I read. A lot. It’s therapeutical and just about anyone who really knows me will readily attest to my need for therapeutic intervention. Some of the greatest minds to have ever put pen to a page have lent their wisdoms and talents to greatly benefit my physical and mental well-being. My blood pressure regulates, my blood sugars lower, and my anxieties are quelled when I sit with a book in my hand.
I’ve tried other forms of treatment. I’ve driven to offices in multi-storied medical centers or cozy little cottage-like buildings and sat upon soft leather chairs, scratchy linen covered sofas, or hard plastic chairs and stared across the room at men and women with their achievements and accolades in gilded frames upon their walls, listening, or at least trying to listen, to their assessments and suggestions. They almost always sent me away with prescriptions and referrals, some of which I tried, some of which were necessary, but none of them proffered any relief without medicinal, chemical or what I felt, intrusive aide.
So with the exception of those doctors and specialists I needed to control the physical aspects of my healthcare, I stopped driving to their offices. I stopped seeking assistance in the form of degreed professionals and I sat in my own cozy, softly covered chair in my own lovely living room or beneath the soothing sun beaming down upon my porch and began to read. Reading was nothing new, I’ve devoured books throughout my life, but somehow I had forgotten the healing power of simply relaxing and drifting into another world and losing myself, as well as my worries and fears and whatever ailments are ailing me, between the covers of a book.
Some days, some weeks and months, my need is greater than others. My family often jokes that when I am on a reading bender, it means I’m crazier than usual, and often that is true. Sometimes though, I read simply for the joy of reading. Either way, it benefits me and fills a need within me.
In January I decided I’d keep track of the books I’ve read for the year. I also decided I’d write up a little review for each of them, but after reading one I’d grab another, and then another and the reviews were forgotten. I’m determined to do it still, but I have to finish my current selection first . . . we’ll see what happens.
Maybe my Books I’ve Read list will one day become a Books to be Read for my children and grandchildren and they will begin their own list for future generations of readers. I like the thought of that.
My list thus far is varied and random, as it will always be – Some months the number is higher, some lower. I’m curious to see the picture my monthly page count paints as a reflection upon the status of my state of mind over time.
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury – 247 pages
The Tragedy of Mr. Morn by Vladimir Nabokov – 144 pages
Iremonger, Heap House by Edward Carey – 405 pages
Foulsham, Heap House by Edward Carey – 324 pages
Lungdon, Heap House by Edward Carey – 502 pages
The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman – 293 pages
The Little Prince by Antoine De Saint-Expury – 96 pages
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’engle – 245 pages
The Illustrated Man by Ray Bradbury – 275 pages
Coraline by Neil Gaiman – 160 pages
The Asylum Novellas by Madeleine Roux – 337 pages
Blindness by Jose Saramago – 326 pages
The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce – 357 pages
The Confessions of Max Tivoli by Andrew Sean Green – 267 pages
The Defense by Vladimir Nabokov – 256 pages
The Death of Ivan Ilyich by Leo Tolstoy – 53 pages
Look at the Birdie by Kurt Vonnegut – 251 pages
The Storied life of A.J. Fikry by Gabriella Zevin – 267 pages
How to Think Like daVinci by Daniel Smith – 186 pages
Candide by Voltaire – 130 pages
Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel – 333 pages
The Man Who Made Lists, Love, death, madness & the creation of Roget’s Thesaurus by Joshua Kendall – 294 pages
The Bazaar of Bad Dreams by Stephen King – 495 pages
Alice by Christina Henry – 291 pages
Pride & Prejudice & Zombies by Jane Austin and Seth Grahame Smith – 317 pages
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep by Phillip K. Dick – 244 pages
Midway into March now and I have a growing stack of books to add to the list and beautifully filled shelves of books waiting to be read. I think my therapy is going well . . .
I have a confession to make . . . I self-medicate.
My addiction, and I readily admit it to be one, is relatively harmless. Granted, it sometimes interferes with my daily activities like keeping up with housework and feeding my family, but I manage and they accept and expect certain delays when I’m having a particularly rough patch and my need to self soothe is great.
