Tag Archives: reading

FALLEN | A Review

fallen-by-lauren-kate7Can love survive death?

In Fallen, by Lauren Kate, this question is answered many times over. Daniel and Luce have a connection since the beginning of time. The only problem is that she keeps dying. Oh yeah, and he’s an angel. The story of fallen angels is a varied one in literature, but Kate puts a new spin on it that is refreshing, the idea that one kiss can incinerate as well as recreate.

Before her eighteenth birthday in each of her reincarnated lives Luce meets Daniel, he kisses her, and she spontaneously combusts. It has happened over and over again through eons, but now that has all changed, and no one is sure. In this life Daniel kisses her but she doesn’t go up in flames, and they need to find out why, how that difference can put them all in danger. What at first seems like a miracle might doom them all for eternity.

In this battle between good and evil, there is murky ground, and the love between an angel and a reincarnated mortal is incredible to watch, and even more incredible to recreate time and again through the ages, but Kate does an amazing job of setting up this world and making it believable. From the fallen angels on both sides, to the human beings who are pawns in the game, to the undying commitment between the two protagonists, the world they inhabit is fully fleshed out and intriguing.

Luce is my favorite character because she constantly doubts her world. She isn’t a weak-willed woman who just lets things happen to her, at least not in this book, and she wants more than anything to figure out the reason she hasn’t caught internal fire. While she can’t remember her previous lives at first, it’s her connection to Daniel that survives and keeps her motivated. But she doubts even that love at first, moved as she is by another fallen angel, Cam, who is on the other side of the equation.

But this isn’t a simple love triangle, a la Jacob vs. Edward. It feels more real, more honest, because the fight between Daniel and Cam has gone on for more than a millennia, and the grit that has collected between the two is just as electric as the love between Daniel and Luce. It is this diametrical opposition that fuels the book, and indeed the series as a whole, almost as much as everlasting love does.

I enjoyed Fallen, and the rest of the series, because the prose flows smoothly and I get lost in the world that the characters inhabit. I enjoyed it because it doesn’t stick to boring paradigms, preferring instead to surprise the reader at every turn. It kept me interested from start to finish, which is the best I can say for any book, and at the end I found myself identifying with positions and characters I never thought I would, in ways I never thought I would. That’s the mark of a good book.

I give the novel FIVE stars.

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Short Shrift

short_stories_195010-25q3ffzShort stories have gotten short shrift in recent years for some reason. The beauty of the short story is that it can introduce you to characters, tell a story, and resolve itself in the course of a few thousand words as opposed to over 100,000 like a novel does. And unlike a poem, short stories aren’t written in subjective verse, and thus are easier to understand. Yet, how many of us can name a current short story writer who isn’t also a writer of longer works?

For comparison, look at someone like Edgar Allan Poe. Yes, he wrote poetry as well, but he was famous in his time for such works as “The Tell-Tale Heart,” “The Cask of Amontillado,” and “The Black Cat,” which are all short stories. Indeed, he never wrote a full-length novel, and yet he’s seen as one of the premier writers not just of his time but of all time. Another example is Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, famous writer of the Sherlock Holmes series of short tales. His tales have spawned a slew of movies and television shows that have been wildly popular as well.

But name me someone in the 20th or 21st centuries who is renowned as a short story writer in his/her own right. The odds are that you can’t, or maybe you’re one of the few faithful readers of short fiction. Time was when we would go to the library and get out a magazine where there would be short stories, or a condensed book that had several novellas/short stories in it. Then in school we would read stories like “The Monkey’s Paw,” and we would be fascinated by it. But even that was written ages ago, in an age long before this modern world.

John_Grisham_Ford_County(2)I remember when John Grisham released his book, Ford County, and how I was looking forward to it with such excitement and anticipation, because it was a collection of short stories instead of his standard novels. You see, I have something to admit. I absolutely adore short fiction (even short short fiction), and I don’t care who knows it. I love the nuance of the genre, how a good short story writer can weave the tale in such a way that it’s both intensely detailed and succinct in ways that novels could never capture.

