Home Gardening consolation books: cozy reads for you or for gifting, with katrina kenison

consolation books: cozy reads for you or for gifting, with katrina kenison


YOU’VE HEARD OF consolation meals and oh boy, have all of us been hungry for that continuous this loopy yr. However how about consolation books—whether or not to maintain your self firm as winter takes maintain, or to contemplate for gifting? That’s at the moment’s subject with my writerly good friend, Katrina Kenison, to assist curate a group for varied tastes.

You a lot know Katrina Kenison as creator of several books (Amazon affiliate link), together with “The Present of an Peculiar Day,” and “Magical Journey” and “Moments of Seeing.” She’s a former literary editor at Houghton Mifflin, the place she was sequence editor for “The Greatest American Quick Tales” for 16 years and co-edited, with John Updike, “The Greatest American Quick Tales of the Century.” Katrina’s additionally a yoga instructor and an more and more eager gardener in her personal New Hampshire yard.

Learn alongside as you hearken to the November 23, 2020 version of my public-radio present and podcast utilizing the participant under. You may subscribe to all future editions on Apple Podcasts (iTunes) or Spotify or Stitcher (and browse my archive of podcasts here).

Plus: Enter within the feedback field on the backside of the web page to win a replica of one of many recommended books (and click on over to Katrina’s website for one more giveaway alternative, too.)

(Disclosure: As an Amazon Affiliate I earn from qualifying purchases.)

consolation books, with katrina kenison



Margaret Roach: Welcome again, Katrina.

Katrina Kenison: Good morning, Margaret. It’s so good to be with you.

Margaret: Sure. Because you’ve curated tales and written books, I determine you’re certified to inform us… Assist!

Katrina: Properly, nicely precisely so. Winter is coming and this yr, even earlier than the temperature actually drops, I’ve to say, it’s already feeling frostier. And I suppose we simply have to be upfront about it and say, it’s feeling darker. Greater than ever, it looks like this winter is a season of survival for these of us who, we’ve been residing with this quarantine for some time, however what we want proper now, I feel is a few methods for these difficult occasions.

And if we’re going to get by means of this winter in a single emotional piece, we’re going to have to actually keep linked to some small and tangible methods to really feel good. I had this concept initially of March that I might be studying “Battle and Peace”-

Margaret: [Laughter.]

Katrina: …and “The Collected Tales of Eudora Welty.” And I’ve to confess that that actually has not been taking place. However I discover myself reaching for books that merely supply consolation. Do you are feeling that, too?

Margaret: Sure. And I discover a couple of issues. One is I’ve no focus, so I would like smaller doses. Similar to I’m snacking greater than sitting down for a full meal, particularly since I’m not seeing folks, and I’m not entertaining and going out to dinner with associates. I’m extra snacking, grazing. And with studying additionally, I would like little bits, I feel generally, as a result of I’m not prepared for “Battle and Peace.” You’re proper.

After which additionally similar to with streaming movies and stuff, generally even when I’ve seen it earlier than, acquainted faces and acquainted voices really feel higher to me. So generally I’m dipping backwards into some books I’ve perhaps learn earlier than.

Like the opposite day I advised readers on the weblog that I used to be rereading “The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating” by Elisabeth Tovah Bailey, only a tender little guide about when she was in poor health. And somebody gave her a snail that ended up being kind of in a terrarium beside her mattress, and every little thing about this world it took her into and so forth, and transported her. And I can provide a hyperlink to extra details about that. However you realize what I imply? I generally need the acquainted. In small doses, in small doses. [Laughter.]

Katrina: Small doses. Yeah. I feel we’re type of increase our coping methods. I do know you and I are each very organized, and we’re preppers. And so we’ve acquired our cans of beans and we’ve acquired our rest room paper, and now we’re type of stockpiling the books which might be going to get us by means of this winter.

And one for me that our household found initially of the pandemic is a bit guide known as, “Cozy: The Artwork of Arranging Your self within the World.” It’s by Isabel Gillies; I feel that’s the way you pronounce it.

And that little guide actually set a tone for our whole household initially. And we’ve all agreed that we’re going to revisit it collectively. We did, consider it or not, a Zoom household dinner with this guide as our theme. And we talked about how coziness is one thing… it’s an artwork that we are able to study. And we are able to obtain it as soon as we begin to acknowledge what it’s that makes us really feel protected and what makes us really feel cozy.

