the evil mr. kindle

Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart. 
~William Wordsworth~

I am a simple gal.  Hence, I believe from the depths of my soul that there are some things in life upon which we should not attempt to improve. 

For example, books.  Books are satisfying in and of themselves.  They just have to ‘be’ and they’re fulfilling. Books have existed for centuries just fine thankyouverramuch without the necessity of a major overhaul. 

So.

I would love to write to the person who invented the Kindle or the Nook or any other electronic device with which one would bypass the pleasures of good old-fashioned paper and glue.  I’d simply ask him ‘Why?!’  What possessed you?  Why all the hate?

WHAT DID BOOKS EVER DO TO YOU?

And dadgum it, I’d write that letter on paper.  Real paper. I wouldn’t even send him an electronic email.  Maybe with his paper phobia, he also has an aversion to stationery.

TAKE THAT, BOOK WRECKER.

In fairness, being a lifelong book connoisseur, I totally get the initial appeal of a Kindle. It’s sleek, it’s compact, and it can hold a treasure trove of literature.  Books can be downloaded in minutes.  Wherever you have Internet connectivity, whatever the time of day, books are yours for the taking.

And a credit card number.

Ooooh.  Ahhhh.

VERY SEXY.

However. I have implicitly and repeatedly beseeched my husband and sons to not, for even one moment of their valuable lives, consider gifting me with the Kindle Beast this Christmas.  I am not the least bit tempted by the seduction.

Please give me a moment while I go hug all my Real Books.

WHEW.

We all feel a little better now, don’t we?

I find reading to be pleasurable on a myriad of levels. Outside of the pure joy of being completely immersed in a really good storyline, there is something vital about the tangible feel of paper, the smell of fresh ink in a new book. And yes, for the record, I do sniff books when I open them. Each and every one I buy.  And old books, why those especially wind me up with their comforting aroma of mustiness. 

OH QUIRKY ME.

I love big glossy photos in magazines.  Not that my house will ever resemble anything even remotely akin to Martha Stewart’s ‘Living’. Sometimes it’s just healthy to pretend. I savor the abbreviated snippets of articles wherein it’s necessary to shuffle forward 62 pages to find out the Rest of the Story.  A new-fangled, fun way to read.  Half here, half there.

WAY CLEVER.

And there is an honest sense of inner peace when I turn the tissue-thin pages of my Bible and hear the whispery-soft crinkle of the paper in the stillness of the early morning.

SIGH.

So.

For all the Kindle and Nook Lovers of the World, please remember the roots of your book obsession.  Was it merely the words or was there more?

Dig deep, ponder thoughtfully.

THERE WILL BE A QUIZ AT THE END OF THIS BLOG.

The deal clincher for me was the day I walked into Barnes & Noble, past the Nook counter.  On this particular day, a very distraught woman was being told that not only had her Nook painfully and unexpectedly expired, it also took a few hundred dollars worth of irretrievable books with it to the grave.

And me?  Well. I walked over to the ‘Newly-Released Best Sellers’ shelf picked up a hardcover book … and inhaled deeply.

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eat pray love read

I crossed the street to walk in the sunshine.   ~Elizabeth Gilbert – Eat Pray Love~

I will begin this blog by sharing with y’all that I have not seen the newly-released movie, ‘Eat Pray Love’. I will further expostulate that you shouldn’t either. Well. At least until you’ve read the book and can make an edu-macated decision on whether it might behoove you to do so.

I say this without reservation: I just can’t imagine how they could possibly make a movie as pleasurable as the book.

I CAN’T. THEY CAN’T.

And I believe this with all that I am.

PERIOD. AMEN.

I picked up ‘Eat Pray Love’ at least a dozen times over the past few years. At Barnes & Noble. Borders. Target. I even picked it up once at Kroger while waiting on the Deli Meat Mutilator to finish hacking up my turkey breast.

The book was first published in February 2006. Apparently, I have more Decision-Making Issues than I originally surmised.

Flash forward four plus years and I’ve finally taken the ever-so-calculated leap. I’ve purchased the book. And. As my fellow bookies can whole-heartedly attest, buying a book is the Full Commitment. There is no going back. You’ve spent the cabbage. It’s now up to you to devour every word, every page, every chapter.