Another one of my favorite authors — Bentley Little — also came out with a book of short tales, entitled The Collection, after many of his fans specifically asked him to do just that. You see, he was a short story writer first, and had many of his short stories published in various magazines and journals. Eventually someone saw his work and signed him to write novels, but he always remembered his roots. And the short stories he weaves are phenomenal.

When I was studying to be a teacher, I had a mentor teacher who knew I enjoyed short stories so she bought me a collection of Best Short Stories (of whatever year it was) as a goodbye present. I devoured those short stories, even though there were over 30 of them in one volume. Some were good, some were bad, and some were in-between, but none of them was boring. They kept my interest, for one reason or another, all the way through the book. Since then I have begun collecting those volumes, and now I have over 10 of them from different years. Their spines are worn from my reading and re-reading them almost religiously.

You’ve probably guessed it by now, too. Even though I have two of my novels published, my first love was the short story. In fact, I’ve written over 100 short stories already in my life, each one as special as the next, every one like one of my children. Just the ability to write about these characters who have lives before they meet me and lives after is magical. I imagine I’m just a photographer taking a snapshot of a moment in their lives, and they become my friends for that small moment. Even if I don’t like them as people, I at least get to know them, and I enjoy the learning experience.

So, why are short stories getting short shrift these days? I think too many people don’t want succinct tales, especially in this age where the serial novel is king. We want more, not less, from our reading experience. We want to get a character and follow them over the course of several really big novels instead of over the course of well-written short stories. Holmes wouldn’t last in this world, I’m afraid. Or maybe we should just try and revive the short story, resuscitate it like we did the ’80s. It could happen, and if it does, I’ll just say, “I told you so.”

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Checked Out

requiemI just realized not just that I read a lot of series books, but that there are also a plethora of series books out there, more so than it seems like there were back in the day. We’ve come a long way from Encyclopedia Brown and Nancy Drew. I even recall reading the massive horde of Star Trek books that were out there once upon a time. It was even interesting to read the ones by the same author, or to compare the different authors’ styles of that series.

So, last week I was reading the second book in the Divergent series, and this week it’s on to the third (and final) book in the Delirium series. Requiem has been out for a little while now, but I was caught up reading a bunch of other stuff. In fact, it’s been so long since I read Pandemonium that I had to go and read a synopsis of that book to re-familiarize myself with the fringe characters and the plot at the end of that book. Ah, the glory of series reading!

Here’s what I have Checked Out this week:

  1. Requiem, by Lauren Oliver. After I got caught up on the series again I realized once again why I liked it in the first place. Society is breaking down, which makes sense since the society is based on this “cure” that will stop people from falling in love, because they say that love is a delirium that makes people do stupid things. Well, duh! I’m really interested to see how this one winds up.
  2. Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore, by Robin Sloan. This one is strange, but it still has my attention enough that I renewed it from the library. Ooh, that would make a good entry. Renewed. Anyway, this store is a magic portal to another dimension, or something like that. Okay, so I’ll admit I’m slightly confused. I may just start this one over from the beginning again.
  3. The Sound of Things Falling, by Juan Gabriel Vasquez. This book club selection reads like just what it is, a book club selection. It is literary without being too stuffy, so I’m enjoying it. I just hope others in the group appreciate it as much as I have been so far.
  4. Running Blind, by Lee Child. This is the fourth book in the Jack Reacher series (see, another series book!) and I happen to be reading them in order, but I just got this one and I’m excited to get started on it. I think I may finish Requiem first, though, and get that series finished.
  5. Psychos: A White Girl Problems Book, by Babe Walker. I might be about to check this one back in. It’s the second book in a series, but I haven’t read the first one yet, and I thought it wouldn’t be a problem, but this is not a standalone book. I’m getting quite a bit confused as I read along, so I might just return it until I’ve read the first one. I’m going to read a few more chapters and then make the decision.