And God is aware of, we’re going to wish some coziness this winter. We went across the desk and we requested folks, each individual within the household, “What’s it that makes you are feeling cozy?”

And to my shock, my son Henry, who’s been residing at residence with us, instructing his school courses remotely mentioned, “You recognize, Mother, if you get out the pots and pans after the dinner dishes are achieved and also you do after-dinner baking, that makes me really feel actually cozy.” I’m like, who knew, proper, that generally I’m simply making the banana bread at night time so I don’t must do it within the morning and to my son, that’s the epitome of coziness.

It is a great little guide of brief items that ask the questions and invite us to replicate on what are the issues—the reminiscences, the textures, the meals, the garments, the locations in our personal homes—that deliver us a way of coziness, i.e., happiness?

And so I like giving that guide. I like asking inquiries to different folks about coziness. What makes you are feeling cozy, Margaret?

Margaret: I’m embarrassed, virtually, to inform you. I’m embarrassed to say this. O.Ok., everyone who’s listening, cowl your ears, and everybody who’s studying the transcript, cowl your eyes [laughter]. It’s nothing X-rated, it’s simply… A good friend and I confessed this to one another the opposite day, a really outdated good friend: stuffed animals.

Katrina: Oh!

Margaret: I’ve through the years… I’ve some from my childhood Iggy Bear, my authentic bear, whose nostril I ate once I was three years outdated, however he nonetheless exists. However through the years, you understand how folks generally offer you stuffed animals, or there’s a extremely cute stuffed animal and somebody offers…. Anyway I had up in my den—which I by no means go in however I’m stepping into on a regular basis now as a result of I’m utilizing my home in another way this final yr, these final eight months—I had a simple chair. And all these stuffed animals that I had collected are sitting on the chair.

They usually’ve simply all the time been there, they usually’re actually cute, however I by no means interacted with them. And these days once I come as much as do my morning and night meditations, and generally once I watch one thing, I’ll sit within the chair and watch one thing, stream one thing later within the night, they’re simply there. They’re round me within the chair, there’s sufficient room for all of us within the chair. And look, O.Ok., I’m regressing. O.Ok.? I’m a child and I would like my child; I would like my child. In a approach that they’re right here with me is cozy. [Laughter.]

Katrina: Completely.

Margaret: And my good friend Anne mentioned, once I advised her that I used to be embarrassed, I advised her that the opposite day and he or she mentioned, “Oh, Margaret,” she mentioned, “I’ve a child, too. And every of my daughters, I advised them even once they had been grown up, they wanted to have a favourite stuffed animal and all the time preserve it close to in case.” And I believed, oh, what a candy factor for a mom to inform her youngsters it was O.Ok. to do and to wish.

Katrina: Yeah, yeah. My son Jack, who I haven’t seen since final Christmas and we received’t see him this Christmas, when he was residence the final time packing as much as go away to return to his home in Asheville; now he has a home. He had one stuffed animal left in his outdated childhood room, a turtle that we had purchased on a long-ago journey to Florida named Darren. Darren had a complete backstory. He had a mom named Connie who acquired caught in a internet, a fishing internet.

And he mentioned, “I feel it’s time for Darren to return residence to Asheville with me.” And he stuffed Darren into his backpack. And naturally I haven’t seen Jack or Darren since. And I’ve to say it was like one other leave-taking to look at this final vestige of childhood go away our home and go residence to Asheville with Jack. So I completely get it.

Margaret: O.Ok. So books, extra books. I confess, I can’t focus for lengthy intervals. Do you’ve got something I can simply dip into? It feels like “Cozy” is one which I don’t have to take a seat down for 12 hours and browse.

Katrina: Yeah, none of those are books that you simply’re going to get misplaced in. They’re books to dip into. And considered one of my favourite ones, you had been speaking in regards to the snail guide, and that is fairly totally different, but it surely’s additionally a guide about staying put. It’s known as “When Wanderers Cease to Roam: A Traveler’s Journal of Staying Put,” by Vivian Swift. And this can be a guide that for years I might give it to associates who acquired a most cancers prognosis or a Lyme illness prognosis—who all of the sudden discovered their lives constricted, and due to sickness and coverings had been staying residence. And it was all the time an awesome success. Everybody cherished this guide.

Properly now, in fact, this can be a guide for all of us. And Vivian Swift was a world traveler. I feel she had one thing like 23 totally different addresses in 20 years. And she or he lastly settled down in a bit tiny city and sunk her roots and found the thrill of staying put.

