Category Archives: Books and Reading!

Book Reviews, Reflections on Reading, all things reader/book related!

Anne of Green Gables, a new friend

I got through my first book for the Classics Club!

Anne of Green Gables

Ann on the Roof From the L.M.Montgomery Research Centre
Ann on the Roof
From the L.M.Montgomery Research Centre
by Lucy Maud Montgomery
Finished July 15, 2014.

This is one of those books that has been suggested to me repeatedly through my life, but never quite got around to reading it.  Now that I have read it,  and I enjoyed it.  I also definitely have some thoughts!

“Oh, you good old friends, I’m glad to see your honest faces once more — yes, even you, geometry.”

— Anne, upon seeing her books again after tucking them away for the summer.

Anne of Green Gables isn’t the kind of book that you devour; if I were to liken it to anything it would a leisurely stroll along a babbling brook.  I enjoyed getting to watch Anne grow through the story.  From a talkative storyteller, to a slightly more reflective one — honestly she reminds me of some of my friends and I imagine I’d enjoy wandering around Avonlea with her, renaming all the features of the landscape and letting our imaginations run wild.

 Perhaps it’s just because of where I am in my own life right now, but I found this story sprinkled with little bits and pieces of insight into religion, theology, reading and writing.   I kept coming across lines that brought smiles to my face, breaking out into wide grins during my daily bus commute. And my kindle-copy is sprinkled with highlights and two-word notes of things to revisit, let roll around in my mind, and perhaps expound on at a later date.

“[M]aples are such sociable trees… they’re always rustling and whispering to you.”

–Another Anne observation

Of course, I was also reading this as a writer.  Since I’ve been thinking about what makes a good plot, and different ways to lay out a story, I was reading with something of an eye to how the story was presented.  And Anne of Green Gables did not disappoint, at least as far as stepping out of what I’ve somehow come to expect from a book.  Anne meanders along, her story told in seemingly unconnected snippets of her life at Green Gables.  But, there are threads that weave through these snippets — it is a story of a girl, and of family.  With characters that are interesting, the promise that things would weave together, enough understanding of a larger arc, I am willing to meander on the journey.  More than willing, I enjoyed the trip.

As Anne recognized her old friends, those books that had been tucked away for the summer, I know that I have found a new friend in Anne and look forward to continuing to read her journey.

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Writing Guides

I recognize that I am a geek on a great variety of levels one of them being my absolute adoration of books.  I am kind of addicted to books.  I love books — I love to read them, I love owning them.  I don’t mind reading on an e-reader, and certainly have a decent sized collection of e-books.  But there is something magnificent about real books.

Even better (or perhaps a justification for my collection), books have so much useful information in them.  Many of my books I hang onto because I have, and intend to continue to, use them for my various research needs.

A sampling of some of my writing guides.
A sampling of some of my writing guides.

Every so often I hear (or read) conversation about different writing guides.  It seems that everyone has a suggestion of a favorite book, and is constantly pulling out bits of advice from here or there.  I’ve seen a few guides mentioned over and over (and have now added a few that I had not yet read to my list to get through).  All this talk has gotten me thinking about my own writing-guide favorites.  There are a few that I have because they are sometimes very useful references, some because I feel like I’m supposed to have them, and some that really are my favorites.

Let me be honest with you, I don’t always agree with the advice given in the guides.  Even some of my favorite guides provide suggestions that I don’t necessarily agree with, some I blatantly choose to ignore.  But agree or disagree with the advice, I love to see how different authors share and reflect on their craft.  I think this is why I love reading blogs about writing; while the books tell me the thoughts of published “successful” authors, many of the blogs can give me a glimpse of the process and thoughts of authors like me, who are still finding our own voices, earning our stripes, early in our careers (in some sense).

I do have my favorite guides, and different reasons that I like them and have hung onto them (through multiple cross-country moves).

Room To Write, by Bonni Goldberg.

 I think this book was a present from one of my High School teachers.  If it wasn’t really… well, that teacher gets credit in my mind anyhow.  I love the variety of prompts this book provides (though, to be honest, I find myself going back to a few of them over and over, and not pushing myself to try the others.  Must. Change. This.).  It also has some great quotes that I enjoy looking through and reflecting on.

Bird by Bird, by Anne Lamott.

 This is one of those, “doesn’t every writer have this book” books.  I forget how I came to own my copy, and thinking on it I’m not sure that I have actually read it all the way through.  It’s one of those books that I feel like I need to have, and will look at it on occasion, but haven’t quite finished it yet.  However, it does contain some excellent information about those “shitty first drafts,” which has been so reassuring and helpful.

