Wandering with my eyes and heart open, searching for pieces to add to my own personal big picture.

Tag: book blog Page 1 of 5

Wrap Up Notes from Surely You’re Joking – Part 1 of 2

In the interest of playing “catch-up” this month and the hopes of writing more than just commentary on the books I’m reading, I’m continuing on course with another (sort of) short and sweet wrap up of my favorite quotes from a recent read. I posted about “Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman” back at the beginning of March when I started reading it and posted my immediate thoughts about the book on my Goodreads account and in my (now weekly) newsletter. I hope you’ll go read those!

Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman book cover on the couch.

“He got me other jobs, and kept telling everybody what a tremendous genius I was, saying, ‘He fixes radios by thinking!’ The whole idea of thinking, to fix a radio – a little boy stops and thinks, and figures out how to do it – he never thought that was possible.”

During the depression he fixed radios, among other things, like they were puzzles to be solved. He learned by doing. It reminded me of my husband and sons.

“We had to write a number of themes. For instance, Mill had written something on liberty, and we had to criticize it. But instead of addressing myself to political liberty, as Mill did, I wrote about liberty in social occasions – the problem of having to fake or lie in order to be polite, and does the perpetual game of faking in social situations lead to the “destruction of the moral fiber of society.” An interesting question, but not the one we were supposed to discuss.”

A physicist in an English or History class…also reminded me of my son and my Dad. He probably would have read that essay with great interest.

“…Slater was right to warn me to go to another school for my graduate work. And I often advise my students the same way. Learn what the rest of the world is like. The variety is worthwhile.”

I liked “the rest of the world.” Well, at least he’d know what a little more of the world was like. For some of us, comfort and familiarity is key, but to grow beyond the pot your planted in, you have to be shaken out and transplanted. It is hard to volunteer for. And then there are people that crave it! Weirdos!

“What I had intended to do was to find out whether they thought theoretical constructs were essential objects. The electron is a theory that we use; it is so useful in understanding the way nature works that we can almost call it real. I wanted to make the idea o a theory clear by analogy. In the case of the brick, my next question was going to be, “What about the inside of the brick?” – and I would then point out that no one has ever seen the inside of a brick, you only see a surface. That the brick has an inside is a simple theory which helps us understand things better. The theory of electrons is analogous.”

This was part was a source of contention around here. I explained it separately to my three men. My husband and my oldest son both blew me off. “That’s ridiculous!” My younger son and I had a deep philosophical conversation through text for days. Sides were taken, lines drawn. Fascinating.

I think they miss the point of the analogy. Yes, we do know what the inside of a brick looks like essentially. But the point is to think about other things and how we look at them, in order to be sure we haven’t missed anything. It’s a thought exercise. They say it’s pointless. I know most people would agree.

“What is not really appreciated by most people is that they’re perpetually locking themselves in with locks everywhere, and it’s not very hard to pick them.”

He was talking about his “safe-cracking” stunt, where he could do it sometimes but most times he got a clue and then followed the trail to open it. People didn’t realize what he was doing. But it’s a cool analogy for humanity. You think you’re locked in but if you relax, take a look around, find clues, you’ll find that you aren’t.

This wrap up ended up being WAY too long for a single post, so you’ll find the rest of my comments tomorrow in Part Two. Stay tuned!

If you’d like to get a copy of “Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman!” and read it for yourself, check out Thriftbooks.com. Used books, free shipping, and points to redeem toward free books?! Yes, please! It’s a wonderful book, highly entertaining and left met thinking a little better about these weird physicists types.

“In The Beginning” by Alister McGrath

I picked up “In the Beginning: The Story of the King James Bible and How it Changed a Nation, a Language, and a Culture” by Alister McGrath off the TBR pile this morning and I’m already loving it…as usual.

I love Christian church history, and this looks like it’s going to be far more than I thought it was going to be. I’ve always been curious about Christian history, as in, “How in the world did we get where we are?!” But it’s a complicated topic in that there is a lot of bias in how it is presented to the world.

