Big

Big books.

Huge books.

Huge books with huge cult-like followings.

Infinite Jest is a book that falls under this last category. It is also a book that I’m pretty sure I want to read. Over the years I’ve come across this book and have always been undecided whether or not I actually wanted to read it. That’s not to say when I begin reading, if in fact it stinks, that I would finish it. Life is too short and too full of amazing books to stick with something that isn’t amazing.

There are some other books that more or less fall under this third category that I absolutely have no desire to read. Moby Dick and Don Quixote are two such books. Their length does not deter me, the tedious nature of these books do. Although I challenge myself to read as many books as possible, I don’t read books just to say I have read them (ie. certain classics as well as newer books). Just because a book has stood the test of time doesn’t guarantee it’s going to be a great read. It simply means its been around for awhile. In fact I came across an article (I wish I had the source) that said if Moby Dick had been written today, it would not have done well. The thing is, when many of these “popular” classics were written- what were they up against? The competition of books written in the 1800s versus today is almost incomparable, and quite honestly, not really fair. There are some outstanding books that have been around for centuries and deserve every bit of credit they have earned. It’s just that other books that fall in to this “classic” category are there because they are old. Some of these books really stink. Many people will disagree with me and that is completely fine. I am not going to read a book just because it may look impressive or because it has been around since dinosaurs roamed the earth.

We all have our own opinions and interests when it comes to what we enjoy reading. So the bottom line is this, read what truly grabs you- not what people say should grab you. If reading about a whale for fourteen million pages is your jam, go for it and if reading Fifty Shades floats your boat, read that as well. Whatever it is, just make sure you love it!

“Read the best books first, or you may not have a chance to read them at all.”

– Henry David Thoreau

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Heartbreak

• A big thank you to #Scribner for this ARC of Ask Again, Yes by @marybethkeane •

Recently I came across a line in an article that said part of being an adult is accepting heartbreak. This stopped me in my tracks and has jumbled around inside my head ever since. I can’t shake them out or pretend I didn’t read those words. So just like paying bills and taking out the trash, accepting heartbreak is another check mark on the con side of the ‘being an adult list.’

Although teenagers and children experience heartbreak, they don’t usually have the accompanying responsibilities of taking care of a family or going to work that gets heaped on top of a hurting heart. When everything else has to be done in life in order to assure someone arrives on time, that clothes get washed, and dinner gets made, as an adult-when does the heart get time to adequately heal? In my opinion, it doesn’t, at least not fully.

Last year was very difficult for me. The heartbreak I felt and continue to feel will no doubt be carried for quite some time. As those words said, I have accepted the heartbreak. Time has helped, as have the busy details of daily life. But the broken pieces remain. I think about them often as I continue to move past them. At first it was anger that spilled out everywhere, but as I have come to terms with most of it, I have begun to replace some the angry feelings with grace. Some anger still remains, but’s ugly head doesn’t get reared as often.

The families of Ask Again, Yes experience incredible amounts of heartbreak. Each family carries on, changing its shape along the way. This story is one that I have continued to think about. Heartbreak is unique and shouldn’t be compared against the heartbreak of someone else. We experience and feels things differently and no one knows truly how the inside of another’s heart feels. Broken pieces are hard to carry around. Jagged pieces have the ability to cut new wounds where the old ones haven’t fully healed.

But we keep on going. Little by little, day by day. We take in the tiny bits of beautiful sunlight that occasionally reach our eyes and apply it as a healing salve. That soothing feeling attaches itself to the heartbreak and provides a softer landing spot the next time your mind drifts to the place that hurts most.

I recommend this book by @marybethkeane most of all because there is comfort in reading about the heartbreak of others, if simply to realize that are not alone in our heartbreak. We all experience the unfortunate shattering of hearts and just as we must accept this, we also must somehow allow ourselves to heal.

“Once you have read a book you care about, some part of it is always with you.”

– Louis L’Amour

Quietly

Good morning.

The rest of the house is still asleep. I quietly crept to the kitchen to pour some coffee and then snuck back under the covers. This is my heaven.

I love the quiet, the time to contemplate while sipping from a warm mug. A book is on my lap waiting to be read, but I sit here thinking for a few minutes as the morning creeps in. I’m not sure if I like the early morning or the late night solitude best. Each holds its own bit of special.

For the month of May, I read six books. My favorite was Mary and O’Neil by Justin Cronin. I stumbled across this book at the library. I had only heard of Cronin in reference to his dystopian trilogy (which I want to read), beginning with The Passage. MAO is a contemporary domestic drama that follows a family over a lifetime. It’s tragic and beautiful, as family always is. Cronin has an ear and eye for capturing nuances that feel nothing short of authentic. I found that he has another similar genre-d (I think I just made up that word) book titled, The Summer Guest, which I am on hold for. If The Passage trilogy, albeit different, reads to the caliber of MAO then Cronin will have mastered two incredible genres (in my humble opinion).

This first day of June continues to softly crawl in. The light from behind the curtains is a little brighter now and my cat is yawning and stretching the night from her legs. The rest of the crew can’t be far behind her. So I’ve spent this morning writing this post, rather than reading and that’s ok. When I began this blog (which existed in my head for months before I actually started it), I wondered if it would be something I really wanted to do. Even though it’s just been a few weeks, I find myself looking forward to writing. So just maybe, I’m beginning to build a wonderful new habit?

I love the smell of book ink in the morning.

