Five Books I Can’t Stop Re-reading


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I have this thing about not re-reading books. My TBR pile is enormous these days—it takes up physical and virtual space. I have TBR piles in my bedroom, closet, and library (yes, a whole room dedicated to books. Dreams really do come true sometimes).

My TBR list also exists on an Amazon wish list that numbers in the thousands. I’m not sure I’ll live long enough to read all those books. (In fact, I know I won’t and I add books to the list almost daily with a devil-may-care attitude.)

That’s why I try not to spend a moment re-reading. But, honestly, the pure joy of rereading a book with which I’ve become familiar over time is unparalleled.

Discovery of new books and diversifying my reading is important to me, but I just can’t stop myself from rereading the following five books at least once every couple of years.

1- She’s Come Undone by Wally Lamb

She'sComeLamb is one of my favorite authors. He has such a knack for writing from both a male and female perspective. I know this is a tired accolade for successful male authors, but whatever, it’s true ok? She’s Come Undone was his first novel, which rose to fame on an Oprah-fueled rocket. Its protagonist is smart-mouthed Delores Price who, as the publishers put it “has bed her childhood good-bye.” It is soon to be a movie. Woot!



2-White Oleander by Janet Finch

WhiteOl(What is it with me and Oprah’s Book club?) Astrid’s mother, a renowned poet, is in jail. This novel follows Astrid’s journey through a slew of kooky (and, yes, damaging) foster homes. We see her grow up and watch how her relationship with her mother changes while the two are separated. Also loved the movie.




3- Operating Instructions: A Journal of My Son’s First Year by Anne Lamott

OperA good friend gave me this book when she learned I had had a baby at 20. I was a young mother of a young child and that was hard. Anne Lamott’s words helped me through. One of my favorite lines is sleep-deprived Lamott’s description of her sleepless son as he raises his “loathsome reptilian head.” How can you not love her?




4- Another Place at the Table by Kathy Harrison

AnotherPlaceThis amazing woman has cared for more than 100 foster children. The book details her family’s life with the daily ins and outs of caring for children with traumatic histories and uncertain futures. After reading her book, I thought I wanted to be a social worker. It’s that powerful.




5-Goodbye Without Leaving by Laurie Colwin

GoodbyeColwin has passed on but her work has suddenly become trendy again. This book is a witty look at the life of protagonist Geraldine Colshares who becomes the only white Shakette in a Motown-esque group called Ruby and the Shakettes. When she leaves the group, she settles down to family life with a lawyer husband, kids, and a longing to be part of the music world she left. One of my favorite reviewers of all time, Maureen Corrigan, has a great spot on Colwin’s renewed popularity in recent years.


So here I am again, spurning the mounting TBR pile for a fling with Goodbye Without Leaving.

Tell me: What books do you love to re-read? 


Nonfiction: The Wild Truth by Carine McCandless

book blog

First of all, I had no idea the McCandless parents were such nightmarish characters. Did you? Jon Krakauer’s introduction was right on point for me:

Before Carine shared [her brother’s] letters with me, she asked me not to include anything from them in my book. I promised to abide by her wishes. It’s not uncommon for sources to ask journalists to treat certain pieces of information as confidential or “off the record,” and I’d agreed to such requests on several previous occasions. In this instance, my willingness to do so was bolstered by the fact that I shared Carine’s desire to avoid causing undue pain to Walt, Billie, and Carine’s siblings from Walt’s first marriage. I though, moreover, that I could convey what I’d learned from the letters obliquely, between the lines, without violating Carine’s trust. I was confident I could provide enough indirect clues for readers to understand that, to no small degree, Chris’s seemingly inexplicable behavior during the final years of his life was in fact explained by the volatile dynamics of the McCandless family while he was growing up. Many readers did understand this as it turned out. But many did not.

Yeah, it’s safe to say I was in the “did not” category. I read Into the Wild and watched the film somewhere around five years ago. Like a lot of people, I was struck by Chris McCandless’s intense, charming personality. But I wasn’t won over. To me, he came off as a bit spoiled, a young man who gave away his college fund and denounced his family for no clear reason. Really, whatever his reasons, they were none of my business. But my opinion of him was colored by the omission of those reasons. I did not read between the lines. Instead, I wondered what I was supposed to be reading between the lines.

