The List: The Two Books I Read on Every Vacation

And why it's important to suck at something.
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Image taken at Candlefish in Charleston (I'll be posting a full recap soon!)

Image taken at Candlefish in Charleston (I'll be posting a full recap soon!)

What state am I in? Just kidding... sort of. After flying back into L.A. late last night, I'm feeling a little less sharp this Monday, without a Sunday to prepare for it. Two days ago, I was kayaking among water snakes in Congaree National Park, and today I'm in the office preparing for a big photoshoot tomorrow. It's a whirlwind! And this week won't make the transition any less abrupt, which is a blessing and a curse since I'm excited for every after-work plan, which includes an event with The Little Market Thursday and Pop-Up Magazine this Friday (tickets are still available here and I genuinely can't recommend it highly enough!). Here's what else I'm loving this hectic, blur of a week:

1

When it comes to a vacation read, there are two categories I often select from, and this trip was no different:

1. A page-turner that isn't so dense you can't easily pick it back up at the end of a long travel day. Books like Maria Semple's Where'd You Go Bernadette?, Helen Hoang's The Kiss Quotient, and Kevin Kwan's Crazy Rich Asians trilogy come to mind. In celebration of The Bachelorette returning tonight, I finally dove into the tell-all book, Bachelor Nation by Amy Kaufman. It reads like a real-life Unreal, exploring the history of the show, as well as rose ceremonies, limo rides up to the mansion, and manipulative producers. I'm not sure yet whether I'll be watching this season (I still haven't forgiven them for selecting Arie as The Bachelor...), but the book was a quick, worthwhile read.

2. A book that gives you context for the place you'r visiting. Anytime I travel somewhere new, I try to read something that will add context to that place (as I did for Paris here!). After being in South Carolina for two days, I picked-up Colson Whitehead's Pulitizer Prize-winning Underground Railroad, which blends historical fiction seamlessly into a surreal reality about a runaway enslaved person. In it, the underground railroad is a literal subterranean train, but the narrative isn't so far from the cruelties actual enslaved people experienced. It's a beautiful and important book, and made my trip even richer for reading it. 

2

Yesterday's Mother's Day was fairly unconventional, but also perfect in its own way. At the end of a week traveling with Jonah and his mom, we spent yesterday morning the same way we spent nearly everyday of our trip, chatting over grits and coffee—this time adding a card, Facetiming my own mom in, and weighing the pros and cons of the name "Archie." With one of my closest friends and a cousin each expecting babies this summer, moms have been on my mind, particularly how I can ease their own transitions into parenthood. In this piece on Quartz, the author argues, "What I wanted was to be fed, to take a long shower, and to have a moment to myself when no one needed me to do anything for them." Her suggestion? If you aren't close enough to babysit, give new moms granola and a pound of local coffee. Inspired by the article, I'm putting together a gift bag for my best mom friend across the country, with some L.A.-roasted coffee and homemade granola (I always keep these bags on hand!). I'm also currently accepting any/all tips for supporting new mamas! 

3

A few weeks ago, I started taking a weekly pottery class—and I suck at it. It's my first time throwing at a wheel, and my pieces come out crooked, crushed, with holes in the bottom, and far from what I hoped they'd look like. As a result, the recent release of Karen Rinaldi's book, It's Great to Suck at Something felt uncanny in its timing. It's a deep dive into the joys, frustrations, and ultimate happiness that can come from being truly bad at something (remember this post I wrote on finding a hobby you're bad at?). You can read her piece "It's Great to Suck at Surfing" here (NYT).

4

About a year ago, I read a book, Smoke Gets in Your Eyes by Caitlin Doughty, that completely changed the way I think about death (read my original review here), and even helped me see the humor in it. Since then, I've been amazed to learn there are countless industries and organizations aimed at recalibrating our totally freaked-out relationship with dying into something closer to acceptance: FUN-erals are on the rise, as are death cafés, Swedish death cleaning, death doulas, and a growing awareness of environmentally friendly burials. This summer, I'm hiring an organization called Good to Go! to help me organize the logistics around my parent's eventual death, hopefully long before it happens. As an obsessive planner with relatively older parents (my dad is 50 years older than I am, and my mom reads this every week sooo I probably shouldn't tell you her age), it's something I think about a lot and facing it outright, I hope, will help me come to terms with its inevitability. If you're looking for something more light-hearted, allow me to recommend this documentary on obituary writers, Obit.

Pssst... If you live in L.A., we're hosting another event with The Little Market! We had so much fun meeting many of you at our office event over the holidays that we'll be hosting our second event with them this Thursday. There will be rosé, cheese boards from Lady & Larder, and a Q&A with Emily and The Little Market founder Hannah Skvarla. You can RSVP here. See you there! x

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