There's been a lot of work in my life as of late. I even went to the Midwest for a conference and experienced what Milwaukee had to offer. Travel, and the subsequent lack of sleep, require a great deal of recovery for me. Though I was surrounded by fellow high-functioning introverts at the marketing conference, being "on" for ten to twelve hours a day is taxing. And then the work that you come back to... oh the work!
Needless to say, there haven't been any projects tackled lately. There's only been much in the way of rest and the way of reading. I figured now was a perfect time to share what I've been enjoying so you can fill up your e-reader, visit your local bookstore, or the one closest to my heart, your local library. The links provided are Amazon affiliate links. Don't feel like you have to use them, but if you're so inclined, I thank you in advance for helping to support my comic book habit.
I'm on Jane Yolen's New Poem a Day email list and am obsessed! Here's a wonderful collection of her magical poetry.
Loved, loved, loved this beautifully written, complex take on the Snow White story.
Such a fantastic read! Nicola Griffith made seventh-century Britain come alive, and I want more stories of Hild. I can't wait for her next installment.
Ummm... my favorite childhood film, my obsession with the Goblin King, my love of all things magical finally laid out in book form? Yes please!
My favorite author's work illustrated by one of my favorite modern artists. Need I say more? I will. They're beautiful in every way.
Haunting and gorgeous, even if you don't usually go for graphic novels, go for this.
The summer of my seventh year, our babysitter took us to the library. She led us through the high-pitch squeal of the sensor-protected front doors and deposited me in the fairy tale section in the children’s area. I was surrounded by colorful spines, the smell of musty well-worn paper, and magic. That fateful summer afternoon took me on the journey of my lifetime. I had discovered my first love – the stories contained in books – and realized that someday, I wanted to write fanciful tomes of my own. And libraries – well, libraries became my refuge and my home.
In junior high, I volunteered in the school’s library, returning books, freshly checked-in, to their places on the shelves. At the beginning of each shift, I would pull each and every book out to the edge of the shelf, giving the whole room a wondrous uniformity. It was in this library that I first witnessed – and was a part of – the modernization of the catalog world as I meticulously entered each card into a computer database and allowed the librarian’s world to become more mechanized.
In college, I would reaffirm my gratitude to the library by volunteering each week at the Arcata branch of the Humboldt County Library. Under the tutelage of Maggie, the head librarian, I sorted and shelved books, checked them in, stamped due-date cards as I dreamed of my own soon-to-be-written stories – I even helped keep the community room and restrooms sparkling – anything that aided in keeping the library open. Plus, I was given the privilege of being the Children’s Story Time reader when Maggie wasn’t available, introducing new generations to the alchemy of words and developing a handy knack of being able to read pages upside down.
My most recent incarnation of library volunteer is as a board member for the Nevada County Friends of the Library. I’ll be assembling the newsletter and maintaining and growing its social media presence. It’s good to be giving back to this bewitching realm once again.
Libraries started me on the path that I continue on to this day, and I’ll be forever in debt to those book-lined shelves, dedicated librarians, and the pulsing enchantment that resides within each and every place that allows anyone to seek a story for free. All you need is a small card, which much like the TARDIS is bigger on the inside, and is full of the potential of every human mind that has – and will exist.
Anyone who's been reading my blog for a while knows about my passion for books. I love them. I obsessively collect them. I'm incredibly unhappy if I don't have enough time to read them. And so I dedicate spaces within the house to worshiping them.
Our most recent reading nook came about one day while I sat on the couch and contemplated our living room space. I realized the area would be better served with a chair in the corner which could be used for conversation but more importantly, getting lost within a tale. It may have existed as only a concept for quite a while longer if it hadn't have been for the dry rot repair, new sheet rock, and new slider that we had to do this year. Since we had to do all of that mucky stuff anyway, I might as well make a pretty space, right? This is reading nook number three within our thousand square feet home. Do you think we have enough yet for the two people who dwell here? Maybe one more... Oh, and don't mind that side table. It's a place holder -- unless we decide we really like the plant stand/glass plate action, then it will stay. Not really, but for now, it works for holding a mug of tea and things like, oh I don't know... books.
When I was in the third grade, I was obsessed with a book about a little boy that was able to see the shadows of all of the people that had ever been in a garden. He could see them because he splashed water from a special fountain in his eyes.
My teacher had the book on her shelf, and I would check it out from her over and over again. Toward the end of the year, the teachers decided to have a contest for the students, then a drawing, and get rid some of their classroom inventory at the same time. One of the prizes was the book that I loved so much!
I won one of the competitions, it was probably for spelling, and got my name put in a hat. And then I sat, the excitement and fear growing the longer it took for my name to be drawn. I kept my eye on the book the whole time.
