Elizabeth Jacobs




Infinite Home: A Novel.

by Kathleen Alcott

Riverhead Books (2015)

"Infinite Home" is the story of the tenants of a run-down New York City apartment building and how they emerge from isolation to support each other and their widowed landlady as she declines into dementia. The failing of Edith's mind and the corresponding decline of the building lead its equally damaged young occupants to open their doors and their lives to each other.

Alcott draws her characters so vividly that you feel like you're there with them as they drift in and out of each other's apartments and lives. She has built a tiny world of realistically flawed individuals with real, raw emotions and imperfect lives: Edward, the washed-up comedian who spends his days regretting his formerly successful career; Thomas, the painter who has recently suffered a debilitating stroke; Paulie, who suffers from Williams syndrome; and Adeline, the beautiful recluse who hasn't left her apartment in six months.

Told from the alternating perspectives of each character in short chapters, "Infinite Home" is a great choice for readers who prefer character-driven novels. The loosely constructed plot, which turns on the arrival of Edith's son, exists only to precipitate the changes in the lives the author has created. The recurring themes of isolation versus connection, and living in the past versus embracing the present, combine to build a story about what it means to care for and be cared for by someone else. The home of this moving novel is more than what is represented by the building in which the characters reside. It is simultaneously the space we physically inhabit, the emotional space inside of us, and the space we share with those with whom we choose to make a life.

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing

by Marie Kondo

Ten Speed Press (2014)

As we continue to evolve as a society of consumers surrounded by ever-growing collections of possessions, Japanese organizing master Marie Kondo has arrived in America to help save us from ourselves. This wonderfully inspiring book introduces readers to the author's Kon Mari method of organizing, which she has developed over a lifetime of tidying her own possessions and teaching private courses on organizing in Japan.

Taken at face value, the idea of carrying out Kondo's method to the letter may seem a bit overwhelming. Her rules for tidying are specific and exacting, but she writes with the conviction that what she prescribes will bring about the magical life-change suggested by the book's title. Kondo is like a stern but supportive teacher, a voice both insistent and inspiring. She is there to guide readers through the process of discarding and storing their possessions.

If complete commitment to tidying as prescribed in this book is not the thing for you, many of the principles in Kondo's method can be applied to home organization no matter how you choose to go about it. The major points are in easy-to-spot bold type, so you can quickly filter through the text to get at the heart of her guidelines for putting your house in order. However you choose to apply the lessons, at the heart of it there is more to the magic than just eliminating clutter and limiting the number of possessions we keep. The real magic lies in the idea of creating order in your mind and

life by creating order in your home.

If tidying can do in reality what this book describes in theory, it is definitely worth the attempt. This book is a must-read for anyone who is ready to embark on the journey of putting their house and their life in order.

Holiday reads:

The Turner House

by Angela Flournoy

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (2015)

Finalist for 2015 National Book Award

This is Where I Leave You

by Jonathan Tropper

Dutton (2009)

Holidays on Ice

by David Sedaris

Little, Brown & Co. (1997)

All of these titles and thousands more are available for checkout at the Bismarck Veterans Memorial Public Library.