When I read something written by a non-Christian, I get the sense of hostility and contempt. As if they are only writing the book to disprove the religion’s stances on life. Or there is the feeling of, “Oh those poor dumb people that believe it this shit.” It’s a turn off. I’d like a book written with respect if not reverence and belief.

When I read something by an actively believing Christian, there’s a lot of glossing over the subject. Depending on the author’s sect, they steer the narrative around certain pieces and towards proselytizing instead of informing and educating. This is also a turn off because I’m really curious about the actual history, not the spiritual significance.

Here is the thing. I believe that there is something bigger than us and that “god” is bigger than any book written by humans. I don’t believe we (humans) need to change the message for the listener. I don’t believe we need to hide certain aspects until people are ready to hear them. I don’t believe that humans can mess up god’s will toward others.

If it is real, then it will get to us how it gets to us, and I firmly believe that it gets to us in many different ways, tailored for each and every one of us in our own language and time. It’s a personal journey, not fit for anyone else in this realm of consciousness.

Which leads me to this question. Why bother speaking/writing about it? Why bother discussing it at all? Because that is how humans work. It’s how we discover and learn. It’s how we were created. And, in my opinion, how “god” speaks to us.

I’m really looking forward to reading this! Have you read “In the Beginning” by Alister McGrath? If you want to read it, run over to Thriftbooks and get it. We can chat about it later!

New Read: The Devil in the White City

What made me pull The Devil in the White City out of the great book collection giveaway last December? I’ll make a list!

The Devil in the White City book cover on a desert background.
  • “Devil”
  • Scary cover
  • History
  • “Murder, Magic, and Madness”

What’s not to love?! History in story form is one of favorite genres and apparently, it’s everyone else’s too, judging by the shows popping up all over Netflix!

I don’t know anything about the book other than its intriguing cover and I can’t wait to read it this week!

Holy…ok, I just jumped over to the interwebs and did a quick search…in my mind I was thinking, “I wonder if they’ll make a movie of this.” And then BAM! There it is! Freakin’ Leonardo DiCaprio…swoons…and Martin Scorsese?!

I just lost my mind. We just finished watching Shutter Island (shout out to my awesome son for recommending it). We both were floored…what’s this? A real movie? With a plot? And dialog? Oh, my heart. You need to go watch it! And this book looks like it will be along the same lines, a great story based in history with deep characters.

…breathes deeply…

It looks like the movie hasn’t been released yet and now I’m worried that a movie that I didn’t know was being made, about a book I haven’t read yet or even knew existed until just now, won’t be released and I’ll have missed out! That is my mind, my friends. It’s always a fun ride in here.

At least I already have the book in my hot little hands!

Well, this should be fun and now I have another movie to look forward to (hopefully, looking anxious)! April is looking to be a SWEET month!

Have you read The Devil in the White City? Do you want to read it with me? Run over to Thriftbooks and get your copy. Let me know what you think in the comments below!


“Four Reasons a Newsletter is Better Than a Social Media Feed”
Bypass the social media algorithms and sign up for my weekly newsletter. Each week will give you a rundown of my favorites posts, podcasts, and few funnies. Read what you want, when you want, without getting sucked into the endless scroll mode!

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Looking For Inspiration for Writing Your Story?

If you’re in need of some inspiration for writing your story, this is the book you need to get. You can’t have my copy though because it’s riddled with notes, from pieces underlined to exclamations of joy. From the very start I felt a connection with the author, like a fantasy story where the book knows whose hands it needs to be in and finds its way there.

Inspiration for Writing in the form of a book. Wild Mind cover on a pile of blankets.

It’s been a month since I finished reading it and as I flipped through the pages looking for a good quote to riff off of, I realized that the magic I felt while reading it had already begun to fade from my memory. How can that be?! I remember thinking that I should go back and do many of the “Try this!” sections of the book, but never did. I had begun to incorporate them into my daily writing routine. And then life, I suppose.