And I’ve to admit, I really feel virtually responsible that I’ve truly loved numerous these final months simply because I’m an introvert by nature. There’s one thing that type of attracts me about being a hermit, and far as I am keen on my associates, there is no such thing as a longer any strain to exit to dinner or to host a cocktail party.

And this can be a guide that actually celebrates the wonder and the enjoyment of these little peculiar moments that we’re often in an excessive amount of of a rush and miss. I can’t actually describe it. You virtually must see it, but it surely’s a journal. Each web page is stuffed with watercolors, quotations. There’s the occasional recipe. There’s gardening and pure historical past woven all through. And it’s actually only a celebration of puttering and doodling and daydreaming and noticing, which in fact, any of us who spend time within the backyard, aren’t we all the time daydreaming, noticing, grabbing our pads of paper, sketching, snapping photos?

And that’s actually what that is. It’s great quotes from literature. It’s only a charming, cozy, interesting guide to twist up with on a chilly winter day.

Margaret: Final yr I learn a guide that had—and I could learn it once more truly—by the “New York Occasions” Opinion columnist, Margaret Renkl, the book “Late Migrations.”

Katrina: My favourite guide of final yr, I feel.

Margaret: Yeah. And once more I’ll give a hyperlink to a longer interview together with her and extra in regards to the guide, however every entry was brief. And regardless that all of it provides as much as a complete story, one may take pleasure in, savor only a nugget and a nugget and a nugget.

And what you simply mentioned about gardeners having fun with connecting with all the wonder and subtleties round them, and the inferences that we are able to draw from watching and slowing down. And there was numerous that in it. “Late Migrations” was one which I feel could be good if I hadn’t already learn it, I might advocate it to myself proper now. [Laughter.]

Katrina: Oh nicely, I might say, simply return and reread it. I learn that guide simply with my coronary heart in my throat the primary time. It was so lovely that as quickly because it was over, once I was achieved studying it, I simply discovered myself carrying it round. It was all the time in my purse. And eventually I mentioned to myself, “Properly, why don’t I simply learn it once more?” And so I began proper again a couple of weeks later and browse the entire guide once more. And it was virtually as if I hadn’t learn it the primary time. I discovered a lot there. It’s a type of books to only return to repeatedly, only a marvel actually.

Margaret: Did you learn final yr or not too long ago “How to Catch a Mole” by Mark Hamer, a Welshman?

Katrina: I gave you that guide, however I didn’t learn it earlier than I gave it to you.

Margaret: I couldn’t bear in mind when you learn it.

Katrina: I mentioned, “That’s a Margaret guide if ever there was one,” however I didn’t learn it.

Margaret: Yeah. Oh my goodness. That was a kind of an indie hit of 2019. “The best way to Catch a Mole”—and sure, you do discover ways to catch a mole, and that he was knowledgeable mole catcher, which is one thing that individuals within the UK depend on in farms and gardens and so forth the place moles may be, I suppose, harmful to sure sorts of conditions.

But it surely’s actually a guide about once more, being quiet, connecting to nature, the powers of remark, all of the issues we by no means discover…and in addition about when it’s time to cease catching moles. And I imply that each actually and metaphorically, and why he had his ultimate day of it. He stopped, and doesn’t do it anymore.

He’s an awesome gardener, by the best way. Anyway, good, completely good little guide, and that’s one other one I’m going to reread for certain.

Katrina: And it happens to me that somebody like Margaret Renkl, the creator of this guide, and all of us who backyard, it’s virtually just like the extra we discover, the extra linked we start to really feel to those creatures that we share our little plot of land with. The extra tender we really feel towards them, even the moles, the mice, squirrels.

For such a very long time, I simply felt like I used to be doing battle with the mice and the squirrels. [Laughter.] And I can’t say that I like them, however I’ve change into extra accepting of the truth that we’re all simply attempting to outlive right here. And I feel it’s books like that, that remind us that we’re all creatures doing the most effective we are able to with what we’ve.

Margaret: What’s subsequent in your checklist that you simply need to share with us?

Katrina: Properly, you talked about snacking. I’ve been doing a little bit of that, too.

