The Book Nook
A while back, I shared my designated working place in a post called My Write Space. Now I am sharing my designated place to read. From humble beginnings as a child when I hid beneath the covers with a flashlight to cherish my books, I have graduated to the perfect reading space. Ta dah! It includes:
A buttery soft chair, swivel, rocker-recliner.
A sculptured side table which I am sure is the envy of all avid readers. (It’s mine: eat your heart out!)
A storage bench which holds treasured books that used to be stacked on the dresser, the night stand, the floor.
A lush throw, the color of sea foam, a perfect match for the scheme of the room.
A discreetly-covered armchair caddy which holds so many crucial comforts: reading glasses, notebook, post-its, Kindle, pens.
The Book Choices With reading, as with most things, I plan ahead; I prefer to have a stack of books at the ready as the lack of same prompts me to use the BUY button on my Kindle far too often. I prefer print copy and usually borrow the book first; if I love it, I buy it. I read more fiction than nonfiction (most nonfiction choices are about the art of writing.) I choose fiction based on author, content, style, sometimes even the cover. I search for Giller winners and Booker winners and Pulitzer winners and Indie BRAG winners. I also seek recommendations from Goodreads. But my favorite way of meeting a new book is word-of-mouth.
Thank you, Shirley from Tai Chi who suggested My Reading Life . In it, author Pat Conroy listed the books that influenced his writing (if you want to know what those were, check out this Pinterest Board by Liz Whittaker.) I am now reading a book from his list, Look Homeward, Angel which I first borrowed. Then I bought it from The Book Man. From Shirley also came The Crimson Petal and the White by Michel Faber, one of my favorite books of all time.
Thank you to the staff of the aforementioned Book Man: Sara for White Oleander by Janet Fitch, David for The Timetraveller’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger and Linda forThe Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield. (If you are an avid reader, you will love this video-gone-viral parody by The Book Man: All About Them Books.)
Thank you to critique partner, Mary, for The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. What a surprise and a connection it created last spring when I went via float plane Victoria to meet up with my sister and three nieces, and discovered we had all read and loved that same book.
Thank you to former fearless writing group leader, Ken, for literary novel Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks and suspense novel, The Neighbor by Lisa Gardner. I refer to the former when I need a lesson in historical fiction and to the latter when I want to create just the right mood for a dark scene.
Thank you, Jeannette who, in email response to my post Favorite Reads of 2014, suggested Room by Emma Donaghue. That one haunted me and jumped onto my favorite list for 2015.
Thank you, Paula, for your comment on that same post, wherein you recommended Still Life with Breadcrumbs by Anna Quindlen. I have since read another of Quindlen’s novels and am seeking more.
Thank you to a long-time friend, Gini, for a long-time-ago mention of The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver. This was a powerful story that stayed with me for a long time, but also a Masterclass in writing: each family member had a point of view and each voice was remarkably distinct.
Thank you Margaret at Tai Chi, for Life After Life by Kate Atkinson. And thank you for warning me that it is challenging and it’s worth if you stick with it. I have since read everything that Kate Atkinson has written.
I am always seeking a great read and a good excuse to spend time in my Book Nook. Any reading suggestions? Please send them along in comments or by email.
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The information came to me recently via email from Colleen Rush, Education Coordinator with the Chilliwack Hospice Society. Inspired bythe book,The End of Your Life Book Club, Colleen created an event to raise awareness about World Hospice & Palliative Care Day. Her idea? The Book Lovers’ Bucket List Event, to be held at the Chilliwack Library on Oct. 11, from 10 a.m. until noon.
Are you a reader? I have loved reading for as long as I can remember. I read for many reasons: escape, meditation, knowledge, meaning, and pure love of story. What follows are some quotes about the love of reading, most of which came from two great sites: Search Quotesand Quote Garden.
For the Love of Reading…
Reading is a discount ticket to everywhere. ~ Mary Schmich
To read a book for the first time is to make and acquaintance with a new friend; to read if for a second time is to meet an old one. ~ Chinese Saying
I have never known any distress that an hour’s reading did not relieve. ~ Charles De Montesquieu
The reading of all good books is like a conversation with the finest minds of past centuries. ~ Rene Descartes
A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. The man who never reads lives only one. ~ George R.R. Martin
A truly good book teaches me better than to read it. I must soon lay it down, and commence living on its hint…. what I began by reading, I must finish by acting. ~ Henry David Thoreau
I have often reflected upon the new vistas that reading opened to me. I knew right there in prison that reading had changed forever the course of my life. As I see it today, the ability to read awoke in me some long dormant craving to be mentally alive. ~ Malcolm X
To feel most beautifully alive means to be reading something beautiful, ready always to apprehend in the flow of language the sudden flash of poetry. ~ John Andrew Holmes
The greatest gift is a passion for reading. It is cheap, it consoles, it distracts, it excites, it give you knowledge of the world and experience of a wide kind. It is a moral illumination. ~ Elizabeth Hardwick
If you read a good book, you’ve got a friend for life. ~ My nephew, Matthew, at age nine.
