Book Moods and Reality

If you are a reader like I am, you will understand how diving into a book can affect your mood while you are pacing yourself through it. Most of the books I have read this year have been a bit desperate. Meaning, I have loved reading them they have left me feeling like the world is a wee bit depressed. I hear ya. Everyone is a wee bit depressed, including me. I think that is why I am attracted to these books. They make life feel so normal because lets face it, no one lives in a LaVyrle Spencer novel, everyone lives in a Maeve Binchy novel.

 

 

 

I loved Maeve Binchy (except her Father Flynn Series) because she wrote about average people doing mundane things in a way that left my heart aching for more normalcy. Evening Class made me want to go back to school and meet people. I did go back and met a lovely chum who is sarcastic and dark like me. We chuckle and complain yet we are the smarty pants of the group. Evening Class was plausible and that is why I liked it.

 

 

 

As much as I love watching Sci-Fi, I despise reading it. Books need to be plausible for me and quite frankly I have a hard time wrapping my head around worlds I haven’t been to. This includes countries where I have no frame of reference. I have tried the Sci-Fi genre and it just isn’t my favorite. For example, I have Read Never Let you Go and The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and while I was reading them, I kept thinking…huh, not loving this so much. So, I made the choice to save Sci-Fi for TV and Movies because it becomes an EPIC adventure and save the Sci-Fi books for other people.

 

 

 

The books I have read so far this year seem to have a common theme. Their life kinda sucks and it doesn’t really change by the end, other than they are accepting of the sucky life they are living. Fair enough. I think that is real. The key is to embrace what you have and accept it for what it is and be grateful for the good stuff, because life isn’t all bad. It isn’t. There are awesome snippets of time that make up for all the crap we deal with. It’s a shame we have to deal with anything but that is what makes us smart. That is why I like reading these books. I like learning from other people’s choices. Not that I always agree with what they do, I think my moral code plays a role into these scenarios, but sometimes learning what NOT to do is just as valuable. And sometimes being a victim of circumstance all you can do is cope. I have been lucky – although luck might not be the word I am looking for. Karma has been fairly kind to me. I have done things I am not proud of, but the outcome has been the best possible scenario I could hope for…well, I hope for more but am satisfied with what I have.

 

 

 

Then I read books like The Book Thief. I am not through the whole thing yet but I suspect the family is harboring Jews during Nazi Germany. The young girl is fostered by

 

Cover of "The Book Thief"
Cover of The Book Thief

 

this family and, well, I foresee bad things. It is WWII after all and life wasn’t great then. A great insight to civilians living through WWII in both Germany and England is Life After Life. It gave me a sad, yet vivid perspective of what life must  have been like. The Book Thief is different, it is narrated by Death himself and he seems like an okay fella. I don’t fear death like I did when I was younger but reading about death has become a bit of a theme for me. I am fascinated about it and how people handle it. Perhaps it is because it surrounds me more frequently than it did when I was younger and living with a tumour makes me face it head on. Wrapping up all my personal endings for ‘just in case’.

 

At any rate, I am feeling the moods of the characters I read about. I love that about books. I love how real these characters feel to me. I know I will love Hans long after the Book Thief is over and I will think of him often, just like I think of my Grandpa.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fifty Fifty Me: Playing Catch Up

I am 26 books in and I better get crack-a-lacking on my goal of 52. It seemed so doable when I made the goal now it seems exhausting. In an effort not to panic, I am just going to play it cool. Read them as they come. I have been reading since I finished Wild. I needed to digest wild and think about it. I just couldn’t plunk myself into the next book very easily. Once I did, there was no stopping me. I enjoyed the last book. When I really enjoy a book and then finish it. I need to mull it over. It is hard for me to jump right into the next book with the same eagerness to read. It took a while, but I was able to move on after Wild.

I have been laid up with Bronchitis this week and when you are on vacation, nothing sucks more than being sick for part of it. What that has done is free up some time to read. I read 3 books this week and started another. I caught up on movies as well, 6 to be exact.

The Books:

The first one was The Secret Life of CeeCee Wilkes by Diane Chamberlaine. It took me a fair bit of time to commit to liking this book. The early beginnings had me wondering what all the hoopla was about amongst my Goodread friends. The main character in the early stages was 16. With that comes bad choices and impossible situations.I remember being 16 and like the character I made choices that effected my entire life – and not for the good. On some level I could relate to the character, but most of me wanted to forget being 16, being naive, being stupid and mostly being seduced by older men. I understood the bad choices but I am pretty sure I knew the difference between morally right and wrong. i had the benefit of family teaching me the difference. This character did not.

