Girl with thoughts, beware.

Think. Write. Repeat.

I will never be a wood worker…. and other musings to close 2014.

Wow… I had this as a draft and never published. What a way to start 2015!

 

 

The other day I listened to a podcast featuring an old interview with Nick Offerman (of Parks and Recreation fame). Turns out Nick is a part-time wood worker. He owns his own wood shop and has crafted furniture and canoes for a long time, often supplementing his acting career before he made it big.

Needless to say, I was inspired. How great is that, I thought? Hey, maybe I can get into woodcarving. Or woodcutting. Or whatever you call it…. Hey, maybe I can intern there?! I can discover a life-long passion for working with wood!

I have never worked with wood. I don’t think it’s even entered into my consciousness before that I would ever want to carve a chair. But somehow, Nick Offerman’s having a unique skill that provided him with a living in the down years spoke to me. I needed that kind of passion.

I looked on his website. He has a whole list of FAQs on what his woodshop is and isn’t. A) He’s not going to give anyone a job B) A really cool hand carved desk costs $4,800 C) You can take woodcutting lessons at Off the Saw in downtown LA.

I went to that website. I looked at the $200 plus wood cutting package (all supplies included) that will teach you the basics of woodcarving/cutting, and at the end you get to walk away with your own hand carved cutting board!

And that’s when I realized I would never, EVER be a wood worker. No matter how inspired I am about someone else’s success and journey, it’s not mine. Nor should it be.

What I mean to say is, I found myself near the end of 2014 grasping at straws.

This hasn’t been the best year of my life, though I’ve got plenty going for me. It’s been a frustrating year, emotionally and professionally. A year of little surprises and big disappointments. I have to admit I spent 2014 mostly confused. I lost myself and the best part of me somewhere during the year.

I’ve got to get her back in 2015.

I do want to share a few people who have rocked my world with some of their postings:

Megan Stroup, “A Semi-Charmed Kind of Life” took an amazing journey this year and her blog gets better and better with each post.

James Altucher has some incredible insight and writes frank and revealing stuff.

I’m really digging Chris Guillebeau‘s mission. He mostly writes for the traveler, but we are all travelers in some fashion aren’t we?

I’m sorry for not posting more blog posts this year, and I’m even more sorry that I wasn’t able to read more blogs written by some very talented people. This is a year where I feel like I let down my friends.

But I am hopeful for 2015. One of the things I can’t fault with this year is my growing relationship with my husband. I love him. I want to love him more.

Chris Guillebeau writes a great Year End Review. Here is my brief submission:

What went well in 2014?:

  • Started my new job. Got a raise! Reached some professional goals and realized a few new strengths.
  • My first year of marriage did not end in tears. Realized that I love being married.
  • I’m about to pay off my student loan. Financially, this was a great year for me.
  • Joined a writers group. I found a bunch of supportive and amazing writers and it feels like home.
  • Broke through some of my acting blocks. Found my voice!
  • Got to spend time with my family. We have a much better relationship now than ever.
  • Went 2 months without any sugar. Lost 3 pounds and slept better.
  • Started working with a trainer and getting in better shape. Actually RAN not walked a 5K.
  • Began to learn German. Abandoned it for now, but I started!
  • Got to work on the Rejane Project again and the show was a success!
  • Read 49 (and possibly 50 before Thursday) out of my projected 45 books for the year!

What didn’t go well in 2014?

  • Fear went haywire this year. I received some negative feedback and I personalized it. It’s haunted me for about 6 months.
  • A lot of past karma came back my way this year… I have to work on my professional relationships.
  • I don’t think I was the best friend I could be this year. I didn’t have the emotional capacity or time to spend with many friends.
  • Our wedding year in 2013 and new job meant less time for travel.
  • My French has suffered greatly. I’m not able to keep up much practice.
  • There are many things I wanted to accomplish by the end of the year: Finish my wedding album, get new headshots, publish a few of my essays, revamp my blog… I didn’t get to them. I feel let down.
  • I didn’t get to participate in as many Buddhist activities with my group as I had wanted to.