I suppose I should begin with an explanation – the reasons I do what I do. I have spent many years in the clutches of an anxiety disorder. I battle with chronic pain and fight Diabetes and brain fog. I’m tired, so very, very tired. I’m entering year my 27th year of parenting, two of my four amazing children are autistic blessings (one with the added excitement of Bipolar), and still require a bit more assistance and guidance than most young men their age.
Sometimes I find myself in need of something more than patience and happy thoughts and all the other blah, blah, blahs we feed our psyche with, and I found a way to fulfill that need. Truthfully, I found it when I was younger than most, so it has always been a go-to of sorts for me. Honestly, while it does indeed help me deal with the not so easy parts of life, it enhances the good parts as well. It can be expensive, but I’ve found certain places where the cost is reasonable, though I confess to opting for the pricier options perhaps a bit too often. My favorite dealer is about ten miles from home, I usually go every Sunday to stock up for the week.
When (for lack of a better term) I get my * fix *, I am transported and transcended into a reality entirely different from my own – the one I find the need to escape now and then, the reality where anxiety and pain and frustration thrives. I find peace and comfort and tranquility in the altered state of consciousness I drift peacefully into when I take refuge in another world that opens itself up to embrace me when I come to the door and knock.
Hours can pass, sometimes entire days and nights in that magical place. When one journey ends and I return to my own plane of existence, I oftentimes hastily return, not yet ready to face it all. Days can be lost, but the journey is so pleasant. I always come back – eventually, though the thoughts of my return are never far from the forefront of my mind.
I wish I could describe with even some amount of accuracy and clarity what I experience each time I cross over into whatever place it is I go, but each time is different than the last. I never know what awaits me, sometimes it’s simply glorious, sometimes, though not often because I am quite careful to choose my product carefully, I am left disappointed and greedily reach for more to fulfill the still burning need within me.
I don’t want to give the impression that I live life in an always altered state. I do all the things, well, many of the things everyone else does. I run errands, (I do partake while outside of my home quite often, never while driving of course), I watch television, (sometimes my attentions are divided, but I am able to maintain my focus even though part of me has one foot on the other side of that door), I laugh and talk with my children, sometimes they join me and we all sit together, separated only by the unique experience taking place within each of us. They don’t indulge nearly as much as I do, however. My husband abstains almost entirely, though I do try to entice him with tales of my own experiences. It doesn’t affect him the way it does me though.
I realize that my particular need and how I choose to satisfy it is not for everyone. There are those who cannot understand why I do it, or at least why I do it so often. For them, once a month or once every few months is enough. I know there are those who don’t even go near it. Personally, I think their lives, their hearts, and their minds would be better if they did. But, to each their own as they say. I’ll not stand in judgment of them, and hope they’ll not judge me.
The fact is, without this outlet – this relief – I might very well lose my mind. I truly believe, in fact, I know, it helps me focus, keeps my mind sharp and my heart calm.
You may be wondering what my particular drug of choice might be . . . it’s books. Glorious, wonderful, beautiful books. Words, words, and more words. I can’t get enough of them. New words, old words, classics, new authors, short books, long books, serious books, scary books, sci-fi, fantasy, memoir, biographies, auto-biographies, essays, poetry, research, history, inspirational, funny, etc., etc., etc..
There is sufficient enough research compiled to conclude that reading is akin to downing a wonder-drug of sorts. It aides in stress relief, sleep, memory, and focus – basically, all the good stuff we want to maintain.
“Reading reduced stress levels by 68 per cent, said cognitive neuropsychologist Dr David Lewis. Subjects only needed to read, silently, for six minutes to slow down the heart rate and ease tension in the muscles, he found. In fact it got subjects to stress levels lower than before they started. Listening to music reduced the levels by 61 per cent, having a cup of tea or coffee lowered them by 54 per cent and taking a walk by 42 percent.” The Telegraph
“After reading a novel, actual changes linger in the brain, at least for a few days,” The Washington Post
“Neurological researchers have spent years studying the impact of books on the brain. They’ve identified a compelling link between the act of chomping through a novel and enhanced cognitive ability. Reading, it transpires, has a profound effect on mental agility, the memory and our aptitude for imagination and compassion. It can also help to alleviate stress and aid sleep. Stylist
“Snuggling up with a good read tamps down levels of unhealthy stress hormones such as cortisol,” Readers Digest
”In fact, the practice of using books, poetry and other written words as a form of therapy has helped humans for centuries. Fiction is a uniquely powerful way to understand others, tap into creativity and exercise your brain.” bufferopen
“Reading for pleasure in general can also help prevent conditions such as stress, depression, and dementia,” says Wilkinson. “Research has shown that people who read for pleasure regularly report fewer feelings of stress and depression than non-readers.” “ . . .people who read books regularly “are on average more satisfied with life, happier, and more likely to feel that the things they do in life are worthwhile.” A recent survey of 1,500 adult readers found that 76% of them said that reading improves their life and helps make them feel good.” Fast Company
Now – grab a book for your body, mind, and soul and slip into another world for a spell – I can pretty much guarantee you’ll be glad you did.
