Shut Up and Read.

I love the book community I have discovered over the last few years via blogging and Twitter. These are my people. But, sometimes I wonder: Do we spend too much time debating bookish “hot topics” instead of actually reading?

You prefer to read ebooks? Ok. You still prefer paper? Ok. You have access to an Indie book store? Great. You live in East Jesus with no book store access and order from Amazon? Great. Who cares! You use your local library? Great. You chose to review ARCs? Wonderful. You don’t? Ok too. You read YA as an adult? Cool. You read works written by women? Awesome. You seek diversity in your reading? Wonderful. You read old dead white guys? Cool. Comics? Awesome. Russian history? Ok.

My point is none of it really matters as long as you are reading. And you are reading. People are reading all the time. The novel isn’t dead. (And really how could it be since it was never a living thing to begin with.) Reading isn’t dead. It never will be … as long as we all remember to sometimes just shut up and read! ūüėČ

Tolstoy and the Purple Chair, Nina Sankovitch and Me…

Tolstoy and the Purple Chair: My Year of Magical Reading¬†details how a year of reading a book a day¬†healed the author, Nina Sankovitch, after the death of her older sister, Anne-Marie. I understand this reading project because it reminds me of my own. I have not lost my sister. I have not lost my brother. Thank God. The person who has died is me … at least the me I used to be.

“Everyone has a before and after, the times of our lives divided by an event of loss or suffering or hardship.”

Sometime in 2006, my own body turned on me … literally. First, my immune system attacked and killed my thyroid gland causing hypothyroidism. Then, my immune system redirected its¬†attack¬†to my intestines and I was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease. After trying various medications that did not help, I found one that did, but after about a year this medication induced Lupus and I was no longer able to take it or any drug in¬†its family. The last available medication¬†supressed my over-active immune system too far and in 2009 I developed a serious intestinal infection that resulted in surgery to remove¬†that section of my small intestine. There are currently no other medications available for Crohn’s Disease treatment that I can try. As there is no cure for Crohn’s Disease, and other¬†such auto-immune disorders, I may simply never be the person I used to be. In the last year, a lovely fibromyalsia¬†diagnosis has been added to the mix along with the news that my intestines no longer absorb certain nutrients from food, such as iron and vit¬†B12, which means the rest of my lifetime will include necessary forms of supplementation. While there are good and bad days, my physical limitations have made it difficult for me to be the wife and mother I once was. Although I continued to work after the first few years of my diagnosis, I am not currently able to do so. I had to put aside my college studies and my career goals and the clock is ticking. There are many days when I feel like I don’t know who this person staring back¬†at me in the mirror is. There are many days that I feel like a failure. There have been many days when guilt, anger, bitterness, sadness, and depression¬†have washed over me¬† … certainly because of the disastrous wake of these disorders, but also because of other mounting personal issues in my life. I try to remember that there are many people with worse struggles than mine. I try to remember to thank God for each new day.

Nina shares this quote: “Have you ever been heartbroken to finish a book? Has a writer kept whispering in your ear long after the last page turned?” – Elizabeth Maguire

I have had to grieve the death of the person I once was and begin to accept the person I have become. This little reading project of mine has given me a vehicle through which I can begin to regain a purpose in my life beyond living for my daughter and perhaps through which I can begin to heal in some way … much like Nina Sankovitch. This is why I was so moved by her story. This is why I am so moved by the journeys of the other bloggers I have had the privilege to become acquainted with through my own venture. We are all somehow nourished by books, reading, blogs, writing … etc. It is a magical thing.

Each chapter of the book has its own message … its own lesson. The book could almost be read as a collection of essays and yet … it must be read as a whole as there is a thread weaving through the writing bringing everything together in a way that I admire. I wish I had been familiar with more of the books that are referenced. I found many of the titles to be quite obscure. I really wanted to connect with Nina through specific books, but in the end I found that it was enough to connect with her through the idea of reading as therapy. I need this therapy, this nourishment … oh, how I need some healing.

“The truth of living is proved not by the inevitability of death but by the wonder that we lived at all.”

Nina has reminded me that sometimes “the sheer value of living”, the feat of living¬†is enough … that the little things are what matter … that it is ok to do only the minimum house cleaning that needs to be done … that it is ok to do only what I really want to do (to spend my diminished energy wisely) … that I must focus on the good memories … that “one must take control of one’s life or become nothing but a broken branch, drifting in the current” … that “books can pave my way” … and so much more. Thank you Nina.

