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

Tag: reading Page 1 of 4

Cultural Literacy is the key to Communication On the Internet

The best way to build cultural literacy is to read widely.
Last post about this gloriously written book!

Rebuilding a common cultural literacy doesn’t mean we all have to return to the same classical books as our grandparents. We don’t all need to read all the same dead western white guys to understand each other, but we probably should start reading (and watching, listening, and experiencing) a little of as many different works of art, from as many different cultures and backgrounds as possible, if we’re going to save civilization from ourselves.

“How does an audience identify an allusion? The whole system of signaling depends, quite obviously, on a high degree of cultural literacy – an easy assumption in traditional societies with fixed literary canons and a high capacity for verbatim retention of texts, but something of a problem for contemporaries, who often come to literary texts from a background of loose canons, little reading, and languid memory.”

The Pleasure of Reading in an Ideological Age by Robert Alter

That’s a lot of fancy words for we aren’t all coming from the same entertainment background. We aren’t all reading the same small collection of books these days, even more today than when he wrote this because our world has become infinitely larger and more connected virtually.

Funny story, and one you’re probably familiar with. My kids think the memes they find on social media are hilarious. Sometimes, when they show them to me, I don’t get the joke. Or the other way around. I think something is deep and wonderous and they look at me like, “Huh?”

We don’t get the allusion in each other’s media. We don’t see the signals. Once again, I’m reminded of the Star Trek TNG episode “Darmok and Jalad”

To understand each other, especially in the written word, we have to come from a similar background first of all. The more figurative the media, the more it relies on allusion, the more similar our backgrounds need to be for us to “get it.” I can’t understand why you say that the character is like Sisyphus if I haven’t heard or read that story. And you won’t understand that I “Trumped your sly comment with a better one” if you’ve never played the game.

Each nation, each culture, each generation alters its canon a little at a time. We build on the past, let some things go, and add new things, all in an effort to do what? Describe and understand the world around us? Communicate with others near and far, now and in the future? Too bad we can’t send messages back in time and warn them. “Don’t light that match mom!” or “Don’t invent that device!” But then, I’m not sure that would help us really. If we know anything from time travel movies, it’s that events are sticky. They seem to want to happen no matter what we do.

Unlike most children in the U.S., my sons grew up in close proximity to us, 24/7, not because we’re paranoid about someone taking them, or over-protective. It was because we liked them. I wanted to be around them more and figured they’d go to school later when we got tired of each other. I’ve talked about it before, but we unschooled instead of homeschooled. We lived as if school didn’t exist. I should write a new post about THAT!

The short version is that we lived and worked from home, together for 18 years. They had a very similar canon of books, tv, movies, and music as we did because that’s what we knew and shared with them. As we grew, so did they. New movies. New books. New music. Human events unfolded around us. All of it happened in light of what we already knew, our own family’s background canon.

So, when we write a story, share a joke, or make a reference, all of us almost always get the allusion. Until…cue dramatic music…they began to move in circles outside our house. Noooo!!! Once, they found social media, got jobs, friends, and then started college, it all changed. Their canon shifted from ours. And I know that shift isn’t over. Now that they have moved out on their own it will keep growing and changing as long as they live. We’ll be coming back together for holiday gatherings and sharing our worlds with each other for a long time to come.

Michelle? What they heck? What does that have to do with reading?!

It’s the same with books, not to mention articles, movies, and music. The artist creates his work from the memory of his own canon, assuming that the audience has a similar enough background to understand the allusions. If I read something by someone that is so far outside my world, it’s more difficult for me to understand the deeper meanings of the references the creator is trying to convey. That’s what happened to me when I read, “The 28 Mansion of the Moon.”

I think most of us tend to remember that when we’re reading a book but tend to forget that we need to do the same when we read or watch anything, especially on the internet. Here we are with the world at our fingertips. We can see and hear everyone all over the world, but are we communicating? Rarely. It’s not because we’re mean and evil, or less smart than we ever were. It’s simply because we are assuming that everyone we see and hear has the same canon, the same cultural background, as we do. Translation is not simple. We may even be speaking the same language but come from entirely different worlds.

It’s going to take humanity a long time to adjust to this new development. Let’s hope we don’t destroy each other in the process.