No worries though. I plan on keeping this one out on my desk, not hidden in the bookshelf, to flip through when I need encouragement and inspiration.

The following are a few of my favorite quotes and some words of my own in response.

“Over and over, we have to go back to the beginning. We should not be ashamed of this. It is good. It’s like drinking water; we don’t drink a glass once and never have to drink one again. Over and over, we begin. This is good. This is kindness. We don’t forget our roots.”

As the Mandalorian says, “This is the way.” Writing, like most of life, is a long series of restarts. Each time through, if we’re paying attention, we learn something new and build on it. It’s a slow spiral up and then then we die. Hopefully we get the chance to share what we’ve learned with others before we go.

“When you write a memory, it isn’t in the past anyway. It’s alive right now.”

I have found this to be especially true when I was writing the memoir of my arrest, among other stories. It’s like I’m there, reliving it all in my mind. It hurt and it was terrifying at time, but the wonderous thing is that, as I write, I’m separate from the event while I’m reliving it. This time I get the chance to slow down and speed up the moment. That’s when I get to process and reflect on it, makes sense of it or choose to let it be. Then the pain of reliving it has a meaning and purpose.

“Katagiri Roshi said in his book Returning to Silence (Shambhala, 1988) that it is not important whether a spiritual teacher has reached the peak or not; what is important is how he has digested the truth he has experienced and how much this truth is manifested in the teacher’s life moment by moment. This is true in writing, too.”

And now I need THAT book (clicks over to Thriftbooks and adds it to the wishlist). The feeling behind imposter syndrome is just this. We don’t need to have all the answers. We don’t need to be completely with it and composed. We only need to have the beginnings of knowing ourselves and the drive and courage to be open and honest. We’re not leaders or gurus. We’re just people sharing our experiences with others.

“It is the nature of a human being, like having a heartbeat and a breath. Thoughts really happen involuntarily. …the brain continues to have thoughts whether we will them or not.”

Oh, those pesky thoughts. Reminds me of how detestable the idea of a “thought crime” in Orwell’s 1984 is. Contrary to popular belief, thoughts, like feelings, are involuntary. Once we are aware of that, we can hold them and examine them to see if they are correct or useful. First we hold a thought out in the light, put our glasses on, then we can decide what we want to do with it.

“Writing is elemental. Once you have tasted its essential life, you cannot turn from it without some deep denial and depression. It would be like turning from water. Water is in your blood. You can’t go without it.”

I’ve tried giving this up, really. Even when I’m at my lowest, laying on the floor in my livingroom, crying to my husband that “No one in the whole world is reading this! And even if there is, they are probably only reading it as an example of mediocrity!” I still get up the next day and start typing…or scribbling in my notebook. I’ll set it aside for a few days, but then I get hungry and begin again. I have to breathe.

“Writing is the act of discovery. If I knew everything ahead of time, why bother writing?”

It’s lines like this that made me smile. I’m not alone. I just start typing and sometimes she comes out to play.

“I am my own mind. I claim my thoughts. My mouth and the words I say with it are mine and no one can take that away. I can’t write like Dostoyevski or Henry Miller. I write like myself.”

If you sat with me over a cup of coffee, you’d hear the same words you read here. Maybe if you heard me talking with people at a party, you’d recognize me.

“You have to let writing eat your life and follow it where it takes you. You fit into it; it doesn’t fit neatly into your life. It makes you wild.”

I’m not a “let it go and see what happens” kind of girl, but the older I get, the more I allow it, and the more I wish I had started earlier.

“My writing self is braver than the rest of me. I follower her, trust her, but I know my human self, the part of me that is not a warrior of truth and words, lags behind me.”

