Archives for category: Books

When I first learned of this book a few years ago, I never would have expected what I found within its pages. I appreciate snails, but I never imagined that I would want to keep reading of the companionship that one humble snail would offer to its newfound keeper and continue learning more. The writing is beautiful in an understated way. The descriptions of the author’s country home and nature transport, and the details allow the reader into this intimate space.

I never feel Elisabeth Tova Bailey feels sorry for herself in a way that takes away from her story or journey. I feel a kinship with her and her snail who becomes the shining star in this memoir because of her strange, debilitating illness, that comes upon her suddenly when she’s on her way from her travels to home.

I love that each chapter is headed by a haiku or quote that ties in nicely to each chapter. It’s true, this small book does indeed feel like a “delicate meditation on the meaning of life.”

A gentle and beautiful read that I’m happy to have stumbled upon.

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There’s something that I’ve always found exciting about grab bags or–now–these blind book dates, something about being surprised, not knowing, figuring it out, finding something you might not have.

So, I had my first ever blind date with a book two weeks ago. The local bookstore has been doing this through the month of July. Donate a small amount of money, and take a book on a date. I don’t make it to this particular bookstore all that often; who knows how many opportunities I missed.

An assortment of books vied for my attention, all wrapped in the same brown paper outfits with a single clue written upon them. The one I chose had this clue: Australia late 1940s–novel re: renewal & moving on. I couldn’t wait until I got home to carefully peel the wrapping off to see which book would be waiting. Upon unwrapping the mystery book, the title that looked back at me was, The Railywayman’s Wife by Ashley Hay. I had never heard of it. By now, it’s been a few weeks, and I’m happy to report that the date was a success. I only got through the first 25 pages, but I was interested in the family and wanted to learn what would happen next. With so many other books competing for my attention, I plan on returning to its pages soon.

Next, I was off to find a book of my choosing. I love reading about books and especially why certain books are important to other readers, so I couldn’t pass up, The Books that Changed my Life: Reflections by 100 Authors, Actors, Musicians, and other Remarkable People by Bethanne Patrick.  I am throughly enjoying it and am purposefully taking it slow, although, it reads quite fast. I want it to last a while longer than it might normally. Already, there are several more books that I want to read because of this book and others that it has reminded me of.

I’ve since been back to the store because I had a coupon to use. I saw a book that seemed like it would be funny. It was between it, the funny one: Dating Tips for the Unemployed or Keep Me Posted. I wish would have gone with Keep Me Posted. As I started reading more of the other one, once I owned it, there just wasn’t a connection. The book and I were definitely not a match, which I should have know, but I was really looking forward to something funny and different. I had flipped through it in the store, as I usually do, but somehow, I was hoodwinked. I like trying new things; this one just didn’t work out.

I went on two more blind book dates. One was a memoir and the other was science fiction, both new books to me. The memoir wasn’t to my liking and the science fiction book sounds interesting, but the first few pages didn’t pull me in as much as I would have liked. I may have to come back to that one when I’m in the right mood.

If I see other bookstores that offer blind dates with books, I will most definitely be participating! And the money goes to a good cause.

“I happen to believe we are all walking repositories of buried treasure.”
–Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear

I listened to the audio version of Elizabeth Gilbert’s book, Big Magic. It’s always a treat when a book is read by the author and it works, which is not always the case–as odd as that sounds.

Not only did I feel inspired by her book, I soaked up her anecdotes, and felt so excited to keep listening and learning about her experiences and synchronistic associations in navigating her writing life.

This was a gem of a book, by someone that seems humbled by her experiences. And she is funny! She had me smiling my way through her book. I enjoyed it so much that I began listening to it again about two weeks after my first listen and will probably read bits and pieces on the page for a different layer of appreciation.

A trip to the library during my lunch break always revitalizes me. I feel lucky that I work close enough that I can take a brisk walk there and back, whether it’s to browse the shelves, pick up books I have on hold, sit in a chair and read, write in my journal, or post to my journal blog.

Yesterday I had books to pick up. I finished my lunch at my desk, that way I’d have that out of the way, so that I could focus on the books. Lately it’s been difficult for me not to read, whether it’s the words on the page or the audio streaming through my ears. I’m being creative and trying to be efficient in my class reading, which gives me more time with other books and Mr. Kindle.

Sometimes I will pull one of my old journals off the shelf and continue trying to speed read what is worth keeping, reading my words, being surprised at how, at times, my thoughts seem to come out so clear and in a way that I couldn’t duplicate in the present moment; and that makes me thankful that I, at least, wrote them down then, allowing me to reconnect with aspects of my changing self. In some cases, there are only a few sparks, so I rip those pages out and toss the whole journal in the garbage bin. Some of those pages, I recognize as having posted to another distant blog, one that no longer exists, and this makes me think that this journal blog could also one day cease to exist.