As the story progressed I became more enchanted with the choices she was making. Eventually she set her life back to the moment of 16 – because 16 haunts you forever if you made stupid choices. The character rectified it all, making a huge impact on everyone in her life. That was when this story became the type of book I love, not being able to pt it down. The climax was marvelous.

The second book I read was Me Before You by JoJo Moyes. Of all the books I read this week, this one I loved from start to finish. This was billed as a romance, but I never saw it as a romance. It was more about euthanasia and choices of others. I found this book to be a real metaphor for my life. No matter how badly you want something, other people’s choices affect you in a profound way. Wanting something bad enough and working towards that goal isn’t always enough when human choices are involved.  This is one of the hardest lessons I have learned on my Tourist journey. The characters in this book handled it remarkably well. It surprised me. Typically books turn out they would would hope them too. Maeve Binchy is a master of this never happening. The ugly duckling doesn’t become the beautiful swan, she just plods along, enjoying or dealing with what life throws at her. This is real life. You are dealt a hand and the purpose is to see what you make out of it, not throw them all away and get lucky by drawing a Royalflush. That never happens. I wish it did. So in an effort to find happiness, you look within – not externally. Buddha was right.

The final book was The Nanny Returns by Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus. I really enjoyed the first book, but I was young and still hadn’t figured out stuff yet I thought I knew everything. I think I have moved beyond this type of book. I want more meat or substance from a book. The bottom line is I am busy, so I want a book that is worth my time, a book that makes me think. This book had New York going for it but that is no longer enough. 50/50 me challenge had opened my eyes up to new authors and genres. I can no longer go back to the books I loved in my youth.

Now that is not to say Young Adult books have left my peripheral vision. Fantastic Mr. Fox was recommended to me. I enjoy reading children’s books because I love to talk about them WITH children. Learning from children is an undervalued resource.

The Movies:

Since my love affair with the Avengers, more notably Tony Stark, I have watched 6 movies.

  1. People Like Us
  2. Bottle Shock
  3. Single man
  4. The Best Marigold Hotel
  5. Blade Runner
  6. Things you can tell by Looking at Her

Not only have my taste in books changed since the start of this project, but my taste in movies has as well. Lets just say, I appreciate art movies more than I did before. There isn’t one movie in that list that I enjoyed more than the others. I am crazy for superhero movies – not one of those is an action pack superhero movie with the exception of blade Runner. It comes close, but Harrison Ford got his ass kicked to often and there wasn’t enough swagger going on for my taste. When I watch sci-fi or action flicks, I expect the impossible. It’s fun to revel in the impossible for a while.

English: Chris Pine poses for a photograph at ...
Isn’t he just delicious?

People Like Us and Bottle Shock had the nicest eye candy. I still have a thing for the new young Captain Kirk aka Chris Pine. He has swagger and is sexy in all his roles. A man with swagger is delicious. Single man surprised me. The Best Marigold Hotel made me laugh because those old birds are delightful! I loved this movie as much as Calendar Girls. But the movie that made me think the hardest was Things You can tell by Looking at Her.

What struck me was the mire these women were all stuck in. It made me think that although people’s lives look better from the outside, we are all the same.

 

My Friend The Reader just put me onto a great site that helps determine your next read. It’s called Whichbook.

You choose from a list of options what you feel like reading, Happy/Sad, Predictable/Unpredictable, Optimists/Bleak an d a myriad of other choices. Then it shows you which book best suits your mood. Sounds perfect for me! I will be giving it a try for my next book.

As for movies? I HAVE to get to the theatre to see BRave, Batman and Spiderman. Although, what was wrong with Toby McGuire’s Spiderman? Those were great movies! Ah well….happy reading!

 

Fifty Fifty Me: The Shadow Wife

So I missed a week of 50/50 me. Reading The Management of Nonprofit and Charitable Organizations in Canada by Vic Murray and Effectively Managing Human Services Organizations by Ralph Brody apparently don’t count. I don’t find it dry reading, I quite enjoy it and find it enlightening. However, it doesn’t fit the criteria for the challenge. First of all, you need to read it cover to cover – who does that with text books? Secondly, these aren’t the books I read for fun. They are work. Fun is different. Although making the effort to expand my genre exploration hasn’t always been fun. Science Fiction isn’t very fun for me, nor is fantasy. I need to put effort into it so I am able to follow the story line. My preference is the ability to be LOST in a book. When I say LOST, I mean the story sweeps me away and I can’t wait to spend time with the characters. I do not mean LOST as in “WHAT THE HECK IS GOING ON?”Hello Lord of the Rings…

The book I read this week brought me back to my favorite genre. I love family relationship stories. I love a strong female lead. I love reading about places with such detail that I figure I could go there on vacation and find my way around.