Have you ever been in a conversation and then hours afterwards thought, “Dammit! I wish I had thought of that to say!”? That is her. She hides from view, taking notes, thinking of all the witty, clever, and brilliant things to say, but she’s too shy to make herself known face to face. She’ll save those words for later and write them instead. She also comes out of hiding when triggered to respond to social media posts and the sincerely regrets she has fingers to type with.

“You’ll lose your reader if you are vague, not clear, and not present. We love details, personal connections, stories.”

You can probably tell when I’m hiding behind euphemisms and creating characters to say what I want to say. There are things I want to reveal, pieces of me that I’d love to set free, but fear gets in the way. Who will it hurt if I do? What if I’m ridiculed for my beliefs? What if I’m wrong?! Our need to get along and fit in is strong, but we can be stronger..

“We are great warriors facing the barriers of truth. We are digesting experience for society.”

That’s the beauty of creative nonfiction. For what it’s worth, we write our experience so that everyone around us can share in it. It’s why I enjoy reading it, as well. Your story is now part of my experience.

“Stress is basically a disconnection from the earth, a forgetting of the breath.

Stress is an ignorant state. It believes that everything is an emergency. Nothing is that important. Just lie down.

All writers have a natural bent toward laziness. That is good. Utilize it. The couch is a good place. Lie there for a whole day in the middle of everything. It is like waiting for vinegar to settle after you shake it up with oil.”

The perfect ending. An excuse for why I spend just about every morning reading and writing, looking out the window, going for a walk, quietly cleaning my house. I’ve only begun to completely relax into it, to let it roll by while I watch. Little by little, I’ve realized that if I run from one thing to the next, if I fill up my days with activities, I miss the joy of life.

And there it is. There was so much more in this little book, but I’ve already shared too much. If you’d like to read my first thoughts on this book, you can find them at my original post, Wild Mind by Natalie Goldberg.

Four Reasons a Newsletter is Better Than A Social Media Feed

I can hear you now, “I don’t check my email. I never read newsletters.” But hear me out! Checking your email each morning and opening a couple newsletters each week, could be a far more efficient use of your time than scrolling any social media feed.

Newsletter vs Social Media Feed
Photo by Maxim Ilyahov on Unsplash
Photo by Maxim Ilyahov on Unsplash

If you’re an avid reader of mine, or happen to know me IRL, you know I’m an evolver. I’ve never been one to sit still long. It’s not because I’m bored and need to be entertained, like most people might think. It’s because I crave a new experience to learn from, something new to grow on. I’m a sampler of the world, a taster, not one who gorges (unless we’re talking about tacos).

I wander with my eyes and heart open, searching for pieces to add to my own personal big picture.

That personality holds true to my writing and blogging, as well.

I’ve been blogging about books for over year now and that’s pretty damn consistent for me. My monthly newsletter, inspired by a book I read in January 2020, “Ten Years in the Tub” by Nick Hornby, (man…that feels like a million years ago), has been sent out a total of fourteen times.

Over the past year, I have learned a lot. I’ve become a much more predictable blogger. I’ve begun to find my voice through writing about what I read every day. This past month though, I’ve felt the pull to try something a little different, but I haven’t been sure what that is.

Right now, I’m looking at the monthly email newsletter a little differently since I listened to the Creative Nonfiction Podcast last week. At the end of an interesting interview, he mentioned that he had left social media almost completely over the past few months out of frustration mostly and was starting over in small ways. That’s where my ears perked up. I’ve been in the same boat. Once again, my thoughts and actions are not original, others are reacting to the world around us in similar ways!

And then, hours later, at lunch with a friend, she mentioned that she hadn’t seen something I posted until I messaged her directly about it. This happens often and I wish more people were aware of it. Social media feeds, specifically Facebook, aren’t timelines exactly. You don’t open it up and see what everyone you follow has posted chronologically. What you see is a curated list of what they think you want to see and what they want you to see. It’s not malicious. It’s just what it is.

