Posts Tagged ‘reading’

First love runs deep…

lots o booksI loved the idea of reading even before I knew my letters. I credit my father with this, and his ability to bring the world of Dr Seuss into a vivid and vocal reality. My love of reading led me to a deep and lasting friendship with the books themselves.

Going to a bookstore is one of my favourite pastimes. And always, before I enter, I must take a deep breath and smell the air. The paper and the ink and the knowledge inside combine to make, for me, an intoxicating scent. Honestly, how excited was I to learn that Karl Lagerfeld created my own personalised scent?

And libraries smell different from the stores. You can smell the anticipation of the new books, waiting anxiously to impart their adventures, or wisdom, or humour—waiting for that first crack of the spine when they’ve finally been purchased. Library books are more stately, more secure in their knowledge that they will be useful and read.

I can never purchase a book without first experiencing it. The weight, the feel of the paper, the size and style of the font. All are part of the aesthetics of a book.

Books have been my friends for as long as I can remember. They accompany me everywhere, and always have. I suppose my tattered copy of Fox in Socks was my version of a security blanket. Sometimes I will take a book with me, even when I know I won’t be able to read it, especially when going somewhere new or where I am unsure of myself. My book is a tangible, portable friend, something I can hold on to and use to keep myself grounded in uncertain times.

Just as I am loyal and protective of my friends, I am this way with my books. And I like to introduce the two to each other. Sharing a memorable book with a good friend is one way for me to stay connected with the people I care about. It’s a bit like playing hostess at a party—you want to introduce people who haven’t met but will have something in common, some spark to connect them. So please know if I lend you a book it’s because I care about you and trust you, and want to share a bit of myself.

Just please don’t bend the pages.

Share with me: What’s your favourite book? And what, or who, got you hooked on reading?


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…as long as it’s the right kind.

Yesterday I did not watch the Superbowl. My latest Hugo House blog post explains what I did instead, and why I have a prediliction for a certain kind of porn.


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Okay, so far this week I’ve pretty much ignored my ROW80 goals because I was focused on finishing my application for grad school. If you ever decide to apply for grad school, I offer this word of advice…make the decision more than a week before the deadline. I know, I know – this comes as a shock, but trust me when I say that you will be doing yourself a favor if you allow more than a week to gather your info and write a &*(#^%  damn  passable  awesome personal statement.

The deadline was midnight last night. I had everything in by 9:30 p.m. So now I can focus on other things.

But just to prove that I haven’t been a total slacker, here’s a list of the short stories I’ve read so far during this challenge:

  1. Chivalry, Neil Gaiman *
  2. Nicholas Was…, Neil Gaiman
  3. The Price, Neil Gaiman
  4. Troll Bridge, Neil Gaiman *
  5. Don’t Ask Jack, Neil Gaiman
  6. Her Husband Didn’t, Yasunari Kawabata
  7. Homage, Nadine Gordimer
  8. Tomorrow’s Bird, Ian Frazier *
  9. The Goldfish Pool and Other Stories, Neil Gaiman
  10. The White Road, Neil Gaiman
  11. Queen of Knives, Neil Gaiman
  12. Story, Lydia Davis
  13. The Fears of Mrs. Orlando, Lydia Davis *
  14. Liminal: The Little Man, Lydia Davis
  15. Virgin, April Ayers Lawson
  16. The Palmist, Andrew Lam *
  17. Blood, Zdravka Evtimova
  18. I’m Slavering, Sam Lipsyte
  19. Objects in Mirror Are Closer Than They Appear, Joyce Carol Oates
  20. Footnote, Rommulus Linney
  21. My Lawrence, Claudia Smith
  22. Feeling Good, Feeling Fine, George Garrett
  23. We Ate the Children Last, Yann Martel
  24. Girl, Jamaica Kincaid *
  25. 1951, Richard Bausch
  26. PS, Jill McCorkle *
  27. The Hollow, James Lasdun
  28. Someone Ought to Tell Her There’s Nowhere to Go, Danielle Evans         
  29. Pompeii, Leslie Pietrzyk
  30. Ma, a Memoir, Lynn Freed
  31. Changes, Neil Gaiman
  32. The Wine Doctor, Frederick Adolf Paola *
  33. In Reference to Your Recent Communications, Tessa Brown *
  34. Following the Notes, Pia Z. Ehrhardt
  35. The Minimalist, Stacey Richter
  36. The Daughter of Owls, Neil Gaiman

* These were particularly enjoyable and I recommend adding these stories to your reading list.

The rest of the week will be dedicated to kids, work, catching up on writing, and not obsessing over whether or not I get accepted into the grad program.

