A Slump

Once again I have been neglectful in writing on this blog. I manage to write almost everyday in my journal, but online is more difficult for whatever reason. Anyway, I want to talk about slumps, reading slumps to be specific. I have been in a reading slumps for quite some time. I have read a few great books here and there but I have not been reading consistently. The question becomes why? Why do I only feel a little blip of a desire to read? I like to think about reading a book. I daydream about having an entire day to devote just to reading. A day where I can get cozy on the couch, have some tea, and some special cookies and just read. However, real life gets in the way. If I do have a day off there are always chores to do (groceries, cleaning, laundry). But I can’t blame it all on chores. Sometimes I have time to read but instead I turn on the TV or I spend that time on social media. In fact, I spend too much time on Facebook. So I have decided to take a long weekend without social media. This will be an experiment to see if days without the distraction of social media will prompt my reading juices to get flowing again. If those days involve rain it will be that much better. Now if a break from social media doesn’t work then perhaps it is just me. A funk that has descended upon me. How to get rid of an anti-reading funk is a much more complicated problem. Perhaps it will require some specialized medication beyond tea, cookies and rain. Beyond a technology ban. Perhaps it will require a visit to the bookstore to peruse the stacks. While I’m there I will inhale deeply the scent of those medicinal pages. Maybe that is the cure I need. I am feeling more optimistic that I can overcome this reading slumps. Have you ever had a reading slumps? What did you do to overcome it? Share your cures and remedies.

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Book Fairy

About one year ago, I became a book fairy. I came across the book sharing enthusiasts on social media. The group offers a green book fairy tote, buttons, ribbons and explanation cards for a shipping fee only. The idea is to hide books (new or used, children and adults) in various places for people to find. They are to read it and pass it on to someone new. A book fairy simply chooses the book, places an explanation card on it and ties it up in a green ribbon. Then the fairy hides it and walks away. It is wonderful for the person who finds it, they get a book! Plus they get to become a book fairy too. But it is even better for the book fairy! We get to share our love of reading and books in general. For me it combines two of my favorite things, books and fairies. Yes, I am a 48 year old woman who loves the mystic of fairies. What does it feel like to be a book fairy? It feels clandestine. You are a mythical creature who secretly gives people a precious gift, the joy of reading! You never see who picks up your book or what happens to it afterwards. But you can imagine that it goes on and on from one person to another, spreading joy. Perhaps it is just the right book for someone who needed it’s message, it’s story at that very moment. Perhaps the book found the person. Stories fill a deep seated need in people to have a connection to others and to reach beyond ourselves. Being a book fairy means you are part of this age old tradition of storytelling. So if you are a bibliophile consider becoming a book fairy. https://ibelieveinbookfairies.com/

Free books

In the library we have a table by the door that typically has free books on it. I find it interesting to watch the patrons pick over this pile of formally rejected books, magazines,and sometimes puzzles. One or two people will stand at the table at a time, perusing the pile. They lean over the table, tilt their head this way and that in order to get a better view of the titles. They run their fingers over the spines, sometimes slowly and lovingly, sometimes quickly and inpatient. Those they deem worthy of taking home they cradle in the crook of their arm. Many stay in front of the table for many minutes, their eyes touching each title. Most take their time, lost in their own world of thought. Are they remembering old well loved novels, are they waiting for that pull off a book that tells them, “I’m the one you are looking for?” What are they thinking about, what are they looking for? Some seem to find something to leave with, while others walk away empty-handed. They will all return to treasure seek another day.

Books Tell the Stories of Our Lives.

I was recently looking through my bookshelves and came across my set of Harry Potter books. As I paged through the well worn and we’ll loved pages I was suddenly struck by an overwhelming feeling of nostalgia. These were the books my daughter grew up reading and loving. She was actually born at the tail end of these tales, but our love for everything Hogwarts brought us many happy times together. I remember waiting in anticipation with her for each movie to be released. There was many a summer and Christmas vacation spent visiting with Harry, Hermione, and Ron.

In later years there was the summer of Percy Jackson. I remember attending the National Book Festival in D.C. Standing in the pouring rain waiting to have Rick Riordan sign my daughter’s copy of The Lightening Thief. Alas, we never made it to the front of the line, but we had a great adventure.

Earlier in her childhood there was Winnie the Pooh, Thomas the Tank, Junie B. Jones, Pippi Longstocking, and Peter Pan. We read, reread, and memorized Pat the Bunny and can still recite The Going to Bed Book by Sandra Boynton.

My daughter graduated high school and will be going off to college this year and most of her graduation gifts from her dad and I were books.