While I was gone from social media, I found myself relying on email newsletters from websites, podcasts, and blogs that I follow. Now that I’m back on Facebook to keep in touch with friends and family, (I’ll admit, I just want a place to share the funny things I find and get likes for my hiking pictures) I’m not “liking and following” pages anymore.

Why? Because the emails were far more reliable. Instead of getting only the posts that Facebook decides are important, along with ads for closely related items, I get the information that the poster believes are important. The weekly newsletters highlight things the specific blogger or podcaster wants me to see and when I click the links, I get to their page directly without the distractions embedded in Facebook. It takes less time and I get more of what I actually want.

Which leads me to thinking about my own newsletter. Should I change it from a monthly rundown of the books I’ve read to a weekly highlight reel straight to your email box? I think so and I’m sitting with paper and pencil (my go-to when I need to plan) attempting to create an outline this week.

I’ll be honest, a weekly newsletter seems a bit much for me. I’ve never been good at a weekly anything, just ask my kids. When the prospect of required weekly attendance came up for any of their activities…well…I broke out in a cold sweat. But this feels different.

In the past, I challenged myself to read for two hours every day and have been getting so close to that goal. I decided to write consistently about the books I’m reading; once when I start the book, quotes from the book, and a paragraph or two about it when I’m done. And then I took up the challenge of writing a newsletter once a month and did it. I think I can do this.

Why should you sign up for my newsletter, let alone any other email subscription? Well…

Here are my positives of an email newsletter. Maybe that will help you decide.

  1. It’s there when you want to read it.
  2. When you’re done reading it, or you decide you’d rather not, you can delete it and it doesn’t come back in your feed over and over again.
  3. There are no ads for related goods and services (at least not in mine). And if there are, they benefit the author of the newsletter, that person that you esteem so much that you subscribe to their news.
  4. If you open a newsletter, you stop reading at the end of it. You don’t get sucked into scroll mode!

What would my newsletter include?

  • Books, of course. Books started, books finished, links to articles about said books written by yours truly or others.
  • Podcasts! I’ve fallen in love with them, so I’ll be highlighting my favorites each week.
  • Funnies? Possibly.
  • One liners. Things I’m pondering but haven’t written whole paragraphs about.

When will this glorious piece of genius come out each week? I’m thinking Tuesdays. It’s my most productive day of the week, but I reserve the right to change that. The bottom line is that I’ll only harass you with in ONCE a week and I won’t be selling your email addresses to third party BS.

There it is! While I’ve written this, I’ve decided. I’m going to start writing a weekly newsletter instead of the monthly rundown. Will you join me?

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The Perfect Plan for Your Life: An Exercise in Futility

The perfect plan for your life is no hard and fast plan at all. Vonnegut is right here…

Plan for your life quote from the book on a graveyard background.

“The truth is, we know so little about life, we don’t really know what the good news is and what the bad news is.”

A Man without a country by kurt vonnegut

Time travel and multiple dimensions, is a common discussion around here. It always has been. There have been heated debates that usually end with one person throwing up their hands and walking away. There was one just yesterday!

It’s never a matter of who’s thinking is right or whether or not you will disappear if you go back in time and accidently kill your grandparent that gets us riled up. Those debates are common. It’s more of a fundamental thing.

Are there, or are there not, multiple dimensions? And if there are, how can there physically be more than one of the same person? Where are these places? Are they places at all, these alternate timelines? Which leads me to think that if there are multiple dimensions, doesn’t that mean there is no physical reality? Is the whole universe just in our collective imagination?

And therein lies the rub: Is there actually no physical reality in the way we think there is? Maybe death is simply the passing between one reality and the next. Why lament its coming? Why be so selfish in struggling to keep the ones you love from experiencing their next reality? Let go.

Vonnegut is right here. We know so little. How can we possibly know that the death of that person is good news or bad news in our future or theirs?

