Category Archives: Books

She Yearns For A Hug

Required reading in high school was always daunting.

My high school didn’t offer Creative Writing as an English class while I was there, which bothered me to no end. I gladly would have taken that class instead of AP English Language. I tested out of the remedial 101/102 classes when I headed off to college. I knew I would, so I felt absolutely no disappointment when I scored a two on both my AP English tests.

Out of the many books we were required to read, I enjoyed only a few. King Lear, Romeo & Juliet, Regeneration, All Quiet On The Western Front; these books I happily read. I barreled through The Great Gatsby even, but didn’t really enjoy it until choosing to read it again a decade later. Everything else, though, I don’t remember reading.

There was one book that stood out. I devoured every page and wanted the story to never finish. I cried, I smiled, I fell madly in love with the art of storytelling. The book shocked me, and it seemed to speak to me directly. I felt as though the author wrote this book specifically and solely for me.

I’m certain I was required to read this book twice in high school. Or, I was required once, and decided to reread it for an elective book for different class. Whatever the case, I happily read it again.

This is a book that I feel everyone who speaks English should read, even if English is not their native tongue. It’s a famous story, but often not fully understood. You can say the title and people immediately recognize it. But, that doesn’t mean they’ve read it. People usually think of the horror movies that take very loose liberty with the plot. To this day, especially now, I find myself having to describe the plot and talk about the incredibly obvious themes, and explain that, while entertaining, the cheesy B-List horror movies that people automatically think of are somewhat of a disgrace, as there is so much more oomph and depth and enlightenment to the actual story.

Can you guess what the book is yet? I’m sure some of you can. If you’ve taken any honors English classes in high school or are an English Literature major, well, duh. Of course you should be able to guess!

My copy from high school started to fall apart a long time ago. It kept me company when I went off to college the first time round. About six or seven years ago, I finally replaced my well worn copy. This new(er) copy remains present on my nightstand. Sometimes, it gets place on my bookshelf if I’m engrossed in other books. Whatever the case, it is within reach. I have periods in my life that seem heavier, darker, and more introspective. This is when I really yearn for this book. I always want to get lost in the story, hoping to find a different answer or clue. I know that whilst getting lost in the words, I’ll come through the experience renewed and hopeful. People have often questioned why. There isn’t a concrete explanation as to why. I just know that the themes of loss & yearning, motherhood (creation, compassion), consciousness, free will, and good v. evil speak volumes to my soul. You have a man playing God, and let’s be real, he’s not very successful. We have a champion, a hero in this story, and it’s certainly not the man playing God. At least, I don’t find him to be any kind of hero. I hope that those of you who’ve read this book agree with me, or can, at least, understand where I am coming from.

If you haven’t guessed the book by now, shame on you! No, I kid. You don’t have to know what it is.

The one book that I keep coming back to is Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. Holy hell, this book is phenomenal. It cranks my gears. It makes me happy. It inspires me to read and write and create. For me, Frankenstein is one of those stories that stands the test of time. It touches on humanity in such a way that, even in our tech savvy times, we can all pick a theme or three from it, and acknowledge them within ourselves.

Seriously, though, if you haven’t read it already, go read it as soon as possible. Take your time with it. Digest it. Let the words dance around your mind. Then, go give your loved ones a hug.

Second Time Around

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Our Favorite Books and Why We Love Them

There are some standard reads in here that everyone is recommended to read in high school honors English & college Literature classes. And, there are a couple others that I haven’t heard of. Good list!

The Daily Post

At Automattic, we have a plethora of book lovers. We love to read and we love to share. And today, we’re going to share books we’ve loved with you, in the hopes that you’ll return the favor and share your favorite books with us in the comments.

lorilooLori McLeese

The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion
Joan Didion allows us into her year after her husband, Gregory Dunne, died. I read this book once or twice a year, and it always brings tears, though I know the outcome. It’s not a romanticized love story, it’s a real love story, and it’s about those incredible, raw, numbing, forgetful moments you find yourself emerged in as grief washes over you.

My favorite passage:

Was it about faith or was it about grief?

Were faith and grief the same thing?

Were we unusually dependent on one another the summer we swam and…

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Required Reading from Journalism Professors

I would love to take these classes. Each seem truly enthralling and worth my time.

Longreads

Below, six syllabi from journalism professors on what you should be reading.

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1. Journalism 494: Pollner Seminar In Narrative Non-Fiction With Esquire’s Chris Jones (University of Montana)

“The purpose of this course is to teach students how to write publishable magazine-length narrative non-fiction: In other words, my aim is to help you learn how to write good, long, true stories. The course outline will mirror a typical writer’s progress through the birth of an idea to a finished, polished piece, including reporting, writing, editing, and fact-checking. In addition to classroom discussion, course readings will help students understand the difference between good and bad work. My hope is that by the end of the semester, you will have written the Best Story of Your Life So Far (BSOYLSF) and it will help you reach your future potential as an award-winning literary journalist.”