Click over to my original post, “The Pleasures of Reading in an Ideological Age” to read my initial thoughts on this book!

Find “The Pleasures of Reading in an Ideological Age” on Thriftbooks and read along with me. If you do, be sure to comment so I know you’re out there. I’d love to hear your thoughts!

This Book Makes Reading Nonfiction More Gratifying

Reading nonfiction quote on book cover background.

“Let’s suppose that the worst thing you can do when reading nonfiction is to believe everything you read is true. What’s the second worst? Not believing any of it.”

How to Read Nonfiction Like a Professor

I have always enjoyed reading nonfiction.

From histories and biographies to sociology and philosophy, but this book made reading nonfiction even better. In fact, it could very easily be on my required reading list when I take over the world. Maybe because it’s non-fiction, but I’m finding it difficult to pull a single quote from this book to illustrate any simple idea. It’s all connected and the book in general illuminated something big for me. I think I’ll attempt to sum that up, but I highly recommend reading it. It was not a complicated read and really made me feel better about the world and our current “information” age instead of worse.

I’m not sure what I love most, classic fiction or non-fiction. I love classic literature. I get so much peace from reading about other worlds, real and imagined. It’s not only an escape into another time but a way to understand people, how they might think, how the world could be better, how we could behave or maybe how we should behave, if things were different. The older books, the ones that have survived the test of time, show me how people used to live, what they thought of the world they lived in or imagined. Adventures are my favorite.

Non-fiction, though, intrigues me. I can learn so much. Philosophy and history are my favorites, and that’s what you would think a book about reading non-fiction would focus on. The idea of newspapers, magazines, blogs, and social media being listed as “non-fiction” never even occurred to me. This book not only gave me some inspiration and direction about reading those, but it put a new (for me) spin on biography and history, too.

I had a few big take-aways from this book. I made the following table to illustrate the ideas.

Reporting: newspapers (some social media): a rough draft of history and events: immediate
Arguing: magazines: add context and current thought: more time needed
Perspective: books:
begin to get closer to truth as we add more information over time

Inside each of these are even more divisions. There is spin, slant, bias, whatever you want to call it, in everything we read. Not everything we read is true. Not everything we see is useful. We have to use some discernment when we read, not only with the daily information that we come across in the news media, but magazines and published books too.

That starts with knowing our own bias (yes, you have them, we all do) and those of the author of what you’re reading. It’s not easy, but to be a citizen of a self-governing nation, it’s imperative that we think for ourselves. This book can help.

I underlined and noted so much in this book. I went back through, like I always do, and put markers on pages I thought I’d pull quotes from and write about here. I began with the graphic I made for this post, which led me to another quote, yet I can’t pull it apart. I wish I could, but it seems like I’m only rewriting what he said but in less coherent ways.

Like I said at the beginning of this post, if I ruled the world, this may be required reading. It’s not hard to read, isn’t depressing, and is extremely enlightening about how we can be wiser about how we use information in our daily lives. Want to be a more informed person? Want to do your part to make the world a better place? It would be a great start to read this book.


This was the first book I started a new blog series on! If you’d like to read my original post, go read “New Read: “How to Read Nonfiction Like a Professor”

If you’d like to read the book or more from the author, go check out his blog at Thomas C. Foster.

And, as always, scoot on over to What’s An Autobibliography? to sign up for my monthly What in the World is She Reading newsletter. Every time I finish a book, I close it and tap out a paragraph of whatever comes to mind, tie them all together at the end of the month and send it to you, my curious readers, as an exclusive for those that opt in by signing up for it. You won’t regret it!

“The Thurber Carnival” by James Thurber

New Read: The Thurber Carnival by James Thurber

There are loads of things that I love about this James Thurber book. First off is that it is a book I found in my friend’s library. You can read more about that adventure in my post called What Did my Book Blog Accomplish in 2020?

I found my first Thurber book while perusing a used book store in the mountains a couple of years ago and fell in love with him. When I saw this one laying sideways in an old banana box surrounded by World War II novels, I snatched it up with glee.

Second is that it is an old book, previously owned and written in. I especially love that. Who was this person? When did he buy this book? Why did he underline that? What happened to him? How did this book get to me?