Goals for 2015:

  • Looking over my past year, I see that I’ve got quite a bit going on. I need to simplify. Can the headshots wait and perhaps I spend some more time with friends? Maybe I need to stop worrying, let the laundry sit for a while, and spend that time more wisely.
  • I need to work on being a better friend and wife.
  • Have fun. Don’t think I made room for that in 2014.
  • Travel for pleasure.
  • Stop saying “You have to do this or that”. Everything is a choice.
  • Love myself more.
  • Forgive myself  a lot.
  • Stop waiting for permission… just do it already!
  • Love where I am in this moment. I’m on a journey, and I need to stop living like I’ve already parked it somewhere.
  • Write. And write some more. Maybe submit for publication!
  • Get better at goal-setting. (seriously, though, I’ve never been good at goals).
  • “This is the year I…” Every year I’ve said this. 2015 is TBD!

Thanks to everyone who read my posts this year. It’s an honor to have an audience of readers who love books as much as I do. More to come.

Cheers!

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Audiobook Wars Are ON!

When you sit in the car as much as I do and are a huge reader, nothing saves the day like an audiobook. I currently subscribe to Audible.com (Amazon owned) and am always amazed at how many audiobooks I actually go through on a monthly basis. I have to force myself to adhere to the once-a-month free credit I get with my subscription (one book/month for $14.95) because let’s face it: $27 for an audiobook is really expensive. Between $18-$30 is the average cost for a DISCOUNTED audiobook on the site.

What gives??!

Imagine my delight when I came across this news item announcing Scribd audio books only carry a $9.99/month subscription fee with unlimited access. I can read 5 audio books in one month and only pay $10? Yes, please! And suck it, Amazon!

Oh, but wait. There is a catch.

Surfing the titles on Scribd I discovered that Scribd doesn’t have publishing rights to certain books and therefore cannot carry those books and audiobooks. And when I say “certain” books, I mean virtually all the titles in my GoodReads “To Read” pile are not available. Amy Tan? Nope. Donna Tartt’s “The GoldFinch”? Not available. Any books by Geraldine Brooks? Only one title.  Neil Patrick Harris’ new memoir? Yep, not there.  The list went on and on.

To be fair, there are good books available on the site but if it’s a new book- and a popular one by a prolific author- forget it. Why  should I be restricted as to what I want to read? I want to read what I want to read WHEN I want to read it. By the way, those books I mention above were my top picks and I struck out on all four. I don’t want to have to spend my time searching for a book I really want to read, only to find that it’s not available and then settle for a second choice instead. Not worth the $10/month, in my opinion.

So Amazon is remaining top dog in the digital e-reader/audiobook subscription battle for now. Is it the online behemoth that is to blame or the publishing contracts? You decide. Us readers are the ones who end up with the (expensive) bum deal.

2014 Reading Challenge Check-in

Whoa, it’s been a while since I’ve posted any books for 2014. My apologies. I am now a creature to the 405 traffic situation to/from work.

In other news, I’ve started taking a writer’s workshop. I simply want to learn how to write- creatively or not- better.  Hopefully I can translate my new fangled writing skills into more blog posts, but for now here are some book recommendations.

I LOVE getting book recommendations, which is part of the reason I joined a book club years ago. I crave new books and new authors to explore. I will often recommend books to others, but they are usually the ones that were so incredibly life-changing. It almost hurts me to loan out a favorite. I almost usually never get it back. However, I can’t prevent myself from sharing the love!

Below is what I’ve read so far out of the 45 books I’ve earmarked to read in 2014. I am at a solid 39/45 so I’m on track to maybe even beat my proposed record! I’m recording what I’ve read but also whether I am recommending it or not. In lieu of book reviews for the blog, I’ve been done some shortie reviews on Goodreads and that has sustained me for now.