 BABY, HE’S YOURS.

And if you should happen to meander through the first few chapters of said book and he begins to look a smidge homely, or the mere sound of his voice begins to make you wish you had rope long enough and strong enough to hang yourself, or you’re finding Mr. Book more than a bit boring, nonsensical, or even downright repugnant, you can’t break up with him.

BECAUSE YOU’VE SPENT THE MONEY.

Or in my case, I just don’t like things left undone. I just can’t do it. I bought it, I must read it. To the very last painfully, dreadful word.

YES, IT SOUNDS LIKE A PERSONAL ISSUE.

However.

This explains why I heart libraries. It is only within the four anonymous walls of a library that I feel liberated enough to drop the book back into the night slot, half unread.

IT’S NOT YOU. IT’S ME. I’M SORRY.

Okay, folks, I’ll now take you back to the program currently in progress …
where was I?

So.

I am a bit beyond halfway in ‘Eat Pray Love’. The book. And I am even more adamant than ever that I have no desire to see the movie. The trailers and subsequent early reviews of the movie tell me that the premise of the movie (apparently only loosely based on the book in that the character is female, blonde, and 30-something) is about a recently-divorced woman who decides to travel the world, eat herself silly, and jump atop foreign men in a quest to find herself.

 PLEASE. YOU’RE RUINING IT FOR ME.

And I shall insert the disclaimer here that perhaps the movie is actually better than the trailers and reviews suggest. I haven’t seen it.

Please refer to paragraph one above.

And since I won’t see the movie and will have no true comparison betwixt the two, I could just be talking off the top of my head. Shan’t be the first time. Talking about things I know nothing about is actually one of my favorite hobbies.

But.

I will speak to what I do know.

What I enjoy so much about the book cannot possibly be translated to the screen. In the book, Elizabeth Gilbert speaks only briefly about her ex-husband, focusing far more on her journey of self-exploration as she spends a year living abroad in Italy, India, and Indonesia. She writes of searching for meaning and purpose in her life. I settle in oh-so comfortably with her authenticity, her ability to delve into herself and her faults without coming across whiney or pathetic. I take delight in the fact that she’s comfortable in her own skin, even when her skin is too tight. Or too loose. And that she is continually seeking.

Her writing is humorous. Meaningful without being preachy. Touching and deep. She tells her story openly, lacking any trace of the need to impress or dazzle the reader. She is what she is. This is her life.

I GET HER.

So.

Julia, we can’t see each other. I’m committed, head-over-heels, to Liz.

IT’S NOT YOU. IT’S ME. I’M SORRY.

loose girl

The past several months I’ve read some rather serious books.  Heavy topics, deep subjects.  Not necessarily depressing topics per se, but Really Sober Books.

So.

This weekend I felt the urge to find something a tad lighter.  Maybe something a little fun, nothing cheesy, and something that ultimately required no brainpower.  Maybe even a little romance novel.

OH I GOTCHA THERE, DIDN’T I?

I never read romance novels.  All that bodice tearing and throbbing you-know-what always comes across to me as well, gosh, a little dopey.  But.  Keep in mind I also do not read detective novels nor mysteries.  As readers, I think we all have our little niche of characters and themes we enjoy.  Give me a good drama romance, I’m yours.  Otherwise, Harlequin is not my thang.

Okay.  So.

In my quest for Light Reading what I found instead was an incredibly thought-provoking book about one woman’s journey through promiscuity.  Sometimes raw, sometimes heartbreaking, but always captivating, Kerry Cohen tells the story of years of seeking men’s approval through sex. 

Listen, I didn’t say sex wasn’t my thang.
I said Cheesy Tales of Sex didn’t interest me. 

YES, VIRGINIA.  THERE IS A DIFFERENCE.

However.  The further you delve into ‘Loose Girl’ you realize, it’s really not about the sex.  It’s about the fundamental desire of a young girl to be wanted.  To be loved.  To be validated.  And how the author stumbles through her teen years and into her twenties ever seeking, and rarely finding, what she feels she needs the most to complete herself.