There used to be a time that I wrote my thoughts, then typed them into a document, then pasted them into my blog; now, though, I skip the document part and go straight to the blog, sometimes I pen the words physically first, but often it goes straight to the journal blog, so that one day it could all disappear.  I have mixed feelings about this. In some ways, I rationalize that it would be ok if I weren’t able to go back, to see what I was up to, but then it saddens me that I would essentially be erased.

But just like the beautiful Tibetan sand mandalas that are painstakingly created and then brushed away, so these words must someday be released in whatever way that occurs.

This truly was a morning page; I planned to talk about my visit to the library and was taken somewhere else.

**

The books I checked out and am excited about:

The Cat who came for Christmas – Cleveland Amory
My mother-in-law was reading this one during Christmas and it just now became available from the library. She had come across it when she was doing some clutter cleaning of her own. The first page really drew me in and made me want to know more.

Daily Rituals: How Artists Work – Mason Currey
I learned about this one through a book newsletter,  I believe, maybe one of the independent bookseller lists and recommendations. From browsing the introduction and the book, this is a collection of small splashes about many creatives, from writers to authors to composers and others in between, about their routines.

 

It’s not often I’m up this late. In my mind it’s still yesterday and not already today. I have felt hungry most of the day, and I could not stand it any longer, I gave into the pancake craving and whipped some up. I use the boxed mix: just add water and a little love, a pat of butter, syrup–a perfect way to find comfort and satisfy the craving for something warm and sweet. I finally realized the trick to a perfect first pancake a few weeks ago. Very little oil on the pan, barley there.

**

This morning, when I was down near the lower shelf where the books are, I saw the book that always makes me smile: Never Bite When a Growl Will Do, Photographs by Michael Nastasi. I thought, I should take this into my co-worker and show him since he’s a dog lover. I packed the book into my bag and set off to start the day.

Once settled in, I went into his office and told him that I had something to show him that would surely bring smiles. He sounded less chipper than usual and said he was having a bad day with bad news. “What happened?” I asked. He went on to tell me of some things that were going on. When he was done, he asked what it was I had. I showed him the book and said I thought he’d enjoy it and to take his time, no rush.

At first he was just looking at the pictures of the dogs. “Are you not reading the quotes?”

“No, I guess I’m not.”

“Be sure you do. They go together with the photos.”

**

As small as this gesture was, I was happy to bring a little brightness to the day by sharing. He ended up ordering his own copy on Amazon.

Never Bite When a Growl Will Do will especially be appreciated by anyone that had or has a canine in their life. The quotes that accompany the wonderfully captured photos are a perfect compliment.

 I took a break from my audible subscription for a few months, but tonight while I was preparing dinner–a big pot of chicken soup with veggies and rice–I wanted to also be reading a book, so while the chicken was cooking away, I went to the audible website, renewed my subscription, browsed through some possibilities, listened to a few samples, and settled on The Glass Kitchen by Linda Francis Lee, narrated by Julia Whelan.

In some ways I ask myself: am I having trouble being in the moment itself, washing and chopping the vegetables, giving the soup a stir, washing dishes. This thought didn’t actually occur to me until dinner was complete–the eating and the cooking part–and I found myself putting fresh sheets on the bed, but first I reached for my wireless headphones, same as when I was cooking, and I returned to the story while I did this task.

Even though I had the story on, I felt as though I was able to be more thoughtful with making up the bed. I wasn’t rushing. I patiently pulled the duvet cover down over the down comforter, having to go back and forth to each side of the bed, pulling down, down, down, until it was snuggled inside. Then I fastened the ends. It felt like I was very present in the moment, with the story in the background–a story that ties into my dinner preparations and involves a woman with the sense of knowing that is expressed through her food.

Yesterday I spent the whole day reading. It was a delight. It felt good to have the day free without the interruptions of a regular day. School begins again on Monday. I’ll only be taking one class, but I know that because that will be my focus, pleasure reading or any kind of reading will have to slow down again.

I’ve gotten on a bit of a YA steak lately. I listened to an audio: Counting by 7’s by Holly Goldberg. It was an enjoyable story with quirky characters, particularly Willow Chance, who is also highly intelligent, and a foster child whose parents have died; she is left with an odd set of circumstances and people that help her put her life back together.