Here are my categories:

  • YES: This book changed my life in some way and hopefully it will change yours. Or I just really enjoyed it.
  • VACATION READ: We all need books that can sustain us for long periods when we are sitting on a beach or in front of a fire in a log cabin. These are not necessarily the best books I’ve ever read, but will hold your attention for more than a few hours, while still allowing you to relax. (I may even put YES and VR together, mean yes it’s great AND good for vacation).
  • NO: I just didn’t like it or it wasn’t worth my time. Doesn’t mean someone else might not love it, but I would never hand this book to another and say “You gotta read this!”

 

 NO
VACATION READ
YES, VR
NO
YES
NO
YES
YES, VR
NO
YES, VR
YES
VACATION READ
NO
YES
YES
YES
YES, VR
YES
YES
YES
YES, VR
YES, VR
YES
NO
YES, VR
YES (hesitantly)
YES, VR
NO
VACATION READ
NO
NO!!
NO
YES (hesitantly)
YES
NO
YES
YES

Slow Ride? No, Slow READ.

So this is interesting: Apparently we read too fast and e-books and electronics are partly to blame. It’s time to slow down, slow waaayy down and read. For pleasure!

An article in the Wall Street Journal talks about the benefits of slow reading. In fact, slow reading CLUBS (my kind of club!) are popping up all over the world. You turn off your electronics and sit in silence for 30min-1hour and read. That’s it.

I can think of nothing more pleasurable than to just sitting and reading a book. I’ve even pondered the idea that somewhere, somehow reading all day for fun could actually be a career. What about people who read manuscripts all day? I can do that, easily. And yet, I find myself getting distracted when I sit down to read.

Take today, for instance. I purposefully blocked out the whole day to do nothing other than read my book, watch a movie, write my blog- anything except clean or run errands, or any of the other “must dos” that seem to fill up my weekends these days. And sure enough, I found other things to do.

I’m that type of person who can shut down her phone all day and never feel tempted to check it. I’m not a super active Facebooker or Tweeter. I try to never get on the computer at home unless I absolutely have to. What distracts me is the feeling that I have to get through something. I’m not reading my book for pleasure, but I’m actively trying to finish it even as I’m enjoying it. I blame my reading challenges. Reading challenges have taken the fun and pleasure out of reading.

I’ve committed to reading 45 books this year, and I’m well on my at 34 completed. But I’m starting to feel the pressure to finish and that means I have to power through x number of books in 3 months. I know I can do it, but I find I’m speed reading a lot. I’m also choosing books that are only so many pages so I can cover more ground, though there are other longer and more complex books I would like to start now. But those would take up too much time.

Gone are the days when I would brew a large cup of tea and sit for a couple of hours on the couch or outside with my book. I work full-time now and weekends are taken up by other events and errands to run. I miss those days of idle reading. If slow reading and taking the time to really commit to a book is proven to lower stress and increase concentration, then I’ve got some catching up to do.

After all, who really cares if I complete my challenge or not? It’s quality not quantity that counts, right?

Frolicking in historical fiction and fantasy.

Outlander          The White Queen        GOT

 

Sometimes I amaze myself. I don’t know why, but this past month I started reading three books at the same time- one on audio, one at lunch, and another at night- that are complete epics. All three- “Outlander”, “The White Queen”, and Game of Thrones book 3 “A Storm of Swords”- take place in the past and all of them have fantastical and magical elements.

You might think I’ve keeled over in pure exhaustion, but I’m rather inspired.

I love historical fiction. It’s fast becoming my new favorite go-to genre. Mysteries used to my coveted and favorite reads, but now that I’ve branched out into the world of fantasy, I’m happy when I can find a book or two that combines all elements. I’m relatively a newbie to fantasy. Sci-fi and fantasy just were never my genres of choice when it came to pleasure reading. But after reading Patrick Rothfuss’ “The Name of the Wind” for a book club meeting, I came to have a new appreciation for fantasy. And Game of Thrones is so character heavy and mind-boggling at times, but I absolutely love the series.

