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

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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!

Does Grendel Represent the Chaos of the Natural World? Part 1 of 2

The following post, my notes on book, Grendel by John Gardner, is my first two-parter, so bear with me. There was just too much in this book for one post to contain!

Grendel quote on a desert background.

I’ll tell you what…going through this book and pulling out the quotes that still resonate with me one month after reading was a downer. I started this day with so much hope and joy and then in crashes Grendel…that beast!

At first, I didn’t understand the point of this book, other than a view from another character’s perspective. Then a few weeks later I was listening to the Isaac Morehouse podcast and heard someone (and I’m really sorry but I can’t remember what interview it was) say that the story of Beowulf was showing how humans had fought their way out of chaos and how they had to keep defending civilization from collapsing back into it. That chaos was in the form of Grendel coming each night to kill warriors.

That was when the meaning of the book I read come flooding in on me. Grendel in John Gardner’s book was not chaos, he was simply another part of nature, and he was angry watching mankind kill and destroy its way through the world, just as he did, yet not take responsibility for its actions. Humans sat there in their great halls, pretending that they were better than nature, that they had risen above violence, and yet used it against each other in the most horrific and manipulative ways.

Grendel (nature) is unapologetically violent. He doesn’t hide it or pretend there are good reasons for killing and destroying things. He just is what he is. It is not his job to change his nature, but for others to be aware of him and avoid him if they can.

This is a feeling I’ve had myself. I want to know right out front how the people around me feel about certain things. I don’t want them to blend in. I want them to stand loud and proud. That way I can take full responsibility to avoid or move towards those people, to choose whether I can band together with them or pass them by and leave them to their lives the way they see fit.

I enjoyed reading Grendel’s perspective. He’s open and honestly murderous. He doesn’t hold it against others when they avoid or best him. He is who he is and I can respect that, although I’d rather not live next door to him.

The following are some of my favorite quotes from the book and a few of my thoughts on each. Ever since this morning, when I opened the book and flipped through to copy down my notes here, I’ve had some of these rolling around in my head.


“That is their happiness: they see all life without observing it. They’re buried in it like crabs in mud. Except men, of course.”

Animals, nature…they don’t attempt to change the course of things other than to stay alive and procreate as best they can. They’re just in the world. Us humans, we can use our creative brains to manipulate the world, for better or worse.

“Stars, spattered out through lifeless night from end to end, like jewels scattered in a dead king’s grave, tease, torment my wits toward meaningful patterns that do not exist.”

The human mind is geared to see and recognize patterns, even where there are none. We create a mythology about whatever we don’t understand and make meaning when we can’t discover one.

“I understood that the world was nothing: a mechanical chaos of casual, brute enmity on which we stupidly impose our hopes and fears.”

It still is and always will be. It sounds so damn depressing. Sometimes I want to believe in a fairy tale, but something about harsh reality is so…I don’t know. Maybe it’s like a train wreck. We want to look away and not know but our eyes refuse to obey.

“Hrothgar, who’d begun hardly stronger than the others, began to outstrip the rest. He’d worked out a theory about what fighting was for, and now he no longer fought with his six closest neighbors. He’d shown them the strength of his organization, and now, instead of making war on them, he sent men to them every three months or so, with heavy wagons and back-slings, to gather their tribute to his greatness.”

This is one of the things the Grendel hates most and something we continue to allow “government” to do in our collective names all over the world.

“They sense that, of course, from time to time; have uneasy feelings that all they live by is nonsense.

That’s where the Shaper saves them. Provides an illusion of reality – puts together all their facts with a gluey whine of connectedness.”

Mythology in a nutshell. Hey! Let me out! How did I get in here?!

“Except in the life of a hero, the whole world’s meaningless. The hero sees values beyond what is possible. That’s the nature of a hero. It kills him, of course, ultimately. But it makes the whole struggle of humanity worthwhile.” I nodded in the darkness. “And breaks up the boredom,” I said.

Each of us is hero in our own little corner of the universe, right? But we’re just doing what makes us happy and content, easing our own or other’s suffering. We wouldn’t do it if it didn’t serve us somehow in the world that we live in. It sounds so ugly, I know, but it’s honest. It’s also why we create and watch superhero movies!

“Shall I call the tree tyrannical, since where it stands nothing survives but itself and its high-borne guests? Condemn it because it sends down stifling darkness, sucks the life from grass, and whitens the sapling leaf for trifling, fluttering friends?”

Those damn trees! Everything in nature strives to stay alive and procreate, including humans. And there are ALL kinds of humans. Some are more aggressive than others, some live well in groups, some…don’t. Know each kind, respect their right to be here and create your own boundaries to thrive.


There’s more coming tomorrow! Aren’t you excited?! I know, it’s a harsh one, but we only know the highs if we accept and trudge through the lows, right? I wrote about this book when I started reading it back in March. Click back to Grendel by John Gardner to read it!

