Today is one of those gray, rainy days that are meant for huddling around a warm fire with a good book. Or maybe sitting in cozy chair with a bottle of wine between us while we talk about everything related to reading.
Honestly, there’s nothing I enjoy more than the subject of books and writing and in particular, hearing about people’s reading habits.
One book or many books?
For instance. Are you a one-book-at-a-time reader or do you have several books going at once?
Lately I’ve become aware of a quirky habit I have when it comes to choosing between my books and I’m wondering if you can relate.
First of all, I’m one of those people who starts reading several juicy books at once. I know, you’re probably thinking, isn’t that a distracting experience? And my answer is no because I eventually end up reading one at a time. But I basically let my spontaneous reactions decide which book I dive into and finish first. This approach never fails me; it’s like a playful book competition happening inside my head.
Which one will win my attention?
When I’m reading multiple books, I let my book selection be decided in those rushed moments that I’m walking out the door looking for the “right book” to stuff into my bag or when I’m looking to take a book to bed with me and suddenly find myself reaching for one title over the other, and then---before I know it I’ve sunk deeply into the pages of an engrossing book that ends up crossing the finish line first.
Voila! Book chosen, book finished. Then this process gets repeated.
See? I told you it’s quirky.
Here’s something else I’m curious about. Are you drawn to non-fiction or fiction books and do you notice any pattern to your choices?
For instance, I’m convinced my ratio of non-fiction to fiction reading is directly linked to what’s happening in my life at the time.
Here’s my classic example, I never read Sci Fi. Ever. Yet decades ago when I was in the throes of a terrible heartbreak I lost myself inside a massive paperback (500 plus pages) of Frank Herbert’s Dune in what seems now, like a surreal period of time travel. Days blended into nights while I remained transfixed inside this book. To this day I can’t remember the plot, just that I was thank god, allowed to escape into another literal universe to get away from the sting of a dramatic break-up.
If you’ve ever used a book to escape real life happenings, you know exactly what I mean.
So here’s a glimpse of my current reads. And as you can see these days I seem to be in the throes of a curiosity growth spurt.
Mostly non-fiction, although I did just read Tana French’s latest novel in one of those frenzied reading binges which left me teetering on the edge of two worlds; one minute I’m dealing with the suspicious behaviors of my fellow detectives in a gritty, dark police station in Dublin, and the next moment I’m pushing my grocery cart in the dappled sunlight of a Southern California parking lot. I do love Tana French’s characters, although my son informed me that he could instantly tell the author was female when he read the male character’s lines. Hmm don’t know what that means but it’s probably why I like it.
Currently next on my fiction list is a book recommended by Simone, my trusted friend in London, who has raved about All The Light We Cannot See, a book by Anthony Doerr, which you’ve probably already read-because apparently I may be the last person based on reviews--to read this book. Actually, I think I picked it up and put it back down thinking it might be too melancholy at the time. But now it's next.
Now let’s talk non-fiction in no particular order
Patrick gave this to me for Christmas because he knows that the author, David Brooks, is my intellectual nerd crush. With his gold rimmed glasses, crooked teeth and balding head he is someone you might mistake for an aging library assistant, shuffling books behind the counter, yet I literally light up whenever I see him on my TV-doesn’t matter where.
Charlie Rose interviews, notoriously languid, fluid affairs are my favorite forum—but I enjoy him in political round table discussions too, where his brand of quiet civility and deeply insightful points never fail to get me thinking.
As an author, David Brooks talks a lot about our resume virtues vs. eulogy virtues and how we need to distinguish between these in order to live a meaningful life. Our resume virtues are the skills we need for our jobs and to achieve success by societal standards. While our eulogy virtues are the deeper ones that are talked about at our funeral. Our kindness, honesty, generosity. What kind of relationships we formed.
I wasn’t crazy about his first book, The Social Animal, but I’m curious about this one.
If you’re a regular around here you might remember my post on the power of owning your life story through writing. I flat-out love the memoir genre and have been intrigued for years, by those who strip away their layers and write fearlessly of their past, without being burdened by other people’s reactions.