Yesterday I felt the need for a bit of therapeutic wandering, the best, and most therapeutic, wandering – for me, is most oft found in the undertaking of extensive, exploratory journeys where I dawdle, gander, meander, and mosey my way through the well-lit aisles of a bookstore. Betwixt the rows and tables and displays of beautifully bound words, my wandering turns to wonder, and my woes slowly fall like gently drifting autumn leaves. I’m left with unencumbered branches, quivering in anticipation of new growth.
Basically, I was feeling restless and sweet talked my husband into an afternoon at Barnes & Noble. By sweet talk, I mean I promised we could go to Home Depot afterward. That’s sweet of me, no? I think it’s sweet.
As soon as I walked through the doors, the smell of adventure, knowledge, and freshly brewed coffee began to peel away the layers of pent-up annoyances I’d been collecting like a suit of armor throughout the week, and as I passed the magazine racks, I began to feel like Julie Andrews on a mountain top instead of Quasimodo stuck in a bell tower. The bookstore is a magical place. I refrained from singing this time, it makes people think I’m coo-coo for cocoa puffs. I’m quite misunderstood.
One of my favorite things about the bookstore, aside from the obvious – books, books, and more books, is that I almost always leave with a story of my own to tell. I love to watch almost as much as I love to read. Everything and everyone. I silently watch and listen to those around me and collect their micro-stories in my mind, sometimes I keep them until they are forgotten or replaced, sometimes I write them down. There may be a book idea in there somewhere.
It was a little boy who caught my attention yesterday. He couldn’t have been more than seven or eight, adorable little thing with dark eyes framed with eyelashes some women would gladly give an appendage for, dark hair, an impish little smile and an armful of books. He was sporting a Captain America t-shirt, perfectly cuffed Levi’s, and a pair of red Converse sneakers, he looked liked an adorable force to be reckoned with. He stood there, trying to maintain his grip on the treasures he’d found when his dad rounded the corner.
“Did you pick one yet?” Dad looked a little nervous, at first I thought this was odd. Turned out he was right to be a little apprehensive, he’d obviously been in this spot before. While son was dressed for a bookstore battle of epic proportions, Dad’s faded Bass Pro Shop tee and checkered shorts made him look like an already defeated casualty.
“One? Uh, no. I’ve got four.” This kid had a warrior’s stance, he was ready for battle before Dad even knew there was going to a skirmish. Then again, I think Dad knew exactly what awaited him when his little man walked through the doors of that bookstore, I don’t think he had much of a defense strategy planned out though.
“We talked about this already, one today.”
“I know, and this is a series, so it counts as one, Dad.”
“They’re $15 each! One!”
“That doesn’t even make sense, I’ll be done with one book by like tomorrow probably, and then we’ll just have to come back.”
“How about we get one or none?”
That precious little book hoarder showed no fear in the face of this threat. If anything, he looked more determined, if not a little more than annoyed.
He kept a firm grip on the books, and a firmer grip on his resolve.
He wasn’t going to back down. He knew he needed those books.
“Sure Dad. If the complete and utter ruination of my entire life is your end goal for today, then we’ll go with one.”
Dad looked like he’d taken a shot to the neck. This kid was good. Did I mention he couldn’t have been more than eight years old? I love kids who read, they know how to use words.
Then he fired the final shot, “Besides, Mom said I could get them, so . . .”
Dad defeated, books in hand, little-reader-man left the battlefield and made a beeline for the register before Dad could figure out what had just hit him.
