American Horror Stories : Part II

Yesterday I began my week-long theme about books that terrify me.

This first week of October is dedicated to books by Lisa Genova. On Friday, (since I will have covered all of Genova’s books) I will post a book by another author who writes in a similar vein to Genova.

I’m not featuring the books in any particular order, but I am featuring the one that I liked/scared me the most on Thursday. Yesterday’s post featured Left Neglected and Love Anthony.

Leading off today is:

Inside the O’Briens

This story follows an Irish Catholic family living in Massachusetts. The father, Joe, is a policeman and is diagnosed with Huntington’s Disease.

HD is a neurodegenerative disease. It has no treatment and no cure.

Joe begins having random outbursts, flares of temper, and random movements. He associates these to getting older and the stress of his job, but they are actually symptoms of HD.

Joe and his wife have four children. Two boys and two girls. Because Joe has HD, there is a 50% chance that each of his children will develop this disease. As if having the disease isn’t terrible enough, Joe struggles greatly knowing he is the source of where his children would acquire this disease from.

He struggles greatly with telling them. Upon knowing, each child has the choice to be tested to find out whether they carry this gene. Do you think you would want to find out if you has the choice? I feel like there are reasons for both.

Although this isn’t her most recent book, it’s the one I read most recently.

Genova writes with insight and great compassion. In the afterward section she talks about the individuals and families she worked along side with that were dealing with HD. Their lives and deaths allowed her writing and subsequently our reading to be only that much more of an authentic experience.

Next up:

Still Alice

Still Alice is one of Genova’s most popular books and was my introduction to her. She self-published this book in 2007 and after gaining such popularity it was picked up by Simon and Schuster.

This is the story of Harvard Professor Alice Howland, who is diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s.

This story hit very close to home at a time when I needed to read it most. I do plan to write and share more with you all about this at a later date.

This is the the only book that has brought tears to my eyes in as long as I can remember. I highly recommend this book. If you have dealt at all with Alzheimer’s up close and personal, the very last part of this book cuts like a knife.

I could say a million cliched things about the horrors of Alzheimer’s, but the simple fact is that it robs people of ultimately everything they ever held dear. The only reprise (if it can be called that) is that the surrounding loved ones still know the soul who is tangled beneath this disease.

There is nothing to say except to love and hug harder those who you have been blessed to spend this life with.

Until tomorrow.

I had multiple favorite quotes from Still Alice:

“You’re so beautiful,” said Alice. “I’m afraid of looking at you and not knowing who you are.”
“I think that even if you don’t know who I am someday, you’ll still know that I love you.”
“What if I see you, and I don’t know that you’re my daughter, and I don’t know that you love me?”
“Then, I’ll tell you that I do, and you’ll believe me. –Still Alice

“And I have no control over which yesterdays I keep and which ones get deleted. This disease will not be bargained with.” –Still Alice

“My yesterdays are disappearing, and my tomorrows are uncertain, so what do I live for? I live for each day. I live in the moment. Some tomorrow soon, I’ll forget that I stood before you and gave this speech. But just because I’ll forget it some tomorrow doesn’t mean that I didn’t live every second of it today. I will forget today, but that doesn’t mean that today didn’t matter.” – Still Alice

Advertisements

American Horror Stories: Part I

Happy October 1st!

When I began thinking about what I wanted to post for the month of October, my mind of course thought of creepy books.

I enjoy the strange and mysterious. If a story gets a little (or a lot) dark along the way, count me in. I do like books like Frankenstein or Dracula- but those do not scare me. Nor do witches, werewolves, or anything typically bloody and gruesome.

What gets under my skin and makes it crawl is the seemingly normal and ordinary. The everyday nuances that when twisted can terrorize the mind. When a story about the normal neighbor who has been keeping people locked in a basement, yet cheerily says hello every morning- that’s what creeps me out.

The majority of books that I plan to post about this month will have those types of characteristics. Subjects and stories that are true or could very likely take place are way scarier than fiction (usually). Stories that grab you on a psychological level are so much scarier than ghosts and goblin types. Our brains are often the biggest source of what we fear.

