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Out & About

Book Nook

feel at home with these reads

Kane County Magazine

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Home can be a source of stress as much as it can be a source of comfort. Between the things we keep in our homes and the people we invite into them, our homes have as much room for love as they do for anxiety. Check out these tales of how the relationships we have with our homes can affect us in different ways.

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′ ‘Goodbye, Things: The New Japanese Minimalism’
By Fumio Sasaki

In “Goodbye, Things,” Fumio Sasaki writes about his experience removing all types of clutter – physical and mental – in his guide/self-help book. A regular guy working as an editor in Japan, Sasaki decided one day to do a mass cleanout of his home, drastically cutting down on clothes, furniture, entertainment, art, things he bought for his hobbies, knick knacks and appliances until only 5 percent of his stuff was left.

Unlike other home-cleanup books, Sasaki really makes himself vulnerable, sharing the secret fears that caused him to clutter his home with possessions that masked his insecurities. He shows from his personal experience that when he downsized his possessions, his home was cleaner and better decorated, he lost weight and got healthier, and his relationships with others improved.

The book itself is well-organized, and – in the mix of pictures, lists and minimalist anecdotes – offers an elegant argument that keeping a minimalist home is more likely to cause you to be happier than have you missing the items you gave up.

 

′ ‘The Grip of It’
By Jac Jemc

“The Grip of It” starts with all of the hallmarks of a classic haunted house tale. James and Julie, a young couple originally from the city, move to the edge of a scenic small town. Soon, nosy locals provide vague comments on the house’s dark history, the realtor who showed the home disappears and the couple experiences various frights – such as waking up with mysterious bruises and finding creepy drawings on the walls without any clue as to how they got there.

Jemc’s novel differentiates itself from others like it by the natural way that James and Julie’s relationship devolves into a paranoid chaos. The unresolved resentment they feel toward each other boils over, and we get just the right amount of the couple’s history mixed with the current horrors. The two of them question the decisions (and people) that led them to buy the new home and, with each new turn of terror, the distrust and fear grows until the book’s inevitable final act.

′ ‘Salt Houses’
By Hala Alyan

Expansive and sentimental, Hala Alyan’s debut novel “Salt Houses” moves through three continents over fifty years as it follows the Yacoubs, a Palestinian family experiencing change on a global scale. Starting in 1963 with matriarch Salma reading her daughter Alia’s fortune in coffee grounds, then ending in 2014 with Salma’s great-granddaughter, the book works through the different generations as they adjust to the wars between countries and within their own homes.

The characters we see the most are Alia and Souad. Alia, whose passion for family and tradition clashes with the lifestyle choices of Souad, her cosmopolitan – but subversive – daughter who prefers to live abroad rather than keep with her family’s traditions. One recurring theme is the relationship the characters have with home when they’re constantly pressured or forced to pack up their lives to leave for other cities.

As members of the family marry, have children, and try to raise those children in their own image (with varying results), Alyan’s story feels deeply personal and real.

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