My day ended with a venti iced coffee, a new Stephen King book – The Bazaar of Bad Dreams, and new gutters. I keep my promises and collected another story at the Home Depot, but I’m saving that one for later.
I typically read at least a couple of books a week, maybe more if I have time or just can’t put them down, in which case I steal moments and minutes whenever I can to lose myself between the covers of whatever book called out to me – This week I’m spending my treasured reading time with some familiar voices . . . voices I’ve enjoyed getting to know in Blogtopia and Facebookville.
I’m not quite certain which one to begin with, I think I’ll do the ole eeny-meeny-miney-moe-catch-a-writer-by-the-toe to choose. My picks-of-the-week are . . . .
“There are rumours that I keep a writer trapped in my basement… but I assure you… Jessica is and always was here of her own free will. Until one day she disappeared, and I began to realize that everything I thought I knew about her was wrong. Everyone has a terrifying story about Jessica B. Bell. Some of them are even true.”
You can get your copy of Jessica here.
Come meet Helena Hann Basquiat here.
“It is always dark. Warmer than it should be. The sun is a dull glower of reproach, only sometimes visible through the fallout. A once-majestic university town is crumbled, ashen and divided. The Men have made their home the Facility, where they develop the medication to combat the radiation that would otherwise kill those left alive.
“Paige Preston wants to end her life. After an unsuccessful attempt, she lands herself in mandatory therapy with a sexy psychiatrist. When he and an even more alluring friend begin to help her break down the walls she’s spent a lifetime building, Paige begins to see something bigger than herself. Is it enough to pull her out of her dark world and help her finally feel like a human? Or will letting someone in be the final step toward her demise?Dear Stephanie is a sinfully addictive walk through a world of beauty, affluence, and incidental love that effortlessly moves the reader between laughter, tears, heartache, and hope with the turn of every “Paige”.
You can get your copy of Dear Stephanie here.
Visit Mandi Castle’s blog!
“Take a ride on the wild side in the nuthouse that Marcia Kester Doyle calls home. From couples’ colonoscopies to nightmare holidays to disappearing spandex, no topic—no matter how crazy or unimaginable—is off-limits. Who Stole My Spandex? Midlife Musings from a Middle-Aged MILF is a witty selection of stories from the author’s madcap world of menopausal pitfalls, wardrobe malfunctions, and a family full of pranksters. This clever compilation includes laugh-out-loud pieces like “Queen of Klutz,” “One Size Fits None,” and “Hands off my Egg Roll!” With a heavy dose of self-deprecating humor, and just a dash of sentiment, this marvelous collection of anecdotes will resonate with anyone who’s ever felt the call of nature at exactly the wrong time. This is rogue humor at its finest!”
You can get your copy of Who Stole My Spandex here.
Click to visit Marcia Kester Doyle’s blog.
“Jen Mann doesn’t have a filter, which sometimes gets her in trouble with her neighbors, her fellow PTA moms, and that one woman who tried to sell her sex toys at a home shopping party. Known for her hilariously acerbic observations on her blog, People I Want to Punch in the Throat, Mann now brings her sharp wit to bear on suburban life, marriage, and motherhood in this laugh-out-loud collection of essays. From the politics of joining a play group, to the thrill of mothers’ night out at the gun range, to the rewards of your most meaningful relationship (the one you have with your cleaning lady), nothing is sacred or off-limits. So the next time you find yourself wearing fuzzy bunny pajamas in the school carpool line or accidentally stuck at a co-worker’s swingers party, just think, What would Jen Mann do? Or better yet, buy her book.”
You can get your copy of People I Want to Punch in the Throat here.
Check out Jen Mann’s blog too!
Beth Teliho, author of the new book, Order of Seven, <—- which you can order here), recently took some time out of her busy schedule as wife, mom, and writer extraordinaire, to answer a few questions about herself and her writing, I was lucky enough to get a spot on her blog tour to ask her a few of those questions.
Beth is a funny, genuine, and sweet person, she is also a talented weaver of words. When I received my advanced copy of Oo7, I began reading right away, and I kept on reading until the last line whispered me farewell. I was sad to say goodbye. It was good, really good, and I wanted to read more. You can read my review here .