There was this biography of Johnny Carson that I picked up last week from the local library that I really want to read, but it’s a “new” book and I just don’t have the time to read it right now so I sent it back. I put it in my phone’s list app, however, where it joined 10 other books that I need to get back to when I find the time to read them. Also on the list of books I need to get to pronto is the final one in another series, The One, by Kiera Cass. I was enchanted by the other two, so I look forward to when it finally comes in through the library.

Happy reading to you!

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Old School vs. New School

timthumb.php“What more can I say? I wouldn’t be here today if the old school didn’t pave my way.”

Did you know that I can read without my glasses? I don’t do it often but it’s interesting when I do, because I have to have the book up pretty close to my face, and then I have this squint that is a thing of beauty. Generally I only do it when I’m in bed, when I either can’t reach my glasses or I’m dying to get straight to reading without worrying about locating them. Or even sometimes when I’m just trying to prove to my wife that I can read without them. She is never impressed.

It’s funny how when I use my Nook to read it’s so much easier to do it without using my glasses. That’s one thing I can definitely thank technology for. Because the screen is backlit the words seem to leap off the screen (I almost said page). I don’t even have to squint as long as the Nook is close enough to my face. It makes me look just that much cooler. At least I think so. That’s one point for reading through technology.

I find it interesting that one of the hottest debates these days among readers is the “old school” vs. “new school” argument. There is a legion of readers out there who scream SACRILEGE whenever anyone mentions reading on a device instead of opening an actual book and turning the antiqued pages. These readers use big words like TRADITION, and CONTINUITY, to prove their point while waving their large tomes in the air and waving them like they just don’t care. Bully for them.

Then there’s the complete other end of the spectrum, the people who only use devices to read anymore. You see them in the train station, at the dentist’s office, and sitting in their cars in a parking lot with the screen in front of them, be it an iPad, a Kindle Fire, a Nook HD, or any other tablet or smart phone out there. They are oftentimes so absorbed in the passages that you could wave a fire-soaked rag in front of their faces and they wouldn’t even blink. They love technology and technology loves them.

But where’s the middle ground? I know I’m firmly in that place instead of at the two extremes, and I could argue for both positions. I enjoy the flexibility of the new school, but the nostalgia of the old school. In fact, sometimes I read a book in both mediums just so I can say I did. So, what are the advantages of each? I’m glad you asked.

Pros of keeping it “old school”:

  • The smell. There’s just something about that smell of paper in the morning.
  • The physicality. Being able to flip the pages is totally underrated.
  • The bookmark. Bookmarks have their own history that electronic ones can’t match.
  • Used books. I can pick up a book for 25 cents at a book sale, or utilize something called a library.
  • The book store. Just hanging out touching books is fun.

Pros of going “new school”:

  • The variety. You can fit so many books on one device it’s almost scary.
  • The portability. Imagine you’re going on a long trip and want several books to read. One device.
  • The back-light. Oh yeah, what helps me to read without my glasses. Or in bed while my wife is asleep. Shhh.
  • Internet-ready. I love using the built-in dictionary to define odd words I had never met before.
  • e(nvironment)-friendly. Save some trees, right?

Of course that’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to positions for each format, and there are a host of negatives associated with both as well. It’s one of the huge reasons I utilize both and I don’t feel bad for it. Which one do you feel is the best way to go, or are you like me and take advantage of both choices? That’s not even starting on audio books, which are even more interesting to discuss, depending on who’s doing the talking. Get it, doing the talking? Audio books?

Never mind.

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U2 BY U2 | A Review

PIC8It’s 1989, the final year of a decade in which you took the world by storm, going from absolutely nothing to the biggest rock ‘n roll band in the world by challenging yourselves to always be different. And you’ve achieved that lofty status with one of the best selling albums of all time, an album that doesn’t sound like anything anyone else put out in the 1980s. But you’re not satisfied to rest on those acclaimed laurels. You’re restless, and you want to create something even greater. So you head to Berlin in early 1990 and you record an even more seminal album that is as different from anything you’ve ever done as it is from anything else others are releasing at the time. Or any time, for that matter.

