephanie said...

Anything written by J.D. Salinger; notebooks and a pen; ice cream; the cerulean blue Crayola crayon; my boyfriend's dimple; the smell of sausage and peppers at a baseball game (and yes, I am a vegetarian); flip flops; fireworks.

Jen said...

Books, books and more books

Raising three readers, at least one of which is as hooked as I am and reads boxes, shampoo bottles, random bits of paper...

Playing board games

Seasons. I'm still as excited as I was when I was 6 for the first snowflakes, the first time it smells like spring, etc.

Food. Almost all of it. How great is it that we have to eat (and sleep) every day to survive?!