It makes me want to leave notes in all my books in the event they leave my home and end up in someone else’s hands. It would read something like, “I got this book here and left notes in it not just underlined things, so that you would know what I think. I have a blog (if those still exist). Look me up!” And maybe, some day way out in the future, someone would read it. Like time travel.

I love Thurber because he writes goofy short stories that make me smile. Sometimes those stories are just a different way to look at something mundane. And sometimes they are so deeply touching they make me cry. All of them feel like they are reaching out across time to say, “Nothing changes. Life doesn’t suck. Have a good laugh!”

Want to know more about James Thurber or his work? Check out these websites: James Thurber and The Thurber House

If you decide to read any of his work, don’t forget to come back and tell me. I’d to love hear your thoughts!

I wrote a few posts about quotes I loved in this book. Check them out!
Want Social Progress? Be a Better Human
Making Space for Ourselves to Better Control Our Emotions
Relationship Problems: You Need the Right Tools to Repair Them


“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!

What Did My Book Blog Accomplish in 2020?

That’s it! A book blog!

I think I’ve found my niche! Until this year, I didn’t even know a “book blog” was a thing and here I am a crushing it. Ok, well maybe “crushing” isn’t the right word, but I’m definitely onto something important. An impending empty nest feeling has been making me uncomfortable enough to seek out some new endeavors.

How can I combine my love of reading with my obsession for making lists? Can I use my curiosity and my love of written communication to convey my crazy thoughts about the books I read and the world around me? Sure! Why not?!

This is year four of keeping track of the books I read, and I have to say this year’s numbers were a little bit disappointing. I thought I spent way more time with my face in a book that the previous year, but I guess I was wrong. Of course, this doesn’t include time I spent in magazines and online articles, so maybe that’s what I was feeling.

20172018 20192020
31 books49 books 71 books71 books
376.24 hours432.05 hours 694.95 hours652.13 hours
10,133 pages14,309 pages 23,948 pages22,087 pages
1.03 hours per day1.84 hours per day 1.9 hours per day1.79 hours per day
12.14 hours per book8.82 hours per book 9.79 hours per book9.18 hours per book
I love making tables!

To put a positive spin on things, I may have spent slightly less time reading but I did increase my writing and posting time, so I’m not too upset. Writing more consistently was another goal of mine for 2020 and I did improve my stats there. Maybe I should start keeping a journal about that!

A screen shot of my book blog statistics.
Screen shot of the relevant blog stats.

In the final months of the year, I finally found a good rhythm of reading, writing, and posting and it has continued into this year. It’s exciting to see slow and steady improvement and I’m looking forward to seeing grown over the coming months.

Unlike last year, I didn’t spend New Year’s gathering up the books I read and making a big pile. I planned on it. I told my husband I would. “I’ll gather them, count them, and lay among them reminiscing about the past” is what I told him. He looked at me so strangely. I showed last year’s post and my notebook to a friend and explained to him how fun it was hunting all those books down. He was confused and maybe a little frightened as well.

But it wasn’t the fear of being strange that stopped my egg hunt this New Year’s but the insistence that we do something normal for the holiday. For the first time in many years, we had a gathering of sorts. Booze was consumed. Pool was played. Food was eaten. And much to my disbelief, we made it past midnight! It was…DECENT in all the worst ways.

I guess we had a little too much fun because we’re already a third into January and I’m finally getting to one of my favorite posts of the year. Yesterday, I spent a few hours thumbing through my journals, making lists, and smiling at old posts.

A physical journal of my book blog stats!

Yes, I know there are apps for this but what fun would that be?! I’ve tried it before and found that I only obsess and get stressed out when I watch my average in real time, or notice that others on the app are “doing better” than I am. I read at my own pace. It’s not a race but a daily habit, a personal journey. My stats are just for me to reflect on…and show you so you know how truly weird I am. Besides, I love paper and intend to keep using it!

Something about the tactile holding of bound paper, the pen in my fingers, the smooth glide of a great pencil on paper…HOT!

Here’s this year’s breakdown by genre…

Fiction: 33Non-Fiction: 39
Sci-Fi: 3 Essays:1
YA Novel: 4History: 5
Romance: 1Politics: 1
Novel: 11Memoir/Biography:6
Thriller: 2Writing/Reading:7
Historical Fiction: 1Science (Philo.,Sociol.,Psycho.): 8
Plays: 1Mythology/Religion: 3
DNF (Did Not Finish): 2Self-Help: 7

Personal Observation: I’m all over the place in genre! I’d say I’d change that in the coming year and focus, but…not going to happen. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I read what I like, what interests me at the moment. Following rabbit holes is my style and I’m not giving it up!

