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I love books. Have you figured that out yet? I love cozy mysteries. I devour horror. I’m getting more into fantasy. I’ve even been known to enjoy a romance or two. But which book is my favorite?
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Please consider donating to help keep this going. $1 and I’ll ask you what your favorite book is so we can talk about it. $5 and I’ll write a review of a book you suggest. $10 and I’ll write a blog suggested by you.
This is an older post from the first version of this blog that I eventually turned into a book. Until I publish again, that book is not available. Until then, I give you the smell I’m most grateful for.
Books are magic. They have the power to transport us across space and time, to different dimensions and galaxies. We can be the hero, the villain, or just a stander by watching the story unfold. Reading this book will help you become a middle age, train wreck of a mom with anxiety issues and a slight caffeine addiction. Between the covers of a book is more than just ink and paper; you can discover worlds and lives there.
I developed a love of reading early. My mother was so impressed at how young I was reading my first book; I was four. It was through careful observation that my mother realized I wasn’t turning any pages and the book was upside down. Oh, to have that memory back again. One that remembers a whole book.
That love of reading developed into a passion. I wanted to be one of these creators of worlds, a developer of people, and a teller of stories. I wanted to be a writer. I wanted to be my mom’s favorite author.
I saw how my mother loved to read. I owe my love for Stephen King to her. One of my favorite items in her collection is an autographed hardback copy of “The Stand.” She has an Agatha Christie collection that rivals those in the library.
I was trying to organize my mother’s book collection when I came across a problem. “Ma,” I called down the stairs from her room, “You do know you have four copies of “Ten Little Indians” right?”
“They’re all different editions and printings. The cover art is different, too. Don’t judge me.”
“No judge here. Just didn’t know if you knew how many or what you have.”
My dad’s collection of books on American history should be in a library. He has so many that the bookshelf has bowed. It creaks as if to say, “Enough, man. Please, take a few of us out of here.” I bought him a Kindle to try and help him control his stockpile. “It’s not the same as a book. I can’t feel or smell the pages. A when I tried to dogear the page to mark my place I broke the damn thing.”
Any day now I expect seeing them on an episode of “Hoarders.” Instead of a dumpster they’ll bring twenty six bookmobiles and fill them up. Some poor kid will wind up failing a project because of Dad’s collection of “Real History and Not What They Teach in School.”
My parents never half ass anything. Go big or go home. This goes for books as well. Full series and complete works of authors, autobiographies, memoirs, secret diaries, notebooks of mad scientists’ experiments gone awry. The works of Erma Bombeck, Lewis Grizzard, Jeff Foxworthy, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Dean Koontz, Stephen King, and J.K. Rowling fill my mother’s back craft room and her bedroom. Biographies about George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Abigail Adams, Andrew Jackson, George Patton fill every flat surface in my fathers bed room. There is no where in my parents’ house that doesn’t have a book somewhere. Stacks of book line all along the walls, in boxes, on the stairs, under the beds, in closets, and of course in the bathroom. It won’t be long before their house becomes a maze.
“Ma, I can’t find the refrigerator.”
“Did you turn left or right at the Miss Marple collection?”
“There’s your problem. You should have gone left. You’re by the air conditioner. You need to take ten steps back and turn left at the first possible spot.”
There was never a shortage of anything to read in the house. Other kids in school gave book reports on Huck Finn, Tom Sawyer, and Romeo and Juliet. “And then Romeo showed up at Juliet’s house and he asked her out on date. And she thought he was hot so she said, ‘yes’.” I reenacted scenes from books about Hercule Poirot (complete with ocean sounds). I once made a diorama of “The Exorcist” complete with tumbling down the stairs action priest. I was popular in school, can you tell?
When you arrived at my mother’s house you knew she would be in her recliner, engrossed in a new adventure. Even though the television was on she didn’t pay attention to it. Or anything else around her. At one point when I was twenty, I managed to sneak passed her ten friends (five of them were boys) – all said hello to my mother, three delivered pizzas(they rang the bell), and five two liters of soda. The only time she looked up from her book was as I ushered the last fool in my parade of friends out the door. “Don’t forget to lock the screen door.” “OK, Ma.” This from a woman who could hear if I brushed my teeth or not while I was in the upstairs bathroom and she was in the washroom in the basement with the dryer going. There’s that super mom hearing ability for you. In this case it’s known as Selective Hearing Disorder.
Being in high school and not fitting in, books became those friends that I didn’t have to worry about impressing. I could pick them up or put them down and they never got jealous. I could read two, three, even four at a time and not have to worry about a scandal erupting.
“Did you hear? Peter saw Jennifer reading ‘Eyes of the Dragon’ on the bus yesterday?”
“I thought she was reading ‘Brave New World.'”
“I heard she was reading ‘The Crucible.'”
“Oh, her poor parents, having to deal with a child like that. Such a shame.”
Yeah, a child like that. Raising a child like that gets you a kid you don’t have to worry where she is or who she’s with.
“It’s eleven o’clock at night. Do you know where your child is?”