After the Q&As, there’s a link you might wanna check out, it’s a giveaway! An autographed Oo7 bookmark, signed by me – No, no, no – signed by Beth, of course! You can find Order of Seven on Amazon, it comes highly recommended, just check out these reviews.
How old were you when you discovered you had a love for writing?
I’ve been writing stories in my head since I was seven or eight. It just never occurred to me to write anything down. I always had my nose in a book and was a big time daydreamer. Once I got to junior high and high school, I thought about writing all the time, but wasn’t really encouraged in school back then, and assumed writing a book was this unattainable thing reserved for the super smart. It wasn’t until college when professors praised my writing and encouraged me to take it further that I ever thought it was possible. Just goes to show you how much someone believing in you can be the thing that propels you forward. That encouragement was a game changer.
It’s obvious you put a lot of research into your book, how long did it take you to complete?
Nearly four years, but I didn’t write for a lot of those months. I often get too absorbed into the story and can’t see out of it, so I’d walk away for a month…or five, and then resume with a clear head. The research was so fun! That’s one of my favorite things about writing.
One of your characters, has beautifully described tattoos, do you have any inked beauty yourself?
Yes, I have three: a yin yang, a Celtic sun, and a kokopelli. I think about getting more all the time, but have yet to decide on design and placement. Someday….
Have you begun penning your readers a sequel?
Yes and no. I always intended for Oo7 to be a stand alone with the option for a sequel if there was enough reader interest. I’ve thought a lot about a sequel and have some outlines and ideas written down, but nothing fully formed yet. It appears the sensational seven are on hiatus. I’m sure the characters will let me know when they’d like to be written about again. In the meantime, new characters are knocking on my door…
Any advice for writers thinking about entering the world of publishing?
Invest in large quantities of wine. Just kidding. Maybe. But seriously, reach out to other authors! It’s so much easier with some advice and guidance. The writing community is the most supportive in the world. Get into a writing group where you can beta read each other’s work and also get advice if needed.
Paper or plastic? Neither. I bring my own bags…when I remember.
Coke or Pepsi or Dr. Pepper or . . .? Corona.
Ketchup or mustard? Ketchup, or sometimes both if I’m feeling wild.
Coffee or tea? COFFEE
Dog or cat? Meow.
Favorite Thanksgiving food? It’s all about the stuffing.
First item on your bucket list? Write a novel, which has a pretty little check mark next to it now.
Second item? Visit England.
Want an autographed Order of Seven bookmark? Click the link below and you might just be a lucky winner!
So I stumbled upon this post over at Part Time Monster – I suppose stumbled upon is misleading, I saw a link for a new post and clicked right over, because there is always something good to read over there.
Anyway ~ That site led me to this site, The Broke and the Bookish and their weekly Top Ten Tuesday feature, and I kind of fell in love, because . . . books. It’s all about the books. I’m bookish and they’re bookish, so naturally I love them. I love lists too. Of course, I typically lose every list I write, but this one will be different because it’s here, not lost somewhere between my purse and the grocery store.
Today’s Top Ten Tuesday list is 10 Books I Will Probably Never Read
Now I love to read, and it hurts me to admit this, but there are some books I will likely never read, some I know I will never read, and some I will read and wish I hadn’t . . . maybe.
My List of Top Ten Books I will Probably Never Read
Fifty Shades of Grey
Because . . . no. Just no.
The Twilight Series
Vampires don’t sparkle.
Gone With The Wind
Not interested much in historical fiction, or romance, or romantic historical fiction.
I don’t care who John Galt is.
John Green Books
I love Mental Floss, but not books about teen angst, love, or drama.
Game of Thrones Books
I’ve heard about the show, violence and incest . . . pass.
Any and ALL romance novels
I just can’t . . . so cheesy.
The Da Vinci Code
Eh, don’t care for Biblical+fiction
The Sleeping Beauty Series
Holy crap, that’s why! I read just a bit and felt the need to cleanse my brain and confess my sin.
22 days ago I found myself in a rather anxious state. I was fraught with slivers of sadness and fretful with fits of frustration. I realized I was overwhelmed and so, so tired. Unable to disencumber myself from these loathsome sensitivities, I made a hasty retreat into the safety and security of my little bubble and tried to shield myself from however much of the world I could. It was my intent to settle into a soul soothing solace for a few days, but my melancholy managed itself into a moroseness I found difficult to soothe. Before long, I was floating through each day upon a virtual ocean of apathy.
