June 2022 Book Club: Practical Magic

After our plot-driven May book club, Practice Magic offered a slower more relationship-focused story. It was interesting to watch Sally and Gillian experience the same things as children and internalize them differently. One child became dependable and predictable while the other child couldn’t get away from what she knew fast enough. This in turn shaped the women they grew into and caused them to grow apart. Gillian needed adventure and constantly fell for the wrong man. Sally wanted to be normal and found herself falling quickly for the two men in her life.

The same can be said of Sally’s children. They started the story close and then grew apart when they left the Aunt’s house. Almost as if the physical location of the Aunt’s house provided a glue that kept both sets of sisters together. As the outside world wedged them apart, it was that same world that provided a humbling experience that brought them back together.

This begs the question, is it destiny that the Owens women stick together in the end or, is it the bonds of family are strong them when the going gets tough? Just as, is it destiny that men who fall in love with Owen’s women have something terrible happen to them or, is it simply circumstance? One of the things that Practical Magic does very well is display magic in a way that makes you feel as if it’s both all around you while also being just out of your reach, which makes answering these questions hard (although I’m inclined to believe there’s something to be said of destiny and fate, perhaps even that you have some control of it).

All in all, this was a comforting read that provided as many layers as the reader was interested in discovering. I picked up Magic Lessons (the prequel) after finishing Practical Magic and think that it’s an interesting companion novel. Although I thought about putting it down several times, I enjoyed that Magic Lessons took on this question of destiny vs the past catching up with you and recommend it as a read if you’d like to hear more about how the Owens family line came to be.

Cover art for the Design of Everyday Things by Donald Norman.

I’ve had a growing interest in how the design of something has an effect on its use and was recommended the Design of Everyday Things. Not necessarily the steamy beach read that July tends to call for, but a nice quick read that may lead to some ah-ha moments never the less.

First, businesses discovered quality as a key competitive edge; next came science. Now, Donald A. Norman, former Director of the Institute for Cognitive Science at the University of California, reveals how smart design is the new frontier. The Design of Everyday Things is a powerful primer on how-and why-some products satisfy customers while others only frustrate them.