The mind can be a scary place, remember that and tread carefully.

On the complete flip side of books that scare me on a psychological level are the books I am going to talk about this week.

These books scare me on such a profound level that at times I had to stop reading and return months later to them. It took me several years to read all five of these books because they terrify me and I needed to space them apart.

Lisa Genova has written five fiction novels. All of her books center around disease, sickness, and loss. Another author, Jodi Picoult also writes novels with medical issues front center. However, Picoult’s novels also usually present a medical-ethical dilemma as well. Her books are good and I recommend her as an author. Genova, on the other hand, presents each of her books (centering on an ailment) as open and raw as I feel is possible. The disease or sickness in question is just right there staring you in the face.

Her books are true horror stories.

Watching a disease ravage the body and/or mind of someone you love is sickening.

Aside from being an author, Lisa Genova is a neuroscientist. She researches and works with those who are afflicted with the particular diseases she has written about. Her knowledge on these subjects is vast, yet her books are written for the layman, which only makes them more frightening in my opinion.

In this post I am going to write about two of her books. Over the next few days I will cover all five. On Thursday, I will feature the one that scared me out the most. On Friday, since I will have covered all of her books, I am going to feature a book (also of the medical horror variety) by another author.

Left Neglected :

This story follows Sarah Nickerson.

Sarah is a mom like any other. Multi-tasking, trying to be as efficient as possible, all while driving her kids from one place to the next.

During one such drive she is distracted by her cell phone, looks away a second too long, and poof, her life and all of the million details it entails abruptly comes to a stop.

She isn’t killed. Instead she suffers a traumatic brain injury resulting in a diagnosis of Left Neglect.

Left Neglect means nothing in your left hemisphere exists to you. It’s a hard scenario to grasp. Although logically Sarah knows what she’s been through and what the doctors have told her, she struggles with it.

There’s a part that stands out in my mind that quickly put it in to perspective for me. Sarah, thinking she’s doing ok wants to go for a drive. Someone is with her in the car and they slowly begin to head down the street. After a minute, her friend asks her why she is driving with her (left side) door open? That door no longer exists to Sarah and she had no idea it was open.

I can’t imagine.

Just as the brain can be a scary place psychologically speaking, it can also be scary due to its size and capabilities. When those capability’s are lost, there are no prerequisites for specific healing times, if in fact they ever completely heal.

Sarah’s story is one I have thought about so much over the years since I have read it. Cell phones are everywhere and we all have used them at times when we shouldn’t have. I’m not judging because I am including myself.

I highly recommend this scary book to you. Just another reminder to be safe while you and your loved ones are in cars -surrounded by a million other people in cars who might be texting that quick little note to grab an extra gallon of milk on the way home.

Love Anthony :

This story follows two women and the power of friendship in light of horrific tragedy.

Beth and Jimmy’s fourteen year marriage ends when he has an affair. Olivia and David have a non-verbal son with Autism named Anthony. Just when they are learning to to navigate the often rough waters of his diagnosis, Anthony dies at the age of eight.

Instead of drawing closer together in the time of tragedy, Olivia and David divorce.

Both women take up different hobbies to try and understand their recent life upheavals. Beth begins to write and Olivia turns to photography. These two women and their stories do tie together.

I don’t want to write much about this story, because I want you to read it.

I cannot imagine the loss of child and I hope to God I never have to know that pain and suffering.

The books of today’s post are scary and heavy. I’ve not meant to write gratuitously, but rather to make you think. Genova writes about subjects that 100% scare the socks off me. But- at the same time I feel after reading her stories I have become a little more educated in those areas. Knowledge can be scary, but it can also be the force that propels us to push forward and advance rather than living in fear.

“Have you lost your mind?”

“No,” I say, insulted. Well, I actually have lost some of my right mind, but now’s probably not the best time to be literal.

Lisa Genova, Left Neglected

September Wrap-Up & An October Preview

September and October are two of my favorite months.

