A former reading whore discovers books again

The seventh Harry Potter book came out and I spent the day in the hammock at our then-campsite. It took me ten hours to read it in its entirety. A week later, I read it again.

In a time before I had a cellphone and my own personal computer(s), I read. A lot. I had a designated book backpack that I wore while riding my blue Huffy to the library. I read through many a Boxcar Children and Goosebumps. When teen fiction became relevant, I coasted through novels by Ann Brashares and Phyllis Reynolds Naylor. Lurlene McDaniel was another favorite, as was Laura Ingalls Wilder. I accrued library late fees, but either managed to pay them off or just avoided the library for awhile. The fish obviously weren’t biting on days I only brought home three books to read.

I won an award for reading the most books during sixth grade (52), but that part of me died when college classes began. I can tell you –– thanks to my Shelfari page –– I’ve only read 27 books in the three years I’ve been a metaphorical slave to schoolwork and story writing.

Now I’m trying to reignite my intense appreciation for books.

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Since Christmas, I’ve read seven: “A Prayer for Owen Meany,” “Divergent,” “It’s Kind of a Funny Story,” “The Thank You Economy,” “Cartwheel,” “Thirteen Reasons Why” and “The Fault in our Stars.”

I’d like to read more.

My parents rarely said “No” when I shoved a book in their faces as a kid and asked them if they would buy it. Now I’ve applied the same rule to myself. If I want to read it, I’m going to order it on Amazon (I apologize to those lovely small, independent bookstores out there).

Last month, I ordered “The Fault In Our Stars” by John Green, “The Color Purple” by Alice Walker and “The Blind Assassin” by Margaret Atwood. When I saw my professor’s newly published –– and first! –– novel in the school bookstore, I picked it up and purchased it without a second thought.

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Check out “Mapping Utah” in the middle there by Denny Wilkins. He’s been a huge influence on me in terms of personal and professional growth. Gosh that sounds fancy.

While Green’s novel did make me tear up, I think I’ve grown out of teen fiction. I obviously couldn’t relate to Hazel’s situation (though he did make it seem real) or her thoughts on dating and, well, boys. I’m past those awkward teenage years and don’t really care to relive them.

I’ve nearly finished Walker’s book full of characters who have positively sucked me in to their stories. I really liked the female protagonist in “The Handmaid’s Tale” by Atwood when I read it for my post-apocalyptic literature course, so I’m sure I’ll have no trouble with “The Blind Assassin.” It came from a recommendation made by the comedian Rob Delaney:

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People think I’m crazy when I say I don’t have time to watch TV. I’d rather pick up a book and continue from my bookmarked spot than try to follow the excessive cumulative shows on the tube.

Back to pre-teen summer days

Did I mention that I’m falling in love with the area?

I can’t wait to buy a knapsack, fill it with my camera(s), phone, poetry journal and a book or two and spend the day on my bike.

It’s the first time in my life that I’ve been able to set out on my bike and actually get somewhere. The “booming” downtown area is about three miles away from where I grew up and my Huffy and I didn’t always want to brave the hills. Heading downtown is easy; it’s coming back up the hill near the prison that burns.

I opted for the local library, instead. With my little black knapsack on my back, I used to cruise down Richardson Hill, ride up Ames Hill and latch my bike onto the rack in front of the local library. Then, laden with books, I’d cruise down Ames and inch up Richardson, little by little. While I’d be breathless at the top, at least I had the day’s catch on my back, ready to be devoured.

Exploring this area reminds me of those carefree, independent summer days during my pre-teens. I seem to have broken the need to constantly require companionship. Sometimes I’d just rather be alone and have adventures on my own.

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A corporation-cluttered culture

I found a copy of Love The One You’re With by Emily Giffin in a used book shop my friend took me to yesterday. It’s been on my Shelfari page in the “I plan to read” section since my sophomore year of high school. Naturally, the $3.50 price tag said “BUY ME.” 