Checkin In … and Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie

I’ve been busy … thinking … thinking about reading rather than actually reading. The problem is that there are just so many books out there that I want to read that I have been having a hard time focusing on any one selection. I need to finish that Anne Sexton biography, but I suddenly couldn’t help myself and decided to join Allie’s (all ready in progress)¬†read-along of Vanity Fair, by William Makepeace Thackeray. (I did not have a copy of this selection, so I checked it out from my local library. The original library card was still in the back of the book, although check-out is now computerized. The book was first checked out on July 27 1963! Suddenly, I was wondering what brave souls in my town had checked this out before me … before I was even born?) I am craving a look at Tolstoy and the Purple Chair by Nina Sankovitch, The Reading Promise: My Father and the Books We Shared by Alice Ozma, and Breaking Night by Liz Murray. Apparently, the memoir addict in me needs a hit.

I did finish Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express, published in 1934,¬†last night. Although I like mysteries, this was my first go round with¬†Ms. Christie – the most widely published mystery author of all time. I put this selection on my project reading list because I felt that Agatha Christie was the definition of “classic” as far as women mystery writers go. Set on a passenger train, the story held my attention, but by the end I couldn’t help but think that much of what was happening was highly improbable, including Hercule Poirot’s incredible detective skills, and this was a bit of a turn-off for me. Then again, I have never been much of a detective myself (although I can play a mean game of Clue) so who I am to judge the probability of his skills? I was also not impressed with the ethnic stereotyping that I felt was present in the writing.

Agatha Christie 1890-1976

In the end, all I can say is: Was it Mrs. White in the dining car with the fork? Well, you will just have to read it to find out!

Good Detective Advice: “If you confront anyone who has lied with the truth, he will usually admit it-often out of sheer surprise. It is only necessary to guess right to produce your effect.” – Hercule Poirot

Liar, Liar…

I don’t ever participate in the memes floating around the neighborhood, but this week’s Top Ten Tuesday over at The Broke and Bookish¬†was a classic that I just couldn’t resist: Top Ten Books I Have Lied About!

1. I lived with my grandmother growing up and she was a little on the …¬†umm … let’s say¬†conservative side. When I brought home Blume’s¬†Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret in elementary school and she asked me what it was about, instead of divulging any bust increasing, puberty related content I immediately replied¬†… GOD!

2. Admitting to having read AND liked the Twilight series seems to be a major party foul around the blogosphere … but here it is: I read and LOVED ’em!!! Oh, God … did I just say that out loud???

3. I have some kind of weird aversion to Harry Potter fans. I am always saying how¬†much I¬†hate the series, but¬†that can’t really be possible when I have never read the books!!! Well, I tried to read the first one once a long time ago, but never finished it. I have no idea why the mere mention of this series makes me want to gag. Maybe it has something to do with the giant spiders in one of the movies I happened upon once on late night cable … who knows.

4. I once did a HUGE term paper in highschool on Edith Wharton, got an A, but never read one ounce of her work … still haven’t.

5. Allie, plug your ears! I read Tolstoy’s War and Peace for a read along back in January over at ¬†A Literary Odyssey … well, all except the last 220 pages! For some reason, I just never finished it. I meant to, but as more and more time went on, I just slipped it back on the shelf. I have to get it over with soon. That way when I tell people I have read War and Peace, the last 220 pages aren’t haunting me … as if the first 1000 pages weren’t enough …

6. I say I really like the stream of consciousness writing style¬†… and I¬†do … at least the idea of it. But, reading Joyce and Faulkner is PAINFUL … ugly painful!

Journaling?

Since starting this blog (as a reading journal of sorts), I have been contemplating keeping a personal journal as well. I kept a diary at different times in my youth. As an adult, I often wanted to start journaling again, but all the thoughts that swirl around in my head never seem to make it to paper. I get lost in the details of this idea. I like the idea of a regular pen and paper journal, but I hate my handwriting. Should I keep my journal on my laptop because there will be spell check and an orderly font? Will someone betray my trust and help themselves to my private thoughts (which happened to me as a child)?
Do you journal (outside of your blog)? Do you keep a notebook, a fancy cloth bound journal, or a computer document?

Checkin In…Random Thoughts Related to Writing and Reading…

Hello there!

1. I am finished with Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca and am currently about 200 pages in with Wilkie Collins’ The Woman in White, both of which I am reading for Allie’s January read-alongs.

2. I have been busy receiving some interesting book loot from online purchases. I will be sharing the details soon. I am happy to report that I have purchased seven selections and have saved around $60 with the use of store coupons, member discounts, and store bucks! Yes, I am really excited about my savings…lol!

3. Something that bothers me about my writing: I cannot seem to ever fully master the proper use of punctuation, especially things like the comma and the semicolon. I took a grammar course in college, but am too lazy to refer to my notes while I am writing. I know that convention is important in the writing of academic papers, but is it really that important in creative writing or blogging? About the only thing I ever remember for sure is that a comma is required before the use of “but” in a sentence.

4. Something that bothers me about my reading: I have a horrible time with the proper or intended pronunciation of the names of people and places in books. This really aggravates me. It occurs to me that this is one situation where audio books really come in handy!

HELP! ūüôā