It’s still a little warmer than I’d like it to be, but the sky is beautiful and the mornings are beginning to cool, so that’s a start. The older I get, the more I find myself embracing the colder weather. I feel like this is the opposite of how everyone else feels, but oh well. I think it’s mostly because I’m obsessed with sweaters and sweatshirts.

Although I feel like I’ve read a lot this month, I’ve only finished a total of five books. In just the last week and a half, including last night, I received five new books from Overdrive! Three are new releases, so if I don’t get to them this time around I know my wait is going to be crazy long when I put them on hold again-ugh.

The 5 from Overdrive:

1. The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead

2. The Institute by Stephen King

3. Chances Are by Richard Russo

4. My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh (I put this book on hold back in the spring- my library only has 1 or 2 digital copies of it, so it took FOREVER.)

5. The Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware (this is the third time I have put this book on hold!!)

I want to read them all right now!

Below is my September wrap-up & ratings:

1. Doctor Broad by Deborah Roberts. Non-fiction. This was a digital ARC from #Netgalley. ⭐️⭐️⭐️ Below is the Amazon synopsis:

• For decades, starting in the 1950s, Raymond Patriarca ran the New England Mafia out of a storefront in Providence, Rhode Island. By 1980 he was seventy-two years old, and suffering from diabetes and heart disease. One night in December of that year his life intersected with that of Dr. Barbara Roberts, a thirty-six-year old single mother of three, who was the first female cardiologist to practice in Rhode Island. Asked by Raymond’s family to check on him after he was arrested on capital charges, Barbara—a naive Alice in Wonderland—entered a looking-glass world populated by pitfalls, moral ambiguities and dangers for which her devout upbringing had not prepared her. How did a former Catholic schoolgirl from a working-class family become the physician and defender of one Mafioso, and the mistress of another? How did her children handle these scandalous associations and the resulting hostile publicity—and what were the reactions of their fathers?
Expanding on the story first told in the popular Crimetown podcast, this memoir is a tale of motherhood, political activism, controversy, heartbreak and survival; it traces one woman’s trajectory against the backdrop of America’s 20th century upheavals •

I liked this book and it had a very interesting storyline. The only aspect that got on my nerves was the constant mentioning of Dr. Roberts’ political activism (she is a very staunch feminist). I have no problems with what she chose to get political about, it just seemed like a major portion of the book kept coming back to that. It’s always interesting to read about people who have different beliefs and it did pertain to the story somewhat, but I was more interested in the sections concerning her and her care of Raymond Patriarca.

2. Educated by Tara Westover. Non-Fiction. This was my bookclub September selection. I read a hard copy edition and loaned my copy out, so it didn’t make the picture. We had some interesting discussions about this book at our meeting this past Friday. I was very surprised that it wasn’t unanimously loved-because everyone seems to love this book. I liked it, but enjoyed (books in a similar vein) The Glass Castle by Janette Walls and Hillbilly Elegy by J. D. Vance more so. ⭐️⭐️⭐️& 1/2

3. The Giver by Lois Lowery. Fiction. I read this on my Kindle. This book was assigned reading for my older son. I have wanted to read this for awhile and had bought a really cheap e-copy a few years back. My son and I ended up liking it so well that I ordered us each (and it’s SO pretty) a hardback book that has the entire quartet inside. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

4. My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh. Fiction. This was an e-copy from Overdrive. It was one of the new ones mentioned above. I read Eileen by this author, which was strange but good. This book was strange and not as good in my opinion. I read it in two days, so it was a fast read, but I’m not sure I recommend it. It was just interesting enough to keep the pages turning, but the premise was strange and not all that believable. I guess because I liked the weirdness of Eileen I stuck with it. ⭐️⭐️& 1/2 .

