It was Joan Didion who first said, "We tell ourselves stories in order to live." That single sentiment has been top of mind lately, perhaps because it now gets dark at 4:30 in the afternoon, which naturally invites an introspective mood, or perhaps because the riveting Didion documentary called The Center Will Not Hold just premiered on Netflix and has stuck with me ever since I watched it. This one sentence continues to stun with both its simplicity and its elegant truth.
Didion often said that she figured out life through writing. At the typewriter, she was able to find the narrative thread from the world’s seemingly fractured images – things that made no sense on first look.
For me, life clicks into focus through reading. When the news feels like a swirling mass of chaos, and I can’t get a foothold (which is happening more frequently these days), I pause, I get quiet, and I read. Only then can I find my anchor and return to center. Like Didion, I turn to stories for comfort and grounding.
Our six quarterlane collections this winter are intended to provide that buoy or life raft to support and sustain all of us, alongside a sense of community and sisterhood. The eclectic assortments have been curated by women I admire – women who understand the world through stories, too. Below, find a sneak peek inside four of the boxes...
Didion herself is highlighted in one of this season’s special collaborations: Memoir 03 x The Fold, with titles gathered by The Fold’s very own founder, Amanda Carter Gomes. Didion’s The Year of Magical Thinking – a treasured account of family, love and loss that remains a classic, ten years past its original publication – sits alongside other veteran favorites like Patti Smith’s Just Kids, plus newer delights like Lisa Congdon’s A Glorious Freedom. Each author is a fierce woman with a crucial personal perspective to share.
Amanda explains, "I recently realized that in the past six-ish years, I have read only memoirs by women or anthologies about women (also written by women). I am not sure what that says about me? Perhaps simply that I don't read as much as I should, or that I love women's stories, both of which would be absolutely true. But, I do think that there is another layer to this attraction, something that we all seek in stories we read and the stories we tell: connection."
Our latest fiction box begs to be savored on long and lazy winter weekends, with each book startlingly different from the next, yet all magical in their ability to transport us within the page. One standout inside it is Megan Hunter’s novel, The End We Start From – a poetic and thoughtful masterpiece in a mere 136 pages. This slim, stunning and sparse debut novel takes us traveling beside a first-time mother as she seeks safety from an environmental collapse, highlighting new beginnings, unwanted endings, hope and heartbreak along the way. It can easily be finished in an afternoon, yet will continue to digest for far longer.
In spring 2016, I learned of the stunning home goods company called Sefte, founded by twin sisters Jennifer and Sarah Pearsall. They had teamed up with Every Mother Counts, the nonprofit dedicated to pregnancy and childbirth safety, to offer a special selection of products whose proceeds went straight towards the charity. I instantly fell in love with Sefte’s blankets and their intention to help us all find a bit more space, grace and quiet in our days, and I resonated with the idea that simple, elegant touches (like a beautiful hand-woven throw or wrap) can lead us there, turning our homes into sanctuaries.
Jenn and Sarah’s collection for quarterlane spans genres; yet, together, its contents celebrate sisterhood, simplicity and the quiet moments found within. Jenn and Sarah say, "We chose these books as ambassadors to living a slower, more meaningful...even more artful life. For us, each of these four books also confirm that beauty, artistry and meaning are not mutually exclusive."
Every morning when I was young, my dad brought my mother a cup of coffee in bed and a cup of hot chocolate for me. I would sit in an armchair in their room, and together, we would read, sip, and chat when the mood struck – all before school.
This pure magic was my favorite part of the day, and I have carried the ritual into my adult life. Maybe it’s the introvert in me, but I savor these unhurried times when I can just sit, read, and sip to start the day, whether alone or with friends and loved ones.
When I discovered Canyon Coffee, founded by Ally Walsh and Casey Wojtalewicz, through Instagram, I immediately felt a kinship with their intention to bring a sense of ritual and joy to a morning cup of coffee. As partners in both life and business, they understand the practice of making coffee for one another and enjoying it together, which can be a gift without measure. In the box they’ve curated for us this winter, you’ll find a bag of their delicious beans, plus books read while you sip.
Casey and Ally shared that they have the following quote by W. Somerset Maugham framed in their home: "To acquire the habit of reading is to construct for yourself a refuge from almost all the miseries of life." They explain, "Books are salvation for curious kids like us, providing respite while they inspire. What else has the power, at a moment's notice, to transport us from the rote to the magical? Time can take youth, but with books on our side, it cannot take our dreams." Not unlike Didion’s idea that our stories sustain our lives, no?