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!


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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.

My Favorite Isaac Asimov Quotes Are Popping Up All Over the Place!

I find Isaac Asimov quotes popping up all over the place lately, and not just his words, but his ideas. The Gods Themselves is one of my favorite sci-fi books.

Isaac Asimov quotes on a desert background.

I’m trying something a little different with this book. I’ve pulled some of my favorite quotes from The Gods Themselves. If you’d like to read it, you can find it at Thriftbooks.com, but be sure to come back and comment about what you thought of it!

Usually, while I read, I make small notes and underline things that have caught my attention. Then I go back through the book and find something that sparks my thinking still and I write about that. It’s like a writing prompt. The thoughts that the quote trigger may not have anything to do with the story itself or the author’s intentions. They are my thoughts.

Lately, like the past few weeks, I’ve been going back through the book page by page and creating a list of the things I noted if they still stir a feeling or thought in me. Then I go through that list and write a post focused on one quote at a time.

I’ve been in a bit of a writing slump lately and falling behind my intended posting schedule. So, because I’m self-employed and I’m constantly preaching that we should all be paying closer attention to ourselves and following our own leads, I’m doing just that. I clearly have set myself up to accomplish too much, too quickly.

I’m pulling back with this book and writing one post about all the Isaac Asimov quotes that I found interesting the second time I thumbed through The Gods Themselves. Fiction generally triggers fewer ah-ha moments for me anyway, and this sci-fi book was far more technical a book than I’m used to reading, so there are fewer quotes that I felt drawn to anyway.

Without further ado…the first quote.

“It’s a mistake to suppose that the public wants the environment to be protected or their lives saved and that they will be grateful to any idealist who will fight for such ends. What the public wants is their own individual comfort.”

True on so many fronts. If we all really wanted to protect the environment, we’d turn off our electronics, grow our own food, dismantle our cars, and never travel outside walking distance again. But that would suck, wouldn’t it? What we want is to look like we’re trying to protect the environment by making other people and companies pay for it, making laws and regulations for other people to follow, while every day we run down to the organic grocery store that is twice as far as the regular one, in our air-conditioned Prius that uses electricity created by burning coal, to get our individually wrapped frozen organic quinoa meal that was shipped to the store from overseas.

What’s the alternative?

“Do you know what the Pump means to mankind? It’s not just the free, clean, and copious energy. Look beyond that. What it means is that mankind no longer has to work for a living. It means that for the first time in history, mankind can turn its collective brains to the more important problem of developing its true potential.”

That’s the premise of Star Trek right there and why I love the show so much.  A world where energy is unlimited by our current physical universe would mean scarcity was gone. And scarcity is what causes many problems for humans. It wouldn’t solve all the issues though, as you can see in Star Trek. Evolution has created many ingrained pathways in our collective brains. We would still fight over territory, sex, and just plain greed for what others have even though we could all have some.

But just think of it. A world where using energy held no consequences for anyone, anywhere. We could make whatever we want and as much of it, go where we wanted to go, create until our hearts content without ever taking anything from anyone else.

There are ways we can get a taste of that right now. There are some resources that never run dry. Love is one of them.

“As the old saying had it: Everyone either admitted doing it or lied about it.”

What is it that you’re lying about not doing?

“She hadn’t the vaguest notion at first of what was so queer and so funny about wanting to know.”

This took me right back to high school, college, and many times still today. Why is it so odd to be curious and engaged in the world around you? Why do we shun those that question what everyone around us seems to take for granted? Insecurity?

“On Earth, we are unmanned by our longing for a pastoral past that never existed; and that, if it had existed, could never exist again.”

Pastoral: portraying or suggesting idyllically the life of shepherds or of the country, as a work of literature, art, or music

Life on earth in the past was never idyllic. It has always been harder to stay alive than it is today. Do not fool yourself.

“The easiest way to solve a problem is to deny it.”

You know that joke? “I don’t have a drinking problem. I drink. I get drunk. I fall down. No problem.” That’s the first thing that came to mind. We need to look at our lives and think. If something isn’t working for you, even if everyone else around you thinks it’s great, it’s a problem for you. You have to change things for you. That’s the only way to live honestly and happily.

“You don’t beat refusal to believe in a frontal attack.”

This last one is my personal favorite and one I think the whole world should consider at the moment. Belief is far older a system and much stronger than your science. Leave people alone. You’re making everything worse.

That doesn’t mean you have to stop doing your science and studies. You can change your own thinking and share your discoveries as much as you want. But every time you get up in someone’s face and attempt to force them to think your way, you create more violence in this world.

Show others your way through living your own life out loud, the way you see fit. And let others do the same. You catch more flies with sugar.

Isaac Asimov quotes are comfort food to me. If anyone could time travel, it would be him. His ideas keep coming back, reaching out from the past like a warning.