The Amazon synopsis is below:

• Our narrator should be happy, shouldn’t she? She’s young, thin, pretty, a recent Columbia graduate, works an easy job at a hip art gallery, lives in an apartment on the Upper East Side of Manhattan paid for, like the rest of her needs, by her inheritance. But there is a dark and vacuous hole in her heart, and it isn’t just the loss of her parents, or the way her Wall Street boyfriend treats her, or her sadomasochistic relationship with her best friend, Reva. It’s the year 2000 in a city aglitter with wealth and possibility; what could be so terribly wrong?

My Year of Rest and Relaxation is a powerful answer to that question. Through the story of a year spent under the influence of a truly mad combination of drugs designed to heal our heroine from her alienation from this world. Both tender and blackly funny, merciless and compassionate, it is a showcase for the gifts of one of our major writers working at the height of her powers •

5. Empire Falls by Richard Russo. Fiction. This was my favorite of the month and a Pulitzer Prize winner to boot. I started this a few weeks ago, maybe even in August, it’s almost 500 pages, so definitely a longer read. As much as I loved it, I’m not sure I would recommend it to everyone and here’s why. This story follows a small, mostly blue-collar town in Maine that was once centered around a large textile factory. When it closed, the town kind of closed with it. This story follows the people that have lived there before and after the closing. It’s basically a story about life. Small-town, the gossip, not a whole lot going on, yet somebody is always doing something. I think you either like these types of stories or think they are really boring. I just happen to be one that really likes them. Russo also wrote Nobody’s Fool (which is a great movie and I had no idea it was a novel when I watched it), which is another story about small-town life. Russo has such a way of capturing and writing authentic sounding scenes and dialogue. It’s actually incredible how real every character feels and sounds. It sort of reminds me of the movie (if it were a book), Grumpy Old Men. Definitely a similar feel. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️&1/2.

Now that September is almost over, I am really excited for a few posts I have in mind for October.

Starting tomorrow and through Friday I am going to be posting some books that fall under a category called:

I don’t think these books will be at all what you think. So, check back tomorrow if I’ve peaked your interest!

“Was anything in the world truer than that intuitive leap of the heart?” -Richard Russo, Empire Falls

(This was a favorite quote I came across while reading).

A Feast Fit For A Bookworm

Are you all getting tired of me professing my endless love of Friday ? I hope not, because it’s out of my control. So, if you decide to stick with me and this blog, you’re stuck with my gushing about Fridays- but only on Friday.

Friday is for favorite things and posting about them. My favorite things are books, dessert, and wine. Not in any specific order of importance, but all at one time. Sort of like a miniature feast. So let’s get the feast started.

The Book

I came across How to Disappear by Akiko Busch in one of the various book review publications or emails I receive. The title in its entirety is, How to Disappear- Notes on Invisibility in a time of Transparency. It’s not a long book, coming in at exactly 200 pages.

I would be finished with it if I wasn’t putting ‘Note Pals’ on every other line. There are so many statements, ideas, and phrases that ring true to me.

The main idea of this book being many people are so concerned with image consciousness, branding themselves, and just simply putting themselves and their lives on display. Busch argues against this notion saying, “The impulse to escape notice is not about complacent isolation or senseless conformity, but about maintaining identity, propriety, autonomy, and voice. It is not about retreating from the digital world but about finding some genuine alternative to a life of perpetual display.”

Yes, yes, and yes.

Another section talks about how children today do not shy away from the camera as much, and actually primp a little in their awareness of one being present. Busch alludes this to the fact that children in today’s culture came straight from the womb being photographed and posted. Because of this, children and teenagers associate, “being unseen as negative,” says Busch.

Since I am only halfway through, below is the Amazon synopsis:

How to Disappear is a unique and exhilarating accomplishment, overturning the dangerous modern assumption that somehow fame and visibility equate to success and happiness. Busch presents a field guide to invisibility, reacquainting us with the merits of remaining inconspicuous, and finding genuine alternatives to a life of perpetual exposure. Accessing timeless truths in order to speak to our most urgent contemporary problems, she inspires us to develop a deeper appreciation for personal privacy in a vast and intrusive world •

For being such a short book it packs quite a punch and I haven’t even finished it. The copy I am reading is from the library, but since I have sticky-noted so many pages, I think I need my own copy. I recommend this book if you feel annoyed and/or overwhelmed with the constant ridiculousness of this social media-obsessed world we unfortunately live in. This book does not berate or insult, but rather provides an introspective view on the idea that, “the human species is finding a renewed interest in passing unnoticed.” So despite this attention-crazed world, there is a small, growing percentage of people who are taking a step back from it all. By taking a step back, much beauty is realized. The last paragraph of the introduction ends with a quote from ceramic artist Eva Zeisel. She was asked how you make something beautiful. Her response was, “You just have to get out of the way.”