Are you a reader? What is special about reading for you? What books are you springing into right now?
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My best to you,
P. S. If you can read this, thank a teacher. ~ Harry S. Truman
Unmatched characters: everyday people, everyday journeys. I got so caught up in her stories that, in 2013, I read all thirteen of her novels. In an interview posted at the back of one of her novels, Anne Tyler recommended the work of Lisa Moore, the next author on my list.
February is the heart-wrenching story of a woman whose husband dies on an oil rig. Caught (short-listed for 2013 Giller Prize) is the story of a man who escapes prison and heads off on a pot-smuggling adventure. Both books display a mastery of details; images leap from the page.
A thrilling murder mystery set around a dark subject: sorcery. Stunning voice. Seamless transition between past and present.
My absolute favorite book of the year? The above-mentioned Life After Life by Kate Atkinson. It was so challenging, so compelling, that I still think about it, months after having read it. (I am currently on a Kate Atkinson reading binge.)
What was your favorite read of 2013? Any suggestions for my 2014 ‘To Read’ List?
I read two or three books a week and I keep track of everything I read in a small, alphabetized notebook… a handy reference when I browse the shelves of the library, The BookMan, or the internet.
Here, in no particular order, with a pint-sized comments about each, are my favorite fiction reads of this year:
ANGELA’S ASHES, ‘TIS, & TEACHER MAN by Frank McCourt. The voice of the first book drew me into the world of sadness and loss. I read nothing else until I had finished the trilogy… and wished for more when I was done.
OLIVE KITTERIDGE by Elizabeth Strout. I felt so close to Strout’s characters that I could hear the thump of their hearts.
THE THIRTEENTH TALE by Diane Setterfield. A trek back into the world of nineteenth century literature… Jane Eyre style. A haunting story.
FALL ON YOUR KNEES by Anne-Marie MacDonald. Dark. So dark. A cavern, spiralling down, down, down. I couldn’t stop reading.
THE NEIGHBOR by Lisa Gardner. On the surface, the family was perfect. But the wife disappears… My heart was pounding from beginning to end. Gardner is a master of suspense.
FREEDOM by Jonathan Franzen. Powerfully-written epic of contemporary life. Funny and tragic.
THE GLASS CASTLE by Jeannette Walls. A memoir of survival and resilience, remarkably told.
MY SISTER’S KEEPER by Jodi Picoult. Sensitive and inspiring story told by the characters. Stunning ending.
THE PILOT’S WIFE by Anita Shreve. Enjoyable, absorbing read. Great plots turns. Details drew me into the story.
THE ACCIDENTAL TOURIST by Anne Tyler. Very real, touching moments. Have to admit that there was one character I hated… but the writing was superb.
THE LOVELY BONES by Alice Sebold. Stunning, haunting tale. Drawn in by the first paragraph.
THE POISONWOOD BIBLE by Barbara Kingsolver. The individual voices of the family members were magnetic. A powerful story that stayed with me for a long time.
MADAME BOVARY by Gustav Flaubert. An old favorite that I revisit from time to time. An immortal story.
TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD by Harper Lee. An unforgettable story about the nature of human kind.
THE CRIMSON PETAL AND THE WHITE by Michel Faber. A lugubrious crawl and salacious romp through the streets of Dickensian London. Nearly 900 pages… yet I did not want it to end!
WHO HAS SEEN THE WIND by W. O. Mitchell. A stunning story of a young boy’s search for meaning in life, told in simple, musical language. I felt the vastness and loneliness of prairie and the omnipresence of the wind…
All done… except for the fact that there appears to be a hierarchy to this list after all. My top two favorites are THE CRIMSON PETAL AND THE WHITE (I had so much fun reading it) and WHO HAS SEEN THE WIND (can’t figure out how I got this far in life without having read this book!)
That’s it. All done. Maybe you will add some of these to your reading list. Any suggestions for my 2013 list?