And the same holds true for any moment of change in our lives. If we had chosen X instead of Y, would our lives have been different? Yes. Better? We can’t know. Best to live in the reality we are experiencing whether it is physical or not.

We can’t stand in the now forever. It’s like standing still in a river and thinking you’ve stopped it from flowing.

With each moment there are choices to make that will have an effect on the world around us. And we can’t really know the outcome of any of those choices before we make them. We just make our best guess and go with it.

No regrets. No looking back. No, “What if I had chosen…?” because we can’t know. Even if we could jump into another timeline and see, I assume we’d still have to come back to the one we are from. Otherwise, wouldn’t we just be pushing that consciousness out of its reality? That doesn’t seem nice.

I don’t know, but it’s fun to think about, at least to me it is.

Roll the dice. See what happens. And adjust your thinking. The less we insist on a specific outcome, the better and easier our lives will be.

Sounds defeatist. Just take your lumps. You can’t affect outcomes. That’s not what I mean at all. I mean, make an educated choice, do your best, and enjoy what you get from that. You just don’t know what the future holds.

Cliché. I know. But these things seem to hold true most times. That’s why they are cliché. That bad outcome could end up being the best thing that ever happened to you. Or you’ll just die and move on to the next reality, or nothingness. Nothing to get all worked up over.

I posted about Kurt Vonnegut’s book A Man Without A Country back in February. Go back and take a look.

Have you read it? You can find it on Thriftbooks.com if you haven’t. Leave me a comment what you think about time travel OR the book!

Love & Friendship by Allan Bloom

Love & Friendship book cover on the top shelf almost out of my reach.

Love & Friendship by Allan Bloom called to me from the top shelf of my TBR pile. It’s just the kind of book I need right now, a long and intellectual treatise type of book on sex and relationships.

Snug in the middle of a stack of books far over my head, I didn’t have the patience to go get a step ladder to reach it. Instead, I stood on my tippy toes and pulled a few books off the stack with my fingers outstretched while my husband watched from his office chair.

I could hear his thoughts as I struggled, “Should I get up and help her? No…let’s see what happens.”

I didn’t drop them, not even a single one. So, there! I thought I would. Several times the thought of pausing a moment and getting some kind of help did cross my mind. But what can I say? I’m childish and impatient in most things, so I kept reaching and pulling books down a couple at a time until I got to the book I wanted.

This one is going to be fun. I read Allan Bloom’s Closing of the American Mind, at the beginning of our homeschool career fifteen years ago. Seeing the author’s name is what made me grab this one out of the free book pile back in December and add it to my TBR shelf to read this year.

Looking for a new book to read this week, my eye was immediately drawn to Love & Friendship because it’s a subject I’ve been agonizing a lot over the past couple of years. The past few weeks of having an empty nest have brought it even more to the forefront of my mind.

Once I had the book in my hand, I flipped it over for a bit more information. Is this the book I need to read right now?

“Allan Bloom argues that we live in a world where love and friendship are withering away. Science and moralism have reduced eros to sex. Individualism and egalitarianism have turned romantic relationships into contractual matters. Images of sexuality surround us, but we are unable to deal with the hopes and risks of intimacy.”

Yep. That sounds exactly what I need to be reading right now.

I read the introduction this morning and realize this will be a slower read than usual. My competitive spirit made me hesitate for a moment. If I read this, I may not read anything else this month. My number of books/pages will go down.

Screw statistics! This is where I need to be.

“Isolation, a sense of lack of profound contact with other human beings, seems to be the disease of our time.”

This was published in 1993, ladies and gentleman. Thirty years later, are we any closer to a solution or are we moving further from the sense of intimate community we once created to help us move out of the world of animals?

I’m looking forward to reading this in depth, but I’m also worried that it will depress me further to dwell on how far away from the ideal we have traveled. I’ve spent my adult life attempting to create a better world (in my home and personal relationships) for the people around me. I continue to try to make that circle a little larger, a little more intimate and emotionally close. Is anyone else out there making these efforts?