The Dessert

Tonight’s dessert is the Low-Carb Reese’s Cup. The only thing I did different from the other times I posted was I added larger walnut pieces to the peanut butter fudge part. I didn’t measure, but rather just tossed a handful in the mixture before I froze them. Below is the link to the post that features this recipe:

https://themostconstant.com/2019/08/31/something-sweet-something-devine-something-with-pages-all-three-might-be-mine-but-id-share/

The Wine

This is a Pinot Noir from the Sonoma Vally in California. I fully admit I bought it because the name, Imagery, reminded me a lot of the mostly image-obsessed world we live in. Hopefully this wine doesn’t leave the same bitter aftertaste that social media usually does. In the end, I’ll take my chances on a new bottle of wine over social media any day of the year, but that’s just me.

Hope your weekend is wonderful.

Cheers.

“& if the world comes knockin’, tell em’ I’m not home.” – E. Church

Something Old, Something New

Thursday evening.

Can you tell it’s been getting darker just a smidge earlier everyday? The time change in a few weeks seals the deal. As soon as the clock strikes four it suddenly feels like 8 o’clock. How does one hour make everything feel off-kilter? It’s kind of strange. Daylight savings just needs to be done away with. Stop messing with everyone’s internal clock.

Since I’m not in charge of making those kind of life changes, let’s move on.

Something Old:

For this installment of SOSN, my something old is Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. Don’t throw me over the coals though, because I haven’t finished reading it yet. It’s the one book I keep on my phone and read when I don’t have a regular book or my Kindle with me. That is also the reason I haven’t finished P&P, because it’s a rare occasion when I don’t have one of the others with me.

Most of you have probably read P&P, as well as others by Austen. I have been collecting her books in my home library over the last several years. I didn’t grow up loving the classics, I think because they were forced upon me in school. It’s only been in the last ten years or so that I have developed an interest in reading some of them.

(And-just because something is labeled, “classic” doesn’t mean it’s going to be good, some really do suck. Remember that. Don’t allow yourself or someone else to guilt you in to reading something you have zero interest in).

To me, part of the interest in classics are the authors and the time in which they lived. When you are forced to read something it becomes work, the joy is lost and it becomes a tedious task. Take it a step further. If you think a school-aged child is going to care about an author’s life from the 1800s when they are already irritated by being forced to read something, you are mistaken. Whereas reading and comprehension are profoundly important skills, a disservice is done not only to the child but also to the entire classic genre.

I understand why the classics are part of a curriculum, but that doesn’t mean they are included at the most opportune times. Also, times are changing, ‘new’ classics are being written. Books like Wonder and of course Harry Potter. Hook children with subjects and characters that feel a little more relevant, build skill with those. Then introduce the classics at an age when a child most likely will have more books “under their belt” and will be a little older and more mature. The maturity in this case being a necessity to appreciate the author’s background (which ultimately sets the stage for how and why these books were written) rather than a maturity for subject matter purposes.

Something New:

Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld came out two years ago. It’s a modern retelling of P&P. When I first came across this book, I wasn’t interested, which stemmed from not being obsessed with P&P.

As I began reading P&P, my interest in reading Eligible grew. I didn’t realize this until I recently came upon a copy. I read the back again and thought, yes, I do want to read this book. Funny how things change without even realizing they are changing. Another factor that added to my newfound interest was the author.

