Slow: Simple Living for a Frantic World by Brooke McAlary

Slow: Simple Living for a Frantic World by Brooke McAlary

I’ve been drawn to slow living in various forms over the years. I first became aware of “slow living” when I was in my early 20s and obsessed with minimalist fashion and design – namely through the ideas of capsule wardrobes, thrifting, DIY, and sparse neutral decor. As I started business school, the concepts of slow living returned in books I read about setting intentional goals, creating meaningful habits, and leadership in today’s noisy digital world. I spent a period of time post-college reading about relationships, mindfulness, and gratitude. In recent years, I’ve been interested in seasonal living, the slow food movement, and urban homesteading. All this to say, slow living is definitely something I aspire to. But lately, I have a creeping sense of self-doubt. I often feel whatever hobby, habit switch, or self-practice I’ve adopted is inauthentic, just a side effect of whatever is trending. Likely because my go-to inspiration and resources are blogs and Instagram, and sadly these places have morphed into lean marketing machines thanks to paid advertisements and sponsored content. I see more and more click-bait headlines in the women’s lifestyle articles and newsletters I read, all ending with product placement listicles disguised as “helpful tips.”

Last week I was (mindlessly) scrolling the available audiobooks via my library’s Libby app. I’d been struggling to find the motivation to read fiction and felt overwhelmed by the constant Covid-19 barrage in the media. How about a non-fiction audiobook?, I thought. I stopped scrolling when I saw SLOW: Simple Living for a Frantic World by Brooke McAlary was available. The audiobook is about 6 hours long and the description sounded like a typical light-hearted self-help read, so I downloaded it and started listening one night while cooking dinner. I ended up pausing the audiobook to grab a notebook. I couldn’t help but write down McAlary’s words and try out her prompts.

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Quarantine Reading, or Lack Thereof

Here we are in Quarantine Week 7. How are you holding up? I’m hanging in there, but am definitely looking forward to post-corona. (Whenever that is.) In the meantime, I’m happy to hang out at home. I’ve been baking every weekend – trying new recipes and experimenting with my sourdough starter. I’ve cleaned the bathrooms, kept up on the laundry, and re-organized the kitchen cabinets. I started Zoom yoga, attended a Zoom happy hour, and even had Zoom book club. I’ve spent a lot of time hanging out with Scott. I’ve also been surprisingly busy and pretty productive working from home, which is not my preferred workspace. But one thing I haven’t quite managed to accomplish is tackling my To-Read List.

I guess my reaction to pandemic is inability to focus. That’s how I feel at least. Sitting quietly with a book is the last thing I want to be doing. I’d rather be working with my hands, which is why I’ve been baking up a storm. Nonetheless, I am trying forcing myself to get back in the reading state of mind. This past weekend I managed to get several chapters along in The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters. (I started it over a month ago.) Thinking a little nonfiction would also help get me out of my reading rut I downloaded The Likability Trap by Alicia Menendez from Chester County Library’s Libby app. My goal this week was to finish reading those, but I haven’t read the past two nights…so fingers crossed.

How’s your reading in quarantine going? Are you conquering your To-Read List with all this free time, or binging shows instead?How have you been getting your books – Libby? Hoopla? Kindle? Audiobooks? A friend? Your bookshelf? Any good book recommendations? Tell me in the comments!

Shop Small via Bookshop.org: Amazon has declared books “non-essential.” This is sad news for readers who love physical books, especially since our libraries are closed. I recently discovered Bookshop.org through Grace over at The Stripe. By ordering on Bookshop.org you can contribute directly to your favorite local bookstore, who will receive the full profit of your order. I’ve decided to go ahead and become an affiliate of Bookshop.org for all of my cookbook and book links now too because #supportlocal. You can shop my storefront here: bookshop.org/shop/bakingofftheshelf. (If you make a purchase I will make a small commission, which goes towards keeping my blog live!)