This month’s “woman of dignity” is not a woman at all, and actually is not even a real person. Meet: Nancy. Nancy Clancy. Fancy Nancy.
I’ll be honest: when I first heard of “Fancy Nancy”, I definitely rolled my eyes. All of the pink and princess and fancy and whatnot can be tiresome for a mother of daughters. I am not particularly feminine or fussy and I don’t even like the spa. I immediately assumed that “Fancy Nancy” would be a girl who was shallow and silly and without much to offer to my impressionable young daughters (aged 4 & 6).
After reading some 35+ picture books and 5 chapter books – more than once, I assure you– I am convinced that she is one of the most well-written, deep characters in all of children’s fiction. Jane O’Connor offers children a role model with dignity, complexity and a high quality of character. I LOVE Nancy and here is why:
Photo credit: Nick Agro OC Register
Last Mother’s Day, my sister gave me a copy of Jenny Rosenstrach’s cookbook/memoir/ode-to-“family dinner” Dinner: A Love Story. Based on her blog of the same name, DALS wrestles through the joys & trials of prioritizing a daily meal together as a family.
The book chronicles Jenny’s journey from the early days of her own family – she & her husband working long hours in NYC publishing, then counter-culturally coming home and still cooking dinner – through the punishing years of toddler pickiness, on to the glory days: what she calls “the years the angels began to sing” (i.e. school aged children). Throughout her tales of working and then baby-ing and, the trickiest, working and baby-ing, there are recipes. Oh, there are recipes!
Ever since receiving it, DALS has been a mainstay of my cooking arsenal. I dole out copies whenever I have occasion to, and sing Jenny’s (or Andy – her husband’s) praises when I sit down to yet another reliably delicious meal.
Dinner: A Love Story is a fabulous gift to give to any mom, any aspiring cook, anyone who likes good writing, anyone who enjoys a good laugh… ANYONE! Pick up a copy at your local bookstore if there is a mom you’d like to treat this week.
Another idea in our meaningful gift guide is to cook your Mom a meal. Here are two recipes from Jenny’s original DALS book that you can make for Mom this weekend.
When I began working on our Meaningful Gift Guide for Moms, I knew that I needed to include a section on books.
She always has a stack of books on her bedside and one or two on the go. Her book club has been meeting for nearly 40 years. And her insistence that a great joy of life is that she will never, ever run out of great books to read – well, it has completely inspired me with a passionate love of reading.
Sooo, I love a good deal. I really do. When Amazon first began gaining traction, it was my greatest delight to find something I wanted on Amazon for a fraction of the price that I could find it elsewhere.
Then, I read about them being the Walmart of the internet: not much concern for anything (or anyone) but the profit statement. I heard about the Hachette debacle. I read that in the UK, Amazon uses a tax evasion practice that enables them to pay less than 0.1% in taxes. And, as my husband was helping to promote & sell a water-purification product, I learned first-hand about Amazon’s aggressively predatory pricing. That is, they constantly scour the internet marketplace for other stores selling the same products, and inch their prices a little bit lower, and lower, and lower. Amazon can still thrive as a business, even with very low margins (selling for just a tiny bit more than the price for which they bought it), because their volume of sales is so high. Small businesses cannot.
It was time. The discounts could no longer sweet talk me. I needed to break up with “the Web’s biggest bully”.
I had mostly been borrowing books from the library, buying used, and shopping for other items at more traditional stores (I can buy running shoes from a local running store – who knew?!). But I’ve always got my eyes open for alternatives to Amazon.
Cue the trumpet fanfare: only last week, I was DELIGHTED to discover Better World Books.
Ask my friends: I love a good book club! A few girlfriends and I started a book club in the tradition of my mother (whose group has been meeting for over 35 years!) and it is one of the highlights of my month.
I also discuss books over email with my cousin who works for Bloomsbury in London. And, most recently (and hilariously), after an exchange of suggestions on deep, soul-catching books, my friend Suzanne and I started another little email book club we ominously call “Heavy Reads”!
I suspect that many women visiting here are like me:
I am certainly interested in global issues, and I want to have understanding and empathy for the mass of suffering, poverty, and struggle that takes place in the world. But, it’s not my passion.
I can’t constantly read hard news stories, biographies from the edge, or watch endless tragic movies. This summer, watching a succession of Schindler’s List, The Impossible, and 12 Years a Slave, along with reading The Hiding Place and a book on the Liberian civil war, (as well as following some local, heart-wrenching tragedies), just about did me in!
However, I so appreciate a well-written memoir, non-fiction, or novel that plunges me into a life or a place of which I would otherwise be completely oblivious. Here are a few book picks that will swell your compassion, empathy, and open up understanding of a different kind of life. Pick them up at your library or a bookstore – local or otherwise – to whom you actually want to give your money.