I read ‘Loose Girl’ in two sittings and then pondered a bit on my own teenage years.  Perhaps this is because Kerry Cohen’s writing style is remarkably similar to Caroline Sullivan’s in ‘Bye Bye Baby’ that brought up the comparison for me.  The angst and rawness of teenage emotions is expressed in a very real way in both books.  While Caroline’s obsession was the Bay City Rollers, Kerry’s was any boy.

But. 

A mutual theme in both books I found incredibly significant was that both women expressed the thought that while it was necessary to their self-worth that a boy wanted them, it was even more powerful in an instance where the boy wanted them … and the other girls wanted that boy.  The sought-after prize came not only in getting the boy, but getting something that was so desireable to every other girl. 

I want him. They want him. He chooses me.

The Ultimate Validation.

Honestly, I think 90% of all Bay City Roller fans will get that. Totally get it.

‘Loose Girl’ can be explicit and sometimes uncomfortable, especially as Kerry describes her younger teen and pre-teen years.  However, I found ‘Loose Girl’ overall to be thought-provoking and well written, capturing a myriad of emotions. 

It’s honest and real.  What more can you ask for?

editing my life

This week I feel like I’m flying on one wing.  Seven days of fruitless, never-ending circles flapping about on a single wing. 

Work has been overwhelmingly busy which … in the big scheme of things like The Sick Economy … is a good thing. 

I know, I know. 

STOPYERCOMPLAINING.

However.

I’ve also been crawling into bed much too late.  Okay, fine.  I know I’m being dramatic.  However, those that know me are well aware that I don’t function at peak capacity … or even marginally close … without my requisite 7 hours of sleep. 

Alright.  8 hours.  

Geesh.  I only lied because the truth seems so … well … lame.  And weak.  Awfully, embarrassingly weak.  The past several nights I’ve averaged about 5.327658 hours of sleep.  But hey.  Who’s counting?

Whining shall end about … NOW.

Anyhoo.

I’ve attempted to peck out a blog on no less than three separate occasions the past few days.  Ultimately, when my brain ceased spinning a cohesive yarn, I shoved all of my Jon & Kate Plus 8 ramblings into Ye Olde Draft Folder.  The blogs haven’t seen the light of day since.

Pitiful.

Or.  Maybe not so much for those who are more than a bit weary of that drama.  After re-reading those drafts, I’ve deduced that I have nothing even remotely profound to say on the Pennsylvania couple’s situation that hasn’t already been hashed and re-hashed since the Divorce Announcement episode that aired on Monday.

Nada. I got nada.  So I’ll spare you the torture.

Today, I’m taking the route of Mrs. Lazy Blogger.  I’m going to simply present y’all with yet another Good Reading Recommendation. 

Dum dum dum duuuuuum.

I know y’all will thank me some day. 

Y’all mark my words.

One of my favorite Life-As-it-Relates-to-God authors is Donald Miller. Me loves Donald Miller.  He completes me.

Alright.  Maybe that’s a bit extreme.  But.  I love his easy, ‘real and honest’ style of writing.  His simple … yet intricately complex … grasp on the topic of faith.  Whenever I finish one of his books I sigh contently.  And smile.  And think, ya’ll know we make it so much harder than it has to be.

We do.

As I anxiously await the September 22nd release … let the countdown reflect 3 months now… of Diana Gabaldon’s ‘Echo in the Bone’, I began trolling for information on my other favorite authors, hoping for something good I could get into my hands in less than 90 excruciatingly painful days.

And.

I see Donald Miller has another book soon-to-be-released.  Yes. In September.  I can see already September is going to be a pretty special month, folks. 

Ohmymymy … it is.

The praises of Donald Miller, author of ‘Searching for God Knows What’and ‘Blue Like Jazz’, should be shouted from the rooftops.

Hear ye, hear ye. 

So.  To get a little flavor of Donald Miller’s writing style, below I’ve snipped an excerpt from his upcoming book … 

‘A Million Miles in a Thousand Years: 
What I Learned While Editing My Life’
.

 

Not all the scenes in my life have been pleasant though, and I’m not sure what God means with the hard things.  I haven’t had a lot of hard things happen, not like you see on the news, and the hard memories I’ve had seem like random experiences too.