Margaret: No, no, no, no—I’m not consuming…

Katrina: I discover generally I take into consideration meals and virtually nothing else, morning, midday and night time. There are such a lot of days the place I’ll learn the entrance web page of “The New York Occasions,” after which I’ll simply go straight to recipes. And naturally, everybody in my household would a lot relatively have me studying recipes than the information as a result of that portends good dinners to return. However there’s been numerous Ina Garten round right here. There’s been numerous cheese, however for the comfy books that I simply returned to and pulled off the shelf this morning, realizing we’d be chatting, are Laurie Colwin’s books, “Dwelling Cooking” and “Extra Dwelling Cooking.”

What treasures. She was all the time considered one of my favourite short-story writers and novelists and we knew one another just a bit bit again in New York within the eighties, we had been each kind of shifting in the identical publishing circles for a short while. However once I left enhancing and have become a mom and enhancing at residence and all of the sudden was liable for dinner for a household of 4 each night time, Laurie Colwin turned my finest good friend within the kitchen. And I’ve to say, there is no such thing as a one cozier or extra companionable or extra uplifting than Laurie Colwin.

Margaret: And that guide, initially the “Dwelling Cooking,” the primary one, I feel it was 1988 or round there. She’s deceased.

Katrina: Tragically, she died younger at 48. That was again in 1992. She left behind a husband and a then 8-year-old daughter. And I might say if something, her books in these years since her dying have actually change into cult classics—or I shouldn’t even say cult, they’re classics.

Margaret: She’s an icon for meals writers of all generations. If we went proper now to all of the meals bloggers on Instagram who’re 20-something or 30 and requested them in the event that they knew who Laurie Colwin was, they’d say sure, 9 out of 10 would say sure. Sure.

Katrina: Completely. And I feel as a result of when she began out, she’s on this little tiny house earlier than she was married, and he or she used to say that she used her oven for storage. She would cook dinner these dinners on a scorching plate, after which have her friends type of perch, squeeze into that little house. She was type of an anti-Martha Stewart, because it had been. It was not about perfection. It was all about simply the enjoyment of the method of being gathered round a desk collectively.

Margaret: Cozy!

Katrina: Cozy, yeah.

Margaret: And luxury! [Laughter.]

Katrina: And luxury. And her books are as a lot memoirs as cookbooks. You’ll by no means want one other recipe for creamed spinach or lentil soup or gingerbread or roast rooster for that matter. I made my first jam as a result of Laurie Colwin advised me that I may.

However there’s additionally simply lovely writing. And once more, what we’ve been speaking about, this appreciation for dailiness, for the peculiar, discovering the extraordinary within the peculiar. I picked up the books this morning and simply opened virtually randomly to a chapter known as “All of the Trimmings,” about Thanksgiving. And I used to be like, oh sure, there’s her recipe for rosemary walnuts. And naturally, I’ll be making these subsequent week.

Margaret: Yeah. Deborah Madison, an awesome… kind of the individual, considered one of two or three individuals who actually introduced greens to the fore and he or she’s the creator of 14 cookbooks and no matter, she has a just-out memoir called “An Onion in My Pocket,” and my copy simply arrived yesterday. So I haven’t learn it but, however I’m to do this as a result of in her youthful life, she lived 20 years as a Buddhist in a retreat setting and so forth—and the way that knowledgeable her culinary journey subsequently. And anyway, so simply FYI, you may need to, I’m certain you want her cookbooks, too. Simply FYI, “An Onion in My Pocket,” simply out.

Katrina: What an exquisite title.

Margaret: Isn’t {that a} good one? Yeah, yeah, yeah. So inform us one other guide, as a result of I don’t need to run out of time.

Katrina: Sure, sure. I’ve two extra. I feel all these months of the pandemic, I fashioned some new habits and routines which have simply made this unusual and troublesome time a bit simpler. And a type of—you and I’ve talked about this—is actually attending to my sleep hygiene, as a result of I’ve realized the laborious approach of what to do and what to not do at bedtime. And generally once I’m prepared for mattress, I’ve nearly sufficient bandwidth left for perhaps 5 or 10 minutes of studying. And it’s tempting to scroll by means of Instagram or to attempt to obtain genius stage on the spelling bee.

So a lot better to select up a guide. The 2 that I’ve saved on my bedside desk are “Keep Moving: Notes on Loss, Creativity and Change,” by Maggie Smith, which simply got here out final month.

And one other one known as “The Book of Delights,” by Ross Gay.