So far Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird and Stephen King’s On Writing remain my steady favorites, mostly because of their distinctly unique--and likeable--writing voices, but I’ve heard rave reviews on Mary Karr’s book and I was so happy to find it in my Christmas stocking. Have your read any of her books?
I went straight out to the bookstore right after I listened to KristaTrippett’s fascinating podcast with this author.
What a wonderful discussion. Not only did I love hearing how yoga is now considered an important component of body/mind work in the healing of trauma...
I was captivated by the latest’s brain research showing us that our traumatic events not only reside in our physical body, but are often relegated to the area of the brain that’s inaccessible to words and verbal articulation, a finding confirmed with the technology of today’s brain scans, a fact I've long believed.
Suddenly my years working with "The Woman"-- who awoke the same hour each night in a semi-fugue state to binge incessantly on food, only to fall back into a carb-induced sleep, and wake up later totally distraught by her inability to understand or control her behaviors, --had scientific basis.
Yes, eventually we understood. Slowly we began to make sense of her frenzied night-time eating but only in excruciatingly slow steps did her childhood abuse --at a certain hour of the night-- make its way into words she could use.
The metal lock that she put on her refrigerator in a desperate attempt to prevent her raging attacks on food, became a metaphor for her own childhood pain that had been banished to a place inside her, that she simply couldn’t know or verbally articulate until she was safely sheltered in treatment.
Anyone who genuinely believes that you’re never too old to embark on a new dream, to generate original ideas or to change your life in the best way possible, should care about this little book.
For years we all believed that the brain is a permanently fixed structure that gradually hardens like clay poured into a mold, turning us all into “old dogs who can’t learn new tricks.”
Today because of the advances in neuroscience, we know that not only is the adult brain capable of changing, it does so continuously throughout our life, in response to everything we do and every experience we have.
This information should make us all deliriously happy.
This brief little book calls itself a concise overview of neuroplasticity for the general public. I bought mostly for the chapters on addiction and brain training.
The author opens this book by sharing his astonishing personal experience with grief.
When he was 20 years old his mother died of a stroke leaving him emotionally devastated. He describes living in a state of denial for two and a half years, completely disconnected from his feelings.
Eventually, as he sought professional help for his grief, he discovered that his body had created an additional calcium deposit between one of his ribs and the breastbone—similar to what the body will do in response to a fracture. To sum it up, he states, “what my mind had been hiding, my body showed with pristine clarity; I had a broken heart.”
It sounds hokey but as someone who worked in the eating disorder field for years, it’s really not.
I bought the book because of the author's decades of work as a somatic psychotherapist and yoga therapist and his specialty in the field of grief therapy.
As you probably guessed, I bought this book for my own growth as a yoga teacher and hospice volunteer.
This was one those spontaneous buys, a book that literally found its way into my hands by chance.
I was wandering through a used bookstore on a recent trip when I happened to absently pick up this book, opened it to a page with TaraBrach’s name, turned the pages again and saw a reference to Spirit Rock, a place Jim had visited years ago and holds in high regards.
And that was all it took.
I've since finished this book and I can’t say enough positive things about it. Now I’m nagging the men in my life to read it, because it’s written in a man’s voice from a skeptical, cerebral perspective that I think they would enjoy. I also think you would like it too, especially if you're still on the fence about the topic of mindfulness. The book is filled with the author's personal struggles and offers fascinating support for how mindful meditation can change your life for the better.
Have you discovered this lovely publication?
You can find it at your local Barnes and Noble, or even Costco. It’s such a beautiful compilation of blogger words and images and I bought this edition to support my friend Suzanne who had her article published in it.
Well, if you're still here after this rather long post, it's true. You really are a bona fide lover of words. (Thank goodness for me) And I'm so happy you were interested in my little discussion on books.
Now it's your turn. I'd love to hear about your own book suggestions along with any other thoughts you have about this post.
love and peace to you,