“That’ll be $2,” the shop owner told me at the counter.

Our corporation-cluttered world has forgotten this authenticity.

I can’t remember the last time something this nice and unexpected happened to me at the cash register in a store. The owner even chatted with us for awhile and talked about the novel he is currently working on. Cashiers at large corporations don’t have nearly as much personality or appreciation for customers.

I try to support small businesses as much as I can. I got my hair cut at a little barber shop in town on Friday instead of stopping at the new Supercuts in the plaza half a mile away. 

The owner of the book shop didn’t care about making a huge profit on my purchase. He opened the shop because he obviously has an intense love for books. 

That makes me want to go back there again and again.

Constantly laughing-out-loud

I’m on chapter two, now. The more I read, the more I fall for this book. We’ve been spending a lot of time together lately and I find myself smiling and laughing constantly. The shelf where he resides is so close by and perfect; I still cannot believe that I never knew this before. We walk and meet each other every time we hang out (and by now, reader, you know that I am done using the book metaphor and am speaking of a special boy).

We watched Paranormal Activity almost a week ago. It wasn’t even scary. The part where she gets dragged out of bed by the “thing” made us laugh-out-loud. There were some creepy spots, but he warned me before they arrived by squeezing my hand. We watched The Eye two days ago, and again, it wasn’t scary. Scary movies suddenly aren’t scary to me anymore. At least, not when he’s around. He makes every day that I live brighter, and that’s what I’ve been looking for.

I can’t stop gushing about this boy. As I read on, I’m sure that more parts on pages will be dog-eared and highlighted and noted for future reference. I can’t wait to keep reading.

This coming week halts our adventures, but as soon as I get back from Disney, we will resume and I will pick up the book and start reading again. I don’t want to Disney to be over, but at least there’s something I can look forward afterward so as to not make the ride home a letdown.

My friend Gemma Doyle

You know what? Forget Twilight. Forget New Moon. Forget Eclipse. And FORGET Breaking Dawn.

Take those books off of your bookshelf and shove them in the nearest trash can. (Sure, I enjoyed them a little, but not as much as I thought I would.)

Now, go to the nearest Barnes & Noble or Borders and pick up copies of the Gemma Doyle trilogy. Place said trilogy on your shelf where Twilight used to take up space, and take them down one by one to devour them. Join red-headed Gemma in her travels, her curiosity, her love and her troubles. Erase Bella Swan and Edward Cullen from your mind and replace them with Gemma and Kartik. Befriend Ann, Felicity and Pippa and travel with the three of them to the realms to frolick in the garden or take a ride with Gorgon. Find out who Circe is, find out who your friends are, and who your enemies are. Ignore the Rakshana’s requests and continue employing your magic.

I finished The Sweet Far Thing last night, and was struck in awe (well, awestruck). It wasn’t the ending I was hoping for, but strangely, it fit nicely. Libba Bray is far more talented and descriptive than Stephenie Meyer is in Twilight and the other novels. C’mon! Who doesn’t love an author who puts “She has never lived in the Victorian era, is not British, and has no superpowers, though if she did they would involve being able to eat her weight in Swedish fish without feeling the urgent need to shave her tongue afterward” in the ABOUT THE AUTHOR section? Bray’s ideas are fresh and original. If you do not love her, you must be mad.

Anyway, have someone pry Twilight out of your hands and read and remember A Great and Terrible Beauty, Rebel Angels, and The Sweet Far Thing. Instead of viewing that ghastly Twilight movie, read! I get angry if somebody compares Twilight to Harry Potter, but if one were to compare Gemma Doyle to Harry Potter, I actually would not mind. Nothing will ever beat HP, but I believe that Gemma comes pretty close.

Goodbye, relaxation

You know what? Forget the play progress crap. It’s not like any of you even care. Well, for those who do (which I doubt) just know that I am almost done with three pages and finally getting to the juicy part of the whole play. It’s due on Wednesday. Can I do it? I procrastinate handing things in. Don’t ask why; you won’t like my reason, though I enjoy it very much.