Umberto Eco

Magic

It’s not about having the time to read, it’s about finding the spare minutes that reading will fit into. As I write this I am waiting for my younger son’s basketball game to begin. During last night’s tournament I was able to finish a book on my Kindle and make a bit of headway into another.

Occasionally I’ll see someone I know and we will talk, but more often I can usually just sink inside whatever story I’ve been waiting to return to. Also, reading allows you to have an invisible sign up stating ‘Do Not Disturb,’ for those people you’d rather not speak to. Although, some people don’t always get the message. In those instances I will make my answers politely short.

I don’t read because I am bored. I read because it’s exciting and engaging. That’s why it truly doesn’t matter where I am. A comfy chair and blanket is always preferred, but I have read many books while sitting on hard bleachers.

Something I think is cool is when you spot a fellow reader. Another like-minded soul who is taking advantage of the same few stolen moments. Finding another reader in a room full of other people waiting for something is usually rare. Being rare is often what makes something more beautiful or sought after, but that doesn’t seem to be the case with reading. Although I think reading is an amazing and beautiful thing, it seems to fall more aptly under the saying, “beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” And that’s ok. Not everyone is meant to truly see and understand the same type of beauty. But it’s when we do, that it begins to hold a bit of magic.

“Books are a uniquely portable magic.”

– Stephen King

Collect

I am a book collector.

This isn’t a secret. Within my collection there are a few authors that I collect more specifically. The four I can name off the top of my head are Philip Roth, Stephen King, Daphne duMaurier, and Agatha Christie. This list has developed quite organically over many years.

What draws us to collect and ultimately keep? For me, these authors themselves as well as their words intrigue me on a personal level. Their books all have an aesthetic quality that captures my eye, often it is hard to resist grabbing an additional copy when I come across one. My mind races with thoughts like, what if the copy I have becomes lost or damaged?

In a world that is constantly throwing the new in our faces and pushing us to multi-task, it’s interesting to see what makes us pause and at times, shut out the extra noise to simply take in the moment in front of us. Thankfully there isn’t an app for that, yet.

When I get the chance to visit a book store or library, I think my mind must experience something attune to angels singing. I don’t visit very often, because it’s something I usually do alone and those moments are hard to come by.

So I will continue to collect books until I am quite possibly buried by them. And if you care to look closer you might just be able to find the books that make my heart happiest.

“Books to the ceiling, Books to the sky, My pile of books is a mile high.”

-Arnold Lobel

Fierce

Books are treasures. Blah, blah, blah.

Scratch that. Books are fierce. They transport, transform, and let you trespass across any border you choose.  Books have become banned and have been burned.  Their words have the power to destroy, create, exploit, mesmerize, and above all, allow us to think outside our own and often times, rigid boxes.  We, as readers, rightfully devour books. Our teeth drip with words as we hunger for more.

That little description was fun to write. It leaves me with an image of a lion with letters, rather than blood dripping from his ravaging teeth. Another thing, sometimes like animals, we have to hunt. As in hunting down our books.

The Blood of Paradise by Stephen Goodwin is one of my recent hunts. If possible I like to find books when I randomly come across them in used book shops or stacks. However, TBOP was one that over several years of searching I had never laid eyes on. There are two sites I use when this happens. One is Abe.com and the other is thriftbooks.com. In this case, Abe did not have it, but thriftbooks came through for the win.

A little back story. I read a book by Goodwin several years ago title Breaking Her Fall. After reading it I looked up others by this author and found that he didn’t have many, at least not a lot of fiction. TBOP grabbed my attention, so my search began.

Back to the cliched, “books are treasures.” To the average person, a book, short of being a rare edition of something like The Great Gatsby, is worth nothing. The definition of a treasure is something that is worth something, usually of high monetary value. But the other part of that definition is of something actually being treasured. In that sense, a treasure can be anything with meaning that someone holds dear. If it sounds like I’m talking in circles, I apologize, I do have a point coming. In my opinion, books tend to fall more accurately under the treasured part of the treasure definition.

Whatever it is that you value, or hold in your heart, you will staunchly protect. You will defend its honor until your dying day. It doesn’t matter if it’s misunderstood by everyone else. So-if you are a likeminded person, books are are what you hold dear.

And that my friend, is quite fierce.

“There is more treasure in books than in all the pirate’s loot on Treasure Island.”

– Walt Disney

Friday

Friday. Books. Wine. Dessert. Four of my favorite things. Friday has always had a neat and tidy feeling. The ending of a work week combined so nicely with the beginning of the weekend. Friday feels hopeful. As in, maybe I can finish house and life chores and still manage to finish a book or three before the next week begins.

Books. Well really everyday has some sort of book-matter attached to it. If it didn’t, my life would really be out of sorts. I can count on one hand (& not even use all of my fingers) how many times I have been somewhere and not had a book with me over the last ten years. I’m that much of a book nerd. The last time I forgot my kindle I felt antsy. Books are my security blanket.

Wine. I prefer a medium to dry red. But really I am not picky. A five dollar bottle can taste just as good as a high dollar one. And really, after a glass or two, they all taste pretty darn similar. If you are pouring, I am drinking.

Ah, dessert. This has become tricky over the last two years. I cut my sugar drastically because I think I was a sugar-aholic. That being said, I have some amazing recipes that get the job done and are quite delicious.

There you have it. Friday’s are for the extra good stuff in life. So I’m off to finish my book, start another, all while drinking some wine and eating dessert.

Cheers to Friday!

“Wine is bottled poetry.”

-Erin Morgenstern