Besides that, take a look at my 2021 TBR pile! It’s overflowing!

2021's book blog TBR pile
2021's book blog TBR pile

For years I have had a running wish list on Amazon, books I’m planning on reading someday. I’m thinking about changing that this year. The wish list is long, and I find myself losing track of things, which books are related to what and how they got to my list. I need a better system, preferably one that involves a physical notebook…of course!

In the past, I have allowed myself only one shelf of TBR books. My unread books lay flat on that shelf to remind me of their unread status. If that shelf is full, I can’t buy more books. It keeps me honest. I’m not a book collector, I’m a book READER!

This year, amazingly enough, something changed. A friend planned on selling and donating her library while she got ready to move out of state, but her house sold more quickly than she had anticipated, so she called me to help. I have never felt so honored in my life. Name a child after me? A town? Give me the keys to the city? Means nothing to me. Tell me that you trust that I’ll take care of getting an enormous pile of books into the right hands? I had to sit down and take minute to collect myself.

Two truckloads of books found themselves on my front porch. It was glorious. The possibilities! Of course, I combed through them all, putting them in piles, shaking them out and organizing them into boxes by genre. I found over eighty books to keep for myself, many of which were already on my wish list, were by authors I already love, or about subjects I am currently interested in. Those are the books you see in the pictures. Since I only read about 70 books a year, 2021’s reading dance card is full.

What I will do with the rest is still being debated. They are safe for now. Some have already found homes, but the majority are still homeless as we speak. I have some ideas floating around about what I can do with them. That’s part of the fun!

So…what’s in store for 2021? More reading. More writing. Less worrying. Less fussing over details. My youngest child leaves the nest in a few weeks, for university in another state. I’ll have even more time to sit around and cry…I mean, read and write! You’ll see! It’s going to be an epic year!

Each month I send out a newsletter highlighting my immediate after-thoughts about the books I read the previous month. You can sign up for that awesome email by hopping over to my Autobibliography page. Once you opt-in, you’ll receive a special edition only available to my email followers…mmm…so exclusive!

“The Noticer” by Andy Andrews

The Noticer book cover on a desert background.

This doesn’t happen very often, but I didn’t know what I was going to read when I picked up “The Noticer” by Andy Andrews off the shelf. It’s a perfect case of judging a book by its cover!

Remember when I said I was going to try reading one book at a time for a while? You don’t? Well, I did. Maybe it was in my monthly newsletter (which you can go sign up for at my Autobibilography page). Anyway…it’s not working already.

I like a lot of wonderful non-fiction books but I’m not always in the right frame of mind to read them. Sometimes they are a more difficult read and I need to be fresh minded, or it needs to be very quiet in the house for me to focus. In the afternoon, that’s not likely to be the case, but I do occasionally have some time to grab a cup of tea and read a bit. So, what can I do?

Have a second, easier book on hand! That book is typically a novel. Fiction is imagination work and not as hard for me to read. I can jump in anytime, pick up where I left off, and enjoy the journey. That’s not so much true with non-fiction.

Backstory…just a little. Last month, you may remember, a reader friend of mine had to move out of state suddenly and gifted her entire library for me to redistribute. I know…don’t be jealous. Needless to say, I kept a few, ok several, maybe ninety, books for myself. What’s happening with the rest of them? That’s another post!

So yesterday morning, I walked over to that glorious stack of gifted books looking for a nice easy novel to read with my third cup of coffee and breakfast cookie (don’t judge me). I found this cute little book and figured it would be an inspiring read.

It has the quote “This is the best book I have ever read in my life” on the cover. How can I go wrong?

I took it to my spot on the couch and began adding the title to my reading journal.

Title. “The Noticer”
Author. Andy Andrews
Year published. 2009
Genre. I wrote fiction but then flipped the book over and found “self-help” in the corner. Groan. That’s not what I was looking for, but I was already in my spot with coffee and I’d already added it in my cute new book. I’m already too invested. I may as well keep going.