Reading was my only comfort, so I read page after page, book after book (15 of them), sequestering myself from just about everything – the computer, the phone, the kids, the husband, the laundry . . . I drank coffee and devoured words until one afternoon I finally felt the sun on my skin, heard the birds singing, and sensed a flutter of emotion stir in my heart.
I’m not entirely certain what precipitated the gloomy shadow that tried to swallow me, nothing particularly unpleasant or dreadful occurred, there wasn’t some fantastical event that sent me spiraling downward into the depths of despair. I suppose it was simply life and the living of it. Sometimes we just need a break for a few days, or 22 as the case may be.
The first 18 days were spent doing little else aside from thinking, reading, and avoiding human contact. I interacted as little as possible with everyone. I avoided any and all responsibilities I could possibly avoid. I just wanted to be alone. With my books. I sat on the porch with them from morning till night and then sat with them some more in my room until sleep would come.
Somewhere in the middle of my madness, I received a blessing so lovely I saw stars, literally. I almost ignored the stack of mail the postman delivered, but I noticed the corner of an envelope peeking out between the bills I’d eventually have to deal with and it practically called out to me. I slipped it from the pile and was surprised to find it was hand addressed . . . to me.
When I saw the postmark I couldn’t help but smile. It said Royal Mail and it had traveled a long way to bring me a smile. I opened the envelope carefully, I knew there would be more than lovely words inside, and when I opened the card, the sun twinkled off of the glittering stars that awaited me.
It was the first real smile I’d smiled in a while. Before I could read the letter they adorned, I picked up the other prize that envelope held for me, a hand drawn ampersand. That was when the first tear fell. It was beautiful. One of the most precious gifts I’ve ever received. I stared at it with a mix of awe and thankfulness. I have an affinity for ampersands and my faraway friend took the time to create something so personal for me, I was overcome by the thoughtfulness of it.
More tears fell as I read the words she took the time to sit and write to me. We’ve shared conversations online and in emails, but this was so much more . . . it was real and personal and I could hold it in my hands. There is something so magical about that. So intimate. So real.
The letter from my sweet blog-sister Lizzi was the catalyst that sparked my resolve to pull myself up and find it within myself to take back the control I’d relinquished. I don’t even know how to say thank you for that.
The shadow dissipated on the 19th day and I slowly began to integrate myself back into my family. They welcomed me with open arms, several loads of laundry and a lengthy grocery list. I was tempted to lose myself in another book, but, you can only hide from reality for so long and since they had to fend for themselves for what they seem to think was an eternity, I relented to resuming my duties as wife and mother, caretaker to all.
I did a lot of thinking these past few weeks, I thought of things I was afraid of, things I was thankful for, things that made me sad, and things that made me happy. I thought of the many challenges and hardships in my life and I thought about the many blessings I’ve been bestowed.
I thought quite a bit about my failures, real and perceived, but I also thought about my successes and decided maybe I should give myself credit for them. I’ve been focused on the parts of me that feel weak instead of magnifying the strengths I know, without a doubt, I possess.
I have a lot more thinking to do and many more books to read, but I think I can manage to do those things without shutting myself off from everyone around me . . . I’m keeping my bubble close by though, just in case.
~ My Therapeutic Companions ~
Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children -Ransom Riggs
Hollow Children – Ransom Riggs
A Brave New World – Aldous Huxley
The Ocean at the End of the Lane – Neil Gaiman
The Essential Neruda, Selected Poems – Pablo Neruda
Room – Emma Donoghue
Farewell Dorothy Parker – Ellen Meister
Let’s Pretend This Never Happened – Jenny Lawson (The Bloggess)
The Night Circus – Erin Morgenstern
The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath
Son of a Witch – Gregory Maguire
A Lion Among Men – Gregory Maguire
Out of Oz – Gregory Maguire
Neverwhere – Neil Gaiman
Under the Dome – Stephen King
Books! Sweet Books!
Such magical things,
filled with ideas,
and thoughts and dreams.
Page after page
of marvelous words
big ones and little ones,
they want to be heard!
Long ones and short ones
and ones in between,
new ones and old ones,
there’s so much to read!