And again, like many, I was taken with Chris McCandless’s story. Why did he die? What made him leave his family and friends and take solace in the company of strangers and vagabonds?

I was thrilled to see The Wild Truth on bookshelves and immediately grabbed the audio book from my library to listen to while driving my son to and from school.

My initial reaction: Oh god, make it stop.

I hate to say it. Carine McCandless is an intelligent woman, a capable writer, and, um, articulate. My problem is the way she articulates…I just felt that she should not have chosen to read her own audio book. To be fair, I’m coming from Juliet Stevenson’s reading of The Paying Guests. Talk about an engrossing reader. I just found McCandless’s reading style to be a complete distraction.

Other than the reading, I found the book to be interesting at times, and quite a bit bland at others. McCandless is a bit plodding in her descriptions and often trite. Though, in one of the last chapters there’s a weird and (comparatively) graphic analogy comparing emotional wounds to stab wounds. *shrug* Huh.

Some authors are the exception to the audio book rule. I especially enjoy Wally Lamb as a reader. I’ve heard Toni Morrison reads all of her own books, which is probably awesome. But I’m reading Beloved in hardback form right now and don’t want to go get the audio from the libes.

Which authors would you add to the list?

xoxo, Shannon

Boho Living Rooms


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My Gypsy Mind is in the living room today. I made the (best) mistake of popping over to Pinterest this morning. God I love that site. It’s the best free thing on the internet, IMO.

I mean…

#theforeignarchives #inspo

Big art, drift wood, woven blankets…Ahhh…..

Sorry to not offer sources for all these. Click the pics to see where I got them.

Where’s your Gypsy Mind today?

xoxo, Shannon

Just write.


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journals, writing, writing prompts, journal prompts

A collection of my notebooks from the past five years…I like to mix it up.

It seems to me that a lot of writing experts are proponents of keeping a schedule. For them, writing is a discipline and they keep a schedule with their muses. I’m thinking of Julia Cameron with her morning pages. Each morning, Cameron recommends in The Artist’s Way, that her readers wake up and start writing. At least three pages. She has good reason–you’ll be less likely to edit yourself as you go when you’re still in that twilight phase between asleep and awake.

I get it but…I don’t know about you but the last thing I am going to do in the morning is sit down and write. I’ll be slumped over my notebook with drool running down my chin within five minutes.

And it’s not just the idea of writing in the morning that turns me off. It’s the idea of being required to do a certain thing at a certain time. (You can imagine how much I love my day job.) I do not like plans. The surest way to guarantee that I’ll flake out on you is to make plans with me. I don’t even like keeping lunch dates. (I do it anyway because otherwise I’d have no friends. Women go out to lunch together. It’s what we do.) Writing comes to me when it comes to me and that’s when I pull out a pen. During my son’s last concert band performance I wrote three lines of poetry on the back of the program. That same night before bed I wrote one sentence in my notebook: I am so frikken tired.

You’re not always going to feel enlightened when you pick up the pen. What matters is that you pick up a pen. If religious adherence to the practice of morning pages suits you best–by all means, go for it. But if lines of poetry come to you while you’re waiting in line at school pick-up, write them down on a receipt. Just remember to save the receipt. Maybe both approaches work for you and you are the next Jane Austen. Go get ’em, tiger. Do what works.

Just write. Write every day or every time your toddler takes a nap or once a week or at night when your partner’s snoring is keeping you awake.

All that said, here are some things to write about. Just a few prompts to get you going. Try one or all of them. Write on each for ten minutes. Stretch your legs on the page, as it were. Ready. Set. Write.

  1. Your last phone call with your lover
  2. Your most memorable birthday
  3. Your partner’s most irritating habit
  4. The last time you felt dubious but gave something/someone a chance anyway
  5. Your last plane ride
  6. When you looked in the mirror this morning, you felt…
  7. What’s your spirit animal and why?
  8. If you were going to start your own business, you’d…
  9. I always feel like there’s not enough [insert noun here: love, help, money, etc.]…
  10. The thing you are most afraid of

If you share any of your responses to these on your own blog, do link to them in the comments.

xoxo, Shannon

What I’m up to: Sparkle Box


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Oh, hi. What’ve you been up to? Me? I’m writing, working, being a mom, and – oh – STARTING MY OWN COMPANY.

