ME TIME: Book Recommendations - Belle Année
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ME TIME: Book Recommendations

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Goldfinch Jessica BrideWhen Nick and I started dating we were both in our early 30s.  We were both going through divorces.  We were both trying to figure out our way in the world, again.    We were also equal participants in what would become a whirlwind romance and love story.  We married 11-months to the day after meeting.  Had our son shortly after that.  Moved continent several times.  Quit and restarted jobs.  Renovated a house.  Picked up new hobbies.  Spent a sh*tload of time skiing.  Drank a lot of good wine.  And learned the importance of babies sleeping through the night.  But before all of that….we shared books.

At our first lunch we exchanged favorites.   I gave him Higgilty, Piggilty, Pop, The Piano Tuner and  The Book of Salt.   He gave me Miracle in the Andes.  The inscription read, “It won’t spoil the book one iota to tell you that it isn’t really about a plane crash at all.  It has many themes; but the most powerful one for me is that love is a choice, something we do – something we create, we nurture, we can use.  That if we can just hold enough love within us we can achieve anything – overcome anything.”  

Sharing in that tradition I want to share with you my Me Time recommendations.  It is so rare to come across time where I am not first a mom, a wife, a caretaker of an old ass house in New Orleans, a travel planner, a daughter, a sister, a class mom, a cook, a wardrobe consultant, an administrative assistant, a grocery-picker-upper but just me.  Just me with my thoughts and my memories and my glass of wine and no-you-can-not-have-a-sip.  

So this is the first of my Me Time pieces for you.   My plan is to shoot these over to you every other week.  Maybe more.  The goal is to inspire you to take some time.  Some You Time.  We are going to kick this off with, appropriately, books.  For the first time in a long time, I have been reading.  I love reading but, like so many things, I feel like I just don’t have enough time for it.  I mean my book club’s name is The Half Read Book Club.  So, um, there’s that.  But this week we are on the beach in Barbados and I have been doing my very best to really unplug.  Leave the phone upstairs.  Not take pictures of every meal.  Every event.  Not write rough drafts of articles in my head.  And instead I’ve been reading.   So this week I am prescribing you some good books for your You Time.  As Nick so eloquently put it 8 years ago, these are not about restaurants, kitchens, disappearing heiresses or shopping malls, but about so much more.  See what you can find. 


 A lovely chronicle about relationships and what it’s really like to open a restaurant.  I had never heard of Orangette, or Molly Wizenberg, before meeting her at a food bloggers conference in Birmingham, Alabama earlier this year.  I warmed to her immediately because she is funny, interesting, self-deprecating and smart.  I picked up her first book on the recommendation of Amber Wilson from For the Love of the South  and loved turning every page.  I can’t wait to tear into this one.


Kingdom Come by JG Ballard

Okay, this isn’t exactly new but this is a really intersting book.  Published in 2009 by award winning, now deceased, author J.G. Ballard.  I recommend this one for boys and girls and book clubs too.  Ostensibly it is about an unemployed advertising executive investigating his father’s murder but it is really a condemnation of the hyper consumerism of capitalist economies.  And after you read it tell me you don’t start looking around in large shopping malls (I’m looking at you Westfield) and thinking, “OMG  This is soooooo Kingdom Come”

My Berlin Kitchen by Luisa Weiss

I also hadn’t met or heard of Luisa Weiss of The Wednesday Chef until another blogger conference this year, this time Food Blogger Connect in London.  She too was warm, funny, kind and smart and we hit it off magically.   I picked up the book because I liked her but was rewarded when I got to the beach and cracked it open.  It is a wonderful story about change, chance, strength, travel, food and love.

Sherlock Holmes V 1

Okay, this is a classic but stick with me:  A year or more ago I was at our neighborhood Barnes & Noble (neighborhood being TriBeCa at the time) and The Complete Sherlock Holmes Volumes I and II were piled up at the register.  Being the canny consumer I am I thought, “You know, I do need to read those!” and swept them up into my arms already bulging with books.  I deposited them at the register with a loud, THUMP!  After that they sat on the side of my bed for, um, a hundred years before I finally  picked them up and started reading them.  I can’t believe I waited so long!  Most of the stories are extremely short and some of the endings I find untidy and too swift, but once you get used to Doye’s style you’ll crave it.  I recommend these particular books with notes by Kyle Freeman because they offer some interesting insights to the writing as you go along.  Like the fact that Sherlock only said, “Elementary” ONCE in the whole series.  

Sherlock Holmes V1

  Volume II

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

I may not get any points for originality on this one but I just turned the last page and, yes, you MUST read it.  A boy’s loss, and ill-gotten gain, define his life…and it is a fascinating page turner even if you do want to slap him on the back of the head at times.

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Jessica Bride

I am a Notting Hill based lifestyle writer and Instagrammer. My reason for being is my family plus a combination of food + travel + art + life between London and New Orleans. Find me at @belleannee or covering arts & culture for @London.

  • Vijayshree Appa

    July 15, 2014 at 18:52 Reply

    Ha! Sherlock Holmes on the list – I can’t believe it – I read them growing up and loved every moment! I’ve just remembered it made me want to be a police officer so how strange to be working where I am today….

    • jessica

      July 16, 2014 at 20:05 Reply

      Vijayshree — I fell in love with them! I really did get frustrated with them at one point but then I just learned to love his style. Now, of course, I can’t get enough between Sherlock in the UK and Elementary in the US. And maybe…maybe another with Robert Downey Jr. & Jude Law? PLEASE???

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