I’m hooked. It’s adorable! Have you read it? If you have, give me a comment about what you thought. Andy Andrews has a lot of inspirational books out and a podcast too! His website links to all his work.


I’ve written some posts about some pieces of the book that found inspiring.
Life is a Journey Not to the Top of One Mountain But Several
Life choices: Is there a clearly good or bad decision?


“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!

“The Pleasures of Reading in an Ideological Age”

The Pleasures of Reading book on a bookshelf background.

“The Pleasures of Reading…”

The title, “The Pleasures of Reading in an Ideological Age,” sounds so deliciously pretentious! I love it!

I take a lot of pleasure in reading but I haven’t taken a “literature” class since public high school and I never had any intention of taking one again. Yes, I’m a bit of a book snob. THAT book is trash, THIS one is a classic. But honestly, I know what one reads is just a matter of personal taste. I’m 40 pages into this and now I want to take an actual class and see what happens. It’s on my to-do list to look a free one up online.

You’re going to laugh, but I’m not much of a deep reader. I choose to read what I like. If I pick up something and I find it too hard to read or unenjoyable for some reason, I put it down. There are just too many books out there to read. That doesn’t mean I think it’s a bad book or completely useless, though. It just isn’t what I need at the moment. I have started to read things that drove me bonkers and only to come back to them years later and devoured them. Like that guy you knew in high school and fought with daily, but you meet years later and fall in love…shit…too many romance novels lately!

This book is one of those more difficult reads. It has big words! I have to pay closer attention to understand and much of what he’s talking about is beyond me. That’s why I want to take a class. I feel like I understand what I’m reading intuitively but I’d like to understand on a more academic level. I’d like to see what they see and know the historical and philosophical significance of the more serious books that I dive into.

“Literary language is an intricate, inventively designed vehicle for setting the mind in restless pleasing motion, which in the best of cases may give us a kind of experiential knowledge relevant to our lives outside of reading.”

The Pleasures of reading in an ideological age by robert alter

Sometimes we read to get information, like newspapers, nonfiction, magazine articles, and manuals. Sometimes we read to escape from life for a bit; “dime store” novels and pulp fiction. But other times we read to experience a world, a relationship, a feeling outside our own. We use what we learn in those hours of lives glimpsed through the pages of a book in our own lives.

That’s why we read, Charlie Brown!


Find “The Pleasures of Reading in an Ideological Age” on Thriftbooks and read along with me. If you do, be sure to comment so I know you’re out there. I’d love to hear your thoughts!

I’ve written some posts about the book, thoughts on quotes and ideas triggered while I was reading.
Can the Free Association of Writing Help You Find Yourself?
The Love of Classic Books Can Help Humanity Be More Empathetic
Cultural Literacy is the Key to Communication on the Internet


“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!

New Read: “How to Read Nonfiction Like a Professor”

Picture of the new read on a pile of desert firewood.

Welcome to the first post in a new series of posts on my blog: New Read!

Each time I start a new book, I’ll create a new post. It will serve a couple of purposes. The first will be to note when I start a new book and alert YOU to look forward to future quotes and thoughts about the content. Maybe you’ll want to get it and read along with me. Message me if you do!

The second is that it’s a great chance to share pictures of my desert with you. All the photos are of my actual book on my actual property. I hope you like dirt and rocks a much as I do!

My monthly newsletter highlights my immediate after-thoughts about the books I read the previous month. You can sign up for that awesome email at the link on the right or by hopping over to my Autobibliography page. Once you opt-in, you’re receive one email a month only available to my email followers…so exclusive! And, yes, I promise never to sell my email list, or bombard your inbox with spam.

On to the New Book post!

“How to Read Nonfiction Like a Professor” by Thomas C. Foster is not only about reading books. It’s about reading all nonfiction, including blogs and newspapers, even social media posts. I bet there’s a ton of useful information here, ways to decipher what’s real and what’s not, along with smarter ways to interpret all the incoming information, instead of relying Facebook’s so-called “Fact Checking” system.

I’m not sure where I got the idea to read it, probably from another blog post. I have a new system to remember where I got the book recommendation and I’ve been implementing it for a month now. In the future, I’d like to be able to link back to my source of inspiration to thank them.

