The “2016 Reading Challenge” issued by reader/writer/blogger Anne Bogel — the gal behind the “What Should I Read Next?” podcast, which I’ve raved about previously — urges readers to read a dozen books in a dozen different categories in 12 months.
I decided to take the challenge and am currently working on “a book you’ve already read at least once.”
For me, that book is “Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life,” by Amy Krouse Rosenthal.
I read it the first time about a decade ago and loved the author’s sometimes funny, sometimes poignant takes on everyday life. Most of all, I love its randomness, the way it skips from “Sandwich in Trash” to “Saturday Night Live,” from “Change” to “Check Bouncing” to “Chef Hat.”
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“Surely they can design more flattering chef hats,” reads that entry.
That’s all it says. Alongside, there’s a pen-and-ink illustration of a chef in his cylindrical, deflated-at-the-top hat. And what more is there to say, really?
I’m glad I’m reading it again. It’s making me think randomly. I’ve been jotting down totally unrelated things in the pink Moleskine notebook I keep in my purse.
Why not share some here?
▪ Long-sleeved shirts with thumb holes are my new favorite thing. They look and feel so cozy on a brisk autumn morning.
“Like stirrup pants for your arms,” my friend Annie observed recently. But better.
▪ There’s a stretch of road not far from my house where a crew did some work recently and put down an adhesive stripe to designate a temporary right-turn-only lane.
Over the past few months the stripe has moved and drifted and bunched up in places. It’s all squiggly and swept to one side. Everyone just drives over it now like it’s part of the scenery. The roadwork’s done, and I doubt the crew will ever return to pull it up and out of the way.
This drives me crazy. I’m not the most obsessive-compulsive person in the world — also not the least, as you can tell — but one day I swear I’m going to pull my car over, wait for traffic to ease, rip that stripe off and throw it away. It might be the most rewarding thing I do that day.
▪ Colbie Caillat songs make me happy.
▪ I’m starting to appreciate contemporary and abstract art. But I’m still the kind of person who looks at a painting like Mark Rothko’s “Untitled (Black on Grey)” and thinks, “Huh?”
It’s a canvas that’s half black, half gray.
“I could have done that,” I think to myself, realizing even as I do that I’m a childish rube. I can’t help it.
▪ At the yoga class I take on Sundays, people clap at the end. They’re likely expressing appreciation for the instructor, who is wonderful, but this seems counterintuitive to me.
After we spend more than an hour focusing on breathing, stretching, relaxing and centering our minds and bodies, isn’t it OK to just smile, nod, roll up your mat and go on with your day? The applause is jarring. I wonder what the instructor thinks.
▪ My daughter begged and begged for a guinea pig, but my husband and I resisted. We don’t like rodents, didn’t want one in the house.
We finally relented a few months ago. (She wore us down.) And now I love that little creature more than you could imagine.
His name is Doss — short for Fyodor Dostoyevsky — and he has the cutest little nose. He purrs when you hold him, and snuggles up in the crook of your neck.
It makes me wonder what else I’ve missed out on for no real reason at all.