Thursday, July 18, 2013

On The Stand

This is a confessional blog post.  I'm making myself accountable via the Internet. The confession?  I have a slight addiction to library books.  The library is an incredible free resource, but it's not when you keep racking up late fees because you take out more books than you can read.

I often make a list of books I'd like to read during the week, and then on my weekly solo Saturday excursion I get what is on my list.  Our library is small, but full of excellent titles, DVDs, magazines and lots of the newest titles.  The other thing they do - they display.  They display well!  Which is how they get me.  I can't resist the bookshelf that so casually flaunts all the new fiction and non-fiction. There are books here that aren't on my list, but should be!  I feel compelled to bring them with me, as if leaving them on the shelf is condemning them.  As though they will never have their "Date Due" slip stamped and will be mocked by the other books as unreadable.  No,I will not allow that to happen on my library trip.

Thing is, they don't end up getting fully read at my house.  They wind up in a pile on my nightstand and I open each one and read some of each one, but I don't always end up finishing them.  So, my new resolution is this.  I'm allowing myself to borrow one fiction and one non-fiction book at a time. My hope is that I will manage to finish both books in a reasonable amount of time.  This new plan kicks into action this weekend, so today I thought I'd share the view on my nightstand now.  Which doesn't look like too much at first, but when I list it out, it feels like a lot, and I've been dedicating at least an hour to reading every day this week and I'm still only halfway through the most engrossing read.  Time management, you are my nemesis!

This is a small stack for me.

Kindle Books*

At twenty-two, Cheryl Strayed thought she had lost everything. In the wake of her mother’s death, her family scattered and her own marriage was soon destroyed. Four years later, with nothing more to lose, she made the most impulsive decision of her life. With no experience or training, driven only by blind will, she would hike more than a thousand miles of the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington State—and she would do it alone. Told with suspense and style, sparkling with warmth and humor, Wild powerfully captures the terrors and pleasures of one young woman forging ahead against all odds on a journey that maddened, strengthened, and ultimately healed her.

I cannot stop reading this!  I've actually put down everything else in order to finish this before my loan expires.  It's not the best read, it's a basic account of her search for herself after her mother's death and the end of her marriage change her identity. It's full of some self-congratulating and self-loathing that can get repetitive.  But the overall story is captivating and the sheer fact that Cheryl was willing to take off into the wilderness on her own, without much (any) training and little preparation adds an element of suspense that is often hard to find in a memoir.

Nine-year-old Oskar Schell has embarked on an urgent, secret mission that will take him through the five boroughs of New York. His goal is to find the lock that matches a mysterious key that belonged to his father, who died in the World Trade Center on the morning of September 11. This seemingly impossible task will bring Oskar into contact with survivors of all sorts on an exhilarating, affecting, often hilarious, and ultimately healing journey.

This book pulled me in from the first page.  The narrator's voice, Oskar, is incredibly engrossing. There are chapters told from other points of view which are enjoyable, but when I turn the page and hear Oskar's voice again, I'm reassured and happy to be reunited with him for the next leg in the journey.  

Hardcover Books On The Stand

“Long live the King” hailed Entertainment Weekly upon publication of Stephen King’s On Writing. Part memoir, part master class by one of the bestselling authors of all time, this superb volume is a revealing and practical view of the writer’s craft, comprising the basic tools of the trade every writer must have. King’s advice is grounded in his vivid memories from childhood through his emergence as a writer, from his struggling early career to his widely reported, near-fatal accident in 1999—and how the inextricable link between writing and living spurred his recovery. Brilliantly structured, friendly and inspiring, On Writing will empower and entertain everyone who reads it—fans, writers, and anyone who loves a great story well told.

I've borrowed this book for the obvious purpose of learning to become a better writer.  The best thing about this book is how King talks to the reader like an everyday person. Because really he is too, he just happens to have found his passion and honed his craft over years of practice.  He talks about his journey to success and his journey to find his voice as a writer.  I think it's clear from a young age that he was destined to share stories with the world, but the way he learns to make that a reality and his willingness to share that with us make this a read worth anyone's time.  Writer or not.

Marriage can be a real killer. 
      On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy Dunne’s fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick’s clever and beautiful wife disappears from their rented McMansion on the Mississippi River. Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn’t doing himself any favors with cringe-worthy daydreams about the slope and shape of his wife’s head, but passages from Amy's diary reveal the alpha-girl perfectionist could have put anyone dangerously on edge. Under mounting pressure from the police and the media—as well as Amy’s fiercely doting parents—the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior. Nick is oddly evasive, and he’s definitely bitter—but is he really a killer? 
   As the cops close in, every couple in town is soon wondering how well they know the one that they love. With his twin sister, Margo, at his side, Nick stands by his innocence. Trouble is, if Nick didn’t do it, where is that beautiful wife? And what was in that silvery gift box hidden in the back of her bedroom closet?
   With her razor-sharp writing and trademark psychological insight, Gillian Flynn delivers a fast-paced, devilishly dark, and ingeniously plotted thriller that confirms her status as one of the hottest writers around.

I'm feeling very conflicted about this book. I feel like I'm on a roller coaster, but not in the fun, zig zag way but the part where I'm going up the long hill and can hear the clink-clink-clink of the chain hauling the cart up, but I can't see the drop yet and I'm starting to wonder if it's there.  Most of the reviews I've heard from friends and other library patrons have been mixed.  I'm about 200 pages in now and still can't decide if I should see it through to the end.  The premise is very intriguing and I love a good mystery as long as it's not too creepy or filled with gore and this book meets both of my requirements.  However, it's just slow. There's no nice way to say's just plodding along.  I'm reserving judgement until I finish it, if I do.  I'm hopeful that I will though because there has to be a twist that makes me feel like racing down the hill with my arms above my head, screaming.  No pressure Gillian Flynn. 

Intention is generally viewed as a pit-bull kind of determination propelling one to succeed at all costs by never giving up on an inner picture. In this view, an attitude that combines hard work with an indefatigable drive toward excellence is the way to succeed. However, intention is viewed very differently in this book. Dr. Wayne W. Dyer has researched intention as a force in the universe that allows the act of creation to take place. This book explores intention—not as something you do—but as an energy you’re a part of. We’re all intended here through the invisible power of intention. This is the first book to look at intention as a field of energy that you can access to begin co-creating your life with the power of intention.

I'm not sure what to tell you about this.  I'm reading a lot of self-help books these days and this is the current one.  I read them with an open, yet cautious mind.  I don't rule things out arbitrarily but at the same time, there has to be some take away that I feel fits my life and connects with my goals.  So I plan to finish this one as well and see where I feel afterwards.  I think it's very easy to get swept up into the hopefulness that many self-help books offer in their first few chapters.  It's harder to actually get through all of the information and then put it into practice, so we'll see how this pans out.  This is basically like my assigned reading and it comes with homework.  In summer no less.

*All of the italicized summaries are thanks to Without Amazon I wouldn't have discovered that the world of library books expands to the internet.  Ohh, my sweet, sweet Kindle.

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