Also interesting (to me, anyway) is that the above books are also on TV. I only just begun the Outlander series on Starz, but I saw the mini-series The White Queen before I read the book, and I watched all three seasons of GOT before I picked up the first book. With these dense and historically meandering books, I’ve found it actually helps to watch the shows first. This is profound, in that it’s not something you will usually hear me say.  I don’t think it’s cheating, really, to watch the shows in tandem or before reading the novels. Think of the show as a companion piece and handy visual guide to the books!

Side bar: I know Game of Thrones is not necessarily “historical fiction”, as Westeros and environs are pure fantasy. But the books feel as though they are set in the middle ages, sort of on a parallel universe as ours.

I can’t say why, exactly, I’m in love with historical fiction. I know several people who can’t stand this genre, for whatever reason. But I get so excited when history comes alive. I like to revel in what life was like all those years ago. In the case of “The White Queen”, I am always delighted when a new story about the Tudor era debuts. Reading about history in texts and documents never quite captures the true spirit of a person ,and who is to say, after 500 years, that what we are reading is even really true? But stories have so much leeway to create a character, and in the context of factual events I feel like I’m right there.

“Outlander” knocked my socks off. It’s not the type of book that will appeal to everyone, though. For one thing, it’s a time travel novel. That right there can immediately turn people away. It has all of the trappings of being a romance novel, but it’s not a romance either. As for fantasy, well it’s not so heavy on that, but it dives just a twinge into fantasy-like situations (I won’t give away any spoilers here). And this is a dark book. When I say dark, I mean DARK. Rape, torture, spousal and child abuse are all fair game here and author Gabaldon doesn’t shy away from any of it. Really, “Outlander” is a sweeping epic set in 18th century Scotland. With men in kilts. And some pretty explicit sex scenes. Think the TV show Game of Thrones set in the Highlands and you are all set.

Anyone second guessing historical fiction now?

A few weekly highlights on books

What you may have missed lately in the reading world!

  • Here is a fantastic read if you happen to be following the Hachette and Amazon debacle. I see a novel down the road…In any case, you can read Amazon’s manifesto, er, I mean, plea to readers on Readers United to subtly attack Hachette, even though Amazon is also clearly picking a fight.
  • Libraries STILL Rule! What do libraries have over e-books? Selection. The print vs. e-book war is not far from over, but this article still gives me hope that the two formats can live side-by-side.
  • A thought to ponder on historical fiction… I’m currently reading “Outlander” by Diana Gabaldon and loving it, I might add. But I’ve encountered one sticking point that gets in my craw in nearly every historical fiction novel I read: The bathroom problem. For Elizabeth Gilbert, her irk is lusty 19th century broads whose only merit is their appearance, and for me it’s the bathroom problem, especially in time travel novels. If you are accustomed to fancy modern day indoor plumbing and take it for granted that you can poop in peace and wipe with handy tissue, I think you would notice when that is taken away. So many books that place their main characters in dangerous, unfamiliar settings fail to mention this issue. I’m not saying you have to get graphic and go into drastic detail of a woman who suddenly encounters the necessity of peeing in the open as her only option, but it should be mentioned. At the very least, the author is presenting his/her character with a conflict and seeing what happens. It’s a realistic aspect to add to a character study, and I’m always frustrated when the detail is plainly ignored! Ok, I’ll step down from soapbox now.
  • And lastly, the Central Library here in Los Angeles is hosting an event combining some of my favorite things: Books, theatre, old films, and French! If you are from the area and care to explore this Thursday 8/21, check out the Aloud! Series featuring a rare screening of Great Actresses of the Past with live music accompaniment.

 

Agree to disagree… on books.

As much as I love to talk about books on my blog and with other book lovers, I must admit that I am loathe to be asked “What book are you reading?” by a stranger on the elevator or while waiting in line. I know it’s idle chit-chat, or someone just passing the time, or another fellow book lover in disguise wanting to connect, but when I’m caught off guard like that I get nervous. I’m mostly nervous about the book I’m holding and what that person will think the title says about me. I understand that I shouldn’t care, but I just do. What if they’ve read it and they proceed to tell me how much they hated it and have a slightly disdainful look in their eye at my choice? It’s happened before. And I’m caught in the middle of a dilemma: yes, this person has a right to his or her opinion and so do I. But what if it’s a book I really love and I suddenly have to defend my choice?