Have you read any of Allan Bloom’s work? Have you read Love & Friendship? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

What is the The Key to Understanding Love?

Love is complicated. We can’t possess people like we possess things. We can’t turn a key and make people love us the way we love them. The key to understanding love starts with loving yourself as a complete individual.

Understanding love is not possession quote on a desert background.

“It’s because I love you that I won’t. Love is hungry. Love is selfish.”
“You’re thinking of possession.”
He shrugs. “Are they so different? I have seen what humans do to things they love.”
“People are not things,” she says. “And you will never understand them.”

The Invisible Life of Addie Larue by V.E. Schwab

I’m reminded of one my favorite stories here, The Phantom of the Opera. I always cry for the Phantom. He loves her, but she refuses him. Why? It’s not the ugly she can’t get around, it’s that he misunderstands love. He’s twisted and tortured into thinking possession is love. He twists and tortures her world in order to turn her toward him, to make her love him.

I always wondered what would happen if she decided to love him, despite his evil ways. Would it end up one of those “unconditional love changes people” stories?

That’s what Addie is trying to express here. The Darkness is so removed from humanity, (because he isn’t human), that he is incapable of understanding love.

Writing that I just thought this same thing could be said about the Lucifer character in the TV show. It’s part of why I loved it so much. There he was on earth with humans, learning about them in every conceivable way but love. Lucifer learns to experience love, what it means to be human.

Addie is right. He has confused love with possession, as most people do. That’s why he hasn’t been able to learn the difference. Examples of real love are few and far between. We should know and be able to practice the difference, but we rarely do. It’s easier to possess another than to love them.

Relationships are complicated and there’s so much to do. To experience real love (and not possession), we need to start with ourselves. And loving ourselves is no picnic.

I blogged about “The Invisible Life of Addie Larue” when I started reading it back in January. It certainly didn’t take me long to read it all. I couldn’t put it down! Have you read it? You can find it on Thriftbooks.com if you don’t have it. I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments when you read it!

Why My Personal Story Telling Helps Me Stay Connected

Story telling isn’t just for entertainment and gaining attention. And it comes in so many forms. What medium do you use to tell your story?

Story telling to preserve one's self quote on a desert background.
That’s Calico Ghost Town in the back ground. There’s a family story to that too.

“Stories are a way to preserve one’s self. To be remembered. And to forget.
Stories come in so many forms: in charcoal, and in song, in paintings, poems, films. And books.
Books, she has found, are a way to live a thousand lives – to find strength in a very long one.”

The Invisible Life of Addie Larue by V.E. Schwab

What drew me to this book in the first place was the reference to stories and a bookstore, so it makes sense that the first quote I share from it would be this. There’s a lot here, though, so I’m going to try to pull it apart a little.

“Stories are way to preserve one’s self.”

I’ve always been chided and teased for story telling in every conversation and not just because I’m getting old(er). Even when I was in my early 20’s, I’d be at work telling someone the story about the time I went water skiing and got so sunburned or the time my brother jumped off the roof. As I got older, married, had kids, etc., the stories just kept coming.

I take pride in knowing that I will be that old lady in the corner of the livingroom spinning my yarns, “I remember the time…” and all my great-grandkids will want to listen but everyone else will roll their eyes. “We’ve heard this one!”

Why do we tell stories about our past?

“To be remembered. And to forget”

I want my friends and family to remember the things that have happened to me and the things we experienced together. I can write them down for posterity, and I frequently do, but telling them is my favorite. Something about sitting and remembering together is so comforting. It’s like reaching out to touch your partner in the night, a reminder that we are all still here.

When we’re together telling stories, some of us add details or their own perspective, things each of us might have missed. We solidify the story each time we tell it, a verbal family history. It’s the ultimate “family bonding” time.

We also tell stories “to forget.”

