Remember when you were in high school and they’d assign summer reading? And you’d dread it and wait until August to even pick up the first book? Well this is like that… but way better. I usually just pick my next book based on my mood (or something I’ve selected for my Steele Maiden book club posts), but as I was looking for ways to put a fun twist on what will likely be a somewhat quiet summer – I thought why not make a big list filled with books I can’t wait to read?!
Below – the 15 books I’ve got stacked up for the summer. Many are new release fiction, but there a couple of older titles in there I’ve been meaning to get around to plus a couple of memoirs. I can’t wait to dive in!
And lastly – these pictures are from a recent Talbots feature in which I shared some of their most comfortable styles alongside some of the books I’ve read and loved lately. See their full feature here! The photos also serve as a peek into our apartment and all of the little corners I tend to curl up in to read – including my favorite perch, our fire escape.
What if we treated the last two and a half months like an elimination diet for our lives? We were forced to quit all of the excess cold turkey, but now – we get to slowly reintroduce elements of our old lives. Isn’t it worth examining which of those old elements actually brought us happiness? What if you realized during this time that there were some habits you actually felt better off without? Certain people that you didn’t miss. Why go back to exactly how things were before?
From what I’ve seen in my 30+ years, life hands us very few opportunities to do a hard reset. So you just might want to take this opportunity. I’m definitely not one of those people going around calling this time “a blessing” – it wasn’t. Millions of Americans are out of work and nearly 100,000 families are grieving a loved one. But in the race we all seem to be in to return to “normal” – why not shift the sails and create a new and improved normal?
I’m honestly still not sure what the rest of this year will look like for me – but I do know that when everything was pared down to absolute basics it was easy to see the things that actually brought me happiness. My closest relationships, my home here in New York City (with or without the usual energy), exercise, reading & writing. And honestly – I really loved working from home. So I want to find a way to continue focusing my energy on each of these things and growing where I can. What would your new normal look like?
It’s been a while (I think since New Years Eve of last year to be precise) since I filmed a style video for IGTV and I’d been itching to get back into it. So here we are! I know summer plans are up in the air for now, but you’ll always have use for a simple white t-shirt and a few easy ways to wear it. See the full video on my Instagram here and shop each outfit below.
Summer is far and above my favorite season. Adam likes to joke that I’m like a solar powered device that comes to life again after being in the sun.. and he’s not wrong. This city comes alive in a different way too and I love the way that the longer days and warm nights loosens everyone up – an extra long lunch break in the park.. one more drink at a rooftop bar. It’s the season of outdoor concerts and the Pride parade and spontaneous trips to Rockaway beach. Or at least it was.
This weekend marks the unofficial start to summer and I have no idea what this city will look like over the next few months. And while I want to optimistically believe that we can bounce back in a big way – I also don’t want to set myself up for heartbreak over cancelled plans. So instead I’ve come up with a new set of summer plans. It’s perhaps not as grand as in year’s past, but there are plenty of things to look forward to – no matter what lies ahead for New York.
Find a place to hear outdoor music. Even if it’s just a jazz band in Washington Square Park. While I’m at it – keep up with my amateur ukulele lessons so I can make my own music. I’ve admittedly only mastered a handful of chords and one basic song so far.
Go for a long drive. I haven’t left this island in three months and this summer I know I’ll want a change of scenery even if it’s only for the afternoon. Even if we only get a lobster roll to-go and then get back in the car.
Make an epic summer reading list. Remember when you used to have required reading over the summer in school? Kind of like that but filled with books I can’t wait to dive into instead. See what I’ve been reading lately here.
I’d love to master a good “summer dessert” – when I was a kid my Mom had a few go-to recipes and when I think of warm weather cook-outs and having friends over for pool parties I still can taste those desserts. I’d love to have a signature dessert dish of my own.
Celebrate Pride Month – even though there won’t be a big parade this year I want to find ways to support the LGBTQ community. So far I’ve thought of two easy ways: Purchase a few books by LGBTQ authors to support their work in the publishing world and take the money we might otherwise have spent the day of the parade (last year we went out for a fun brunch and hit up a couple of bars) by donating to a charity instead. I’ve heard great things about It Gets Better.