I don’t want to go back to school. Today was the last day of Christmas break. The thrill and joy of Christmas is over, my gifts have been moved into my bedroom, Christmas music is no longer playing on the radio stations (though I cannot say I miss that very much), and it’s time to go back to the books. Umm, no thank you. I liked being stress-free this week. I sat at  my computer this week and wrote my play. I have gotten so used to doing that that I can’t see how any other way of life could be possible. This week I did what I want to do in the future: I sat around and wrote. Now tomorrow I must endure pointless classes that I probably will not use later in life.

So though I enjoyed this past week, I know that I have to return to Hell. Goodbye, relaxation.

Devouring books, one at a time

What started out simply as a goal to stock up my bookshelf on Shelfari grew and grew. I constantly made trips to the library after finishing a big stack of books my mother purchased for me. My goal was to reach thirty. Well guess what? I DID IT!

Books devoured this summer of 2008:

  1. Chicks With Sticks (Knit Two Together) by Elizabeth Lenhard (244 pages)
  2. Peeled by Joan Bauer (247 pages)
  3. How To Be Popular by Meg Cabot (288 pages)
  4. Pretty Face by Mary Hogan (213)
  5. Airhead by Meg Cabot (337 pages)
  6. Skin by Adrienne Maria Vrettos (227 pages)
  7. Forever by Judy Blume (192 pages)
  8. The Boyfriend List by e. lockhart (229 pages)
  9. Gender Blender by Blake Nelson (182 pages)
  10. A Brief Chapter In My Impossible Life by Dana Reinhardt (228 pages)
  11. Twisted by Laurie Halse Anderson (250 pages)
  12. The Wedding by Nicholas Sparks (263 pages)
  13. At First Sight by Nicholas Sparks (277 pages)
  14. The Burn Journals by Brent Runyon (374 pages)
  15. The Man of My Dreams by Curtis Sittenfeld (269 pages)
  16. Dangerously Alice by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor (304 pages)
  17. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger (214 pages)
  18. Smart Boys & Fast Girls by Stephie Davis (178 pages)
  19. Boomsday by Christopher Buckley (318 pages)
  20. Something To Blog About by Shana Norris (246 pages)
  21. Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer (754 pages)
  22. Homecoming by Cynthia Voigt (402 pages)
  23. Briana’s Gift by Lurlene McDaniel (160 pages)
  24. Prom by Laurie Halse Anderson (215 pages)
  25. This Boy’s Life by Tobias Wolff (304 pages)
  26. Reach For Tomorrow by Lurlene McDaniel (171 pages)
  27. The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen (374 pages)
  28. Hit and Run by Lurlene McDaniel (180 pages)
  29. The Missing Girl by Norma Fox Mazer (284 pages)
  30. Fly On The Wall by e. lockhart (192 pages)

There we have it. My reading frenzy began in June and did not end until last night. I feel so accomplished now that I know that I can read thirty books in such a short amount of time. My favorite out out of all these was definitely The Catcher in the Rye.

I have read 8,116 pages this summer… And I enjoyed every single one.

Fast approaching

There are fiery orange leaves scattered on our driveway and front lawn. The air has suddenly grown cooler, and our pool is “too cold” to swim in. My neighbor’s blueberries are beginning to ripen, a delicious result that is usually reached by late August. Yes, summer is inching its way towards the finish line.

It seems like just yesterday that my two brothers came home from college and dumped their belongings in our garage. “Excuse the mess, it’s Trevor and Jordan’s college supplies,” the excuse I used when I led my friends through our messy garage is no longer usable. Today, we dumped Trevor off at SUNY Fredonia, and helped my eldest brother Jordan move into his new townhouse at St. Bonaventure University where he will begin his senior year of college. Yet another sign that summer is dwindling.

