Archive for the ‘Book’ Category

I have this problem with books

Sunday, January 31st, 2010

I have this problem with books, but I do not think it merits an entry in The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. However, I cannot be certain, because it is not like I have a copy and could easily look up a ìcategoryî to find out if I have a disorder beyond being a bibliophile.

Granted, I love books, both their physical attributes and the possibilities of what stories, along with the language in which they are told, could be secreted inside.

I have been a reader since elementary school, the intensity and frequency of my obsession following a wavy line on a bar graph. In college, for example, I read textbooks and novels for my English class and was too read-out for reading during my free time. Now, I read instead of watching television, to relax and to escape into a place other than Larimer County, Colorado.
So my problem is that I am very committed to my books, whether I buy them, borrow them from family or friends or check them out from the library.

I can start reading a book and not like it, or even hate it ñ I donít like the style, the setting, the plot or the characters, for example ñ but I have to give it a chance. I figure 50 pages is fair, and then if I still do not like it, well, Iíve read 50 pages and thatís 1/6th the length of the average book I read. I think, oh, I put all this time into it, Iíll read some more. And when I still donít like it, I have become committed to finish the book. I have to finish the book! Even though life is too short to read a book one does not care for, I end up reading in a race trying to finish the book to read something I like.

Iíve decided my problem is book-aty, or an excessive loyalty to books that causes one to make A Too-long Yowl of frustration.

Olive and My Book Club

Monday, January 25th, 2010

Belonging to a Book Club can sometimes be a challenge. Take for instance this month. Our January selection was "Olive Kitteridge" by Elizabeth Strout © 2008 Random House.

Olive Kitterage by Elizabeth Strout, 2009 Pulitzer for Fiction

No wonder Olive Kitterage nabbed a Pulitzer!

Before Christmas I went to the Loveland Library but their copy was already gone; I didn't have any road trips planned, no Denver outings, so a book on tape wouldn't work this month. Next I checked the Poudre Library District online and all of their 4 copies were out.

Finally I chose Prospector (inter-library loan) and hoped for the best. After all, I was early and most people have time off work over the holidays. Surely they must read then?

When the calendar announced our Book Club meeting last Tuesday I was still bookless. Since I did have a business meeting that would make me late for the Book Club discussion, I opted out with regrets.

The book arrived Wednesday. Go figure.

But since "Olive" had traveled all the way from Greeley, and inter-library loans are usually short with no renewals, I dug right in.

It jazzes me to experience a story unfolding - I simply love it when I have no idea what a book or movie is about.† It's hard in this age of information to maintain such an innocence, but when it does happen, I am enthralled.

Kitterage and Pulitzer vaguely connected, but I did not know anything about the story.†† I purposely did not look at the back-of-the-book blurbs. Did not read online reviews. Nothing.

Reading a book this way is truly like taking the author's hand and allowing myself to be led around unfamiliar territory.† This book is unfamiliar Ö in style and content. Olive Kitteridge is odd, quirky and thoroughly engaging.

Thanks to the savvy readers in my Book Club for yet again launching me on a worthwhile journey.

A new calendar ... brings another 365 dilemmas

Sunday, January 3rd, 2010

This year I received an interesting gift for a writer: Book Lover's Calendar for 2010. It pleased me and challenged me, just as it did last year when I received the 2009 version. A colleague told me calendars like this make her nervous.

I pondered this at length, and decided the calendar seemed to be a treasure trove waiting for me to dig in. It didn't make me nervous, it exhilarated me! Great books, recommended by the calendar which met the ì365 Days of Good Authors, Good Books, & Good Readingî criteria as touted on the calendar's cover.

Each day presents one book by Title with Author, Publisher, and Date. There is a short synopsis that strives to spotlight each tome in such a way, it makes you want to run out and buy it, devour it in one gulp.† Burp.

I suppose each author pumps the air with a triumphant fist when notified her or his book has been chosen for the next year's ìBook Lover's Calendar.î Out of the hundreds of thousands of books published each year, for one day of the year all eyes [albeit only calendar users] would turn to her or his book. Gravy, advertising at its finest.

What I did not expect was my reaction to the calendar by, say mid-March. Let's take the Ides as an example. I laughed to see ìCaesar: Life of a Colossus by Adrian Goldsworthyî taking up the 3/15/09 page. Equally amusing was the pairing of April Fools' Day and the dark comedy with frightening undertones by Michael Crichton, ìNext

But, as the year progressed, I felt more and more like a slacker. Too lazy to keep up with the calendar of great reading suggestions, I fell hopelessly behind early in January and never gained a foothold.

This year I'm doing much better. How do I manage to read a book a day?

I don't.† Moreover, I give my self permission to choose from a tiny sprinkling of the diverse advertisements numbingly numbering 365. Nervous? Nah. No way. I am taking this daily billboard of books less to heart. It is much easier this way, and I have not the indigestion of gobbling† a book a day.† Burp.

Today's suggestion ìHow To Be Aloneî was penned by my old ìThe Correctionsî buddy Jonathan Franzen. Maybe I'll get around to it before the 2011 edition of the Book Lover's Calendar challenges me all over again.

What If?

Wednesday, December 2nd, 2009

On a recent sunny afternoon, my neighbor swore she saw the ghost of my dead cat sitting in my driveway. I donít believe in ghosts, feline or otherwise. But donít you love when something happens to make the Twilight Zone music play in your head and you ask yourself, ìWhat if?î

Maybe youíve wondered ìwhat ifî about Stonehenge, time travel, or Area 51. How about the Easter Island statues, telepathic communication, or long lost pirate treasures?

Hereís my personal favorite: getting up in the middle of the night to find my computer screen lit up. Is it a coincidence that one of my cats sits nearby, looking guilty?

Thatís what I love so much about books. For as long as you linger between their pages, you can teeter on the edge of infinite possibility. Ghosts are real, cats watch YouTube videos when weíre not around, and aliens live among us.

All you have to do is fire up your imagination and keep turning the pages!

This story ... propells me to do my best!

Tuesday, November 3rd, 2009

Tonight I could not sleep.† So I thought I would just read a chapter or two.† I ended up finishing the book!† I read through to the last page, including all the authors' acknowledgements.† Well, as a writer myself, I always read those anyway.† But† these "thank you's" fairly shout with genuine gratitude. I'm so excited, I had to tell somebody!† So here I am.

If you are discouraged with the economy, read this book.

If you are wondering if you are on the right path, read this book.

If you are discouraged about anything, read this book.

These 273 pages sent my heart and resolve soaring!† The dialog sings with authenticity, and this story grabs you as it did me, William Kamkwamba's words will make you look around - at every one and every thing - and see with new eyes.

Go to William's blog and see the 5 minute video of him speaking at the 2009 TED Good Ideas Worth Spreading conference.† When I saw this short video, I Facebooked it, then immediately requested our local library get a copy of the book.† Today on William's blog I see Tweets saying The Boy Who Harnessed The Wind by William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer has been chosen as one of Amazon's Top 10 Best Books of the Year and Publishers Weekly's best book of the year.† Moving Windmills is a documentary of this young man's jaw-dropping feat.

Every once in a while I am touched deeply by a book.† I find myself thinking about it even when I am otherwise engaged.† This is one of those books.† The kind of book I am grateful was written, the kind of book I recommend to everyone I meet for several months.† The kind that I will read every few years just to re-live the amazing journey again.

From William I learned:† If you want to make it, all† you have to do is try.