Pack a picnic and take it up to Central Park. We actually just did this for my birthday and it was so lovely, I want to be sure we get back there plenty of times this summer and explore new, off the beaten path areas of the park. For those who aren’t that familiar – Central Park is truly huge at over 800 acres so even after all these years there are parts I haven’t seen.
Increase my monthly savings goals. Adam and I are both incredibly fortunate to have kept our jobs through all of this and if we can’t do as much this summer in terms of going to concerts, traveling, etc. – the silver lining will be that we can add more to our savings. So that when we can actually plan our next big adventure, we’ll already have the funds set aside.
Work on writing my novel. I’ve mentioned this a few times before and while I have no idea if it will ever go anywhere, I have a loose outline of the story and some short snippets so far. I’d love to take a more formal writing class (maybe online) at some point too.
Spend time at the lake house. We haven’t felt comfortable going out there yet (and Adam’s family has been spending time there on and off during quarantine so we didn’t want to risk it), but I’m hoping that schedules allow us to visit for a few weekends at the very least.
May it be a summer of reveling in the little things.
Here we are. It’s mid-May. Two months into our time at home and this week I celebrated my birthday. While it wasn’t exactly what I would have imagined this time last year, it was a nice day and will certainly be a birthday I’ll remember. The weather finally feels like it might be turning here in New York and I’m looking forward to an extra day off for Memorial Day next week – even if it’s hard to believe that’s already here. Below, a few more things on my mind before we head out into the weekend.
While there have been many people to flee the city during this whole mess, you can always count on a few classic New Yorkers who are never going anywhere. I loved this interview with Fran Lebowitz and this interview with Chloe Sevigny on why they’ll never give up on this city. I’m with them.
Maybe it’s their ability to hide second day hair, but my love for headbands has only grown lately. I’ve currently got my eye on this daisy version.
After reading Normal People last summer, I’ve been watching the TV adaptation on Hulu. You can read my review of the book here (honestly, I had mixed feelings) but I do think they’ve done a great job of staying true to the book. And the Irish accents are fun to listen to! Same goes for Little Fires Everywhere, which I read and loved – my book review for it was part of my very first Steele Maiden Book Club post here! The limited series adaptation is also on Hulu and while I’m only halfway through – I think Reese Witherspoon, Kerry Washington and all of the young teen actors were cast perfectly. What else have you been watching?
Inexplicably, despite being much more of a shoe-girl, I’ve been on a purse kick lately. My friends at Cambridge Satchel Company sent over this classic satchel in their new lily white color which I’m still swooning over and I keep eyeing this little 1960s vintage crochet bag on Etsy. Don’t beat me to it.
By now most of you know about my enduring love for Dolly Parton. I loved this article about how one writer came to terms with her appeal to him as a young boy.
I have a tendency to want to buy a fun purse (case in point above) but not own a single plain white crewneck t-shirt. It’s infuriating. So one of my goals for 2020 was to “invest in basics” – and make sure that my closet had the things I truly find myself reaching for week after week. I finally stocked up on some nice plain t-shirts and it gave me such a boost of happiness.
More people live alone now than ever before in history (a fact that in better times would be a pleasant reflection on women’s economic growth) – but what does that mean in a pandemic? This round-up of people quarantining alone around the world was equal parts heartwarming and heartbreaking.
More than ever I find that I want to support small businesses right now. I’ve placed orders from: Brooklyn Candle Studio (my favorite candles), Neely & Chloe (a vintage inspired handbag company based in New York– they’re having a major sale so I finally bought a style I’d been eyeing for ages and am so impressed with the quality), Reformation (the prettiest dresses that are also sustainably made) and McNally Jackson & Strand (for books, naturally). Every little bit helps.
If you need a pick-me-up, I highly suggest catching up on the SNL At Home episodes. Out of all of the strange little skits that the cast has thrown together from the confines of their apartments – this one with Aidy Bryant, where she digs back through some of her childhood journals, might have made me laugh the most.
I’m all about a comfortable “house dress” at the moment and the one I’m wearing in the photo above is a new favorite. Likewise for the floral denim jacket below, which is so cute for spring/summer and looks great with a simple tee. And as always – everything is better when surrounded by fresh flowers.