The round-up below is a year-long summary of my monthly notes to friends. If you'd like to stay updated monthly with recommendations for things I'm reading, listening to and loving, links to my recently published articles and blog posts, along with the latest on kid-lit we're borrowing from the library, please join me here if you'd like.
What I read
Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
Second Nature: A Gardener's Education by Michael Pollan (again)
Raising Freethinkers by Dale McGowan, et al.
Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon (again)
So You've Written a Children's Book, Now What? by Chronicle Books
The Importance of Being Little: What Preschoolers Really Need from Grownups by Erika Christakis
Felicity by Mary Oliver
Grace Coddington's Next Act on Lenny
Einstein's God by Krista Tippett
Six-Figure Freelancing, the Writer's Guide to Making More Money by Kelly James-Enger
Diane Arbus: Portrait of a Photographer by Arthur Lubow
America's Favorite Holidays: Candid Histories by Bruce Davis Forbes
Spark Joy by Marie Kondo
I picked up a subscription to the gorgeously illustrated magazine for creative kids and their grownups, Illustoria, which I discovered thanks to writer & editor Heidi Fiedler, who shared a pic of Issue #1 on her lovely and helpful Instagram feed.
Hobart Book Village is a cluster of bookstores in the Catskills (and is now a must-visit for me thanks to the recent article on And North).
I re-read this gem about an extended family's commitment to pile into a summer house together for a whole 7 days. ("I was present. It was because I was there.")
And finally, this essay in the New York Times which looks at perfection through the lens of Michelangelo's David, the iconic statue that happens to be crumbling at the ankles.
Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson.
Also: African American voices writing for young readers at the Brown Bookshelf.
This article in the New Yorker has me all flummoxed, indeed, because "Wasn’t free self-expression the whole point of social progressivism?"
Also from the New Yorker (archives), an oldie but a goodie: "In February, 1980, two months after the birth of my second child and the simultaneous end of my marriage, I fell madly in love with a huge apartment on the Upper West Side." by the late, great Nora Ephron.
Ann Patchett on writing via Brainpickings: "I believe, more than anything, that this grief of constantly having to face down our own inadequacies is what keeps people from being writers. Forgiveness, therefore, is key. I can’t write the book I want to write, but I can and will write the book I am capable of writing. Again and again throughout the course of my life I will forgive myself."
It would have been nice to have this list before I set up shop online.
Yowsers: Mother, Writer, Monster, Maid.
And the award for best subtitle goes to: "What she said." (The article itself is remarkable and inspiring, too.)
On the nightstand at some point this year (and still, perhaps): rereading Gellhorn: A Twentieth Century Life, Caroline Moorehead's wonderfully crafted biography of war correspondent Martha Gellhorn. Children's Picturebooks: The Art of Visual Storytelling by Martin Salisbury & Morag Styles. Philip Pullman's Fairy Tales from the Brothers Grimm.
Do you have a bliss station?
This brilliant jam-session on the idea of Jeffrey, of Ina & Jeffrey fame, which includes such gems: "...Gloria Steinem and Martha Stewart and Karl Marx and basic cable and chocolate babka and first-wave feminism and choice feminism and the literary industrial complex and Hollywood and Paris and warm evenings and fresh flowers and the earthy aroma of Lamb Stew With Spring Vegetables."
Michelle in the NYT Style Magazine.
Stumbled on this snapshot of Americans in Canada while fantasizing about a move to Montreal (because let's be honest about Trump, really) and remembered my lovely stay in the Plateau neighborhood over a decade ago.
From the YA book Women of Steel and Stone: Architect Anna Wagner Keichline led a suffragist parade down her Pennsylvania village's main street in 1913 and "ignored the possibility that her actions could cause her to lose clients." That's a business woman with a backbone, and I'm taking note.
In The Company of Women thanks to my BFF.
Short books are in.
What we read
A Child's Anthology of Poetry by Elizabeth Hauge Sword
The Adventures of Beekle by Dan Santat
The Jolly Postman by Allan Ahlberg et al.
Home by Carson Eliis
Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt by Kate Messner
My husband's childhood copy of Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson
Rosie Revere, Engineer by Andrea Beaty et al.
Rad American Women A-Z by Kate Schatz
The Elephant & Piggie books by Mo Willems
Violet the Pilot by Steve Breen
Library Day by Anne Rockwell
Abuela by Arthur Dorros
Madame Pamplemousse and her Incredible Edibles by Rupert Kingfisher
A Sweet Smell of Roses by Angela Johnson, illustrated by Eric Velasquez
Have you Seen my Dragon? by Steve Light
Henri's Scissors by Jeanette Winter
Action Jackson by Jan Greenberg and Sandra Jordan, Illustrated by Robert Andrew Parker
Ivy & Bean Break the Fossil Record by Annie Barrows
Speaking of classrooms: School's First Day of School by Adam Rex
The Minpins by Roald Dahl which, by the look on her face, may very well be scaring my preschooler but she insists "I love this" so it can't be all that bad.