When I was nine, for instance, I ran away from home.  I ran as far as the field across the street where I hid in the tall grass.  My mother turned on the porch light and got in the car and drove to McDonalds and brought back a happy meal.  When she got out of the car, she held the bag high enough I could see it over the weeds.  I followed the bag down the walkway to the door and it shone under the porch light before it went into the house. I lasted another ten minutes.  I sat quietly at the table and ate the hamburger while my mother sat on the couch and watched television. Neither of us said anything. I don’t know why I remember that scene, but I did.  And I remember going to bed feeling like a failure, like a kid who wasn’t able to run away from home.

I dig Donald Miller. 

Because he talks to me.  And not at me.  Because he tells a story, winding it the fabric of faith so you can see it and feel it … and understand it.  And because his writings always make me take a deeper look into my own faith.

summer reading

The worth of a book is to be measured by what you can carry away from it. 

~James Bryce~

 

It’s June and I am officially one-for-three in my quest for Summer Reading Badges.  A few false literary starts, one very enjoyable book completely finished, and one-quarter of the way through Book Choice #3. 

Hooray for me.  

Based on my blog writings of late, I’ll betcha y’all thought
my only friend was Mr. Tel Evision, eh? 

C’mon.  Tell the truth.

Oh, friends. I’m so multi-faceted I even scare myself sometimes.

Ahem.

Anyhoo.

I started ‘Julia’s Chocolates’ (Cathy Lamb) and then tossed it.  Literally.  Tossed a brand-new book.  Shameful, I know.  Especially when there are starving readers all over the world.

However. 

In my defense, I knew I would never work up the want nor energy to finish such an disastrously inane book.  And that would be inane with a capital ‘I’.  ‘Julia’s Chocolates’ started out feeling like ‘The Secret Life of Bees’ which I loved.  Where it all started slipping into Bad Reading for me was when the main character shows up at her Aunt Lydia’s house. 

The house is pink. 

Okay.  For the sake of argument, let’s assume pink is a basic color we all understand.  Pink flowers. Pink piglets. Pepto Bismol is pink.  Apparently lacking those objects as reference, the author proceeds to describe the pink house as the same color as You Know What And I’m Not Going to Say It Here.  

I’m not prude.  Really.  I’m not.

But.  Let’s get real.  I can’t imagine ever describing a color as an intimate female body part.  The point of the verbiage eludes me.  It wasn’t even shocking so much as … well …unnecessary? 

Then.

When I tripped into the women’s meeting with Aunt Lydia, Owner of Pink House, and a lengthy diatribe of the ‘Breast Power Psychic Night’ she lost me.  Totally lost me.  I couldn’t decide if the plot was simply cheesey or just stupid.  I have officially deemed it both.

And rid myself of the clutter.

So.

Onto a happier note.

did finish ‘Blue Shoe’ (Anne Lamott) last week, and delved next into ‘The Bean Trees’ (Barbara Kingsolver).

Loved ‘Blue Shoe’.

Love love LOVE  ‘The Bean Trees’.

What follows is a brief overview ‘The Bean Trees’.  Because, quite frankly, I am rather worthless when it comes to writing a book synopsis from scratch.  Plus. Nothing I write would be as succinct as what the publisher could dream up anyway.

I’m just bein’ real.

The Bean Trees, Barbara Kingsolver’s debut novel follows the gritty, outspoken Taylor Greer, who leaves her native Kentucky to head west. She becomes mother to an abandoned baby and, when her jalopy dies in Tucson, is forced to work in a tire garage and to room with a young, battered divorcee who also has a little girl. With sisterly counsel and personal honesty, the two face their painful lot (told in ponderous detail). The blue-collar setting, described vibrantly, often turns violent, with baby beatings, street brawls, and drug busts. Despite the hurt and rage, themes of love and nurturing emerge.

 

Kingsolver’s writing style in the ‘The Bean Trees’ vacillates chapter-to-chapter between the first-person voice of Taylor Greer and third person of Lou Ann; a truly captivating read.  The characters feel real and earthy, the story not one of merely building the plot to an ending point, but the savory telling of a story that takes the reader on a deeply involved journey of life.