While I was reading an issue of Bookmarks magazine, I learned of a movie that will be coming to theaters soon. It’s based on the book by Katherine Paterson called The Great Gilly Hopkins. I know that I want to see the movie, and in this case, I wanted to read the book first. I was glad to be introduced to this book that is meant for the middle-school reader. I couldn’t put the book down. It was a quick read. Gilly Hopkins has been in and out of the foster care system; she is feisty and sometimes a downright mean young lady. The ending is bitter-sweet. I can’t wait to see how the movie version of this book plays out.

I was in the mood for something by Kate DiCamillo, so I chose The Tiger Rising. This was a beautiful short piece about a boy, a girl, a tiger–a story about love and acceptance. It touched my heart.

And the book that I spent yesterday reading was A Step Toward Falling by Cammie McGovern. There are a handful of quotes of praise on the back cover of this book and I would say that one stands out and made me want to start reading it: “This is a book to read, savor, and pass on and on until it has gone around the world twice.” –Ron Koertge, author of Stoner & Spaz. A Step Toward Falling is worth the time.

For non-YA fiction, I am pecking away at Neil Gaiman’s: Tirgger Warning: Short Fictions and Disturbances. I love that in the introduction he gives a short bit about how each story came about. I am enjoying the stories so far.

I also finished The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells by Andrew Sean Greer. I’m not usually drawn to time travel novels, but for some reason on the day I was browsing the library bookshelves, this one caught my attention. I enjoyed every page of this story that was split between three periods of time in New York. I could not put it down.

I continue to find new books to add to my list.

I recently broke down and purchased the Kindle Paperwhite to add to my collection of Kindles. I now have three and each serves its purpose. The Paperwhite has made it much faster to search for books both in the Kindle Store and in my own collection; and now it’s much easier to read where there is low light. It’s also refreshing to be able to see the book covers. I have accumulated far too many books on my second Kindle and was feeling overwhelmed and not being able to get to them all. I’m trying not to clutter this Kindle with too much at one time.

Here we are in 2016, and even though it will take me a long time to finish it because of other things, I have begun reading The Old Curiosity Shop by Charles Dickens. It is so easy to get lost in his beautiful language and story telling. The way that he creates images that stick in my mind never ceases to amaze me.

A few weeks back I learned of a book talk coming up from a local bookseller’s email newsletter. I’ve been itching to go to one, but haven’t found one close enough or that fits my schedule. I hadn’t heard of Adina Sara before; after reading more about her work in the email that I received, I knew I had to go and learn more about her new book. She had written a memoir many years back; and a short book about her days in the law office: 100 Words Per Minute, which I found used on Amazon and purchased because I felt I could relate to the administrative perspective.

Blind Shady Bend is her first novel.

The book reading was intimate. It was a small crowd with many folks that knew her and some folks that were new to her work.

I always find it fascinating to listen to people talk about their writing process, how the characters came to life, the birth of the story idea, the nurturing of the elements that go into creating fiction; the process of allowing the fiction to mold itself and change before our eyes, aiding us along the way, nudging us out of the way to allow the stories and characters to speak for themselves.

Adina Sara, shared with the group that the main character came to her in a writer’s workshop–a writing prompt from 12 year ago. When asked if she wrote everyday, she said that she did not, pointing out that it took her so long to complete the book because she hadn’t written everyday.

Someone asked her about the process. She responded that she missed the process and the characters. When she would open up a file on her computer to work on, she said that she would choose by deciding who she wanted to be with that day. There was one character in particular, Pete, that she was going to take out of the book completely, but as she told the group, he became a pivotal character and indeed he did.

I was surprised at how much I enjoyed reading Blind Shady Bend. I say that because I’ve been having trouble finding a book that I can settle into. At 357 pages, it’s a somewhat quick read; it has a flow to it, the writing is nice, and there are words of wisdom scattered here and there within the pages.

Blind Shady Bend is the story of Hannah. She inherits her brother’s rundown property located in the Sierra Nevada Foothills. As she begins meeting the people that live near her brother’s property, interesting things begin to unfold, and Hannah must decide if she will stay or go

 

http://adinasara.com/

 


Saturday I went to the annual library book giveaway. It goes on for about a week. It was held outside. The sun beat down upon rows and rows of boxes filled with books from the library’s collection. In some ways it’s sad to see all those books that have been removed from the shelves with WITHDRAWN stamped onto their inner title pages. I imagine these are extra copies that the library no longer needs. The slight sadness I felt was replaced with solace, knowing that these books would find new homes on the shelves of many book lovers, both young and old and every age in between.