In that moment, when we are together with friends and family, swapping stories about our past, sharing tales of our childhood, embarrassing our teenagers with their cute baby stories, we put the current time with all its stress way into the background. For those moments, we don’t worry about bills that need to be paid or that meeting we need to attend at work.

Hearing each other’s stories like this also puts today into perspective. We may be currently stressing over work, home, business, and the state of union, but when we hear all our stories, we can see that nothing has changed that much. Our parents and grandparents worried about the same things. Life just keeps on going, kids do crazy things, adventures are had, no matter what is happening in the world.

What form can stories take? Like she said, “in charcoal, and in song, in paintings, poems, films. And books.” Most of our stories come in the form of words told over the dinner table or sitting around the livingroom, but some come in the form of a quilt my aunt made, a ceramic figure my grandmother crafted, or painting by my mother and her friends. It can also be the song my sons play, the robot they tried to make with their dad, and the video my stepdaughter made and posted on youtube. They are all connected to memories, things that help each of us be remembered and live longer in other people’s memories.

And this, “Books, she has found, are a way to live a thousand lives…”

That’s why I read, but it’s also why I tell my stories. I am not just my life. I’m all the lives that came before me, all the lives and portions of lives that I’ve lived and heard of. My children and my grandchildren will have my life a part of theirs. Hopefully, my great-grandchildren will live a part of my life as well, even if they never meet me.

The quilt I made, the blog post I write, the pine tree I tended and got to grow tall, as well as the stories I told while we walked in the desert, are all part of the story that pass into the future.

Addie’s curse didn’t allow her to do that. She could live forever, be a part of the world forever, but no one will remember her. Her curse allowed me to see the beauty of what I have. And that’s why I love reading books.

I blogged about “The Invisible Life of Addie Larue” when I started reading it back in January. It certainly didn’t take me long to read it all. I couldn’t put it down! Have you read it? You can find it on Thriftbooks.com if you don’t have it. I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments when you read it!

Draft No 4 – On The Writing Process

Diving into Draft No 4 – On the Writing Process by John McPhee this morning. I’m pretty sure books about reading and writing are my favorite!

“NEXT!”

Sometimes I wonder if I move on to new books too quickly. Maybe I should linger a bit? Take my time? Spend some quality time digesting the little gem so that I may fully incorporate all its goodness?

Nah! Who’s got time for that?!

I think I’ll stick to my system. I read, I make notes, I blog, I move on. Blogging this way has helped me make more connections between books though, so that makes me happy. I’m still longing to make connections with actual people over books, but that will come someday. I must be patient. I’ve laid my traps with plenty of bait. Now we wait.

Draft No. 4 book cover on gardening tools.

This morning I picked up, Draft No 4 – On the Writing Process by John McPhee. I’m very excited about this one. Thomas C. Foster mentioned it in his book How to Read Nonfiction Like a Professor which I read back in December. When I was browsing Barnes & Noble (swoons at the memory), I found it and brought it home with me.

Ok…I wasn’t exactly browsing. It was more like a deliberate search for books I already had on my handy dandy wish list, but I went there with the intention of browsing and maybe picking up some nice new novels.

Any who…

The back of the book says, “a master class in the writer’s craft.” Yes, please! In lieu of actually being in a writing class, this will do nicely. One of my deepest, darkest desires…shut up…is to take a real class. You know, with people. But I was too insecure and shy to move forward on that idea BCB (that’s before covid bullshit) and now…forget it. The virus scares me a mere fraction of how much people do, so I’m steering clear of the herd until it settles.

But I can read a book! Right?! So here I am. This one looks fun.

Have you read it? Have you ever taken a writing class? Do you know of any online ones that are good? What about writer’s groups? I’ve been thinking about joining one of those for a long time, but haven’t gotten up the nerve.

If you’d like to read this with me, you can find Draft No. 4 at Thriftbooks.com. If you do read it (or you have already), leave me a comment. I’d love to hear your thoughts!

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