My first introduction to the author Barbara Kingsolver was her novel, ‘The Poisonwood Bible’.  I bought it many (read: very many) years ago and never finished it.   I gave up simply because it was overly dark and depressing, layer upon layer of Life Mired in Calamity. 

Well.  It was on Oprah’s Book Club list.  If that doesn’t tell y’all something, I’d suggest you take a plow through some of her book club recommendations.  Every author emits engaging prose.  But.  Every Book a Tragedy De Jour.

DEPRESSING.

However.

As I’m so fond of ‘The Bean Trees’,  I just might give ‘The Poisonwood Bible’ another whirl.  I really might. I may need Happy Pills to get through it. But I’ll take one for the team.

just gotta tell you anyway

(Caroline) Sullivan claims to have slept with a mystery Roller not once but twice. She claims while they were based here in the USA that she was a “tour guide” of sorts to their home. She goes on to further say she had numerous phone conversation with them in their homes and at hotels across the world. She does however prevent herself from being checked by eliminating the name of the Roller. In the end she claims to have met her Roller and Ian Mitchell in a London Pub on a a business lunch. After all this one on one Roller time her Roller asked “Have we met before?” She was so disappointed in him that she replied “No.”

I find the story hard to believe.  How convenient that her friends told her not the use their real names due to embarrassment of the Rollers. Don’t waste your money. It a fantasy story of a women who doesn’t have a life.

~Reader Review of ‘Bye Bye Baby’ from Amazon.com~

Ouch.

I think the most amusing line from the review above is ‘I find the story hard to believe.’  Really?  Pardon me as I take a moment to wipe the utterly ridiculous smile off my face.

Okay.

Now that said grin has been erased, I’ll back up a bit with some history before I delve into today’s bloggity drivel.  I first read ‘Bye Bye Baby’ by Caroline Sullivan when it was originally released in June 2000.  And as much as I’m reticent to admit it in my well-beyond teenage years, I read the book rather rapidly that first run through, hoping to get to the juicy bits about Eric Faulkner. 

Now y’all know, if I’ve told you once, I’ve told you a thousand times. 

I am cheese.  Pure, and unapologetic-about-it, cheese.

So. 

Coming across the book this weekend languishing on my bookshelf, and sans any new books to tear into, I pulled out the Tartan Grail and gave it another go.  I figured nearly 9 years later and with an ever-so-slight advancement in my level of maturity, I could simply slow down, read it word-for-word, and savor the experience.

I did.  It was delicious.

I think what I love most about the book is Caroline’s unabashed candidness about her entire Roller fan experience.  And the fact that as a fan, I could absolutely ‘get it’.  I got her emotions.  I got her feelings of intense highs and the subsequent tumble down to depression if you looked a bit too closely at the fact nothing was ever truly going happen between a young (read: 13-year old in my case) teenage girl and 20-plus year old boy-men.  Because y’all know that would have involved jail time.

Anyway.

When ‘Bye Bye Baby’ was first released, I was actually bewildered by the level of negativity surrounding what Caroline wrote.  To this day, I still can’t get my head around how anyone could have gotten their knickers in a twist about Caroline’s recall of sleeping with ‘her Roller’.  In fact, if anything the way in which she put the incident to paper was … well … extraordinarily innocuous. 

Details, Caroline. We want details.

Sorry.  A moment of inappropriate outburst.

And, of course, for the Roller fans it was no great feat to puzzle out who the thinly-veiled, apparently non-virginal Roller in question was.  Woody.  There I said it.  Sue me.  And for one fan of the thousands to come out and share their one-paragraph (perhaps two when you include the second time, gasp) experience of getting Biblical with a Roller, I’d say that was pretty darn amazing.  Considering, of course, these men were in no way chaste as they were purported to be at the time, and I’m quite sure there were far more occasions than just Caroline’s where they got horizontal (or otherwise) with fans.  Over the years, I think generally the guys got off pretty lucky … no pun intended … with the marked absence of fan ‘tell alls’.