I absolutely believe that there should be differing opinions among book lovers about the same book. The most successful of my book club meetings were the ones where things got very divided and very heated (champagne was flung and voices were raised at one event). Still, I’m curious and perplexed as to the reason why when I completely fall in love with a book and a fellow book clubber- one who even has similar taste in books- has the opposite reaction, or vice versa.

For example, I thought “Gone Girl” by Gillian Flynn was one of the best spins on the modern mystery genre I have read in long time. A friend in book club hated its guts! I found “One Thousand White Women” by Jim Fergus to be a total waste of my time and then I read today that another Goodreads friend just gave it 5 stars. After reading “The Red Tent” by Anita Diamant a few years back, I proclaimed it to be one of the most important and poignant reads for women. I still have yet to meet anyone else who has read it to claim that he or she found it as thrilling or profound as I did.

Is it just me? Or is it them? When you are so divided- love it or hate it- on a book, where does the criteria fall? Now, I understand that I’ve started to judge books more harshly than I ever have before. Part of it is that I’m looking at literature in a new way, since I joined a book club and have taken to read a variety of genres, and another part of me just got tired of reading crap. However, I will go ahead and rate a book 4 or 5 stars on Goodreads if it simply filled me joy, even though it might not be anyone’s idea of a literary tour de force.

But why do I still get that shaky feeling in my stomach, as if I’ve already failed, when I encounter someone who either loved or hated a book that I, contrariwise, felt so strongly about. When I saw that “One Thousand White Women” was given 5 stars, I instantly thought to myself, “How did I miss the boat? What is she seeing that I’m not?”. I find it fascinating that two people can have such completely different experiences reading the same story, yet it’s also disappointing. We can both share our joy or disgust over it, but we will never sit on absolute common ground.

I don’t like to judge others on his or her reading tastes because books we love or read often cut close to our souls. I wish there was a perfect response to the “What are you reading?” questions. Next time I spot someone on his or her way to lunch, clutching a book that I may have read or want to read, perhaps the best method is: “I see you are reading XXX. I, too, have read it. May I approach?” Or maybe I’m reading (ha!) too much into things, as usual. After all, there are worse things to fight over. I’d much rather have a spirited conversation over books than politics any day!

Do people buy books as gifts anymore?

I read recently that book buying as gifts is down in the UK. Made me wonder, though, when was the last time I received a book as a gift?

I come from a long line of book lovers. My step-mom once told me to STOP buying books and book gift cards for my dad for Christmas and his birthday because she could now use the stacks of hardcovers in the “to read” pile as a second coffee table if need be. I loved getting books for presents, especially from those select few family members who really knew what I liked. To this day me, my grandmother and aunt have an ongoing book sharing circle that’s spanned about 20 years. Through this sort of “book re-gifting” program we’ve set up I’ve discovered now-beloved authors, such as Kate Atkinson and Carlos Ruiz Zafon. Book sharing and books as presents has sometimes been the best way for me to discover new writers.

The other day I bought my grandmother a book for her 89th birthday. I found it off of a Huffington Post article about bestselling books from the 1920s  and I chose the selection “The Keeper of Bees” from her birth year, 1925. I ordered it through Amazon and had it sent directly to her. There wasn’t a place to add a note if I wasn’t specifically marking it as a gift, so I knew the book would arrive without much fanfare; just innocently wrapped in its cardboard sheath. We take a big leap of faith when we send a book, especially one unread by the sender, to someone else. I want my grandmother to love her new gift because I put some thought into picking it out, but books are so subjective to the reader.