One of the most fascinating aspects of U2 is their adaptability, their absolute willingness to change while others are content to stagnate. It’s what makes them so unique as individuals, as a band, and as a revolution. What makes U2 By U2 so special is that it tells the story from the perspective of the band members (and of their manager, Paul McGuinness), from their earliest individual memories, to the formation of the band, through 2006. It captures the madness of trying desperately to land a record deal, the glory of their first number one record, to the fears that they would fall completely apart while trying to create what would eventually become Achtung Baby.

It’s the story of Adam Clayton, the band’s bassist, who was born in England but who moved to Ireland as a young boy and eventually embraced his new country, an outcast who looked cool enough to be a bassist and so became one. The narrative also includes Larry Mullen, Jr., the quiet drummer who never quite understood why Bono had to leap off the stage on occasion. Then there’s The Edge, an accidental master of odd guitar effects that have characterized U2 from the start. And at the center of it all is the wordsmith, Bono, who only wanted to be a guitar player. Who still wants to be a guitar player.

c735ea39e40d55ec6e4a1c6f5ababfd7The book alternates between the perspectives of the members of U2 through the different creative phases of the band, in chronological order, so after introducing the family backgrounds it moves forward to how they met, the now famous note on the board at Mt. Temple, posted by Larry Mullen, Jr., and doesn’t finish until after the release of How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb. It is incredible to hear about the poor initial concerts, the scramble to put an entire album together, the random nature of The Joshua Tree, and how the band broke America.

What makes it work is that the pictures and the words are so perfect together. There are the horrible haircuts of the October period, the crazy muscle suits of Pop, and the airplane hangar in the Beautiful Day video shoot. Then as a reader you can understand from the perspective of U2 what they were thinking when those photographs were taken, and how they honestly felt that they had the worst possible fashion sense at each stage of the journey. You know, except for Bono’s fly shades during the ZooTV period.

INTERSCOPE RECORDS U2It’s 1999, and after mixed reviews and the less than expected sales of your latest album, it’s time to dream it all up again. So you do, going back into the studio and making your most intimate record in years. It’s a record about loss, about goodbyes, and about looking back on your life, but also about looking forward to something new, to something different. And it resonates, like so much of your music has done over the years, creating a connection with your fans that cannot be denied. Then you write down that feeling, even though it cannot be contained in mere words.

What I love the most about U2 By U2 is its honesty, its soul-stripped-bare brutal honesty, even when that honesty reveals a humanity that most bands like to leave behind, even when it is the band at their most vulnerable. Because that’s when U2 is at its best, in its music, and in its creativity that encompasses so much more than just its music. It’s what makes the book compelling as more than just a companion piece to the phenomenal albums the band has produced.

I give the book FIVE stars.

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Recommendations

n438809Often I am bombarded with people telling me I have to read this book or that book. “It’s the best thing since Stephen King was writing good stuff!” they say. “It’s the single greatest book you will read this year!” they tell me. They talk to me like they’re the best critics in the world and should be quoted on the books themselves. Which would be pretty cool, but what they tell me is all personal opinion, usually not backed up by specific book references. And whether or not I read the book that is recommended generally depends on the person extolling its virtues.

I’ve learned in my over 30 years of reading books that judging a book based on what one person thinks is folly, but judging a book based on what 60 people have said is just as much folly. You see, the masses can be wrong, and often are when it comes to books. Some of the biggest books in the history of literature are yawn fests, and some of the most ripped apart are treasures. It’s like rooting for the underdog in a sporting event for me. If a lot of critics have panned a book, I just have to read it, and I generally will find something endearing within its pages.