Tomorrow begins my 2008 Cross Country season. Tomorrow morning at approximately eight o’clock, I will roll out of bed in order to get ready and be at the school by nine o’clock. No, I don’t take a million years to get ready like most girls out there do, I just need some time to actually get going on eating breakfast and waking up. Usually I just lay and listen to my iPod for half an hour, and then glance at the clock only to find that I needed to be out of bed thirty minutes earlier.

In previous years, I have dreaded the start of Cross Country. I definitely prefer Track, but I have a feeling that this year is going to be my year. I am planning on using practices and meets for letting out stress instead of creating more. I will have a hectic schedule once school starts on September third, and I am going to have to learn to balance all of my activities. Once school begins, I will be waking up at 5:30, getting to school by 7:30, getting let out of school at 2:07, proceeding on to Cross Country practice from 2:30 to 4:30, and then going home for an hour to prepare for getting back down to the school by six o’clock for musical rehearsal. Last year I handled it, but this year I feel like I am more prepared for it. I am still in great shape from Track last June (I have not stopped running), so I will not be sore from CC practices. Schoolwork will probably be the most challenging for I know that there will be more coming my way, along with writing weekly articles for NeXt.

Yes, summer is reaching the end. Yesterday summer began, and tomorrow it is over. It has been a nice two months of doing absolutely nothing other than running every few days and attending a theater workshop for a week. I have enjoyed discovering the wonders of having a bicycle and with it, the ability to go anywhere I want. I have visited the local library on numerous occasions and have devoured over twenty books so far this vacation. My summer reading book for Honors English has yet to be read, but I know that I will not have any problems getting into it once I get my hands on a copy. Though the fiery leaves that have scattered over my lawn make me angry, I am also accepting and looking forward to the upcoming change. Once school starts I won’t ever have a chance to be bored. For these next two weeks, I am going to be enjoying the feeling of having nothing to do.

They Say

Many books that I have read portray people that are known widely to be “popular.” Everyone in these books knows who the popular people are, and they desire to be just like them. A path is cleared for these kings and queens, and the ground kissed after their feet have deserted it. Supposedly every High School has its own popularity scale. The less popular you are, the more likely you are to be unsuccessful in life beyond the hell that is High School. Well, the authors of these books must not know about my little High School that is nestled between the hills.

At my school, popularity is a joke – or at least – I think that it is. Honestly, the “popular” people are only popular to themselves. They all think that they are on top of the world just because they wear nothing but Abercrombie & Fitch and Hollister. Now, I do not know about you, but I choose NOT to wear the crap that is name-brand clothing. No, instead I shop at less-popular stores and pick out whatever the heck I like without worrying about meeting the approval of others.

You are only popular if you wear the right clothing. One day (as a joke, I assure you) I went to a friend’s house before school and she dressed me up in the most heinously name-brand outfit. A white Abercrombie & Fitch miniskirt, a pale blue A&F lacey tank top, and a white skin-tight A&F hoodie. Every piece of clothing I was wearing was branded with a moose – the symbol of “popularity.” You would have thought that I was wearing some kind of ridiculous costume of some kind that was the source to the many stares I received that day. I tested my hypothesis, and my educated guess was proven as a fact.

My friends and I make fun of the little girls that we see entering Hollister and American Eagle for we know that they are looking for the approval of others by shopping there. The secret to fitting in and living large during your four long years of High School is about to be revealed: spend all of your money on ridiculously priced see-through shirts and forty dollar flip flops. I guarantee that you will fit in. Or, you could be like me and my friends. Wear whatever the heck you like and do not give a crap about what other people think of you. The authors of many of the books I have read these days (for example: The Clique series by Lisi Harrison) make it seem like you are not cool if you do not wear what everyone else does. Honestly, just be yourself. And if being yourself coincides with being one of those name-brand clones, so be it. You may think that you are being yourself, but my friends and I will think that you are just trying to be like everyone else.