Whenever I received a book as a gift, I knew it came from a special place. Either the giver had read it before and wanted to share that joy with me, or it was given as an opportunity to learn something new. My new book present was never to be treated lightly and was expected to be treasured (even if I didn’t end up liking it). Are we losing this longtime tradition of book giving? You can give a Kindle as a gift, but can’t necessary give the person “The Goldfinch” by Donna Tartt or A Game of Thrones series.

If books are a form of love and we aren’t giving books as gifts anymore, where does that love go?

Please share here if you still give books as gifts and if so, what was the last book you gave to someone or received?

Book Review: The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert

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(SPOILERS AHEAD. Be forewarned…)

Had Jane Austen lived to a ripe old age, I’d like to imagine that she wrote this type of book. It’s a naughtier, wiser, more daring version of, say, Mansfield Park coupled with Sense and Sensibility with maybe a soupçon of Pride and Prejudice thrown in. Not that I’m insisting that Elizabeth Gilbert is the next Jane Austen, mind you, but she comes very close.

This is an exquisitely crafted book. The amount of research and diligence Gilbert devoted to the story is astounding. My experience with Elizabeth Gilbert has been dark and twisty at best. I detested Committed, her follow up to Eat, Pray, Love, and while I did find some redeeming factors in EPL I wasn’t overly fond of its author. Until I listened to a very articulate and funny interview of her with the podcast “Dinner Party Download” talking about her new novel, The Signature of All Things. I love historical fiction, especially those championing women, and the added sinful sex sprinkled into it couldn’t hurt. All in all, it sounded just like my taste in books. To add to my recent “in like” status with Elizabeth Gilbert, I started following her on Twitter and find her delightful.

I’m happy to say that this novel is so dramatically different from her memoirs, and in a good way. Once she gets on the topic of herself she loses me, but as soon as she focuses on another woman’s struggles and desires she absolutely soars. It is, however, easy to see that there is a lot of Gilbert in her main character, Alma Whittaker. Alma is a meticulous researcher; check mark for Gilbert. Alma is a seeker of knowledge, on an eternal quest to know more; another check mark for Gilbert. Alma questions everything. If you’ve read Committed before then you can easily see the author within the pages of her novel. Alma can be frustratingly stubborn, overbearing, generous and selfish all at the same time. I think we might find a little bit of Elizabeth Gilbert in these traits as well. In short, she’s a HUMAN.

But Alma is indeed a flawed human as well, and this is why she works as a protagonist. One of the major complaints I’ve read in other reviews about this book is that the other characters are far more interesting. True, Alma is not the most exciting character in the book, but she is the most believable. Retta, Alma’s childhood friend, is a ridiculous character, who was never fully flushed out enough to stand as a realistic person. I would have loved for Gilbert to explore the sister relationship between Prudence and Alma further and not wrap up their mutual uneasiness with each other through a series of letters. I didn’t particularly care for the love triangle between Retta, Alma, and Prudence with the fellow scientist George Hawks. To me, having all three young women in love with the same man was a literary cop out (and echoes of Elinor in Sense and Sensibility come to mind). Also, I frankly didn’t think he was that worthy of a person especially since he only married Retta, an obviously troubled and mentally ill person, because he couldn’t have Prudence and wasn’t interested in Alma, and then he just leaves her at a sanitarium and probably never saw her again.

The story is slow, but it’s meant to be. Alma is a self-trained botanist who studies mosses and nature and has her own theories on the ebb and flow of time- natural, divine, and human. The pace of the novel mirrors her lifelong journey to understand nature and her place within it. My only irk, my one main complaint with the entire book is the dialogue. While Gilbert is gifted with her use of language and writing about complex subjects in such a beautiful and poignant way, she is terrible at writing dialogue. It hurts me to say this because I did think the bulk of the novel is terrific. But every time there is a scene between two characters and large amounts of dialogue are required, the pacing in the story slows down to a crawl. Examples include scenes between Ambrose Pike and Alma, along with Alma and the Reverend Wells. Each character speaks WAY too much on a subject, and then over explains it nearly every other sentence, just to make sure the reader got the point. We got it. Meanwhile, in the middle of the other character’s soliloquy, Alma has about a page and a half of internal dialogue. Zzzzzzz….