That being said, if my sister says I should read a book I am all over it. It’s simple, too, because she knew me from the start and understands my tastes sometimes better than I myself do. And if my wife tells me I need to read a particular book it goes to the top of my queue most times, simply because she knows my reading tastes now. She has been there when I had to vent about a book or an author who totally pissed me off. So their opinions weight heavily while a celebrated critic might very well not merit even a brief read from me.

It works in reverse, too. I only recommend books to people who I know well, or at least whose reading styles I am familiar enough with to think I could suggest something they would enjoy. Of course just as many people who recommend books to me ask me for my own recommendations. I tell them to read my reviews and make a decision based on whether or not they liked what I had to say there. There are generally only two books that I will recommend regardless of who asks me. They transcend genre and general tastes, in my opinion.

The truth is that most books I do end up reading are not the result of recommendations at all, but are instead based on other random factors that I find can make or break a book for me. It also helps that the books I pick out myself aren’t colored one way or another by another person, so I don’t judge them when the book doesn’t work out. I know, I shouldn’t judge them anyway, but I’m being honest here. Recommendations are well and good, but in the end, what works for me is trusting my gut. It’s done me well for my 30+ years of reading, and I will keep depending on it.

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Why I Love Harry Potter

Joanne_Rowling__Harry_Potter_and_the_Deathly_HallowsI wish I could get about a billion medium-sized yellow stickers that said in stark black lettering, “NOT FOR KIDS,” and place them firmly on every copy of Harry Potter books that exist in the world. And I wouldn’t do it because I didn’t want kids reading it, but instead it would warn parents that if your child isn’t mature enough to grasp the concepts and underpinnings of the series you should wait before introducing it to them. There’s nothing worse than some of the seminal books in literature going under-appreciated due to a lack of comprehension. But then again, what do I know? I’m just a fan.

Harry Potter could have been me. He’s socially awkward, wears glasses, feels out of place in his surroundings (for good reason), and realizes fairly soon after we meet him that he has a larger role to play in his society. Yes, he could have been me, if I had a magic broomstick, a cool elf named Dobby, and knew how to catch a snitch in my mouth. Oh yeah, and if I had a quirky group of friends (wait, that part I have covered) who do more for me than I do for them, and they know it.

And for all the accolades he gets, for all the readers who have gotten to know and revere him, he’s still relatively down to earth, except when he’s fighting dementors, Voldemort himself, or teenage acne. Of course he does have that massive crush on Hermione (and who would blame him?) and his parents died when he was young, and the prophecy and all, but he deals with it all pretty well. You know, except for the Hermione bit, but I can see them getting together after Ron dies. (Just kidding, people.)

I love Harry Potter because he’s not the best at pretty much anything. Hermione is better with potions. Draco bests him at magic. Snape is a better legilimens. Even the Weasley twins beat Harry when it comes to practical jokes. But he’s the chosen one, and he uses his wits to get by, even when his wits also get him caught up in difficult situations in the first place. When it counts he gets the job done. He’s as reliable as that super glue that holds that man’s in the hard hat suspended in mid-air in those old commercials. It’s not always pretty, but he gets it done.

Oh, and I would place those stickers on the books because too many kids who aren’t ready for everything that the world of Harry Potter entails are given short shrift by reading the books too early. I am glad I got into Harry Potter as an adult because the entendre is clear, the portents are deadly, and the understanding of the infinite possibilities is a profound process that I can “get.” And that magic, oh that magic.

Harry grows up right before our eyes over the course of the eight novels, and each book gets darker in scope because we get closer to the showdown between good and evil. However, it’s not always in black and white terms. Characters like Sirious Black and Severus Snape keep us guessing, which is a good thing because in the real world those lines aren’t always so thickly drawn either. Yes, as Harry grows up the stakes become higher, the magic becomes stronger, and the fight becomes more powerfully waged. On all sides.