Zen in the Art of Writing , by Ray Bradbury.

love this book.  Absolutely, positively love it.  I’ve re-read it a number of times, some parts of it more than others.  It is a series of short essays, some of them drawn from the introductions to his books.  In them I find inspiration for writing, for being a writer, and for life in general.  It’s a great encouragement to hold true to your passions, to follow your heart, and to let go of those things that may hold you back.

 

What are your favorite guides (for writing or otherwise)?  I recently got a bunch of free writing guides (on my Kindle) and will probably be commenting on some of them soon, but would love to hear what the books are that others most appreciate (and why)!

I Should Not Have to be Ashamed of What I Read.

Someday I will learn this patience thing, and to not put up a post right away.   But this one… this one I really want to put out there now.


I remember at one point, some years ago, I had a conversation with my sister about our tendency to wander around in the children’s and YA sections of the bookstore.   She noted how she loved the fact that, now she was going into education, she had an excuse to explore those books.  I’d been working with kids for years, so never thought twice — no one ever asked me if the books were for the children I worked with or for myself.

I was slow to get into reading “age-appropriate” books.   Until I was about nine years old, I only read chapter books if they were required for school.  I much preferred my picture books.  Then I was finally introduced to books that I liked which didn’t contain pictures, and a monster was born…. I now devour books, I adore them all.  But, still, some of my favorites are not books that are “written for adults.”

I realized, recently, that one of the reasons I adore having my kindle is (in addition to the ability to carry a rather large library around with me without breaking my back) is that I can read Continue reading I Should Not Have to be Ashamed of What I Read.

A Writers Reach: Remembering Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou was a writer, poet, storyteller, and all around amazing woman.  I remember, clearly, when I read I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, in an Honors English Class, in eight grade.  I still have that exact copy, nearly every sentence highlighted, notes scribbled in the pages (I had yet to learn the fine art of actual, useful, note-taking within a text).

I recall being struck by many things in that book, but the one that has really stuck with me was how beautifully she used language.  Here was a piece of prose, that was also poetry.  Power, and beautiful, and haunting.

Throughout life I’ve revisited her work, read her poems,  and her reflections and thoughts.  And now, upon her passing, it is amazing to see the flood of people and organizations that are joining in remembering her.   Sharing her wisdom, and her beautiful words and her contributions to the world.

Many are reflecting on her impact, on the impact she had on the world, as well as the more personal impact she had on people.

On WordPress you can read various bloggers reflections about her, as well as a collection of quotes from her.

Maya Angelou on Facebook

Maya Angelou Twitter Tags

I hope, that someday, I can have even a fraction of the impact on the world that she has had.

 

 

We Need Diverse Books!

The recent We Need Diverse Books (#weneeddiversebooks) campaign that’s been taking off has me thinking about diversity in writing.

And then, recently Raevenly Writes pondered the question of writing relationships that might not fit within our own mainstream culture, writing something that may be completely normal within the society the story takes place, but may be at odds with the readers expectations of a relationship.

But as an author, you can’t ignore how your audience works. I’m not saying everything has to be hetero-normative whitewashed, just that it helps to think about the head space your audience is coming from. Just because it’s a non-issue for you and your characters doesn’t mean it won’t be a huge issue for them, and a potential distraction.  –Raevenly Writes.

And that, that right there, is something that I’ve wondered about myself, in what seems like it should be minor ways… but they end up being less minor the more I think about them.  Just because something seems normal and “a non-issue” to me, and my characters, doesn’t mean it will be a non-issue for my readers.  I recognize that I have lived my life jumping from liberal-bubble to liberal-bubble.  Surrounded by people who Continue reading We Need Diverse Books!

Writer Origin Story: An ode to books!

I decided to give the DPchallenge a try!

The challenge: Write your Writer Origin Story!
In my own, meandering way, that’s what I’ve done. It’s interesting how little pieces of this reflection make me think of other things I want to write.  I’m pretty sure the “Origin Story” of me as a writer is more than one entry — but this is where it starts.

I was a reader before I was a writer.  Fortunate enough to grow up surrounded by people who loved books and stories, and who were eager to share that love of the written word with me.

My parents read to us, my teachers read to me, even my grandparents — on the rare visits (they lived far away) — would read to us. Our home had bookcases, at some point my dad even built a massive set of bookcases to hold all the books we had. Books were a common, and always happily received, gift on the holidays, it seemed even the great figures of the holidays were in on the book-gifting, Santa would leave us a book outside our door on Christmas morning.

I love books, stories, and reading, and when I look back at how I was raised, I’m not sure I could have escaped such a fate. Certainly, I don’t think any of my siblings did — there are five of us, and we all still read plenty. Both sets of grandparents were readers, and my still-living grandparents still devour books and the printed word across genres.

Continue reading Writer Origin Story: An ode to books!