I watched 6 movies over the past 2 weeks… I know 6!!! When I was suppose to be sleeping or writing papers. I no longer watch TV, I just don’t have the attention span for interest right now. But a movie? Now that is something I like to get lost in. But enough with the musings… let’s get on with it shall we?

The Book

The Shadow Wife by Diane Chamberlain was gobbled up by me in a couple of days. I read it over lunch at work and every spare moment at home. I was reading reviews on Goodreads by my friends and discovered this author through them. They love her…I can see why. This book was about two main characters intertwined through separate stories. They meet and their story connects. I became very involved in one story, then it stopped and started with the second character’s story. It would frustrate me because I never wanted to end and pick up the next story line. This is common for the books I prefer to read. Maeve Binchy is a master at it character development. I devour strong character building.

This story began with The lead’s parents in a commune in Big Sur. It reminded at first of a Barbara Delinsky novel called the Coast Road (also a good read). I like the whole hippy concept except the filth part, and the camping life part, and the lack of wealth part…okay in THEORY I like hippies, but I like to read about them and have coffee with them and learn about their life. I do not wish to be a hippy. Been there, done that to the best of my ability. I can peel logs, can food, grow food, identify edible plants in the wild, fish, and build a fire without the use of paper or fire starter. Trust me, I’d rather read about these adventures the relive them myself.

As this baby of the hippies grew up, her life changed into what I can identify with professionally. There was a twist at the end that blew my head off. The entire time I was reading this book I was thinking I like this book a lot, not sure I love it. By the end, with me not seeing the twist coming, I LOVED this book! I knew this writer always places twists into her books but there was no hint of it in this. I loved that – and now have ruined it for everyone because I am awesome like that.

When I read the twist, I was at work in the lunch room and yelled out “NO WAY!” That to me is the sign of a fun read. What more can you ask for? Surprise, independent strong females, family legacy, and beautiful scenery? Great summertime read!

This week  am tackling Oprah’s new book club – that’s right people she is back with an on-line book club! Wild by Cheryl Strayed. This book is uncomfortable for me at times. It is very relevant to me, but I am enjoying it immensely! I will let you know how it goes. This book places me halfway to the challenge of 50 books in a year. YAY! I have loved this challenge! It has brough me out of my comfort zone and into books I love. I never would have read Stephen King, The Room, or a multitude of other genres and storylines that have scared me in the past.

The Movie

I watched these movies over the past two weeks :

  1. Avengers
  2. Factory Girl
  3. Being Elmo
  4. Every Little Step
  5. Schindler’s List
  6. If Lucy Fell

Factory Girl was about Andy Warhol’s iconic Factory girl and the person she was in real life. All this movie did for me was make me see what a wingnut Warhol was and wondered how he paid for things. I love his art, but wow…

If Lucy Fell was an old school Sarah Jessica Parker movie – Boring….

Every little Step was a documentary of  the Chorus Line revival. I loved this. Pain, rejection, excitement all rolled into one. I have always fantasized about being on Broadway but I don’t have the strength it takes (nor the talent) to face rejection on a daily basis. Wow these people are amazing!

Being Elmo… Behind the scenes of being a Muppeteer? Are you freaking kidding me??? THIS WAS AMAZING and I cried. I loved seeing the Jim Henson Empire. I will watch this documentary over and over.

Schindler’s list. I was the only person left in the world who hadn’t seen this. It is now part of the Grade 12 curriculum in Alberta’s High Schools. Wow what a powerful movie. I found it interesting how he made enough money to save these people and then just before the war ended, so did the money. Divine intervention obviously played a hand.  4000 Jews live in Poland now, but 4 generations of Schindler’s Jews make up over 6500. Doing the right thing is never easy, but so important. If you haven’t watched this – you must. AND I can cross it off my 100 AFI list!

Then my favorite movie of the year. It is no surprise people. you all know how much I love superheroes and fancy myself as one. The Avengers was FREAKING AWESOME! Is it out on Blu-ray yet? I want it for Christmas Santa!! Please do yourself a favor, watch all the other movies first. This will help with the maximized enjoyment of the Avenger movie. Stan Lee I heart you.

This week movies? I have no idea. I have watched 42 on the year. I am in the mood for Brave but that isn’t until the 22. I want to see something that will make me laugh. Life has been hard this week, so laughter is in order!