I love Harry Potter because even though he doesn’t know everything, and what to do at every moment, he understands that, and seeks out those who can assist him. Whether it’s Neville, or Luna, Moaning Myrtle, or even Dobby, Harry somehow manages to contact the right individual at the right time to make a difference. Sometimes the smartest people are those who realize they need help to accomplish their goals, or in Harry’s case, in order to save the world.

And yeah, I would love to save the world someday, too. In my own books.

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Club Mentality

book-club-booksDid you know that most book clubs fail either because members can’t always agree on the books to read, or they get upset that they don’t like every book chosen for the club to read? I honestly think it’s because people are individuals, and reading is such an individual pursuit that they can’t truly wrap their brains around reading “with” others. So, they look for any excuse to stop reading with the club, eventually dropping out altogether and depriving themselves of what could have ultimately been a fulfilling experience.

Here are four thoughts to consider once you’ve joined (or started) a book club:

  1. Keep an open mind, no matter which books are chosen
  2. Mark book club dates on your calendar and follow up
  3. Find a “book buddy” in the club in order to share thoughts
  4. Don’t get discouraged by any lack of discussion

Remember, these are people just like you, with lives and other things they have to take care of, and reading for the book club is just a part of that. Some months are easier to find time than others, and some books are more accessible for readers. Think about why the vast majority of books are chosen for book clubs, and how those books are generally the same. It’s because they lend themselves pretty well to reading in a set amount of time, and then they lend themselves to good discussion.

the-light-between-oceans-378x581These are the top 5 book club selections right now:

  1. The Goldfinch, by Donna Tartt
  2. Light Between Oceans, by H.D. Stedman
  3. The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak
  4. The Husband’s Secret, by Liane Moriarty
  5. Me Before You, by JoJo Moyes

Now, maybe you’ve found an eclectic book club that reads a wide variety of literature, that eschews these popular titles in favor of lesser known works or books that are older. Or maybe your group takes popular titles from a year ago and reads them now that they’re not as popular with book clubs. And those types of groups are fine, too. That’s the point. No two book clubs are the same, so maybe you do your research before joining (or starting) one.

I started a book club over a year ago, and it’s online only. We don’t meet physically, but perhaps we will someday. What I love about the medium is that we are from all over the place, so we get so many different perspectives, even related to individual cultures. What I love most about book clubs is the sheer choice available. Sometimes in book clubs we read books we never would have picked up ourselves.

But the truth is in the research. Any book club worth its salt does extensive research before deciding on the books to read, on the length of time members will have to read each book, and also on the optimal number of members to have in each group. If the research has been done correctly, and the club has been adequately advertized, there should be a good mix of readers involved. The key is for each member to keep an open mind, though, as I mentioned earlier. Without that, you really don’t have a book club, but instead individual people who pick and choose which books they want to read and which they will in essence skip.

Perspective is everything. Once you’ve found (or founded) a book club that fits you, and you’ve made sure you’re open-minded to its selections, you’re all set. And happy reading!

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Guilty Pleasures

2013-01-28-JackieCollinsPowerTripcover

Love the boat.

As readers we all have them — those books that would never win a Pulitzer Prize, an Oprah Book Club selection, or any prestigious award, for that matter. Those books that we wouldn’t be caught dead with in public, or maybe we’re secure enough in ourselves to carry them with us no matter what. But regardless, those books don’t define our reading tastes. They’re the books we read when we don’t feel like taxing our brains with meatier fare: our guilty pleasures.

I’ll admit it. I have guilty pleasures just like anyone else. I even go to the library looking for them, and they’re easy to spot. Just scan any shelf and you’ll see the covers that are stock. They look pretty, but airbrushed. And they don’t have to be romance novels, either, although the one about the time traveling cowboy is interesting enough. They could be mysteries, fantasies, science fiction, or even non-fiction.