Yep, that’s right. Introducing Sparkle Box.

Sparkle Box, jewelry, statement necklace

Let me tell you a little about it. I’ve had this sparkly idea in my head for a while. I took an entrepreneurial course at my alma mater this year and after a session on “breaking even” and a few others about marketing and suchlike when I had something akin to a Jimmy Neutron brain blast (for those of you that watched cartoons with your kids in the early 2000s).

Sparkle Box was born. The deets:

WhatisIt  HowItWorks

That’s the how. Here’s where you get one.

I LOVE the styles we offer and bet you can guess which is my favorite. These are just a few of the pieces I’ve had the pleasure of sending all over the world so far.

Sparkle Box, jewelry, statement necklaces

You can see a few more here. And we offer Sneak Peeks on the blog, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Google+. You know, all the cool places.

And, all sparkles are wrapped in gorgeous packaging. Because this is all about receiving a fun surprise in the mail!

Sparkle Box, jewelry, mail, package, gift for wife, gift for her, gift for girlfriend

So, does this mean I’m done with Gypsy Mind? Abso-freakin-lutely not. I love it too much. I just can’t stop creating things. This business just happens to be one of them. So, I’m blogging here. But I’ll be back to GM too. I just can’t resist spouting good ideas when they pop into my head.

Yeah, the etsy shop is hopping too (because I’m a masochist or manic or just hyper creative?).

Thanks so much for reading and for accompanying me on this wild ride. Lots of love!




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To Jacob on his birthday…

My muse, my mirror. My Jacob. At 5 foot 7, with hipster glasses and converse all stars. An ipad in one hand, a dog on your lap. This is how you begin your teenage years. You’ll forgive me a bit of a “Simple Man” moment, won’t you?

I took this photo of you at that waterfall in Brazil. We walked down more than 700 stairs to get to this point. You beat us all down there and beat us all back up. Your zest for exploration inspires me. Your enthusiasm for the new, the interesting — for discovery — it’s contagious. At each stage along your path, I’ve watched you grow, learn, become who you are. It is the greatest privilege of my life. Also, you’re funny. Thanks for that. I hope we’ve taught you to not take life too seriously, but also that we’ve given you enough structure to help you feel grounded.

(Seems like there should be a stair metaphor somewhere in here…)

And, thanks, really, for giving me an excuse to shop in the toy aisles all these years. I love Lego as much as you do.




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When you do things
from your soul,
you feel a river
moving in you,
a joy.


When actions come
from another section,
the feeling disappears


Don’t let others lead you

They may be blind
or, worse, vultures.

Reach for the rope of God

b4 b5

And what is that?

Putting aside self-will.

Because of willfulness
people sit in jail,
the trapped bird’s wings are tied,
fish sizzle in the skillet.

The anger of police is willfulness.

You’ve seen a magistrate
inflict visible punishment

Now see the invisible.

If you could leave your selfishness,
you would see how
you’ve been torturing your soul

We are born and live inside
black water in a well.

How could we know
what an open field of sunlight is?

b9Don’t insist on going
where you think you want to go

Ask the way to the spring.

Your living pieces
will form a harmony.

There is a moving palace
that floats in the air
with balconies and
clear water flowing through,
infinity everywhere,
yet contained under a single tent.


This post brought to you by Rumi. The poem is his “Moving Waters.” And pics are from our family trip to Brazil in July.

xoxo, Shannon

I won!! BonnieAngela


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Well, I guess it’s jewelry week around here. Pretty sure there’s nothing better…well, nothing sparklier anyway. You guys, I WON an awesome contest hosted by the lovely Laurie of Indulge Your Shelf. $100 worth of handmade jewelry from BonnieAngela!

These two artists make beautifully crafted jewelry from metal and stone–their wire-wrapped pieces are my favorites. Here’s what I picked out.

“A Drop of Crystalized Ocean” – similar silver version here.


The wire-wrapped stone is so cool.


Plus four gorgeous pairs of earrings.


Aren’t they lovely? I am just so touched by the artists’ generosity in offering this giveaway. To have something so carefully designed and crafted – these pieces are truly special. Do give their shop a look.


xoxo, Shannon