Another fact I find eyebrow quirking was that when the first edition of the book was released, I had a copy of Woody’s tartan buttocks on the cover of mine.  Apparently, so the story goes, a certain someone took issue with the use of the photo of said Roller’s small tush and the cover for the next book printing featured a photo of screaming fans.  Yeah.  Because we all know how very much we’d rather see fans’ gaping pie holes than Stuart’s fine … errr … well-covered behind and bony spine.

Okay.  I’ll admit it. 

Personally, I’d be awfully uptight if someone took a photo of my backside and slapped it on a book.   But that’s just me.  And I’m sure it would be for entirely different reasons than the apparently inexcusable offense of Woody’s arse in full-color print.  For someone to take a photo from their private collection to illustrate their words about their experiences … gosh, I’m really not sure I get the gripe.

Anyway.

Then there’s the issue with Caroline’s perpetual jabs at the band’s musical prowess that some fans found highly offensive.  On that topic, I’d have to say let’s get down to brass tacks. If the intent of the actual marketing of the Bay City Rollers was to be about mind-blowing music … I don’t believe they’d have done it in shin-high cropped pants, stripey socks, tied up in a sea of tartan.   

Nuff said.

For me, rather than seeing Caroline as an ‘obsessed’ girl with ‘no life’ as the reviewer above kindly (cough) noted, I saw Caroline as the woman who gave life to words about my own young teenage years as a Bay City Roller fan.   She validated my unexplainable (to this day even), overly-intense yearning for these untouchable and unobtainable men.  She made it seem normal to spend hard-earned cabbage to buy magazines with perhaps only one sentence about the guys, cut it out and scrapbook it.  She made it seem reasonable to call every hotel in the town they were playing to find out where they were staying.  And then call them up with absolutely nothing of any consequence to say.  I should know.  My friend and I made such phone calls.  And we actually did converse with Woody when they were playing at the Ohio State fair in August 1977. 

Mind you, I use the term ‘converse’ with a large boulder of salt.

LISA AND COMPANY:  ‘Woody?’
WOODY:  (jaw-cracking yawn) ‘Yeah.’
LISA AND COMPANY:  (insert 14-year old blathering)
WOODY:  (insert second yawn) ‘Are you coming to the show today?’
LISA AND COMPANY:  ‘No, we’re not.’
WOODY:  ‘Right then.’

Embarrassing.

Back to Caroline.

In a nutshell, Caroline made it seem perfectly normal to obsess over something that you were never going to get … and if per chance you did get it, wouldn’t know what to do with it anyway. 

I heart Caroline.  She was me … with immensely more chutzpah.

Oh.

And for the record, the book revealed nothing about Eric other than he was a rather surly, musically angsty, unavailable sorta chap at the time.  Be still my tender heart.

ach aye

Jamie’s hand still lay on mine. It tightened a little, and I glanced at him, but his eyes were still fixed somewhere past the dooryard; past the mountains, and the distant clouds. His grip tightened further, and I felt the edges of my ring press into my flesh. “When the day shall come, that we do part,” he said softly, and turned to look at me, “if my last words are not ‘I love you’ ye’ll ken it was because I didna have time.”      

~Except from ‘The Fiery Cross’~

 James Alexander Malcolm MacKenzie Fraser

Lovingly known simply as ‘Jamie’.

Sigh.

Alright. I know he’s not real. 

But.  If he were … first dibs! 

Since I haven’t done a book blog in forever, I thought I’d end the drought with the news that as of March 2009 the 7th book in the ‘Outlander’ series, ‘Echo in the Bone’ is due from the publisher on September 22, 2009.

And the heavens opened and the angels sang.

Or played their harps.

Or put new batteries in their book lights.

But they were rejoicing nonetheless.

I’m currently re-reading the entire series again in anticipation of the next book. Did I mention it’ll be released September 22nd?  

One-hundred, fifty-three days from today.

Exactly 5 months.

I’m one-third of the way through a second reading of the 6th book now.  As y’all know I’m a voracious reader. Of all the books I’ve ever read in my lifetime, the ‘Outlander’ series stands alone.  The series is a love story, woven into an incredible series of historical novels.  It’s rich, deep, exciting, enthralling, sexy … I’m running out of adjectives here. 

Suffice to say, treat yourself.  Really.