I am a long time fan of Curtis Sittenfeld. I first read Prep many years ago, followed by American Wife (a Roman à clef of the life of former First Lady Laura Bush) and loved them both.

Below is Eligible synopsis from Amazon:

• This version of the Bennet family—and Mr. Darcy—is one that you have and haven’t met before: Liz is a magazine writer in her late thirties who, like her yoga instructor older sister, Jane, lives in New York City. When their father has a health scare, they return to their childhood home in Cincinnati to help—and discover that the sprawling Tudor they grew up in is crumbling and the family is in disarray.

Youngest sisters Kitty and Lydia are too busy with their CrossFit workouts and Paleo diets to get jobs. Mary, the middle sister, is earning her third online master’s degree and barely leaves her room, except for those mysterious Tuesday-night outings she won’t discuss. And Mrs. Bennet has one thing on her mind: how to marry off her daughters, especially as Jane’s fortieth birthday fast approaches.

Enter Chip Bingley, a handsome new-in-town doctor who recently appeared on the juggernaut reality TV dating show Eligible. At a Fourth of July barbecue, Chip takes an immediate interest in Jane, but Chip’s friend neurosurgeon Fitzwilliam Darcy reveals himself to Liz to be much less charming. . . . 

And yet, first impressions can be deceiving •

I think it sounds like a fun, light-hearted read.

Any thoughts?

That’s all I’ve got tonight, talk to you all tomorrow 📚

“The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid.” -Jane Austen

& I think that quote perfectly sums it up.

Behind The Scenes & Between The Lines Lives A Master Of Words

Nathaniel Hawthorne once said, “Easy reading is damn hard writing.”

Think about a conversation between yourself and friend. Whether you are talking a mile a minute or are talking slower about something more serious. Now think about the shortcuts in conversations, or the slang words you insert here and there, or even the expressions you make as you speak. Now put all of that on paper and make it sound real and natural.

That’s hard.

But when it’s done well it feels like the easiest thing in the world. Your mind smoothly sails over every word without getting caught on a phrase or punctuation that doesn’t belong.

To do this requires skill, talent, and practice. It also requires mastery or close to it of language. When someone makes a play on words right under your nose, you have uncovered a true artist of words.

Vladimir Nabokov is one such artist. I first read Lolita a few years back. I didn’t know anything about Nabokov and was simply reading Lolita for my bookclub. The story itself was alright. Some people get appalled by the subject matter and freak out, thus all of the notoriety surrounding it. The story didn’t bother me, because, that’s exactly it-it’s a story. Just because you read something doesn’t mean you a hundred percent agree or disagree. But if you solely focus on the story of Lolita, you are missing the forest for the trees. The beauty of Lolita comes from the writing itself and how Nabokov uses it. Although the story revolves around a forty-something creeper being in love with a twelve year-old girl, there is not a single obscene term. Nabokov is an aesthetic writer and is able to manipulate language to achieve a poetic sensibility in the context of the forbidden.

Nabokov was born in Russia and studied at Cambridge. He was fluent in three languages, Russian, French, and English. He knew language and he knew how to use them to his advantage. I have often wondered if he purposely chose to write his stories about topics that would typically bother or irritate some people simply to see who could and couldn’t see what he was doing behind the scenes.

For instance, although Nabokov spoke English, some of his words still carried a heavier Russian accent. The book in the above picture is Ada or Ardor. When the name Ada is said by someone with a heavy Russian accent, it comes out sounding closer to “ardor.” If you are familiar with AOA then you know the book is quite heavy with ardor all throughout. I find that, and things of that nature fascinating.

Below is the Amazon synopsis:

• It tells a love story troubled by incest, but it is also at once a fairy tale, epic, philosophical treatise on the nature of time, parody of the history of the novel, and erotic catalogue. Ada, or Ardor is no less than the supreme work of an imagination at white heat •

This book was published two weeks after Nabokov’s seventieth birthday and is considered one of his masterpieces.

There are several other Russian writers I have yet to read, but are on my short list. Authors like Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky, Chekhov, and of course more of Nabokov. Russia produced some literary mega-stars. If I could go back in my studies, Russian lit is a subject/area I would jump head first in to.

