Weekend Reading: Joan Didion, Eileen Fisher, and How to Read More



At the dentist this week, the hygienist asked me if I’d made any resolutions (why do they always ask so many questions with their hands in your mouth?).

“Not really,” I shrugged.

“Me neither,” he said. “I’m a driven person, so I don’t really feel the need just because it’s a new year.”

I wouldn’t really use the term “driven” to describe myself, though “ambitious” or “excitable” or “obsessive”… maybe. But I understand where he’s coming from. When you’re always striving (which, by the way, I don’t consider a necessarily positive thing in terms of mental health), you don’t need an arbitrary date as an excuse to stack more expectations on yourself.

On the other hand, I get it. We love symbols, and the idea of renewal is so potent. Who doesn’t want to start the year on the right foot? And if that motivates us to try something new, even better.

I have lots of goals, but no resolutions. What about you?

On to some reading! I haven’t done one of these in a while because of the holidays, so this one’s a bit long. Enjoy!

Weekend Reading:

Weekend Listening:

For more links every week, you can follow me on Twitter, where I’m always posting interesting tidbits I find.

image above via colettepatterns on instagram

Sarai Mitnick   —   Founder

Sarai started Colette back in 2009. She believes the primary role of a business should be to help people. She loves good books, sewing with wool, her charming cats, working in her garden, and eating salsa.

Comments 15


I love Joan Didion. She captures the essence of LA perfectly.


The TAL episode was fabulous! I feel so sorry for the oeioke being sucked into it.


Me too. It also really made me think about the ways people are manipulated in more subtle ways online with positive messages and telling people what they want to hear. Like all the “quit your job, it’s easy to get rich!” blogs out there.


I absolutely love that article about Eileen Fisher! it’s witty but also so true, and I hope boxy ‘art teacher’ shapes stay strong this year (definitely going to be a theme of my Wardrobe Architect series)


The correct answer to your dentist’s question is “I’m going to floss twice a day”

Jet Set Sewing

I had to laugh reading that over-analysis of Eileen Fisher. I have plenty of her designs in my closet, because her line is one of the only brands that’s fit for the changes in a middle-aged body. Also Eileen Fisher pieces travel well and are easy to accessorize. But they are boring all by themselves, which is why I hope my boomer sisters will join me in sewing some things that are really cool to go with them.


For me the changes in the new year are a natural response to the turbulent upheaval we all experience during the winter holiday season. In some form or another, I have a strong desire to regain a daily rhythm after weeks of rushing to accommodate modified schedules, cancellations, etc. I find relaxation in rhythm, and perhaps resolutions are one way we prescribe ourselves well deserved relaxation.

amy w

Yay for reading challenges!! I did one last year. I wanted to read at least 52 books for the year (one a week) and not counting my book club books. The final count was 55 personal reading choices and 7 book club books. (The total list is on my blog and I tracked them on Pinterest). What helped me was (1) Making a to-read list before the year started. This was books I wanted to read and suggestions from friends. (2) Library trips had me getting 3-4 books at a time. (3) I carried a book with me all the time. (4) I get an hour for lunch at work so I read during then and in the evening. (5) Don’t be afraid to stop reading a book if it’s not hooking you in. I stopped about 5 books during the year and there were several that I was ready for them to end. (6) I also discovered that I can read a book on the elliptical at the gym. lol

This challenge really helped me get out of my comfort zone with favorite authors and genres. I discovered new authors, read some really good non-fiction (Lean In, Outliers, Unbroken) and really made time for to read just about every day. I’m doing a new one this year (The PopSugar Reading Challenge) but I started grad school last week so I’m having to balance work, school and hobbies.

Good luck with your reading endeavor. It will be an intellectually rewarding experience!!

Thanks for the Eileen Fisher clip. Heading into the 6th decade and wondering what to wear. Able to sew your own helps and adds to the ‘basics’.

Yay for the reading challenge. Thankful for electronic readers with enlarged print!!!!


Huh. I’ve always read a lot. I read about 80 books last year and that’s just kind of standard for me. And I don’t think I do any of the things on that list–I’d be hard pressed to think of a single thing that I consciously do to read those books. I’ve already completed four books this year and I have another two that are almost done, and that list just makes it all sound like work to me.

In fact when I did an actual reading challenge last year, I found it really unsatisfying. I found myself picking books I figured I could finish quickly rather than what I wanted to read necessarily, and it took a lot of the fun out of it. So for me, this year, no reading challenges!

And it’s not like I’m swimming in free time. I’m a single mom w/ chronic health problems, full time job, and a little girl with her own chronic health problems. And I sew and work out and cook dinner and all that stuff. And the only thing I can think of that I “do” to read a lot of books, is find a lot of books that I want to read. Then finding five minutes here and five minutes there to dip into them is a treat, not a chore, and I don’t even think about it.

I don’t mean to go on about this, but I find it a bit shocking and saddening that reading a lot of books for some people is more like flossing their teeth than eating a slice of chocolate cake.


I don’t think it’s a matter of lack of enjoyment as much as the fact that we’re swimming in a lot of addictive time-wasting activities.

I love love love going to the swedish sauna up the street from me. It feels great, it’s cheap, it relaxes me. But I have to force myself to get in the habit of going, lest I feel too “busy” to do the things I enjoy. I don’t think that’s too unusual.


You must be right. But it still seems odd to me. If someone put a chocolate cake in my kitchen, I would not need to discipline myself to make time for it amongst other addictive and time-wasting activities. I’d have to discipline myself not to eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Finding time for reading and carrying through with it is, believe me, never ever something I’ve had to work on. (Typed out on the laptop w/ an open book on my lap.)


I just listen to that TAL episode on my commute this morning and it was totally fascinating. I just kept switching between “what idiots” and “these poor people!”

Carolyn Flemming

I want to know what kind of stitch you would use if you were hand sewing a dress or blouse.

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