I’m only a few pages into this book right now. I ran out of time to read this morning…stupid housework to do. It’s already interesting though and I can’t wait to read more.


I wrote a summary of what I thought most helpful in this book. You can read it at This Book Makes Reading Nonfiction More Gratifying.

Why do I get up in the Morning? Books!

Books!
That’s why I get up
so damn early in the morning!

Years ago, when my children were small, I developed a habit I still carry with me. It’s grown with time and I still wonder what I’ll do with it. I read books.

I used to wake up every morning, get a cup of coffee, and turn on the tv. I’d watch the news usually. Then I had children. I’d get them a “cup of coffee,” a sippy cup of warm milk with a touch of chocolate syrup in it, and they’d snuggle down on the couch with me and allow me a precious moment to have my coffee and wake up.

As they grew and started sleeping past the crack of dawn, I still rose early so that I could see my husband off to work and grab a bit of peace before the chaos. I’d sit on the couch with my coffee and watch an hour of tv, checking my email and then adding social media while it droned in the background.

In high school and college, I read a lot, mostly horror and sci-fi novels, but some classics for school. As I got older, I stopped making time for reading and with kids…well…I thought I’d never have the peace and quiet I needed to read again.

One day it dawned on me. What if I stopped turning on the tv when I got up in the morning and picked up a book? It started with about fifteen minutes of reading a day, in the wee quiet hours of the morning. I’d stumble out of bed, grab a cup of coffee, and plop myself down with my current read. The moment the kids were up, reading time was over.

As the kids got older, I could read for at least an hour every morning before I needed to start my day. It was a great way to get my mind right. The kids almost always woke up to find me still in the corner of the couch, flipping pages.

These days, I’m typically in my place reading by 5am. I have a whole shelf dedicated to my TBR pile, and don’t allow myself to overflow it. No more space means I must hold off on ordering new books! I’ve kept a reading journal for years, making note of what I’ve read, title, author, and genre, when I read it, and how long it took me to read it. I spend about two hours a morning reading each day. And since we’re down to one “child” in the house that goes to college and works, I have started to build more time into the afternoon to read.

What will I do with all this information? I have no idea. I read a hefty amount of non-fiction: history, science, sociology, etc. I read classic literature and popular fiction. In the past, I think it has helped me think more clearly. Reading has given me a lot of peace, like meditation, it’s good “selfcare” for me. Homeschooling my sons was easier reading about education styles, history of education, and child development books. And now I’m starting to blog more about what I’m reading.

Who knows where I’ll go with it or what it will bring me in the future? Reading is the same as life. The outcome isn’t important. It’s the process; experiencing the moment. I read where my heart takes me and enjoy the time I spend in my books, taking what I need with me and leaving the rest.

Books: Another fine reason to get up in the morning.

Do All Our Memories Change With Time?

Memory quote from book on background of the book's cover.

“They’d both learned that memory is a fact that’s been dyed and trimmed and rinsed so many times that it comes out looking almost unrecognizable to anyone else who was in the room…”

Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane

If we’re honest,
all our memories change with time.

We have all had that experience, right? He thought the conversation went one way, she thought it went another, but if you had a third person in the room, they’d swear it went in a completely different direction.

And then there is distant memory. I swear my brother started that big argument. He doesn’t remember arguing at all. Since social media has brought us together with people from our distant past, people we probably never would have seen again are instantly available to exchange photos and stories of events that would have been long forgotten.

One specific instance for me was a picture that a friend posted of a bunch of people at an event. If you had asked me if I had ever gone to this event, I would have said no. Or if you had asked me if I ever hung out with these people outside of work, I would also have said no. And I would not be lying. In fact, even seeing the picture, I still cannot remember the event. But there I am, right in the middle of the picture. It’s not a case of mistaken identity. I’m there, full face, arm around two friends and clearly at the event. I remember working with those people, but I still don’t remember that event.

Which leads me to think, what else have I lost to time?

What details of my past am I completely missing? Not in a “I know that face from somewhere.” or a “What was that game we played together?” kind of way, but in a “That never happened and you’re crazy and trying to trap me into something if you think it did!” way.

It’s something to think about when we accuse others of lying or changing their stories to suit the room. We all experience life from a different perspective, all the time. Everything that happens to us is colored by our own personal past, our mood, and our thinking. And, over time, the story of what happened changes for us. Things become less important to us, or more important. We lose interest or change our perspective a bit. We get older.

