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Must read: Annie's January Book List.

January is a month all about recovery, about resting and finding your way. It's a month I love for its dedication to new habits, turned pages on a calendar, fresh starts. It also happens to be the month my husband and I officially became residents of Thomasville.

Our 2014, then, has started in a little bit of chaos; moving -- even from just 45 minutes up the road -- is always a bit of a hassel, but buying your first home has its own stresses and hardships. Overall, though, it has been exciting, and oh-so-good. We are thrilled to start a new adventure in our new town, and we're hopeful for what's to come.

You'll see a lot of that hope in my book choices this month. Some books were an escape to another reality, and others were a New Year's kick, a desire to form new habits and start over here in Thomasville.

Withour further ado, my January reading list: 

This Town by Mark Leibovich. I was a journalsm major in undergrad, so any book that mixes politics and media is going to be intriguing to me. I loved The West Wing, and Jordan and I watched the new Mitt Romney documentary on Netflix the day it came out. Mark Leibovich's book This Town was right up my alley. It's slower going than your typical fiction fare -- it took me ages to finish -- but the pace of the book is kind of up to the reader. Each chapter investigates a different political persona or issue, so the book was easy for me to put down and pick back up again. The book itself revolves around the death of longtime host of NBC's Meet the Press, Tim Russert, and all of Leibovich's stories start there. The book is a fascinating look at Washington, D.C., at the people that live and work there and run this country. It reads a little like a tell-all, but intelligently so. Well worth picking up. (And, if you're like me, you'll probably want to pay a visit to D.C. soon.)

The Secret History by Donna Tartt. When customers ask what book is the most popular in-store right now, I give them all the same answer: Goldfinch by Donna Tartt. It flew off our shelves the minute it came out, and ever since, we've had trouble keeping it in stock. Perhaps most impressive is the fact that so many different types of people are rushing in to by this book; it's a testament to Tartt that men and women, old and young, are buying her book and generally, loving it. The truth is, though, Goldfinch felt a little daunting to me. It's a thick book, and I'm not sure I have the time right now to devote to something so grand. A customer -- who I now officially owe -- suggested I start with Tartt's second book, The Secret History. She surmised I'd like Tartt's novel about college students who come under the spell of their classics professor, then slowly spiral into nothing short of evil. She's right: I loved it. It's a page-turner, but it's not fluff. The book is well-written, and creepy without readers being too scared to turn off the light. It's unsettling, but oddly understandable, and I can see now why Tartt invites so much praise; she's earned it. 

What the Most Successful Do Before Breakfast by Laura Vanderkam. I'm a little obsessive about goal-setting. New Year's resolutions are a hobby for me. I love setting them, and generally, I try really hard to keep them. Self-help books aren't my typical genre, but books about goals, about time management? I'm drawn to those. I kept reading blog posts about Laura Vanderkam's book What the Most Sucessful People Do Before Breakfast, so I did what most good booksellers do: I ordered a few copies for the store, then bought one for me. It's a short book, completely unintimidating and immensely practical. Jordan even picked it up one night and proceeded to finish the whole thing. The book is a combination of three e-books published by Vanderkam, so again: This is easy to read, and I guarantee you'll be able to put at least a few of her recommendations into practice. 

Say Goodbye to Survival Mode by Crystal Paine. This is another New-Year's-resolutions-inspired book, and it's another I'm enjoying thanks to its immense practicality. Say Goodbye to Survival Mode should be read with a journal and pen in hand; it's a little easier to put down than What the Most Successful People Do, but primarily because there's only so much change and inspiration a person can handle in one sitting. You'll want to apply Crystal's principles to your own life, and that's something that will take time and effort. Highly recommended for moms trying to juggle it all. 

Book List

This Town (Hardcover)

ISBN-13: 9780399161308
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 days
Published: Blue Rider Press, 7/2013

The Secret History (Paperback)

ISBN-13: 9781400031702
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 days
Published: Vintage, 4/2004

ISBN-13: 9781591846697
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Portfolio Trade, 8/2013

ISBN-13: 9781400206469
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1/2014


The lost art of letter writing.


I'm what you'd call an idea person -- I have all kinds of crazy imaginings going on in my head at any given point in time. And because I'm an idea person, I'm accustomed to both success and failure. Some of my ideas expand into beautiful dreams come true, and others blow up in my face.

So I wasn't sure how The Bookshelf's first-ever Letter Writing Club was going to turn out.

The idea for Letter Writing Club was two-fold: 1) I made a new year's resolution to keep in better touch with my long-distance friends, preferably via snail mail, and 2) It's time to start making my own mark on the store. I've been at The Bookshelf in Thomasville for six months now, and while I think it's a little soon to start my own book club just yet, I thought a Writing Club -- inspired by a bookstore out in Colorado -- would be a good fit, especially in these winter months when people might have time to sit and write a while.

It was an idea I was excited about, passionate about, but I knew that doesn't always equal success.

Lucky me, then, that last night, at our first-ever meeting, 12 people crowded around tables and wrote notes and letters for an hour. We visited and shared inspiration, licked envelopes shut, and doodled on papers. We got a little crafty and made some of our own cards. And when the hour was up, we parted ways with the hope of next month's meeting on our minds.

Over 20 letters were mailed this morning from The Bookshelf. Twenty! They were going all kinds of places: Illinois, Colorado, Missouri.

Sometimes, ideas flop. But sometimes? Sometimes, they succeed. And I'd humbly call last night a success.

Thank you to all the sweet souls who came out last night and participated! If you missed last night, we'd love for you to join us next month, on February 11, as we host our second meeting. We'll be making our own valentines for the big day!

(And if you're nervous about "joining" yet another thing, can I just say? This is so low-key. We've got everything covered: stamps, stationery, pens, gluesticks, stickers... It's all here. And you can visit with friends or keep to yourself. Truly, it's the most fun, relaxing time. As a newbie to Thomasville, I thought it was a lovely way to meet some new friendly faces and to connect with friends from afar. What could be better than that?) 

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