2. Journalism 141: Professional Problems and…

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Cultivating Joy

We are more than halfway through the year and the time has flown by. For the first six months, I barreled through a full time school scheduled and attempted to work 20-25 hours on top of that. I understand that there are people who work full time while going to school full time and are able to make that happen. For some reason, I can’t quite get that balance. I would love to be able to do that, but in the last few months, I seemed to sink back into an incredibly blue, lost place. I struggled to get out of bed every day. I found little joy in anything, even doing school work – something I had been enjoying thoroughly up until April.

A couple weeks ago, I became frustrated with myself for allowing myself to sink back into an uncomfortably comfortable depression. The frustration doesn’t help, it doesn’t solve any problem. So, in the last few days, a mild shift happened. Putting on jeans that felt fine now feel a bit too tight. My torso is rounder than usual, and that’s awful, because my torso is already too soft.

And, let’s be real: I simply don’t want to be unhealthy, mentally and physically. I need to be healthy.

I devised a plan. Every single day, I have to do something creative, I have to do something physical, and I absolutely have to be grateful for something. How will I accomplish that? Write somewhere what (or who) I am grateful for. If it is a person, I will tell them. And, if I have ten spare minutes, I have to write down exactly how I am feeling or have felt that day. Twice, if not three times, a week I will go to the gym, even if I get on the treadmill for just 20 minutes. Four or five times a week, I will pick up the weights I have sitting in my room and MOVE. Even if I just do steps back and forth with weights in my hand while I watch a movie, that’s still movement. Once or twice a week I will do one of the many doable workouts I found on YouTube. I will set up a reward system for every hour of school work I do each day. Another thing I need to do is write down everything I eat and drink. Mindful eating and consumption is a practice that is effective in my life. By being accountable for how I am treating my body, I will become happier with myself.

One thing I plan on doing that isn’t going to be a daily thing will be the upkeep of my blogs. Twice a week I will do a post at any three of my blogs. I will write about whatever book I have just read, new music I’ve been enjoying, exercise that is fun & effective, fun craft projects I’ve done, and many more.

With all of these simple things I am going to do, I am going to mark reminders on my wall calendar and I am going to set up reminders on my phone. If I don’t see or hear any reminders, I won’t stick to the plan. Right now, I am hopeful. The anxiety that was surging through my body earlier has subsided. I’m excited to go to the gym tomorrow before work. I can’t wait to finish my book this weekend.

What do you to keep yourself happy and excited about life? Please share!

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Reborn

Daily Post, January 2nd 2014:
When you look back at your blog on January 2, 2015, what would you like to see?

There has been a lot of talk about writing more. In the last few years, I have gotten frustrated with myself because the writing seems to come to a complete halt for a few months at a time. I’d give up, move on to something a little more shiny, then forget I was even writing in the first place.

What happens when I don’t write regularly? I get antsy, frenetic, and combustible. Can a frenetic being be combustible? Am I being redundant? That’s what happens when I don’t write. I lose my focus and forget what words mean. That is very serious.

By January 2nd, 2015, I hope to have a combination of 156 blog posts. That means each blog of mine needs to be posted in once a week. Guess what? I’ve challenged myself to write a blog post every single day of January. I never promised I’d write a post in every blog every day of January. Ninety-three posts? Yikes. No thank you! With the 156 posts, I am allowing myself to not beat myself up if I miss a week.

Apart from frequency, I hope to see more viewership and subscribers. But, I think that goes for most bloggers. Many of us are writing to have our voices heard. Some readers might not like what we have to say and that is allowed. Humanity would be really boring if we all felt and thought exactly the same way. To boost viewership, I think I am going to start YouTubing. Depending on the response I get, I may do one vlog a month. If I manage to entertain enough people, I may vlog once a week later in the year.

Lastly, I am going to actually start writing about concerts I go to, books a read, and movies I have enjoyed seeing. That was the original purpose of my blogging, so why not get down to business? And, I plan on actually having some vacation time this year. I deserve it. I have been working hard at school while trying to not let work in a retail environment get me too wired. I want to be able to sit outside and look out at a lake or the ocean with a cup of tea, a book, and a pen & some paper. I would love to be still for awhile… Still…

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Goals!

In a previous post, I discussed doing a feminist reading challenge. Please check out the post to get a better idea of what I’m talking about.

So, guess what? I failed to complete it. I didn’t even pick up one book off the list. Sure, I decided to start the challenge in August just before embarking on a full course load for my paralegal program.

Anyway. I’ve decided to transfer the challenge over to 2014 and add a few books to the list. I shall challenge myself to read 10-12 feminist themed books.

The books I hope to read (or reread) are:
1. The Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood
2. The Diary of a Young Girl, Anne Frank
3. Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins
4. Catching Fire, Suzanne Collins
5. Mockingjay, Suzanne Collins
6. How To Be A Woman, Caitlin Moran
7. The Bell Jar, Sylvia Plath
8. Alanna: The First Adventure, Tamora Pierce
9. How The Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents, Julia Alvarez
10. Wide Sargasso Sea, Jean Rhys
11. Fear of Flying, Erica Jong
12. Bastard Out Of Carolina, Dorothy Allison

So, there you go. There is my list. Luckily, I own most of these books, so I don’t have an excuse to not read them. And, I officially have 13 months to get them read. Between quarters I’ll devote time to reading for pleasure. And, while school is in session, I’ll reach for a book instead of Netflix as a treat for finishing school work. My brain needs exercise, right??