Yes, the truth is out there. Something happened, but like that Matrix camera, everyone saw it, experienced it, from different angles, with different lenses, even with a different quality film. Try and respect someone else’s version of the truth. It’s just as valid as yours.


Want to read this book? Find it on Amazon, “Ask Again, Yes”

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New Read – “A Literary Education”

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It happened again. I forgot why I put this book on my wishlist. I need a better system. Or do I? Does it really matter where I got the recommendation? I suppose not. I’ve learned to trust my list. It’s there for a reason, so I buy them when I can.

As I sat down to read, I remembered; my mother-in-law had recently shared an article with me that she thought I’d enjoy. We’ve lived together for 18 years and the woman knows me well. She had pulled it out of a magazine and brought it over to me, old school sharing. There is something awesome about that. I have it still sitting on my desk. What do I do with it now? Share it with someone else maybe? By mail? Before the internet, I had a folder of pulled articles like that, some photo-copied and sent from friends and relatives.

“A distinction needs to be made between solitude and loneliness. One chooses solitude, one is afflicted by loneliness.” Alone Again (Unnaturally) by Joseph Epstein – National Review

My favorite line from that article was, “Proust notes that books have over friends that you can call upon them only when you wish and dismiss them at your discretion. Proust also felt that reading could be an aid to solitude, especially to the indolent mind that is unable to think in solitude but requires rubbing up against, through the stimulus of reading, a finer mind than itself.”

Long before all this “social distancing” stuff, I always had a hard time navigating the social world. The past six months has made that much worse. I feel like I simply don’t fit in, not for any specific reason, just in my head more than anything else. But yet I crave conversation, that back and forth with another thinking human. On a weekly basis I cycle through, “I need solitude to think. Thank you, world!” to “But I want to sit in a coffee shop with friends or join a writer’s group!” to “Screw it. People suck!” Books have been my compromise, the “rubbing up against” that I need to spark my own thinking. Books ask for so little in return and they never get in my way, despite how my family feels about the bookcases.

Reading the article, I suddenly felt less lonely and far more secure in my solitude. I immediately went online to look for the author. Maybe he has a website. What else has he written? I love the internet, and especially Amazon, but I found myself longing for a well-stocked bookstore where I could thumb through and pick out the book I liked best, maybe get a cup of coffee and talk to a person…there I go again. I picked this one mostly because of its title. “A Literary Education” is what I’ve been working on for the past ten years.

Do you read the introductions to books? For fiction, I don’t want someone else’s thoughts to color my reaction to a story. Sometimes, I’ll go back and read it though. For non-fiction, or collections, I generally do read them…unless it’s boring!

Last Friday, I really wanted to chill and read my new book, so I went around the house looking for a spot. I’m easily distracted, so I need a very quiet space to read and that is hard to find in the afternoon in a small house with four adults. My husband was still working in our room. My younger son was in his room working on his college classes. And my older son was doing some research on the computer in the livingroom. The perfect scenario!

I gathered my book, glasses, notebook, and a cup of tea and settled myself into my favorite spot on the couch. It was glorious. Right from the start I knew I had the perfect book in my hands.

“Initially my essay collections were divided between what I thought of as literary essays and familiar essays; the former were essays about other writers, the latter about the world at large, or at least those things in it that captured my fancy at the time.”

…drops pencil…what the…other people write about these things?!

There are times when I wonder what the point of my blog is. Ok…I’ll admit…most times I feel that way. But then I come around to, I write about what I like to write about, what I find interesting, and because it makes me happy. I don’t look for and write to a specific audience. I write my point of view, my opinions, my thinking, in the hope that someone out there might want to hear it.

I kept reading for over an hour, smiling and nodding, tearing up and underlining pieces that spoke directly to my poor little writer heart. When my time was up, I marked my place, closed the book, and went off to get dinner started feeling on top of the world. I’d found encouragement to keep working, keep reading, and to keep writing and I wasn’t even looking for it.

Once again, my “follow the trail wherever it leads” way of living has paid off big time. I can’t wait to read more of these essays. And the world will be reading mine as well. I’m not lonely, I’m in solitude, quietly working away in the background building worlds to share.

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