See how my fellow ROW80 participants are doing here.

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Sisyphus (photo via Yahoo images)

“No, I do it. I do it.” Followed almost immediately by “Mommy, help!”

This is what I’ve been hearing several times a day lately from my three-year-old. Yes, he has reached that age where finding the delicate balance between independence and security is a tricky proposition indeed. And I don’t think we ever really grow out of that stage, do we?

Definitely not if we’re writers!

Writing is a solitary activity when it comes to actually sitting your butt in the chair and writing. But before that time comes, there’s a lot of brainstorming and thinking out loud (listeners optional) and sharing and commenting and revising and encouraging…

I’m glad that I’ve found the ROW80 and blogging friends. The encouragement is so helpful. And at times, when the words won’t come and writing even one. more. sentence. makes it seem like Sisyphus had it easy, knowing I have a group of people in my (virtual) corner definitely makes a difference!

So, in terms of actual writing, not much has happened in the past few days. But there has been a lot of what I like to call percolating happening. I’ve got several story and poem ideas percolating in my brain, words and phrases and images swimming around, jostling for various levels of attention, coming in and out of focus and waiting for that moment when it will just be right to let them out.

When I try to explain the percolating thing to my non-writing friends, they just look at me like I’m crazy. Of course, they do that a lot anyway, so I’m used to it. But I know that you will get it.

And, of course, I’ve been keeping up with the reading a short story every day. I’m still fascinated with Neil Gaiman, but I’ve also recently discovered Lydia Davis. I firmly believe that all this reading is helping with the percolating. And for me, the percolation stage is absolutely vital to my process.

So, while I’ve been relying on the help of  these published writers as well as my virtual community, there will come a time, and I think it will be soon, when I’ll sit down, ready to write, and do it!

Here are the status updates for all the other intrepid  ROW80 writers!

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The first Sunday update:

I think I got off to a good start, but this weekend I’ve been feeling a bit scattered. Consequently, I’m feeling like I haven’t gotten much done. But I know that I have.

Goal #1, Editing my short story: Haven’t done anything on that one yet. But that’s okay. I have time.

Goal #2, Submit twice a month: I did, in fact, submit something to an online journal. Should hear back in 6-8 weeks.

Goal #3, Post more regularly: Eh. This one’s going okay. Not great. But not bad.

Goal #4, Write a poem once a week: Done. I did write a poem. It wasn’t a good one. But, it has potential, so I’ll put it away for a little while and come back to it later. If it’s still bad, I’ll chuck it. If I still see the potential, I’ll work on it.

Goal #5, Read a story every day: This one, not surprisingly, is the one I’ve been most successful with. I’ve read “Chivalry,” “Nicholas Was…,” “The Price,” “Troll Bridge,” and “Don’t Ask Jack” all by Neil Gaiman. I’ve also read “Her Husband Didn’t” by Yasunari Kawabata, “Homage” by Nadine Gordimer, and “Tomorrow’s Bird” by Ian Frazier.

I also had a blog entry posted on the Hugo House blog, which was fun to see.

So, all in all, despite the feeling scattered and not altogether with it, I think it’s been a productive week in terms of writing goals.

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Book Love…

Here’s my latest blog post for the Hugo House.

I hope you enjoy it.

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Naturally, I am getting started on the reading portion of my ROW80 goals early. I can’t help it. Call me a compulsive reader. I went to a chiropractor once, and he was appalled at how much my purse weighed, and ordered me to get a smaller, lighter purse. But I can’t fit books into a small purse, and I can’t go anywhere without a book. Okay, so this was long before the Kindle was ever invented, but even so. When it comes to books, I’m a traditionalist. I have yet to become a Kindle convert.

Anyway, I’ve started reading stories by David Foster Wallace. I’d never even heard of David Foster Wallace until I took that “I Write Like” online analysis test. I submitted several different pieces…an essay, a story, and a poem…and each result came back that I wrote like David Foster Wallace. Well. Obviously I needed to find out who this author is.

I read his “Incarnations of Burned Children” in the collection New Sudden Fiction. Let me just say that it was awful. And I don’t mean that in a bad way. I mean that this story was well written, but what happened in it was so…awful. And heartbreaking. Wallace was so adept at capturing this everyday moment that can suddenly become so horribly life changing. I made the mistake of reading this story on my lunch break, and had a very hard time returning to work that day.

So now I’m reading stories from his collection Brief Interviews with Hideous Men. I just picked this up, so I haven’t gotten very far. But I will say now that I am completely enamored of Wallace’s versatility.

I’m going to go read some more now. Then maybe write some. You should, too.

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