What I’m Reading- Spring 2024

by Robin Turnipseed

We had our spring break earlier than usual this year, and we decided to do something different. Instead of going to the beach or Disney like many of our kids’ friends, we went on college tours. It was quite an experience as we visited several well-manicured campuses with our kids, one of whom is a high school junior. Throughout the tours, we made mental lists of the pros and cons of each school, which caused me to feel a mix of unfamiliar and strange emotions.

If you’ve been through this before, you know the mix of emotions that I’m talking about – feeling happy and excited as your young adult sets off on their new journey but also experiencing a faint sense of grief. It’s like a cocktail of emotions that comes with a twist of uncertainty and a thin layer of anxiety on top. Our son is thrilled, and although our break felt different from the ones we’ve had in the past, it was still great to spend some quality time together. We also got some extra time to catch up on sleep and reading, which was nice.

During our college tours, we explored various colleges located near Nashville. We decided to stay at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel, which is home to Soundwaves Waterpark. It was a great way to add fun to our trip, especially for our youngest, who patiently walked around different college campuses. To keep myself entertained, I downloaded a few audiobooks for the car ride and a paperback for some relaxing time by the pool.

Here’s what I’ve been reading over the last couple of weeks. Let me know if you’ve read any and what you think of them!

Book 1: The Boys: A Memoir of Hollywood and Family by Ron Howard & Clint Howard

I have always been fond of classic television shows. Whenever I was sick or it snowed, I would spend my time lounging on our yellow-upholstered couch, watching never-ending reruns of old favorites like Leave it to Beaver, The Andy Griffith Show, and Happy Days. My love for these shows runs deep.

Brothers Ron and Clint Howard co-authored a memoir chronicling their journey from childhood on a midwestern farm to adolescent fame. The book details their upbringing and provides insight into their early years, shedding light on why they are known as some of the kindest and most grounded individuals playing the Hollywood game. The book is brimming with classic tales from the silver screen that draw one in. It balances the glitz and glam with antidotes of lessons learned from two time-honored careers in a cutthroat industry. It’s a delightful story that is full of humor and has an endearing charm to it.

Book 2: Finding Dorothy: A Novel by Elizabeth Letts

In her enchanting novel, Elizabeth Letts gives the account behind the creation of Frank Baum’s book, The Wizard of Oz, through the eyes of his aging widow. The year is 1938 when seventy-seven-year-old Maud Baum hears that a film version of her late husband’s passion project is in development. Maud is determined to ensure the filmmakers stay within Frank’s vision. To achieve this, she tries to find ways to involve herself in the production process. Her determination increases when she becomes acquainted with the talented and rising actress with the leading role and under the studio’s pressure.

The fictionalized work pulls back the curtain on the youth of Maud Baum, the daughter of a suffragette, to her establishing herself as one of the first women in the Ivy League, to the love story between her and Frank and the prairie life they shared as young marrieds that inspired his novel. However, a critical element is a kinship that Maud develops with the gifted up-and-coming actress carrying the starring role and the pressure of the studio on her shoulders.

Finding Dorothy is a must-read for Oz fans. The story’s roots are pulled from Lett’s intense historical research but blended with elements drawn from her imagination. It leads the reader on a rich journey beyond the yellow brick road, flying monkeys, and green witches searching for what truly lies over the rainbow. It is a great accompaniment, not to mention a fantastic gift, for anyone who enjoys the film. 

Book 3: Decluttering at the Speed of Life: Winning Your Never-Ending Battle with Stuff by Dana K. White

In her book, Dana K. White writes openly about her struggle with clutter and offers practical and efficient ways to regain space in an overflowing home. One of my key takeaways was White’s introduction of her Container Concept, which is her way of viewing any space as a container with set limitations. She writes, “Accept the limitations of the space you have, and declutter enough that your stuff fits comfortably in that space.”

I initially applied White’s concepts and recommendations in every area of my home during my “Making Space for Pretty” cleanout series. However, it’s been a few years since I last decluttered some small spaces, so I needed to revisit the editing process. I have bought many organizing and cleaning books over the years. However, most of them were useless to me as they had intense cleaning schedules that didn’t fit my lifestyle. But this book is different. It provides simple and practical ways to implement a cleanout plan that suits one’s schedule and lifestyle. If you need some cleaning inspiration, pick up this book! It’s a game-changer.

Now tell me: what should I read next?

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