Half way through, the teachers decided to consolidate items that were still there, and they put the book, my longed-for prize, on the other end of the room. For most kids, that wouldn't have been a problem, but for me, it was devastating. I'm painfully shy. As I've gotten older, I've learned how to deal with it better, but back then, being the center of attention was the most frightening thing imaginable. Hell, who am I fooling? It's still the most frightening thing imaginable. When we'd play BINGO for rainy day recess, even when I got BINGO first, I wouldn't yell it. I would rather stay silent and stay out of the focus of all of those eyes. Then, finally, my name was drawn from the hat. I could still get my book! But it was on the other side of the room. I couldn't get beyond the feeling of dread. I stood up, and as my eyes clouded with tears, I took the prize closest to me and sat back down.
As the years went by, occasionally I'd be reminded of that book. The title slipped away, but the feeling of missing it remained. After the title left me, the story began to evaporate as well, but still, I retained that sense of loss, that regret over a missed opportunity. It was all because of my terror of being the center of attention. Then a couple of weeks ago, I was reading an article about children's fantasy books and was reminded of that long-desired book. I Googled the only things I could remember, "fountain" and "statue" and "shadow," and there, not many lines down, was "The Shades" by Betty Brock. That was it! Used copies were on sale at Amazon! At long last, thanks to the internet, I was able to attain my book. I finally won the prize.
I love so many parts of the year, all of them in fact, for different reasons and different moods. They're always the most glorious when they are happening, no matter which they are, because of the sparkle in the air or the smell hovering around or because of a feeling that can't quite be explained. Still, I have some favorites, and the false spring at the end of January is one of them.
It was this time of the year, you see, when I was in the seventh grade, that I first read The Lord of the Rings. That was the experience that changed my life, the way I wanted to write, and taught me that the world of storytelling got even more rich, beyond the realms of the Blue and Brown Fairy Books.
False spring is also when I feel a quickening and anticipation for the future. It's when my biggest nesting impulses come to the fore. Last year, there were so many other things that I needed to focus on, I buried those impulses.
This year, I'm embracing them and making changes throughout the house. So far, I've brought in two cowhide rugs, and I love them. Their organic shapes play off of the squareness of our house and slate tiles, softening the feel of the space. We also found a lovely dresser on Craigslist for $75 that fits perfectly in the space I had planned for it. I used Morgan's tutorial, as I do with all of my new/old pieces, to bring it back to its former glory. And I still have so many plans! There are so many exciting things to accomplish this year. This is just the beginning. Spring hasn't even started yet, after all, just its promise.
Work continues at the Concord House. Bob the handyman has been diligently updating the 1960s house that had been sporting the same interior since it was built. The kitchen is waiting on new counter tops, and the carpet still needs to be pulled up in most of the house. We are starting to see a light at the end of the tunnel. My Charles spent the whole weekend down there, striving to finish cleaning out the garage and the backyard. He probably won't finish it all, but after today, someone will stop by to pick up the rest and truck it away.
It's been a pretty long journey. We've tried to stay positive, but we're ready to spend weekends together again, taking time off when we need it, working on the house when we need to do that.
Speaking of working on the house, I stayed home this weekend and bleached the bathroom and painted. I painted all the way through Tina Fey's "Bossypants" today and still need to do more. I opted to use a primer/paint combo that I had never tried, and three coats later, I'm not done. At least the bathroom is mildew free and is beginning to look brighter with its white paint. I've never had to paint quite so much in such a small space, and the fact that I'm not done (and need a new audiobook) is a bit frustrating. Thank goodness Tina Fey helped make the day fly by, but what should I listen to now?
Cicero said, "A room without books is like a body without a soul." It's a quote I've always responded to, as I don't feel comfortable in rooms without books. Reading as many design blogs and shelter mags as I do, I've noticed that there aren't as many rooms out there with books. They're not a large part of current design trends.
In fact, paper books aren't a current trend at all, as Amazon recently reported that Kindle book sales have surpassed hardcover and paperback books combined. Logically, I know that what matters is the creation itself, but emotionally, even spiritually, I need real books. I love the smell, the way they feel, my eye resting upon shelves of them as I hang out in my home.
I respond to the tactile realness of paper books. One of my first retail jobs was as a clerk in a bookstore. We used to get the stripped books that didn't sell. I gloried in the idea of all of that knowledge and creativity at my fingertips for free, but I never read them. The lack of the front cover threw off my enjoyment of the story itself. I love to run my fingers up and down the spine as I read, curling the cover of a paperback slightly or resting a hardcover on my knee. The story doesn't speak to me unless I hold a complete book, and like Cicero, I feel a room is a flat, dead thing without the souls of multiple books within it.
A blog about writing, art, projects, or whatever else tickles my fancy.