Suggestions?

But I don’t want to watch TV Dad! I’m reading!

It happens every summer. A big blockbuster release. No, I am not talking movies, I am speaking of books! In past years its was the Twilight series, or the Harry Potter series, or even Peter and the Starcatcher series. This year the book with buzz amongst the teen set is Mocking Jay by Suzanne Collins was released yesterday. It is the third part of the Hunger Games Trilogy. Could we wait for it to come out in paperback? No. How about for it to be available at the public library? Don’t make me laugh! We need to own it RIGHT NOW! Why? Because reading books over and over is part of the fun! (and because his friends are reading it too!) This is one indulgence that I permit my children. If they want a book, they may have it.

I would be the last mom on earth you would expect this type of behavior from. I never, and I mean NEVER buy my kids “stuff”. They get an allowance, or have jobs so therefore must make their own purchases and learn how to save and budget accordingly. But there is something about a book that makes me cave in.

I am a big believer in escape into reading. The pure pleasure from a great story is ecstasy for me. The very fact that my children desire a new book and start reading it in the car 3 minutes AFTER purchase thrills me like nothing else can. We have an extensive children’s library. We own everything from Goodnight moon (the very first story my young little minds heard at the age of 1) to every Ridley Pearson book written for the under 18 set. With every book in between.  There is no one happier than me – except maybe my dad – that I raised have readers! At this point you maybe wondering why this is an important part of my personal tourism.

Well for starters, you need to know that I don’t think I am a complete mess and need a total overhaul! I have some excellent qualities thank you very much! And books teach me things that I might never have learned, or taken me places that I have not seen yet, or gave me friends when I was lonely and in need of someone who understood the pain I was going through.

I remember the very first novel I ever read. I was in grade 4, age 9. I was laying on my bed reading an Archie Digest when dad walked into my room. He handed me a book and said I would like you to read this and then he left. Up until that point, my parents read to me every night. We would discuss the book. I would ask copious amounts of questions and all would,very patiently, be answered by my father. I couldn’t wait until the next night! So, you could imagine my disappointment when I had to read a book on my own. But what a GIFT I was given! Charlotte’s Web was the very first book I read on my own and I never looked back.

I have very strong memories associated with books I read as a child. Apples Every Day, by Grace Richardson was a gift from my mom. She thought books should be under every Christmas Tree, and I agree. This was a novel that she randomly picked up and thought I may enjoy it. I read it 20 times. I do that. If I love a book, I will reread it. Every time I will gain new insight or be comforted by the familiar setting. Judy Blume was an author who had a tremendous influence on me. I snapped up every one of her books. I remember Mrs. Erickson our librarian suggesting that maybe I branch out and try a new author. But I didn’t want to! Why should I? I loved her books! But again, another adult in my life was right and I met L.M. Montgomery. HOLY CRAP! Her books rocked my world! My Great Grandmother gave me the entire series. Her reasoning was she wanted for me to understand what Island life was like for her when she was a girl, and to understand that Canada has some pretty amazing authors. But with any author I like, I must read all that they publish. A sickness really. But I am not caring! After reading a great novel I mourn the characters for a while. I miss them. So when I found Maeve Binchy, she made all my dreams come true! She would throw in old characters into her other stories so I could visit with them for a while and see how they are doing. This made me very happy. I read Tara Road and Evening Class every year. They are like old friends.

However, like most people, I love to meet new friends too! I believe that people come into our lives for a reason. They make you think, feel or react. This year I met a person who when asked if he ever read a particular book, he replied, no I don’t like to read but I saw the movie, it’s the same thing. What the…?!?!?  ARE YOU KIDDING ME!?!?!? Poor fellow, I felt nothing but pity for him. He will never know the secret pleasure that a book will provide. To me books and people are major influences in my life. I can’t express to a book how much they have influenced me but I can with people.

So the next travel stop on my journey is New York. I am about to begin Sundays at Tiffany’s by James Patterson. Recommended by a book club friend of mine. I want to visit New York but will happily read about it for now. I am sure I will be heavily influenced in someway, I always get something out of a book, even if I hate it. If you are a person who has been an influence or an inspiration in my life up until now, you can bet I will let you know and express a debt of thanks. Because that my blogger friends, is the next real stop in my journey. I am going to start telling people how much they mean to me. It feels like a risk, but is that not the point of my being a tourist in my own life?

In case you haven’t heard me say it, thank you for being an influence in my life. You inspire me to write this everyday, because you read it.