Creativity, cheese and words—oh my! Curious minds of all stripes will find something wonderful to ponder in this month's best lifestyles books.
★ The Listening Path
Back in the early 1990s, a book called The Artist’s Way changed the creativity how-to scene forever and paved the way for countless guides to come. Author Julia Cameron preached the practice of “morning pages,” a daily stream-of-consciousness writing ritual. Since then, countless readers have found this practice to be a useful tool for self-understanding. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it—and so we find morning pages and the six-week program framework from Cameron’s earlier book at the heart of her new one, The Listening Path. Designed for a world in which attention is our collective deficiency, The Listening Path focuses on tuning out cluttering noise and redirecting attention constructively to release creative blocks. Quotations from respected writers, thinkers and spiritual guides travel like softly shining stars alongside Cameron’s storytelling and prompts to nurture conscious listening. If this all sounds too woo-woo for you . . . then you probably need it.
Stuff Every Cheese Lover Should Know
One of my favorite comforts of quarantine has been a biweekly cheese box subscription, offered by a local cheesemonger. So it’s no surprise that I’m smitten by Stuff Every Cheese Lover Should Know by Alexandra Jones. This tiny book—it’s the size of a classic Moleskine journal—is like a nibble of an artisan bleu, rich and satisfying even in the smallest portion. You’ll learn about microbes, moisture and “cheese outerwear”; how to create the perfect cheese board and pair cheese with drinks; just what the heck raclette is; and more. If a cheese-loving friend is in the throes of the COVID-winter doldrums, perk her up by leaving this diminutive but delightful guide on her doorstep with a wedge of fromage.
So to Speak
I’m letting my word-nerd flag fly with this one: So to Speak is a compendium of 11,000 expressions organized into nearly 70 categories, including a bonus, “Our Favorite Family Expressions and Nana-isms” (e.g., “He’s a stick in the mud”). Why do you need this, you ask? First, it’s the largest collection of its kind. Second, it’s “a catalyst for endless conversations among people of all ages—and some of the most fun can be had by reading it aloud with friends and family,” writes co-editor Harold Kobliner, who worked steadfastly on this book with his wife of 65 years, Shirley, until she passed away in 2016. The result, he tells us, is a “true celebration of the love of language with the love of my life.” Third, 25 games such as a rhyming game, an expressions improv game and one based on “The Newlywed Game” are included. It’s a must-have for any language lover’s library.