Not only is the dialogue slightly painful to get through at times, much of the conflict that arises between these characters could have been easily solved if only Alma just asked the one damn question she couldn’t bring herself to ask. In this way, the novel reads like an episode of “Three’s Company” set in the Victorian Age. It’s unbelievably frustrating but, I will grudgingly admit, probably realistic for the time Alma was living in. It must have been so incredibly exhausting to be polite and proper all of the time! Cue Jane Austen in her later years: I’m sure she would have LOVED to yank off the white gloves and let loose.

I realize that this novel is not going to appeal to everyone, but I really enjoyed it. I respect the time and thoughtfulness that Gilbert took to create it. In fact, Gilbert could have created 5 separate novellas with nearly all the characters if she wanted to. Not an easy breezy read, but a worthwhile one in the end.

Booze and Books, Troubled Libraries, and more Physical Book woes

I just can’t seem to comment enough on the ongoing physical book dilemma happening all over the world. Here are a few highlights from the past few weeks:

Booze and Books: British pubs to feature in-house libraries

Sadly I can’t find the link to this story, but a few weeks ago I read that a few pubs in England are experimenting with housing small libraries, or operating as a local book-share for the community. At first glance this might seem like a silly idea. Who bellies up to the bar with a pint and settles down for a cozy evening with Crime and Punishment? After all, pubs are thought of as social gathering spots; a place to chat with friends instead of reading by one’s lonesome. But after contemplating this idea for a while, a pub as stand-in library makes perfect sense. Think of all the cafés in Europe circa the Belle Époque and beyond, and the writers (Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Kafka, Ibsen and Keats, just to name a few) who sat there penning their greatest works with a glass (or 5) of wine in hand. Heck, J.K. Rowling reportedly wrote most of Harry Potter book 1 in a pub.

The café and pub scene would be an ideal place to discuss books, hold a book club, or stop by on your way home from work to unwind with a beer AND pick up a book for the evening. I applaud pub owners for at least thinking outside of the box. Serving books along beer not only draws clientele, but it promotes reading and keeps the physical book in circulation. We shall see how this will catch on in the future!

In troubled library land:

I knew I liked this guy: Stephen King supports his local library

Talk about giving back. Kudos to Stephen and Tabitha King for keeping a library alive and thriving.

And in other news, libraries are getting creative. I love this photo. Keep ’em coming.

s-GILPIN-large300

What to do with your physical books? Organize them as a psychological profile:

I’m scared as to what my book profile might look like. Do all my books, if any, define me or just a select few?

If I take a glance right now at one shelf closest to me, without any rearranging- exactly as the shelf stands- this is what I see:

  • Light in August William Faulkner
  • Murder in Marais Cara Black
  • A Game of Thrones: A Song of Ice and Fire George R.R. Martin
  • Kick Me Paul Feig
  • Time and Again Jack Finney
  • Elizabeth: The Struggle for the Throne David Starkey
  • Restless William Boyd
  • Hawaii Lonely Planet Guidebook

(Actually, this list does look a lot like me).

And lastly, I again lost the link but there is a debate out there claiming that we need to abandon “tough” fiction and that no one has the time anymore to read verbose literature.

Malarkey!

If we don’t have time to read potentially long and dense fiction we probably don’t have time to read anything, period. Granted, everyone- including myself- enjoys a fast read now and again. But there are joys to be had in reading the long and artfully created novel. I’m currently reading The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert, which gets heavy into botany and philosophical discussion at the half-way point. It’s thought provoking and yes, time-consuming stuff, but what else will I do with my time? I’m learning something here, and it’s enjoyable too. So why not devote some free time to opening my mind rather than turning on the TV? Book lovers are going to read the “hard” stuff (think Moby Dick and War and Peace) at some point and we may not even like it, but I don’t think this style of intense and deep literature should be abandoned just because we are now tangled in a social media and technology driven web.

That’s me on my soap-box for this week! Share your thoughts here.

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