This morning, Sunday, my mind got mixed up. I woke up thinking it was Monday. I went through my routine but knew that I had to be at work just a little bit earlier than usual, so I had to adjust my routine. Time caught up with me as I went into rush mode. I noticed that hubby was still in bed, which was unusual since he is usually getting ready before me. I went in and asked him, “aren’t you going to work today? It’s getting late.” He groggily looked at me and said, “It’s Sunday.” I felt both silly and relieved. I started giggling and talking to him and he shushed me because he wanted to go back to bed. Since I had energy, I couldn’t settle back into a sitting routine and was ready to go out, so I took a long walk.

In the afternoon, when I came back from my walk, hubby and I went to get some caffeine in our systems, then went browsing through several antique stores. For some time, I’ve wanted to find a reasonably priced paper cigar box. It was at the last antique store we visited that I found one! It’s pictured here. I haven’t seen this particular brand before. I knew I had to have it, and it was the right price.

Later that evening we went grocery shopping together. On the way back I must have been thinking of too many things–I was definitely not in the moment because when hubby made a comment to me about a car we had just seen being towed, I responded with two separte thoughts smashed together. He questioned me about what I had just said and I asked him to repeat what I had said. When he told me, I tried to backtrack what I was just thinking about. It was odd. I don’t think I’ve ever done that before. I’ll have to pay attention. Hopefully this doesn’t become a new pattern.

It was a nice weekend, both relaxing and energizing.

I also spent a bit of time in the library studying. I took a peek at the new books they had and found one that I checked out: Words Onscreen: The Fate of Reading in a Digital World by Naomi S. Baron. I don’t know that I’ll have to time to read it cover to cover, but I’m hoping I make the time to read a good deal of its pages.

The retired library books that will now find a new home in my shelves (in no particular order):

-Characters on the Loose
-The Dream Life of Sukhanov
-Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits
-Benny & Shrimp
-Surviving a Writer’s Life
-Creek Walk and Other Stories
-Beyond Red and Blue: How Twelve Political Philosophies Shape American Debates
-The 100 Best Worldwide Vacations to Enrich Your Life
-The Man in the Picture: A Ghost Story
-Salones y Comedores: Practicos e imaginativos proyectos para decorar la casa

-20 Minute Menus
-La Cuentista: Traditional Tales in Spanish and English
-Art and Society

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Easing into this quiet Saturday, the morning dove coos in the background as I update my books read/in process list in Evernote. It’s where I keep titles and dates because I want to be able to have another spot to look back at my progress and see what pulled me in and when. I quickly scan over the 2014 list and am happy to see the long list of books, most completed, some left unfinished with short notes as to why I abandoned the book. Many titles I’ve forgotten about, but when I see them, I remember the stories and feel happy that I entered so many different places, met many characters, laughed, cried, felt deeply touched at times, connected.

And then there are some titles, that when I see them, I do remember the title itself, but not a thing about the story or characters. This bothers me. I know that I’m not alone in this. But I wonder why there are some stories that go forgotten, as though we never read them, never encountered the characters or their experiences. There are books on the list that I cannot forget and that from time to time I remember when something occurs in my day to draw it back. There are stories that I’ve wished that I could love, stories that sounded like they’d be fantastic, but because of whatever reason, maybe the style didn’t fit with my mode of receiving or maybe I didn’t like how the dialogue was going. Sometimes it’s so subtle. I know when I simply can’t enter a book even though I want to because it feels like it could have been, but never was–at least not for me.

One book in particle that I see on my list that I wanted to love is The Reading Promise by Alice Ozma and Jim Brozina. I’ve attempted to finish this book at least three times. How could I not be lured to the end by a memoir of a young girl and her Librarian father who make a pact to read aloud for 100 nights?

Last I updated my notes in Evernote, I left off on page 71. Usually if I begin a book, and it’s completely and utterly pulled me in, I will finish it; and I’m usually reading several books at one time, dipping in and out of where ever I want to be in the moment. I did like the book. There were parts that stood out and kept me going, but there was something about it, that kept me from wanting to continue. I feel that because I love books and libraries, I will need to finish this book one day. I need to keep going and continue where I left off no matter what. I used to keep a spreadsheet of my book reactions. I stopped doing that, but have been wanting to get back to it. I don’t usually make many notes in Evernote, but for this book, I wrote “Interesting but too many other books to read right now.” That was back in September of 2014.

So that gives me a sense and brings me back to thinking that maybe the book just felt a little bit too slow for me and maybe it felt like it would be a memoir told from an adult perspective, and it is, but it often felt like it was told from her younger self, which I suppose I wasn’t expecting. So when I enter the book again at some later time, I have to remember to enter it on its own and try to suspend my judgment until I reach the end.

The morning dove stopped cooing for a while, but I hear that he is back. His coo is a welcome sound that immediately brings calm to this morning, makes me stop to follow my breath.