“Yup, upstairs with my copy of ‘Murder on the Orient Express.'”
“Oh. Well, OK. Sorry to bother you so late at night.”
When it comes down to what book I’m most grateful for there isn’t an easy answer to that. There are so many different genres that fit the many moods and situations I find myself in.
“Guess How Much I Love You” is on the top of my read along books that I’m grateful for. This was part of the bedtime routine with the Bunny. Bath, jammies, teeth, story, prayers, bed. Every night she would curl up with me and read the story with me. Even as a young toddler she was able to point out pictures when asked where something was. This was our nightly ritual for almost four years. At the mature age of four years old she told me she was too old for such a baby book. I have a crack in my heart from that.
“Hop on Pop” was much better suited to the Bunny’s mature literature preferences. This book was the first book the Bunny learned to read all by herself. She read it every chance she could. She read it for show and tell at daycare. She read it on the phone with my parents every night: once for Gramma and once for Pop Pop. When her father was on the road she would read it to him when he would call. She offered to read at story time in the library for the toddlers and preschoolers. The reading bug had bit the Bunny.
When I was in high school I discovered the joy of A.A. Milne and Winnie the Pooh. There was something soothing about the simplicity of that bear all stuffed with fluff. I especially loved Tigger. His effervescent energy, his perpetual positivity, and his boundless bouncy buoyancy was everything a moody, lonely teenager needed. Well, at least it was for me.
Fast forward a few years and I had started researching alternative spirituality. While browsing a used book shop I came across a package of two books, “The Tao of Pooh” and “The Te of Piglet”. Some genius twisted Eastern and Western philosophy. And it is brilliantly written. If you’ve ever wanted to know more about Taoism I recommend both these books. The way the author explains the principles of the uncarved block and the concept of being small helps me get my brain back where it needs to be. It’s easy to lose sight of your center and yourself. When life gets overwhelmed with homeschooling, potty training, house cleaning, writing, feeding my family, and in general just trying to be a good person I sometimes need to take a step back, take a breath, and remember to be present in the moment. I need to reset my GPS. That’s usually when I pick up one of these two books and take a moment to get back to right. My family and I are grateful for that because it helps me be a better wife, a better mother, a better me.
One book I will read no matter what is “Brave New World” by Aldous Huxley. I read this book in high school and I noticed something amazing. While discussing this book, my teacher didn’t talk to me like a student. It was one of the first and only times a teacher treated me as an intellectual equal even in college. When we analyzed the characters and their motives the other kids’ eyes would glaze over. I think one boy gave himself a concussion when he fell asleep and his head hit the desk. That forehead goose egg arrived in the classroom six minutes before the rest of him. I consider that karma for him shoving me in my locker, stealing my backpack, pushing me out on the fire escape in winter, and holding me down so another girl could tie tampons on my overalls.
This book gave me the okay to be different. In fact it applauded the things that made me stand out in a crowd of normality and mediocrity. The fact that I was able to hold an intelligent conversation about the themes written with someone thirty years my senior proved to me how timeless this book was. This was common ground. This was the equalizer on a field.. We knew nothing. They knew everything. That was how student teacher relationships were. Yet, there we were, defying convention and logic. And it was all legal. It felt good. It was my own stick it to the man, screw the system moment of rebellion. Yes, I understand how much of a nerd that makes me.
I’m grateful to live in a world with books. I am especially grateful that I have the opportunity to read books that were once banned. I understand how lucky I am to be able to learn how to read and write. I am aware that my condition of literacy is not one afforded to many women across the globe even in today. Much like the right to vote, many people fought and died for my right to an education. I am truly grateful to them for that.
About the book I’m most grateful for I would have to say the first book I wrote and published, “Its All Your Fault.” I realize how self serving that sounds. During the course of writing that book, I had to dig down deep inside myself and find my courage and my voice. I knew my story wasn’t unique; many people live and survive abusive relationships every day. After years of hearing I had no talent and no one would ever want to read anything I wrote I had to block out those voices. I had to tell my story. After I published my book, I received many messages thanking me for writing my story because it helped them. I managed to do the one thing I had always wanted: I helped people by writing.
Because of writing that book, I found my motivation to keep writing. I’ve gotten messages from friends saying I’ve inspired them to write their own stories. If you’ve ever wanted to write but don’t think you’re good enough just remember this: if you read what I’ve written and think to yourself, “This sucks. Self, I can write better than this,” then go out there and do it, please. I would love to read your story. I’m sure other people would, too.
I’m grateful for my story. I’m grateful for your story, too.
To help you get through your TBR, I’m including a printable bookmark. Just print it on cardstock. You can laminate it, it you like. Hope you enjoy.
Again, if you like what I post, please like, comment, share, and subscribe. Please consider donating to help keep this going. $1 and I’ll ask you what your favorite book is so we can talk about it. $5 and I’ll write a review of a book you suggest. $10 and I’ll write a blog suggested by you. That’s all I’ve got for today, train wrecks. All aboard.