Friday, October 30, 2020

A Nutcracker Book Club reading list!


Happy Friday everyone! I hope that your week went well, I know that it's not exactly easy to keep thinking happy thoughts right now. But we persevere! My teaching has wound down, and I had my last scheduled class of the semester on Wednesday with an evening one that ran until 9:30 pm. There are many more evening classes this semester with most things being remote, which is not my preferred timeslot, but I do what I can to help out. I'm relieved that that is all done for now, and am turning my attention back to things that I've been neglecting since this busy streak began. Some of that is dance, which I'll circle back to next week. And some of that is generally time to mentally and emotionally recharge. And being the dancer/reader/nerd that I am, I do that by watching and reading about The Nutcracker. πŸ˜‚

I've mentioned a number of times how attached I am to the seasonal tradition of going to see a Nutcracker performance with my mom, and with whomever amongst my kids are willing to go. This year, obviously, there will be no live performances, and I've been preparing myself for this reality for months. In anticipation, I gathered up my Nutcracker collection on DVD, and planned a Nutcracker day in which I watched multiple productions of The Nutcracker while knitting and consuming much coffee and breakfast food. This week, I watched the Pacific Northwest Ballet (which has a unique set design constructed by Maurice Sendak of "Little Bear" renown) and the American Ballet Theater rendition, performed by the iconic pairing of Mikhail Baryshnikov and Gelsey Kirkland. It was a DELIGHT. I was able to compare and contrast the artistic interpretations within each and generally nerd out on ballet stuff. It inspired me so much that I have the Bolshoi Ballet and New York City Ballet versions lined up to procure from the public library so that I can have another Nutcracker day next week!

This all sparked my curiosity so much that I did some research on the history of The Nutcracker, and now have a little book club reading list set up for myself that I have already embarked on. *halo* Maybe you'd like to join in!

First off, I simply knew that I was remiss in never having read the original "The Nutcracker and the Mouse King" by EFA Hoffmann. I knew that the story was a bit darker than what ended up being portrayed in the ballet version, but I think I'm up to the challenge! *virtual fist bump* This book is currently on the way to me from Amazon; it contains the original illustrations, and I knew the Kindle version would not do it justice. I am SO EXCITED!

Next up is this gem, and I've had it on my Kindle forever without making it past the first chapter due to Christmas cozy fiction distractions at the critical time of year. This year, it has zoomed up in my queue, and I cannot wait to dive in! This is about the history soley of The Nutcracker, rather than focusing on ballet history more generally. How perfect is that?! This is pretty much the textbook of our little book club. 😁

This one is a re-read, but definitely a delight. It's written in a more accessible memoir style (whereas "Nutcracker Nation" is more academic) and the enthusiasm of the author for all things Nutcracker and ballet -related is infectious. It's a fun one to read just before Nutcracker season. And right now, it is only $1.99 for the Kindle version!

I hope that this list gives you some fun seasonal ideas if you've always enjoyed The Nutcracker as much as I have! It has give me a much needed lift towards the end of this difficult year.

Speaking of, since the pandemic started, I've started taking ballet classes on Zoom, and I have to's HARD, much, much harder than what I remember from when I was a kid! πŸ˜‚And so, as I was re-reading "Raising the Barre" and the author mentions putting off re-starting ballet classes, favoring fitness classes to focus on getting in shape prior to doing so, I held my breath a bit for her, because in my experience the years of lessons many years before as a child does not really give you a leg up on dancing ballet 30+ years hence. But maybe that's just me. πŸ˜† I have been enjoying the challenge *tremendously* though. Some (though not all) forms of dance feel very natural to me, and this includes ballet, but it's a full mind and body experience that a body past a certain age may find a bit vexing. :-0 But very worth it for the increased flexibility I'm noticing in my feet, and the focus on posture and connection to the floor that translates perfect to my Middle Eastern dance. I'm definitely in love!

Who else is a fellow Nutcracker fan out there? Or do you have other Christmas or winter related books to add to our reading list? Perhaps dance books not relating to The Nutcracker? I'd love to hear them!


  1. Tiffany! I swear sometimes we are long-lost sisters. My *favorite* childhood book was "A Very Young Dancer" and her Nutcracker performance:

    I bought a copy last year and was so happy to reread it!

    I have so enjoyed the online Zoom ballet classes and am going to start up again in January (I'm not making any appointments this winter). Ballet was a part of my life for 20 years and it was so terrific to reconnect, physically and spiritually, to the practice. I'm currently making my way through "Apollo's Angels" (and, embarrassingly, "Midnight Sun" by Stephenie Meyer).

    I grew up going to see the Nutcracker in Chicago every year on my birthday (December 27). Will check out the versions you listed above!

    Happy Halloween!

    1. awwwww, how awesome, Amy! I *love* going back and re-reading childhood favorites! I was thinking about this very idea the other day while watching a Hallmark movie about a librarian who pulls out a Trixie Belden book and mentions how that series was her favorite as a kid. I remember Trixie Belden! I need to go look for those books, lol!

      I'm sooooo glad you've been loving ballet on Zoom, so have I! I actually like taking it in this format for now, because it's giving me time to get settled back into it without having to put myself out there as much, LOL! Ballet is MUCH HARDER than I remember from when I was 10. :-0 I take the Tuesday evening Advanced Beginner class, maybe we'll see each other in January!

      I got a giggle out of your book list. Whatever works to help us escape to another world for a little bit is a good thing, to my way of thinking!

  2. Thank You for the Nutcracker books. We have The Nutcracker DVD from the San Francisco Ballet, My First DVD. It is excerpts of Swan lake,The Nutcracker,Cinderella Sleeping Beauty among others. We have a Barbie doing The Nutcracker DVD. We also taped many years ago and still have from PBS, The Nutcracker from The Chicago Ballet We also have several ballet videos that teaches ballet. We do have numerous ballet books and series, Drina,Ballet Shoes, The Ballet School series. Enjoy The Nutcracker books and DVDS.
    Joan,Marion and Marilyn

    1. Hi ladies! ooooo, PBS is a good one to keep an eye on coming up here, maybe they'll have some Nutcrackers! I haven't seen the San Francisco Ballet's version, I'll have to look for that one as well. Thank you for the recommendations!


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