Several weeks ago, Mary Raymond wrote a guest post called “The Mysterious Discipline” – by far the best explanation of meditation I’ve ever read. For the first time, it made sense to me. Inspired by her piece, I offered a Bacon Meditation Challenge: please join Mary and me for Oprah and Deepak Chopra’s 21 Day Meditation Experience – Manifesting Grace Through Gratitude – beginning December 1st. The commitment: 20 minutes and $2.40 a day (their charge, not mine). 

It seems like a good time of year to practice peace.

 Let’s compare notes at the end of the month! Did you make it all 21 days? Did you continue your practice? Or – did you find that its benefits remained elusive?

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Whether you’re joining us for meditation or not, you might be looking for a beautiful, contemplative read for December. My top pick: The Ninth Hour, by Alice McDermott, possibly my favorite book of the year. The Ninth Hour is McDermott’s love song to the nuns of the early 20th century who served the poor. It doesn’t idealize them, but it shows God’s work through human hands in the world. The main characters are a pregnant widow living in a Brooklyn tenement (and subsequently her child) who come into their care. The Ninth Hour glows gently with sorrows and loves, hope and death and life.

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Other books on my radar right now…

My book club is reading The Girl with Seven Names: Escape from North Korea, by Hyeonseo Lee (Thank you, Lynne Trost, for this intriguing pick): 

Several of my friends (including Lucy Haynes) have been buzzing about One Good Mama Bone, a debut novel by Bren McClain. “Set in the early 1950s rural South, One Good Mama Bone chronicles Sarah Creamer’s quest to find her “mama bone” after she is left to care for a boy who is not her own but instead is the product of an affair between her husband and her best friend and neighbor, a woman she calls “Sister”:

You’re Grown – Now You Can Cook, by Sallie Stamps Swor, looks like the coolest gift for a 20-something. It’s written by a Nashvillian, and that’s cool too:

From author Sallie Swor:

Way before the food craze, when most of my friends were pouring over Cosmopolitan Magazine, I spent my time engrossed in the latest issue of Gourmet. In my first college apartment I discovered the thrill of entertaining friends with dinner parties, brunches, picnics – well just any excuse to cook. I also discovered that no one minded… The cookbook itself came about as a request from my son as he moved into his first apartment… When his friends tasted his delicious creations, they all want copies of the cookbook. Soon my friends, many of whom are very accomplished cooks, requested their own copies, so here it is: You’re Grown – Now You Can Cook. I am a Nashville native and married to a very unadventurous eater who I love anyway… I am a graduate of Hillsboro High School and Rhodes College and have a Master’s Degree in Education and School Counseling… You can follow my cooking blog at,

And here’s Sallie’s newest offering:

“Nothing’s more fun than partying with Sallie! A fearless and creative cook, Sallie is a passionate teacher with a nurturing nature, the result of many years of counseling young people. But mostly, it is her clever, artistic touches, and her ability to elevate the everyday into something special that makes her one of the most gifted party givers I know. Here is a great book full of fun recipes and party ideas for the young and the young at heart!” -Emily Frith, well-known Nashville chef, caterer, owner of Nashville’s Corner Market, and Food Network Contestant

Thanks for the wonderful recommendation, Mary Jo Shankle!

If you’re in the mood for stylish, gorgeous holiday entertaining, check out Peter Callahan’s Party Food, recommended by my lovely friend Robin Patton:

A bit more on Peter:

PETER CALLAHAN is the iconic owner and Creative Director of New York City-based Peter Callahan Catering.

Widely credited with having created the mega trend of miniaturized savory and dessert comfort food hors d’oeuvres, Peter has been a caterer, food stylist and culinary innovator for more than twenty-five years.

Seen countless times on the Today Show and Martha Stewart Show, Peter is also a Contributing Editor for Martha Stewart Weddings and was twice named by Modern Bride Magazine as an industry ”Trendsetter.” Peter has created sensational events for Martha Stewart, Vera Wang, Kate Spade, JP Morgan, Tory Burch, Valentino, Regis and Joy Philbin, Tony Bennett, Kelly Ripa, Google, and Al Gore, among many other clients.

Here’s what Kate Spade has to say about his prior book, Bite by Bite:

“Peter’s food is always the entertainment at my parties. His small bite-size offerings make such an impression. Bite by Bite is the next best thing to having Peter in your kitchen.”


Kathy Schultenover, Bookseller and Book Club Coordinator at Parnassus

And finally: The “Book Clubs” shelf at Parnassus (where they feature local book club picks) is always on my radar. Your local indie bookstore probably has one of these shelves! Don’t hesitate to call Kathy at Parnassus for ideas about what clubs are reading and enjoying now.

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It is a good time of year to practice peace and decorate a pink Christmas tree with flamingos

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