New Reads for Summer

This I Wear | Summer Reads 2015

Last summer, I set my expectations too high. I planned to read three books but only succeeded in reading one of them. Dan Barber’s Third Plate was too big to carry in my bag during my commute, so I gave up. Fashion and Sustainability read too much like a textbook, and I lost interest. But I successfully read Let My People Go Surfing and luckily that one was fantastic and a very easy read.

Despite a small sense of failure on my reading last summer, Summer Reading remains my favorite hot weather tradition. This year, I’m making failure impossible and recommending a book I’m already nearing the end of and one that everyone but me may have read already.

Women In Clothes by Sheila Heti, Heidi Julavits and Leanne Shapton
This is not the book you throw in your bag for some subway-commuter reading because there’s a lot of pages.. Yet it is such a delightful read that you will find yourself stealing away small moments just to read a few pages. In fact, I read the majority of it so voraciously that when I realized I was nearing the end, I made myself slow down to make it last longer. The book itself is the result of surveys to hundreds of real women plus interviews, photo stories and random encounters, all on one topic: women and their relationship with clothes. It is a storytelling masterpiece in many small snippets and bits, and if you like my blog, you will LOVE this collection of stories.

What’s truly wonderful about the book is that it’s impossible not to identify with at least some of the women, which also makes it easy to laugh when an interview subject says something that hits truly close to home. The book is also not about sustainability or minimalism, yet the topics come up in beautifully surprising ways from stories of trying to develop a personal uniform, learning about where clothes come from, understanding quality, and our emotional connection to clothes. I think I may in fact give this book to every woman in my life this coming Christmas, because there is something about it that so deeply expresses how clothing and fashion relate to how we view ourselves as women across many different cultures, ages, and orientations. Did I mention that I love it?

And if you read it and want to take the survey yourself, it’s still accessible by clicking here.

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo
Perhaps all of you have read this book already, but I have been holding out for the sole reason of hoping a friend would let me borrow her copy, since I knew people were buying it in droves. I happen to love organizing, and I’m asked repeatedly if I would consider doing it professionally (not at this time, but I’d love to work with you on a one-time project – email me!). But there is always something new to learn and from what I’ve heard, Marie’s process of helping people find joy in what they do keep seems totally refreshing and inspiring. I think I also have a fear that she is advising everyone to throw things in the trash as I’ve been reading news stories of the sheer volume of now-orphaned “stuff” as a result of this book. I’m also very curious if she has tips for people on how to avoid buying more things once they’ve tossed everything out, since that is important too.

So those are the two books I’ve got lined up for the summer. I hope you’ll share your recommendations in the Comments, especially for some light summery fiction (nothing too intense please!), since I’m almost always in the non-fiction section. Happy reading!

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  1. Xin

    I read Marie Kondo’s book a few months ago, and I implemented most of her suggestions. I did discard and donate a very large quantity of stuff (probably a dozen medium-large garbage bags worth), considering that I lived in a modestly-sized NYC apartment with a roommate. Although that could look wasteful, I don’t miss anything that I got rid of. I think it was useful for me to confront the sheer quantity of things I acquired without realizing. The memory of that will, hopefully, keep me from re-acquiring that much unneeded stuff. I do think its easier for me, because I’m a young person with no children and who lives in small apartments, to put Kondo’s suggestions into practice and stick with it.

    If I remember correctly, her book doesn’t have any specific suggestions about not acquiring more things after the initial decluttering, though she does mention that none of her clients have ever “relapsed.”

    • Rebecca

      Thanks Xin! Agreed, there is nothing like a tiny NYC apartment to keep you from having too much stuff, though I know people whose apartments are really trying to prove it’s possible!

  2. Jill

    I’m in the midst of reading The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up and I’m loving the Kondo way of seeing the world. The problem is…I haven’t actually gotten around to the work of DOING. The thought of all that tidying is so daunting.

    I also loved Women in Clothes. Such a delight to read–it’s like an interactive experience rather than a book. I filled out a survey for the book, so for me, it really was participatory, even though there are only 4 words of mine in the book. :)

    • Rebecca

      Jill, that’s so cool that a few words of your survey ended up in the book. Out of curiosity, how did you learn about their project before the book launch?

      And yes, tidying is so daunting. I have an upcoming day off of work where I’m thinking I might devote to the doing part of it. It really requires a commitment.

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