Archives for posts with tag: books

This morning, I knew that when I left the house, I would be stopping at the coffee shop before work. I knew I would attempt to write something on my blog, and I knew that there was a book that I wanted to share before so much time went by, that the thought fell away. 

At this particular coffee shop, there is a waterfall in the background, trees, and large cement structures that hold bright pink and white flowers and other textured shrubbery. Usually, if I stop for coffee, it’s in and out, then off to work. It feels like my little piece of Zen–the soothing sound of the water swooshing out, bees buzzing here and there, and the canopy of trees that makes me feel like I’m in a tree house–these beauties get my day going in a peaceful direction.

This morning, as I sat at the table, before I opened my iPad, I stretched to the left to help alleviate some muscle stiffness and what did I spy, but a heart shape on one of the red bricks. This brought a great smile to my being; and it felt like that feeling you get when you feel like the Universe is speaking to you–as though the Universe is smiling or tickling your funny bone. Here I was sharing a heart yesterday, a heart that I had taken a photo of a long while ago; and here, this morning, another heart appears in the present moment. Such a wonderful feeling.

The book that I’d like to share that is written for young readers and the young at heart is The Poet’s Dog by Patricia MacLachlan. I was lucky enough to come across this when my mother-in-law came across it in one of her book catalogs. She passed it along to me and said how much she loved it. I happily accepted it and put it on a nearby shelf to be read when I felt in the mood. It’s a very short story that can easily be read in a short sitting. I chose to read half in July and was drawn to finish it recently. I was taken with its beauty, with the love on those pages. It’s a special book to be read and shared. For anyone that loves dog’s, children, poetry–they will especially appreciate this book.  

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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.

From time to time, I search the internet for writing prompts to help light a spark. I was browsing Amazon and came across this one. I read the few reviews and decided that for $2.99, why not. It provides three writing prompts for each day for the whole year. There’s a Five-minute prompt that consists of one word, a Midday prompt, and a dinner prompt. You can also view the prompts by genre if you have an idea of the direction you want to go. I’ve done the prompts for the first day and have peeked around at the other prompts.

I like how the Kindle book is laid out. Simple and clean. Just reading the prompts gets the juices going. I hope to continue on and get back to a daily writing schedule just to keep the sparks from completely burning out.

I haven’t decided if I’m going to respond to the prompts in a paper journal or a Word document or some other application. I love paper, but sometimes, it’s easier to keep organized using technology. Evernote is another option that I considered.

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.

It’s ironic that I’m reading more since I’ve been taking classes to complete the A.A. in accounting. Better late, than never. Now that our living situation is different, after work I go to the library almost everyday to study. Usually I only take one class per quarter because it’s all that I have the energy or focus for; however, I’m getting close and have decided that I will take two courses next quarter begins. Summer session is almost done and I finally get a small break before the Fall quarter. At this point, I feel like I’m doing this A.A. degree more for myself than anything. I’m viewing it as a small attempt to provide a cushion if I should find myself somewhere else, and it’s also a challenge that I can afford to take-and must take.

I remember blowing on dandelions when I was a kid; I don’t remember thinking of them as clocks. Today, my daily calendar has a close up photo of a bunch of dandelions with the caption, “Dandelion clocks await a child’s puff of breath.” Today this is really special to me because, amongst other books and audios, I’m listening to Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 and Bradbury Stories: 100 of His Most Celebrated Tales. I’m also wanting to revisit The Illustrated Man.

When I see the dandelions this morning, I see Ray Bradbury. I see Clarisse holding the dandelion up to Montag’s chin. And I remember that when I was in a writer’s group for a very brief moment, one of the writers told me that I should read Dandelion Wine after having read one of my snippets.

I don’t have a strong tie to my own childhood and the dandelion, but after returning to Bradbury, and the dandelion that turns up in his other stories, I feel a real resonance and connection to him. So now when I see dandelions, I see him and I’m reminded of childhood-the childhood that I know he speaks about but haven’t yet read in Dandelion Wine. I think of what a remarkable person that I imagine he was, and of course, a great writer and storyteller. I appreciate how open he is about sharing where the seeds of his stories began.

I knew that if I didn’t come to the page, in this moment, that this moment would fly away just as the seeds of a dandelion, and that sometimes you just have to stop what you’re doing and GO. To be in the moment, lest it fly away, blow into the wind.

“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.

Saturday was a good day. Each day actually hasn’t something good to appreciate, but Saturday was great because I got out of the house early before anybody was awake, even the stores weren’t quite ready for me. I started with a hot cocoa from Starbucks, then ventured over to the .99 cents store that was open. I went down each isle in search for something that I might need, being careful not to buy just because it was a bargain. I found a blank notebook. I don’t know that I really needed it; I saw it as a new beginning, a fresh start. I also bought one pack of miniature Hersey bars. I couldn’t resist.

I wanted to go to the gym. My excuse for not going was that I forgot my fanny pack, which is essential for taking only what I need. I didn’t want to go back home just for that. Instead I parked the car near the bookstore, walked over to the Walgreens, which was a couple of blocks away–a little bit of exercise, albeit not as much as if I went to the gym.

Finally, I ended the morning searching through the stacks of bargain books outside the bookstore. I haven’t actually done this for a while and it felt really good, taking my time, being by myself, not rushed and just enjoying some “me time.” I did find a handful of books and have started two, one is a collection of essays celebrating Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird. I need to read her much loved book. I have vague memories from my school days, but don’t feel that I’ve actually read it, so it’s on my TBR list, and I may get to it sooner than planned. I also picked up The Borrower, which has really piqued my interest. It’s quirky so far and I like quirky. Also, a Paul Auster book: Timbuktu.

When I exited the bookstore, the day settled in on my spirit. The blue skies had a softeness to them, the three little birds that I saw playing underneath a car, swept past me and I could hear the flutter of their wings. I think that was the second highlight of my morning. It practically gave me goose bumps.

I took my bag of books and my happy state of mind back home with me, ready to fold into the rest of the day.

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.