Ah-hindsight is twenty-twenty.

PS. I don’t think there are many career options for Russian lit majors, so it probably wouldn’t have been a good choice anyway.

On that note, I gotta go. I need to stop writing about Russians and get back to reading so I can have more than two books read for the month of September.

“A wise reader reads the book of genius not with his heart, not so much with his brain, but with his spine. It it there that occurs the telltale tingle.”

-Vladimir Nabokov

Taylor Swift Is 22, But She’s Immortal, So There’s That

Did you just read the title and think, wait, what blog am I reading ?

Also,

Did you know Taylor Swift is immortal? I totally did not.

You’re at the right blog, keep reading.

Another question. What makes you keep a book versus giving it away or trading it at a used book shop? Are there certain authors or editions you automatically hold on to? Do you keep books for sentimental purposes? Just because someone gives me a book doesn’t necessarily mean I will keep it forever. I don’t mean that harshly at all, I promise. I have limited book shelf space, as we all do. Most likely if I loved the book, no matter who gave it to me, I will hang on to it. If I love it and someone I love gave it to me-there’s no question, that book has a permanent home. But what if the book kind of stinks, but someone I love or think highly of gave it to me- then what?

PS. I’ll get back to TSwift in a minute.

Well I would most likely give the stinky book away. So, now answer this, what if that stinky book has a a lovely tribute written to you inside the cover by the said gift giver?

Now what? Would you keep it? I’m not a complete heartless-a$$hat, I’d keep it, just so you know. However, to (maybe) contradict what I just said, one time I did give away a book that was truly stinky. There wasn’t a heartfelt tribute written, but there was a “To _____ “ and then “From______.” Before I put it in my used book trade stack, I did Sharpie the whole to/from thing out, so that sort of doesn’t count, right?

But what if you received a book and this was written inside?

This is the message:

“Camille, Happy Birthday! Now you are twenty-two, like Taylor Swift is (I don’t think T. Swift is still 22, but she is immortal, so there’s that.) I think I might be incapable of giving gifts that aren’t books* but this book is really excellent and I think you’d like it. I hope you enjoy it.

Jim

*I feel like this, more than any other factor, is going to scupper my bid to be a “cool uncle” but what can you do?“

Note: I had never heard of the word, scupper, so I had to look it up. It means: to thwart.

So my dears, have you figured out where TSwift comes in? It’s all coming together now, isn’t it? Except now we also know that Camille is a jerk. Poor Uncle Jim was right, his gift truly did scupper his bid to become the cool uncle, because his thoughtful gift was given away by the unthoughtful Camille.

If someone had taken the time to write that sweet note and tell me that TSwift is immortal, that would equal an instant keeper in my book (even if Uncle Jim was kind of lame). But Camille has no heart, apparently.

Regarding the book in question, There But For The by Ali Smith, I have not read it, but I want to (and not just because of this whole Camille/Jim fiasco). Below is the Amazon synopsis:

• At a dinner party in the posh London suburb of Greenwich, Miles Garth suddenly leaves the table midway through the meal, locks himself in an upstairs room, and refuses to leave. An eclectic group of neighbors and friends slowly gathers around the house, and the story of Miles is one told from the points of view of four of them: a woman in her 40s called Anna, a man in his 60s called Mark, a woman in her 80s called May, and a 10-year-old child called Brooke. The thing is… none of these people knows Miles anything more than glancingly. So how much is it possible to know about a stranger? And what are the consequences of even the most casual, most fleeting meetings we have every day with other human beings? •

The only other Ali Smith I have on my shelf is, How To Be Both. I’ve yet to read it, but it was a gift from my brother. He rarely gives me books, so this is definitely a keeper. Sadly, there’s no tribute to TSwift written inside.

Happy Monday, Bookworms.

“When you give someone a book, you don’t give him just paper, ink, and glue, you give him the possibility of a whole new world.” —Christopher Marley