Open a book
and a journey begins,
then open another
when that one ends.
You’re never alone
with a book in hand
they are portable friends
that make life so grand.
Okay, so the poem is a little cheesy – I wrote it when my kids were little and just beginning to discover the joys of reading on their own. They grew up surrounded by books, I read to them from the moment I brought each of those little bundles of joy home from the hospital. Books are important to me, I wanted them to be important to them as well.
These days, it seems even more important for parents to teach their children the value of reading, to help them find the magic books contain. I wasn’t competing with the volume of video games, cell phones, and internet when my kids were still kids; we read and we made up stories and we sat on the floor and played together, sometimes we still do.
My children have friends who have never picked up a book for the sheer pleasure of losing themselves in it, the only books they’ve read were assigned to them at school . . . I must admit, it makes me feel a little sad for them. I know not everyone enjoys literature as much as I do, but I just can’t imagine a life without it.
I have a lot of books, a lot. I kind of hoard them to be honest. I have more books than I will ever have time enough to read, but that doesn’t stop me from getting more each chance I get. This morning I was practically giddy when my Barnes & Noble coupons arrived in the mail, perfect timing, don’t ya think? It is World Book Day after all.
I don’t have the shelf space I need, not that it matters, I just stack them here and there and everywhere. I think it might drive my husband a little nuts, he isn’t much of a reader, I don’t know how I missed that when I decided to marry him. He likes to hear me read though, when we find something he has even the slightest interest in, I’ll offer to read it to him and he almost always takes me up on the offer. He likes to listen to the things I like to read too, at least he lets me think he does.
He keeps promising to build me more shelves, he’ll have to if he wants the book towers to disappear. One day he says he’ll build a room just for me and my beloved books and I really think he will. The next kid that leaves home is having their room turned into a sanctuary for my books until he does . . .
~ Happy World Book Day ~
I love Barnes & Noble. Like, seriously love it. I would live there if I could. They won’t let me of course, (I asked), but I would take up residence within the confines of their walls if I was permitted. Aside from the books, all the glorious books, they have Starbucks. Hello, nirvana anyone?
Since they refuse to let me set up camp, I go as often as I am able and spend as much time there as my husband will let me. If they ever stop stocking magazines, I’m in trouble.
Hoarding Collecting books is something I have to do, I’ll take them from wherever I can get them, I’m kind of a thrift store book section regular, but they don’t have Starbucks so they fall to the number two spot on my favorite places to buy books list.
I abhor social situations, but I love to be around people for the sake of watching them. A bookstore is the perfect place for me in this regard. The typical bookstore patron is there for books, not company, and I am left to myself. The thrift stores are fantastic places to observe folks as well, but sometimes they want to talk.
A lot of times they seem to want to talk actually. For the most part, the people who approach me seem to just need someone to acknowledge their existence, to know there is someone kind scanning the collectibles looking for treasure alongside them. Some days it makes me feel good, some days it annoys me, and some days it kind of creeps the hell out me. Another reason they land in the number two spot.
Not too long ago my husband wanted me to attend a social function with him. I don’t like to do that. While my first instinct was to list all the reasons I didn’t want to go and wasn’t going to go, I decided to take the opportunity to get a little something out of it. I told him it was gonna cost him. A day, maybe an entire day, at Barnes & Noble and a Venti iced coffee . . . maybe two. He agreed, as if he had a choice, right?
It was a fabulous day, as most all of my bookstore days end up being. I drank too much coffee, lost myself in my beloved books, and left with The Essential Selected Poems of Pablo Neruda, a hardbound collection of Penny Dreadfuls, which includes some of my favorites by Poe, Shelley, and Rymer, The Elements Of Eloquence by Mark Forsyth (The Inky Fool), and a story of my own to tell.
If you haven’t already guessed, I love to read. I cherish my books and my time spent with them. Reading is a pleasure I would wish everyone could be as smitten with as I am. I don’t know why, but it always shocks and surprises me when I run across people who do not value-love-adore reading. People who don’t find the joys I have found between the covers of a book, it’s even more shocking when I happen to cross paths with those people in a bookstore, as I did on this recent visit.
