As a teenager, my favorite book was The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen. This book follows the life of a girl, Macy, after her father dies unexpectedly and she has to cope with losing him, dealing with her mother, and coming to terms with her over the top perfectionism. She begins to work as a caterer, where she meets Wes, who is so different from the life she has built around herself, that she can’t help by be intrigued by him. My current favorite book is Under the Tuscan Sun by Francis Mayes. This book (which is very unlike the movie) describes a woman, Francis as she buys and restores a summerhouse in the Tuscany area of Italy. She describes the misadventures of an old house, working with Italian contractors who have very different priorities than she expected, and the experience of living in Cortona.
The Truth About Forever was (and to some extent, still is) my favorite book because I wanted to relate to Macy. I have some tendency towards perfectionism in me, and I loved reading about her learning to live in the moment. I have tried for years to live in the moment, to be spontaneous without planning, but I’m still working on it. Macy demonstrates that sometimes the best parts of life are the parts that are unplanned and unexpected. All of this was very comforting as a teenager, to see that it was okay to experience life moment by moment and the sometimes the best things come when you aren’t expecting them.
I love Under The Tuscan Sun and blame it for my passion for Italy. So much of the book is topically about things that I love: food, old houses, Italy, passion for life, and even travel based literature. I loved the spontaneous nature of Francis, when she suddenly decides to buy and restore a house halfway around the world from her apartment and university job in California. I love her descriptions of the house, and through them, I came to realize my love of Mediterranean design. The theme that had the biggest impact on me was her experiences learning to slow down, (like the Italians) and enjoy the small things in life. She beautifully details the joy that comes in simple things.
After thinking about my former and current favorite books, I recognized a common theme: slow down. I love books that push to enjoy the moment, to take life as it comes. Making spontaneous decisions sometimes leads to the greatest joy. I really like the reminder from what I read to take time and slow down to enjoy life as it happens.