A Peek Inside My Library

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One of the pleasures of winter is the warmth of our homes when the cold winds are blowing. Dusk falls early, making a simple dinner of hot soup and crusty bread, a roaring fire, and a stack of books to while away the dark hours all cold weather pleasures. I’m a constant reader, and am always asking people what books they’re enjoying. I thought I’d share with you the pile of books beside my favorite reading chair, the stack of books on my cocktail table, and the tower of books at my bedside. I hope you find something you enjoy here.

Books That Replenish My Spirit:

books inspirational

After a long holiday season and a whirlwind of parties, presents and merry-making, the (relative) quiet of January is just what I need.  Here are the books that are helping me push the “reset” button for my mind and spirit:

The Four Doors: A Guide to Joy, Freedom and a Meaningful Life, by Richard Paul Evans.

Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon’s Journey into the Afterlife, by Eben Alexander, M.D.

A Life of Being, Having, and Doing Enough, by Wayne Muller

Sabbath: Finding Rest, Renewal, and Delight in Our Busy Lives, by Wayne Muller

How Then Shall We Live? Four Simple Questions That Reveal the Beauty and Meaning of Our Lives, by Wayne Muller

Hardwiring Happiness: The New Brain Science of Contentment, Calm, and Confidence, by Rick Hanson

Books on Travel:

books Itally

My husband, Frank, and I are planning our tenth anniversary trip to Italy. It’s where we honeymooned.  The planning and anticipation is part of the pleasure!

Italian Ways: On and Off the Rails from Milan to Palermo, by Tim Parks

The Grand Tour: Travelling the World with an Architect’s Eye, by Harry Seidler

DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Sicily

Italy Bed & Breakfasts, by Nicole Franchini and Clare Brown

Sicily: Three Thousand Years of Human History, by Sandra Benjamin

Italy of my Dreams, by Matthew White

Fabulous Fiction: 

books fiction 2

Reading fiction is pure pleasure.  A good novel takes me away to another place and time, filled with people I feel I know by the time I shut the cover. Here are a few on my nightstand:

A Fine Balance, by Rohinton Mistry

The Light Between Oceans, by M. L. Stedman

The Goldfinch, by Donna Tartt

A Week in Winter, by Maeve Binchy

Design for a New World : 

I’m a continual student of the latest thoughts and ideas in my industry, and about our impact on the earth. I’m intrigued by the concept of living “off the grid,” and creating the smallest possible footprint on the planet. Here are two books I’m reading now.


Prefabulous + Almost Off the Grid: Your Path to Building an Energy-Independent Home, by Sheri Koones and Robert Redford


150 Best Eco House Ideas, by Marta Serrats

I’m never sure if I buy too many books, or not enough. What I am sure of is that books are the warmest path through winter. Let’s all let books light a fire within us!

captain's quarters living room

“Sometimes, you read a book and it fills you with this weird evangelical zeal, and you become convinced that the shattered world will never be put back together unless and until all living humans read the book.”–John Green



Three Books You Shouldn’t Miss

A History of the World in 100 Objects, by Neil MacGregor

This book is the result of a joint project of BBC Radio and the British Museum, from a 100 part radio series presented by British Museum director Neil MacGregor. It’s the history of humanity in 100 objects made by human hands, from cooking pots to sculptures, from mummies to spear points. It’s not just a jumbled list of stuff, though. MacGregor explores questions such as “What happened as people moved from villages to cities? When did societies begin to express themselves through myth, math and monuments? How did people seek pleasure 2000 years ago?”

When you open this book, you’ll find yourself spending time with The Rosetta Stone and the Head of Augustus, a Chinese bronze bell and the Sphinx of Taharqa. It’s a fascinating trip back in time. You’ll be glad you took the time to make it.


The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains, by Nicholas Carr

Nicholas Carr has something he wants us to think about: is the internet changing how we think, even to the level of our internal brain activity? If you’ve ever spent an hour (or a day) surfing the web, and walked away from your computer wondering about the deleterious effects on your mind, you won’t want to miss this book. A Finalist for the 2011 Pulitzer Prize in General Nonfiction, a Finalist for the 2011 PEN Center USA Literary Award, and an international bestseller translated into 22 languages, The Shallows explores how human thought has been shaped through the centuries—from the alphabet, to maps, the printing press, the clock, and now the computer—and questions how information can literally reroute our neural pathways.

His point? We are becoming better at skimming, but we may be losing our capacity for concentration and reflection. If you read it, I’d love to know what you think.


Last Child in the Woods, by Richard Louv

A good book to accompany The Shallows is Last Child in the Woods. Author Richard Louv links the lack of nature in the lives of today’s wired children (kids with a nature-deficit, in his words) with the rise in obesity, attention disorders and depression. He presents a new and growing body of research that indicates that direct exposure to nature is imperative for healthy childhood development, and the physical and emotional health of children and adults alike. This powerful book will inspire you to think in new ways about how to incorporate more nature into your life, and the lives of the children you love.