Recently my daughter and I were discussing her best loved books and she said, “I remember waiting anxiously for Peter Pan to come to my window and my letter from Hogwarts to arrive”. While neither came, she did truly live in her imagination. Books played such an important part in her life and will continue to do so. And mom can always look back through those books and relive her childhood.

What books bring back childhood memories for you?

Some Fairy Tales Come True.

 

I recently read Victor LaValle’s dark fairy tale, “The Changeling. This is a really good read, that is a mix between a horror story and a modern day fairy tale.

The story revolves around Apollo, Emma, and their new baby Brian. A tragedy strikes the family and Apollo must travel through a dark fairy tale world that exists in the mystical under belly of New York City.

Apollo, a bookseller with abandonment issues, will align with witches, and a tech savvy friend, to battle trolls, real and online, as he fights to save his family.

There are many themes throughout this story. The author touches on what it means to be a parent and facing a parents worst nightmare. He delves into the dangers of living a life online, where trolls roam free. There are journeys into modern day horrors like racism, child abuse, and online predators. All of this while weaving a thread of magic through the tale.

There is one aspect of the story that I want to concentrate on and it is a theme that I haven’t noticed in any other online reviews. I believe there is definitely a touch of feminism in the book. The character of Emma portrays a woman who is an independent, strong willed, and powerful. She is a woman who is willing to make any sacrifice for her child. She is able to summon her inner witch (there is a little witch in every woman) to try to protect her child. In fact there is an entire island of women trying to protect their children from magical and modern day evils. I appreciated how these strong women were integral to the story line.

“The Changeling” is a tale that embodies a parents worst fears and a parents strongest asset, love. This story proves that dark fairy tales are not meant to scare children, but to warn adults!

1984 Revisited

I recently re-read 1984 by George Orwell. When I read this book originally I was in college and it really didn’t have much impact on me at the time. I understood that it was a reaction to the time Orwell was living in and a warning against what could happen in the future. A warning that the horrors of World War I and World War II could happen again and happen in our own backyard. But while I understood the themes intellectually, it did not resonate with me emotionally. I did not internalize the message or become fearful of its warnings.

However, after reading this book as an adult woman, I have internalized it’s message and it has made me fearful.

I recognize so many of the novels features horrors in our own society today. “Big Brother” is everywhere. We are monitored by our government officials and one another through our devices. Our cell phones GPS, our social media sites, our “smart t.v.’s”, our computers. We are watched by cameras on many corners. Now I read about the first U.S. company to implant a micro chip into their employees in order to ease their logging in to computers, accessing their work building, paying for their vending machine snacks.

The “thought police” are real, but we call them internet trolls. People who ridicule and bombast each other online for their beliefs and affiliations.

Surely “doublethink” isn’t real! Actually, we have many citizens and politicians who hold seemingly contradictory opinions at the same time. For example, anti abortion rights activists want to end a woman’s right to choose, yet also want to defend Planned Parenthood and Medicaid, limiting or ending access to free birth control and aide for those unwanted children. Politicians and members of the NRA proclaim that their thoughts are with shooting victims and their families, while at the same time decrying common sense gun laws.

We have heard our own President and his spokespeople trying to turn the people against the free press and even use the term Newspeak.

Re-reading 1984 has made me realize that our country, our society is heading towards a”Orwellian”, totalitarian culture.

1984 is now a Broadway play and I have heard that audience members are passing out, vomiting, and begging the actors to stop. What a visceral reaction to make believe. Or is it? Perhaps it is a reaction to something all to real and recognizable.

I encourage readers to read 1984 and take it as a warning to vote and stay active in politics, but most of all stay humble, honest, kind, and humane.

Favorite summer reading spot?

I want to begin this post with a question, where is your favorite place to read in the summer?

I’m sure we all enjoy curling up in a cozy arm chair, with a blanket, a cup of tea, and favorite book in the winter, but what about the warmer months? When the lazy, hazy, dog days of summer hit, where do you go to dig into that summer escape?

I for one love the quiet solitude of nature for a reading getaway. Sitting in a comfortable lawn chair, soaking up the warm sun, sipping an ice cold drink, and delving into the depths of the written page. The bird song and rustling leaves seem to add to the ambience of the stories setting. Colorful flowers and cool green grass offer an occasional respite for tired reading eyes.

Another favorite place to read can be the beach. Toes digging into sun warmed sand, seagull’s calls, soft children’s laughter, and waves crashing on shore. The perfect backdrop to a good read. A good pair of sunglasses would be needed.

When the weather is too stifling for any outdoor activities, then a quiet corner of the house or your local library can be the perfect spot to cool off and set off into a story.

So where is your favorite spot to read during these warm summer months?