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Small Business Bookshop

During my childhood, my goal in life was to be a writer and own a small bookstore that sold used books and independently published books and magazines (that were forward thinking and world peace positive). At 31, I still have that dream. But, in the technological, economically rough time we are living in, I understand how difficult and unlikely that dream is. During my teens and early twenties, I wanted the bookstore to also be a cafe & meeting place for students, radicals, progressives, anarchists, and all people non-mainstream. I wanted a place for people to feel safe, have a coffee, and somewhere comfortable to sit with a book to read or a conversation to be had. In Menlo Park, Kepler’s was the place to be. It started as a counter-culture meeting place a couple decades before I was born and became the intelligent, independent, book selling hub of the Peninsula (with Berkeley a 45 minute drive away). While I went to college in Washington State, Auntie’s Bookstore in Spokane was the only real option I had for finding solace in my dream. And, I sadly only went in two or three times during the three years I was up there.

Lately, I’ve been itching to move. There’s a part of me that wants to move back to Cheney/Spokane and get some final closure. I left so abruptly when I actually did leave ten years ago. I want to go back to EWU, finish my degree, and start the ball rolling on some sort of progressive, positive hub/hive/social network that I feel that part of the state desperately needs.

But, with Auntie’s as the mainstay and iconic indie place of Spokane, I know my idea of an independent Salon/Bookstore/Cafe wouldn’t stand up to Auntie’s. There is no need for an identical business that is part of a dwindling business circle. But, what if I opened a Salon/Cafe? What if people would leave a book they’ve read and took a book they want to read? What if independent writers came and lead a Salon a couple times a month? What if…??

I’m partially on the way to fulfilling my dream. I’m actively doing part of my dream by writing this post. And, I’m cultivating the ambition to figure out a way to have my goals come to life.

I guess what I’m trying to say is HELP. If anyone out there want to join in on my fantastically fun goal of creating a Salon type Cafe in Eastern Washington, please, jump on the bandwagon. Let’s get this going.

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2013 Feminist Reads Challenge

While browsing through nerdy, book lover blogs, I came across an interesting post. The Hiding Spot is doing a Feminist Reads Challenge, something I am always eager to participate in. The challenge requires that the books feature a strong female lead character, positive support for the female gender, and a basic (or intensive) support of feminism as a whole. There are three challenge levels: easy (5 books), medium (5-10 books), and hard (10+ books). As we are now in August, I will feel most comfortable going the easy route. If I weren’t back at school, I’d go medium!

The books I hope to read (or reread) are:
1. The Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood
2. The Diary of a Young Girl, Anne Frank
3. Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins
4. How To Be A Woman, Caitlin Moran
5. The Bell Jar, Sylvia Plath
(and bonus books, just in case)
6. Alanna: The First Adventure, Tamora Pierce
7. How The Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents, Julia Alvarez

I’ll update my Books To Read 2013 list to include these. In fact, I think I have to rework the choices on my list! School is a priority, however, I have six weeks off school before Fall Quarter starts. Hopefully, I can read a book per week.

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Treadwell’s Bookshop

Magic! Books! Love! London! What isn’t to love?

The Matilda Project

treadwells-store-st-resizeTreadwell’s Bookshop, 33 Store Street, London, WC1E 7BS

Even before you step into the front door of Treadwell’s books, you know something wonderful is about to happen.  The books on display on the small shelf outside and those in the inviting window display immediately tell you that it’s not an ordinary bookshop.  Their focus on folklore and fairy tales, magic, voodoo and the occult immediately catches the eye.

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I’ve been in this shop a few times in the past couple of months after a devoted fan recommended it to me and it has become a favourite of mine.  So much so that it gets my back up a bit to hear people dismissively refer to it as ‘oh, the witchcraft bookshop…’  Yes, the shop is dedicated to books about ‘esotericism, anthropology, religion and spirituality’ so in a way, it is London’s prime occult bookshop.  But it’s also so much more. …

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This is a must read for young girls, especially when they are experiencing major physical changes. I remember loving the series as a young girl, and I hope to share it with my daughter(s) and students (if I become a teacher).

Blogging for a Good Book

Tamora Pierce is an award-winning and bestselling fantasy author of young adult literature.  She has written stand alone books and short stories as well as multiple series.  Her first young adult novel, published in 1983, was Alanna, the First Adventure.

This story opens with Alanna and her twin brother Thom unhappy about their father’s decision to send them away for school.  It’s not that they don’t want to leave home and have new experiences, it’s that they wish their father would consider what they want to do.

Alanna doesn’t want to go to a convent and learn all the boring necessities of being a lady.  She wants to be a knight, a warrior maiden.  And Thom really doesn’t enjoy sword fighting and battle strategy, he’d rather be a great sorcerer.

The two decide to take their fates into their own hands and switch places.  With the help of two…

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