“Maintain Transferring” by Maggie Smith is a group of brief reflections. She’s a poet. And when her 19-year marriage ended and with it, the life that she had identified, she spiraled right into a melancholy that it was so deep that there have been days and weeks when she may hardly get away from bed.

And she or he mentioned, she couldn’t write poems throughout this time, however she did really feel the need to write down one thing. And she or he mentioned to herself, “Properly if every little thing’s going to collapse, I may at the very least create one thing.”

And so someday she merely wrote a purpose for herself, a few sentences that she posted on social media, and the subsequent day one other one. And so she started his observe of writing a brief, encouraging be aware to self, some type of affirmation or encouragement every single day.

And the query that she discovered herself asking, time and again, one everyone knows fairly nicely is, “Properly, now what?” And the reply all the time appeared to finish for her with the phrases, quite simple:  “Maintain shifting.”

This little guide, “Maintain Transferring”—I consider it as a guide of comfort. It’s not any lofty self-help stuff. It’s extra like having an encouraging good friend who’s whispering in your ear on the finish of the day saying, “You are able to do this. This too shall move. You’re resilient sufficient. Simply preserve shifting, come what could.”

I simply discover her a voice that I’m very pleased to listen to as I prepare to fall asleep. It’s reassuring. And it’s considered one of these sneaky little books that confronts the reality of ache and loss head-on. And but within the course of leaves you feeling hopeful and inspired, and perhaps even modified. That’s a guide I’ll be giving a couple of copies of this yr.

Margaret: Now we have a minute for, you talked about one other one, that’s like that, too.

Katrina: “The E book of Delights,” by Ross Gay. One other poet, a gardener, a Black man; one other easy premise: He simply determined that he on the event of his 42nd birthday would seize a pencil, pad of paper and jot a couple of notes every single day about delight. And what he discovered was that earlier than lengthy, he developed a type of delight radar. After all, the extra you search for delight, the extra delight you discovered.

He’s not sugarcoating any of the complexities or the terrors of residing in America at this second as a Black man. He doesn’t shrink back from laborious topics. However greater than anything, he makes use of our consciousness of loss as a compelling cause to have a good time the wonder, significantly of the pure world, significantly of his backyard, which is his ardour.

Margaret: Oh!

Katrina: I type of really feel there’s simply no higher guide to prescribe for this second in time. Once more, the dear and the extraordinary that’s so usually hidden in plain sight, however that’s proper in entrance of us.

Margaret: Properly, Katrina, good checklist. Thanks a lot. And pleased upcoming every little thing. And will you’ve got a lot consolation and coziness…and I’ll speak to you quickly.

Katrina: And I’ve to say, Margaret, our dialog and our friendship, 10 years now, is a continuing supply of enjoyment and coziness.

Margaret: Thanks.

Katrina: For me.

Margaret: Ditto. Thanks very a lot. I’ll speak to you quickly once more.

Katrina: All proper, expensive, bye.

enter to win a replica of ‘the way to catch a mole’

I’LL BUY A COPY of “The best way to Catch a Mole” by Mark Hamer for one fortunate reader (over on Katrina Kenison’s website, she’s making a gift of a distinct guide (“Cozy” by Isabel Gillies) so when you publish a remark right here click on over to enter there, too). All it’s a must to do to enter the giveaway is reply this query:

Something cozy or comforting to learn in your beside desk (or in your favourite chair–whether or not piled with stuffed animals or not)?

No reply or feeling shy? Simply say one thing like “rely me in,” and I’ll, however a reply is even higher. I’ll choose a winner after entries shut at midnight Tuesday, December 1, 2020. Good luck to all. And don’t neglect: click on over to Katrina’s, too, for one more likelihood to win.

(Disclosure: As an Amazon Affiliate I earn from qualifying purchases.)

desire the podcast model of the present?

MY WEEKLY public-radio present, rated a “top-5 backyard podcast” by “The Guardian” newspaper within the UK, started its 11th yr in March 2020. In 2016, the present received three silver medals for excellence from the Backyard Writers Affiliation. It’s produced at Robin Hood Radio, the smallest NPR station within the nation. Hear regionally within the Hudson Valley (NY)-Berkshires (MA)-Litchfield Hills (CT) Mondays at 8:30 AM Japanese, rerun at 8:30 Saturdays. Or play the November 23, 2020 present utilizing the participant close to the highest of this transcript. You may subscribe to all future editions on iTunes/Apple Podcasts or Spotify or Stitcher (and browse my archive of podcasts here).