Alphabet Trains by Samantha R. Vamos, illustrated by Ryan O'Rourke
Vehicles by Xavier Deneux
Five Little Pumpkins (obv.)
The Penny Whistle Halloween Book (from the 80s, but definitely inspired by the 70s) found at the Irvington Library book sale.
Last Stop on Market Street by Matt De La Pena; pictures by Christian Robinson
Thank You, Sarah: The Woman Who Saved Thanksgiving by Laurie Halse Anderson. I especially adore this part: "When Sarah saw something she didn't like, she picked up her pen and wrote about it. She wrote letters. She wrote articles. She wrote and wrote and wrote until she persuaded people to make the world a better place."
Sparkle and Spin: A Book About Words by Ann & Paul Rand
Planes by Anne Rockwell
Issue 2 of Illustoria featuring Hervé Tullet
This Is My Home, This Is My School by Jonathan Bean
Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein (I have seriously waited a third of a century to speak the words "I wrap my hair around my bare and down the road I goes" to my child.)
What I heard + saw
PODCASTS | Maira Kalman on Design Matters, Gabrielle Hamilton on The Moment, Elizabeth Gilbert on Longform, the president of Hearst on digital media & publishing, Tiffany Shlain, Internet Pioneer and filmmaker on Krista Tippett's On Being, Bindercon Special: Breaking into Podcasting (if you are a writer or storyteller, there is much to ponder here on the future of audio), Off-Message with Politico's Glenn Thrush all year but not anymore (sorry, not sorry). Seth Godin and Brian Koppelman talk for the third time on The Moment. (So good.) The entirety of the Horn Book podcast, because kid-lit and free-thinking librarians rule. Call Your Girlfriend co-host Aminatou Sow chatted on Recode Media. Grace Bonney on Design Matters.
TV, FILM + VIDEO | The beautiful capsule episode on Season 5 episode 6 of Girls, which hit its stride this year (small tear for the show's upcoming final run in 2017), Advice on writing from the Atlantic's Ta-Nehisi Coates, the latest season of Broad City (and their ongoing references to jam bands and Phish tour), The New Yorker Radio Hour with Lena Dunham, Veep on HBO, My Neighbor Totoro, Winnie Cooper to Math Whiz via Kottke, and Game of Thrones' Battle of the Bastards. For hope: Chelsea Clinton reads James Baldwin on the creative process and artist's role in society. Women are going to be the reason. (Still.) My 4-year-old and I watched this a few times together with our mouths open, probably. This talk on working smarter in the age of distraction from Jocelyn K. Glei. Winona in Stranger Things! (Obv.) Jill Soloway's pilot on Amazon, which I won't name here for fear of this email getting filtered from your inbox. Jhumpa Lahiri at work. Binged Transparent, Season 3 and relished Judith Light singing Alanis Morrisette. The pros and cons of living in an income-sharing commune from the Atlantic. Crazy Ex Girlfriend is back! Westworld: do I love it? Or am I constantly creeped? It's a draw. (See what I did there?). Not the debate. Instead, Alec Baldwin and Kate McKinnon on SNL. (And even more so now, post-election.) Insecure and The Crown.
What I wrote
Published elsewhere: 2 And North articles, 12 Dear Handmade Life articles, 3 Craft Industry Alliance articles, 1 atly blog post. (For links to specific articles by publication, see the full list here.)
How to approach watercolor painting with kids.
Bits + Bobs
I'm now selling my line of custom nursery decor + family heirlooms in two places: my Hudson + Daughter shop and at the Martha Stewart American Made Market at Handmade at Amazon. Also, for those of you on Insta, h+d is the new kid on the block. Please join me!
I fiiiiinally did away with my chronological blog in favor of a master list of the places, online spaces, tools, products, ideas, and things I love. I call it an unlikely compendium and you can check it out here, if you'd like.
I'm posting some of my daughter's evolving body of work at #SophiePittsOriginal.
It's a real thing. I finally finished a draft, storyboards, and some illustrations for a picture book. (A little peek at some of the sketches and collage artwork for the book appear at the top of this post. And yes, those are my shoes, my four year old's, and my toddler's, in case you were wondering!) I also joined the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, as I'm trying to figure out how to get this manuscript published and everything I read, advice-wise, says to join this org. (It looks like the first step is to find an agent.)
What a year!
Thanks soooo much for hanging out this year. Let's stay in touch, ok? Every few weeks, I share recommendations for things I'm reading, listening to and loving, links to my recently published articles, along with the latest on kid-lit we're borrowing from the library. If you haven't yet, please join me!