My biggest guilty pleasure is Jackie Collins. I found her when I was very young, and I probably shouldn’t have even been reading her books back then, but the covers intrigued me. They were almost always of a well-dressed woman (or women), some kind of large hat on her head, and either leaning on a fancy car, driving a fancy car, or with a fancy car in the background. I just knew those kinds of books wouldn’t take too much of my time and energy, so I checked every single one of them out over a period of a year.

I took her latest novel, The Power Trip, to work while I was reading it a couple of months back. The reactions were funny, but then again I knew they would be. People are always surprised — particularly other readers — that I would be caught reading such vapid material, but there was always something about Jackie Collins’ characters that I identified with. They were always large examples of stereotypes, they were always over-sexed, and they always had one-liners that made me smile. They still do. I read that latest book in three days, and it was refreshing.

n403352

Look familiar?

Another recent guilty pleasure is Eric Jerome Dickey. He wrote a series of books about a contract killer who is being hunted by other contract killers, and while the writing didn’t set the world on fire, his plots move quickly, and they never require me to think, to figure out who did it, or who’s after the protagonist. That’s because it’s all so obvious, but it keeps my interest due to the pace. I’ve grown into a fan, but I would never pick up one of his books with the express purpose of learning something, or when I need something to tax my brainpower.

Other favorite guilty pleasures are Sophie Kinsella, Danielle Steel, Christopher Pike, and Jane Green. Any time they come out with a new book I put it in my queue because I know I will need a hiatus from those deep, intense books that I thrive on so much. Everyone needs a break sometime, and those authors and books are for those times. And oddly enough, I don’t feel all that guilty when I’m reading them.

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Reading in Synch

No-two-persons-everIn the early stages of our relationship, my wife and I were fighting to find ways to spend time “together.” You see, we met over the internet, and for the first four months of our relationship all we had were each others’ words, through email and over the telephone wires. So we came up with all kinds of creative ways to “date.” We would schedule cooking times where we would make the same dishes (and I’m sure hers always came out better than mine), work on the same puzzle together, and yes, read the same books and discuss.

I knew she was a librarian, and she knew I was in school for teaching English at the time, so it was a no-brainer, that and the fact that we had both been lifelong readers. The only problem was finding the first book for us to read. She figured that one out pretty quickly, though. In fact, there was a book she was about to read, and she put it on hold in order for me to order it from my local library. It was called A Marriage Made in Heaven, by Vatsala and Ehud Sperling. And the adventure began.

Then the reading began, and the discussion as well. It was interesting reading the same book at the same time, and while sometimes I was ahead of her, and other times behind, it didn’t really matter. It was our “thing,” and it felt so good to pick up that book and read the words on the page. The book was non-fiction, about a woman who is a mail order bride, but she develops a true relationship through letters with the man who “ordered” her, and they fall in love with those letters. It was amazing to see their story progress, and their relationship bloom.

1670693And to talk about it all while we were reading was even better. We were both enjoying the story, also both amazed at the fact that it was true. One thing I love about email is that you can craft your words just like in a letter, and it gave me an idea. Because we had enjoyed an internet/phone only relationship for four months, we must have sent a sheer acre of emails to each other in that time period. So I printed them out, and maybe one day we’ll produce a book similar to the one we read together. It makes me smile.

Then we got another book — H.P. Lovecraft’s collected works — on the suggestion of a friend, and it was so funny that we both, about 50 pages in, pretty much said at the same time that it wasn’t the book for us. Now, we don’t always share the same taste in reading material, so it was funny that neither of us liked the style. So we stopped reading it, preferring instead to choose another book. So, since she found the first one, I came up with book #2.

It was a book on war reenactment in the South, but this time the genre was fiction, and it wasn’t really a book either one of us would have ordinarily read, but we read it and had an enjoyable discussion about it. That was followed by a book about children who were taken and replaced by fairies, and a book about the end of the world, written after 9/11. The books took on new meanings and understandings by sharing them with her, and they kept us connected in more that one way. I am so glad we decided to read together.

And I can’t wait for our next book.

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