Smart Solutions: With a good book, you can go anywhere

By Jeanine Matlow
Special to The Detroit News

Weeks into the stay-at-home order that will likely be extended, many Michiganders are looking for a routine distraction each day, whether that means taking a brisk walk, binge-watching a popular documentary, or curling up with a hot beverage and a good book.

For years I’ve been saying I could never join a book club because I’m too old for anyone else to tell me what to read. But I had a change of heart a few months ago when a friend asked me to join a laid-back one that meets once a month at a local restaurant. There, each person in the small group had a cocktail and an appetizer with some light discussion about the latest title and other topics.

Books have the power to transport the reader to another place and time.

It was such a cold night that I remember thinking I never would have left the house if I didn’t have to and now I’m so glad I did, given the fact that gathering at any venue would not be an option right now. Besides, I really enjoyed the first selection I read; a novel by Colson Whitehead called “The Nickel Boys” (Doubleday, $24.95).

Before I even finished the next book, “Mrs. Everything” (Atria Books: an imprint of Simon & Schuster, Inc., $28) by Jennifer Weiner, which was another great read, I already knew that our March meeting would be postponed indefinitely due to the current restrictions. So, I decided to keep the momentum going on my own as I continue to read other titles that have been recommended to me like the heartbreaking novel by my bedside, “A Woman is No Man” (Harper Perennial; $16.99) by Etaf Rum.

Next up will be another recommendation from a friend: “Maybe You Should Talk to Someone: A Therapist, HER Therapist, and Our Lives Revealed” (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $28) by Lori Gottlieb that sounds like it will be just the distraction I need.

In the meantime, I have also been revisiting some of my coffee-table books, including a few written by design celebrities who visited the Metro Detroit area for public appearances when special events were a part of our lives. Looking back now, I remember watching them wow a crowd, which sounds like a bad word these days.

For instance, interior designer and TV personality Thom Filicia did a book signing and Q&A session at Scott Shuptrine in Royal Oak. His title “American Beauty: Renovating and Decorating a Beloved Retreat” (Clarkson Potter, $55) still transports me from the confines of my own home to another location. In the splendid setting of New York State, he details the transformation of his fixer-upper turned peaceful hideaway.

In “Live, Love & Decorate” (Rizzoli, $50) by designer-to-the-stars Martyn Lawrence Bullard, readers get a closer look at celebrity dwellings. Bullard, who once made an appearance at a local Art Van with other cast members from the Bravo show “Million Dollar Decorators,” is known for his bold approach to interiors.  

While I sometimes want to bury my head in the sand after reading the latest news, I bury my head in a good book instead to enter another world where there is no virus to be found.

Jeanine Matlow is a Metro Detroit interior decorator turned freelance writer specializing in stories about interior design. You can reach her at