M Train – Patti Smith

M-Train-Patti-SmithSource: Goodreads

 

Transportive. Delectably imaginative. Easy to pick up, hard to put down. Completely immersive. Deliriously inspiring. I want to crawl inside and live here forever. Forget punctuation and plot – who needs it?

My father claimed that he never remembered his dreams, but I could easily recount mine. He also told me that seeing one’s own hands within a dream was exceedingly rare. I was sure I could if I set my mind to it, a notion that resulted in a plethora of failed experiments. My father questioned the usefulness of such a pursuit, but nevertheless invading my own dreams topped my list of impossible things one must one day accomplish.
~ p.81, M Train – Patti Smith

This passage! Smith just gets me, even though all I knew about her while reading the book were the facts in the author bio at the back of the book: her marriage and induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. I wondered if she only wrote poetry and took polaroids. Did she write music? Had I heard any of it? (obviously, I have, but I am notoriously bad at remembering artist and band names. Lyrics are my strong suit.)

All of the people she mentions I know by name, yet they are all strangers to me. Burroughs, Wittgenstein, Rackham, Bulgakov, Wegener, Camus, Ibsen, Plath, Genet, and many others I’m sure. As I read I wondered if getting to know these people would make me a better writer. Smith already has.

When I finished it, all I could think about was what a journey it was. I wanted to start it over immediately, and did, and was again transported to that place between dreams and reality. Much like Smith’s obsession with The Wind-Up Bird, I just wanted to dive back in. I had a copy from my local library, but I actually went out and purchased a copy of my own yesterday so I can continue to pour over its pages. The writing is phenomenal. I rarely enjoy works written in the first person, but this memoir of sorts is executed to near perfection.

I found that I didn’t even mind the strangeness of moments in the story where Smith actively mentions that she “Closed her notebook and sat in the cafe thinking about real time.” How do we know that’s what she did if she wasn’t writing down her thoughts? Obviously, her notebook was closed. Still, the fluidity of the book allows for this kind of endeavor. The ‘story’ plays out in black and white almost as if we are watching it through her polaroids. I wondered whether, if I pushed on their surface, they would grant me entry.

This is one of those books my children are going to find on my desk, dog-eared and falling to bits because it has been read and loved so much. I often had the realization while reading that I had been thinking of a dozen things, set off by a passage I had read 30 minutes ago, the book lying on my lap in quiet anticipation, perfectly happy to wait for me to come back down to reality and continue to wade through its pages.

 

HHC Rating: 5 Stars

Grace, Not Perfection: Embracing Simplicity, Celebrating Joy – Emily Ley

grace-not-perfection-emily-ley

Source: Goodreads

Grace, Not Perfection, is Emily Ley’s debut book. Part inspirational, part self-help, all kindness, Ley’s words flow easily off the page and stick in your mind. A mother of three children under the age of five and a small business owner, Emily shares how she learned to embrace the circus and enjoy each season her life brings her.

This cover caught my eye while I was Christmas shopping in November, and I just had to pick it up from my local Target. I forced myself to savor it, to only read one chapter each day, and to really think out each lesson that was shared. Every word was kind and beautiful, her personal anecdotes and stories completely relatable even for a young, unmarried, full-time nanny like me. Parts of it did, of course, read like they were specifically for moms, but others seemed written for young women, such as myself, or those farther along in their lives. Emily has somehow created something that is all encompassing, from young to old, single to married, poor to rich, I believe her words will resonate strongly regardless of which characteristics define her readers.

I found myself looking forward, each day, to the time when I got to sit down and open this book. The end of chapter eight really hit home when she suggested unfollowing on social media anyone who makes you feel uncomfortable, inadequate, or negative in any way. I went through a social media detox at the beginning of last year and made my Facebook almost completely private, and I now consistently have less than 150 friends. Most of them are family because my family is huge, and the rest are close friends and former colleagues that I enjoy keeping up with. The key word being ‘enjoy’. My Twitter and Instagram follow under 1000 people because I purge them regularly. If I don’t remember why I followed someone or I stop enjoying their content, I unfollow. And I refuse to feel bad about it. Having someone else validate that point added sprinkles to my cupcake of happiness.

This one of those books that I could read over and over again, which almost never happens. In fact, I spent so much time talking about this book from the minute I opened it that my mom and my sister decided to buy me one of Emily Ley’s Simplified Planners for Christmas. I wish I could force every woman I know to read this book, but I guess I’ll have to settle for continuously talking about it and gifting it every chance I get.

HHC Rating: 5 Stars

Leave Your Mark: Land Your Dream Job. Kill It in Your Career. Rock Social Media. – Aliza Licht

Source: Goodreads

Leave Your Mark by Aliza Licht is part memoir, part advice book, and part much-needed kick in the rear end. Aliza, formerly known as DKNYPRGIRL across social media, was the Senior Vice President of Global Communications for Donna Karan International. After rising to success on Twitter and inspiring other brands to place Public Relations on the front lines, Aliza answered the many inquiries for advice from young Fashion and PR professionals and students with this book, which she terms a sort of written mentorship.

Throughout its pages are sprinkled stories from her life, ranging from early career woes to the challenges of anonymous stardom. Her advice is great, and the flow of the book is mostly fantastic, but the formatting could use some work. By the end I was growing increasingly annoyed by the interruption of a perfectly good paragraph by an “insider tip” that was usually pretty common sense, yet made to feel so secret that it might as well be the identity of Gossip Girl.

Occasionally, Licht would go on a rant (something that, IMO, should be saved for opinion columns and reviews, not used in memoirs or advice books, although I can understand the urge.) and it would feel like she was yelling at the reader for something they hadn’t done, but that there was a small chance they might do in the future. I found myself feeling slightly upset and bewildered after these parts and having to put the book down in order to remind myself that I hadn’t done whatever it was before I was able to pick the book back up and try to get back into it.

Although I know Licht was just trying to be thorough and professional and when she announced in the beginning that she would be altering names and even genders of people she would refer to so that their identities would say secret and the reader, whether they be a man or a woman, would feel equally represented, the whole concept rang through my head like a song on replay whenever I was reading the book and ended up making it feel somewhat contrived and slightly less than genuine.

However, the overall tone of the book was pretty good, and it carried a lot of solid advice for only 288 pages. I think it was a bit of a cautious beginning for Licht in the literary world, but I get the feeling that she will probably publish more, and that she will improve with each publication. I definitely enjoy her social media presence, sass and all, and look forward to reading anything else she decides to print. I would recommend the book in its entirety to anyone looking for advice on a career in social media, fashion, or PR specifically, and the resume section to every person I have ever met or will meet in the future.

HHC Rating: 3.5 Stars