I posted about The Gods Themselves by Isaac Asimov back in February when I started reading it. Go back and take a look at my first thoughts on it and let me know what you think.

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!

The Green Mile by Stephen King

The Green Mile by Stephen King book cover on a desert background.

I grabbed The Green Mile off the big library redistribution pile simply because it was King, and The Green Mile was one of my favorite movies. I love this edition because it has “Soon to be a major motion picture!” on the cover. The movie came out in 1999 and the book form came out in 1997. Twenty year old paperback. Win!

I have a goal in my life…to read every book Stephen King wrote. No, not really. I was a huge fan of him in high school and college, but the more of them that I read, the more I feel like many of his books are wonderful but a little predictable. They are comfort stories.

Here’s something I learned from reading both of the introductions. (I know…who does that?) The book was originally a series of shorter books which he wrote as they were published. He didn’t know where the story would take him when the first one was published. I’m imagining writing for THAT kind of deadline and getting nauseous. That’s a rare author that can do that. And the story ended up great! Surprise!

In the introduction, he talked about how Charles Dickens did the same thing but the story lasted years and how he used to read serial stories in The Saturday Evening Post.

“…I liked it because the end of each episode made the reader an almost equal participant with the writer – you had a whole week to try to figure out the next twist of the snake. Also, one read and experienced these stories more intensely, it seemed to me, because they were rationed. You couldn’t gulp, even if you wanted to (and if the story was good, you did).”

It reminds me of why you don’t ration things. It makes people want more of it, even if it’s not good, healthy, or productive. Telling others (or yourself) that you can only have a little makes it scarce and something to hoard. Your brain goes into active collecting mode regardless of how it makes you feel. Crazy.

One of the things I didn’t do with my kids was limit foods that most would call treats. All of the food was in reach and available. I made what I called “healthy” snacks just as easy and available as candy and cookies and over time they learned on their own when not to binge and when to indulge.

This book was written before we could binge watch tv shows. I’ve found the same level of satisfaction there as well. Shows that were fine to watch one episode a week were terrible tv when watched back-to-back for hours one Sunday afternoon. And then there are shows that I can’t get enough of, ones that feed my soul instead of waste my time.

I’m wondering what this book will be? I can’t know if it would have been better to read it one book at a time as it was published, or can I? Probably won’t. I know myself. I tend to be a page flipper and rush to get to the end so that I know what happens. If I deem it worthy, I read it again for more depth.

We shall see. I do know that I’ll be watching the movie after I finish reading this, if I can find it on Netflix. Probably won’t. They never have the movie I’m looking for when I’m looking for it.

If you want to read it with me, go pick it up at Thriftbooks.com and let me know what you think in the comments!


“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!

Ultimately, Most Life Choices are Just Best Guesses

There’s no way of knowing which life choices will end up getting us where we want to go in the long run. We’re working from a moving platform that is time, and aiming at a moving target that is satisfaction.

“…paralyzed by the idea that whatever you choose to do, it means choosing not to do a hundred other things…”

The invisible life of Addie Larue by v.e. Schwab

There is one thing that limits every human on this planet and that is time. We only have so much time in a day, a week, a lifetime. When you choose to watch an hour of TV, you choose not to do other things. If you choose to make a delicious dinner at home, you choose not to go out to a restaurant. It’s a fact of life that cannot be changed no matter how clever, rich, or powerful you are.

We all come to that realization at some point in our lives. Some of us have a very hard time accepting that fact and it makes us completely crazy. We stand there in distress, attempting to decide which is the better choice. What is the thing that make us the happiest? Which choice will lead us further down the “right” path? It’s enough to make any thinking person neurotic.

Ultimately, I’ve decided that it doesn’t matter. Once I accepted the fact that I can’t do everything, that I had to live with the choices I make, it started to become easier. The next step was to enjoy the choice I made. That’s where it got complicated.

At one point, you’re looking over the choices you have. You puzzle over it awhile and eventually make your choice. Then, while you’re happily cruising along, you start to wonder, “Would the other choice have been better?” And now you’re not enjoying what you have.

Now what do you do? Invent a time machine so that you can explore alternate realities where you didn’t tell that partner to leave, you didn’t take that job or go to that school, or you decided to apply for a job in another state and moved. Wouldn’t that be nice?

What if we had a machine that let you play out exactly what would happen after each choice you made, and then you could choose which would ultimately work out best? Oh! And it took no extra time! A perfect world.

It’s not possible, outside of sci-fi movies. What can we do instead? Make the choice that makes you most happy right now, and not worry so much or so far into the future.

Photo by Bhargava Marripati on Unsplash

I’m imagining back when my sons were taking an interest in indoor rock climbing. The woman helping them learn told them, “Your only goal is to find the top your own way. Hold on and look for your own next step. Make it. Steady yourself. And the look for the next one you can reach. You may need to go sideways or back down a bit, but you’ll get there.”

That’s life.

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!

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