When we arrived I hugged my husband, (I didn’t know how long it would be till I saw him again), and headed straight for the coffee, as I always do, and then made a bee-line for the bargain books, as I always do second, stopping only long enough to make mental notes of where I would look after I’d perused the many books those kind booksellers had marked down for me.
I couldn’t help but notice a girl, maybe around fifteen or sixteen years old, eagerly grabbing books and showing them to her mother and then quickly placing them back on the shelf. With every book she put back, her eagerness as well as her smile was fading. When I got closer to them, I realized why.
With every book she pointed out, her mother said no. Not just no though, there were reasons for each denial. The girl picked up a copy of John Carter of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs and her mom said, “That sounds like some sci-fi book for boys.” and pointed to a copy of Little Women by Louisa May Alcott as an alternative. The girl shrugged her shoulders.
The next book she showed her mother was Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll. Her eyes were kind of twinkly when she said, “I’ve always wanted to read this one!” Her mother rolled her eyes. She actually rolled them. “Isn’t that the same as Alice in Wonderland? That’s a kid’s book.” Obviously, she’s never read Through the Looking Glass and it seemed like her poor daughter wouldn’t be reading it either.
She motioned toward Dracula by Bram Stoker, this time there was an audible sigh to go along with the eye rolling. I felt so badly for that child. She just wanted to read. She noticed me noticing and tried to give a little, what-are-ya-gonna-do, kind of smile, I pointed to The Secret Garden by Francis Hodgson Burnett. I could see a look of relief in her eyes as she reached for the book. Again, her enthusiasm was quashed. Her mom actually said it sounded like something that should be R rated. What the what?
The Count of Monte Cristo ? No. She will not be reading Alexandre Dumas anytime soon. She won’t be reading Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and she won’t be reading the Selected Poems of Robert Frost. The poor girl was done. She stopped asking, she stopped looking. She took out her phone instead. My heart kind of broke for her. Her mother then suggested she buy a journal instead, that poor, defeated little thing just said, “I don’t have any thoughts to write down.” She never even looked up from her phone.
Now there is another part to this story, another child and parent exchange which took place shortly after I rounded the corner and began checking out the books stacked neatly on round tables near the front of the store. This time, it was between a father and daughter. Dad had a stack of books in his arms, obviously a reader. It was nice to see his daughter, who looked to be around the same age as the other young girl, get excited and lunge toward a book.
I was a little perplexed when I realized it was a hefty copy of Gray’s Anatomy. The conversation went like this –
Girl – “Oh my gosh, Dad! Check this out! It’s huge! Do you think it’s got all the seasons since the beginning?
Dad – “What are you talking about?’
Girl – “This book, it’s got to have the entire show in here!”
Dad – . . .
Dad – . . .
Dad – “It’s not about the television show. It’s about science and the medical world. It’s actually a beautiful book.”
Girl – “Oh. Whatever.”
Dad – . . .
Now here it gets a little more interesting. The mom and the sad girl with no books head toward the register to pay for mom’s stack of magazines. The dad, and the girl I’m pretty sure might have been too young to actually be watching the Gray’s Anatomy television series, head toward the register as well. The two parties merge and become one; a family.
If I had to guess, and I’m going to, I would say they were a blended family still in the process of blending. The girl without any books was tall and slender with dark hair, like her father. The Gray’s Anatomy girl was shorter and a little plumper with golden hair, just like her mother. I kind of chuckled to myself thinking about the different qualities they each brought to the table and how wonderful it might be when they all really begin to meld together.
The story is almost finished. The dark-haired daughter wandered away from the checkout line to look at a display of bookends, among the books being showcased between a bust of Plato and a bust of Aristotle was a beautiful copy of Great Expectations by Charles Dickens. The girl ran her finger almost lovingly down the spine of the book, then mother appeared beside her. “You know, just because they call it a classic doesn’t mean it’s any good.”
I might agree with that statement to some small extent if it was coming from someone who had actually read many classic novels, but instead I was a bit wounded by it and imagined myself knocking some sense into her with the bust of Plato, or maybe Aristotle, both were within easy reach. Instead though, I simply said a little prayer in my heart for the new family and hoped they would find some common, literary ground to stand on one day.
Later, when I thought of them, I wished I’d grabbed up that copy of The Secret Garden and bought it as a gift for that girl . . . it sure would have made my heart smile to do such a thing.
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