The Book Flood

Iceland- the not so icy island with delicious hot springs and stunning views also is the land of high literacy culture.  I learned last Christmas right before the holiday that Iceland has a tradition dubbed “the book flood.”  It’s basically where everyone exchanges books on Christmas eve and spends the rest of the evening reading.

I first saw this posted on Facebook, but since Facebook’s accuracy may be up for debate I decided to do a little research and found an NPR article about Iceland’s tradition.

I was thrilled to confirm that this is a real occurrence.  I also learned that Iceland publishes more books per capita than any other nation in the world.  So naturally, Iceland is my new favorite county.  I mean its and entire nation doing what this girl loves.

I kind of hope to start this in my own family.  I want everybody reading or listening to books. I know that my aunt and mom would be on board.

I guess I like it so much because it’s not just about reading it’s about sharing the reading experience, sharing knowledge.  It’s a solo thing as well as a group thing.  It’s like the whole country is doing a big read-in. I find that notion just fascinating.

Okay, who’s ready to move to Iceland?!?

Book Digestion

I have what can be described as an overactive book metabolism.  What I mean by this is when I finish a book at 3 o’clock in the afternoon, I can be found starting a new one by half past.  I rarely feel the need to process or digest the previous book. A few books have left me feeling “hungover.” This is when my mind is struggling.  It’s not due to a crazy plot twist, but something deeper that is difficult to describe. On those rare occasions, I do give myself time perhaps a day at max.  The Stand was one of these.  I needed time to come to terms with the epicness. Honestly, this is the only word I can use to describe this book.

However, there are many people I know that upon finishing any book take a couple of days before starting the next one.  My mother is one, and as I kid I never understood this.  I thought, “What if someone asks, ‘What are you reading?’” It was completely unacceptable to say nothing right now.  What!?! That’s crazy talk? I still feel this way.

Even in college when I would go months between free reading sessions I always had a book in progress. I couldn’t possibly have it any other way.  I get this hivy feeling when I finish my book at work and must ride the train home, and I don’t have anything to read. It’s only a half an hour ride but it is torturous without reading material.

My lack of digestion might mean I have a serious addiction problem, but I don’t feel that it’s necessary for me to ponder books in post.  Most of the time, I know how I feel about the book by the time I close the back cover.  I feel that I do need more digestion time than the book was probably a rare gem. An alternative explanation is that I’m a slow reader so it could be argued that I digest as I consume.

I think my slow reading has left me feeling behind as well, so I have this urge to rush into the next book because it took me so long to get through the previous one.  Over the years, I’ve gained reading speed, but my super slowness of yester-year still haunts me from when I was a kid and I had to read so many books or pages in order to get a reward.

While I tend to digest books at lightning speed I understand why some people need to wait before delving into the next story.  They need time to adjust.  They may need their brain to re-calibrate. In cases of really good books I think people need to come to terms with the idea that the story is over, and it might be quite a while before they read a book that invokes this feeling.

I admit I should probably take a slower approach to books and reading.  I should enjoy the journey and process more.  It’s not about how many you can get read in a year.  It’s not a race.  And I’ve improved on this.  There are just so many wonderful works out there, and I want to get to as many as I possibly can.

I suppose it is a balance and perhaps some more digesting time might not be a terrible idea.  How long is your book digestion?

Writing Woes

As I’ve mentioned before, I not only spend copious amounts of time reading, but also scratching out my own scribblings. I tend to write long-hand in a journal I carry with me.  However, I have recently been having some writing woes, but not the usual writer’s block and such. I have been struggling with what people say and do when they see me writing.

I have been given the impression that they think my scribblings are silly, and what could I possibly be writing that is so important that I fill up so many pages.  I’m currently on my fourth journal. There are many people who I have kept this hobby hidden from due to fear of judgement.

Now I know that I really shouldn’t give a flying flip what other people think, but a writer’s ego is fragile.  And sometimes things said really sting, such as one morning a co-worker saw me writing before work at my desk and mockingly said, “Dear diary…” like I was an angsty teenaged girl.  I was instantly embarrassed of my writing and felt foolish for it. It made me feel that my hobby of writing and blogging were inferior to other hobbies.

It’s difficult to not let comments like this burrow their way into your mind and under your skin and make you really question what you’re up to. It makes you wonder, is it really worth it for those of us who are not professionals?  Answer: Of course, it is!

However, it is a bit ironic.  A professional writer, such as a journalist or a novelist, is held in quite high esteem, but it feels like if you haven’t reached that level then you’re inadequate. Yet how does one reach those levels without toiling away with a pen and a piece of paper or a keyboard and a monitor before their day job? And what if you just like doing it with no aspiration to be paid?

Writing is difficult.  It is a process.  I don’t like criticism, but I’ll take it and do something with it if it will improve my work.  However, criticism for the act itself seems unnecessary and rather unproductive. I haven’t come upon any solid advice other than to ignore people and their comments and their eye rolling.

I am, however, very lucky to have many supportive people in my life regarding my writing. They are pretty amazing, so I’m going to focus on those awesome peeps, jam to “Shake It Off” and keep doing what I love.

Happy Friday, everyone! Keep on keeping on!

WWW Wednesday

Say what?!?!

Have no fear, folks.  I can assure we have not gone Groundhogs Day and are repeating Tuesday, and no, unfortunately, we have not broken the space time continuum and jumped to Friday.  It is indeed Wednesday just with a bonus post this week.

Last Wednesday in my blog perusal I discovered WWW Wednesday from coffeeloving bookoholic who participates each week.  WWW Wednesday is hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words. (BTW both are great blogs and you should go check them out.) It looked like it would be fun, so I thought I would give it a go this week.

The three Ws are:

  1. What are you currently reading?
  2. What did you recently finish reading?
  3. What do you think you’ll read next?

Currently Reading-

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks  by Rebecca Skloot.  I started it just last night on my way home.  I’ve heard marvelous things, thus far I’m intrigued. So I’m certainly looking forward to see what’s in store.

Finished Reading-

Italian Shoes by Henning Mankell.  It’s a short book, but a long read. This isn’t bad. There was just a lot to digest.  On the whole, I thought it was a good, but it certainly wasn’t light.

Next Read up-

This is a difficult question because while I have a pile of books to be read. I don’t normally know what I’ll read next until I’m nearly finished with my current book. I like to see what’s striking my mood in the moment.  Thus I can really only guess what will be next; however, I do have a sneaking suspicion it will be The All-Girl Filling Station’s Last Reunion by Fannie Flagg.  I’m very excited about this read.  I’ve greatly enjoyed other works by Flagg.  Can’t wait to get to Heaven will always have a special place in my heart.

Hope you enjoyed this little extra. I will be back on Friday per usual. And please share in comments your three Ws!  Happy reading!

A Bite-Sized Review: A Movable Feast

Here is little review to munch on this Tuesday morning!  Happy reading everyone!

Vitals-

Title: A Movable Feast; Author: Ernest Hemmingway; Genre: Non-Fiction/Memoir

The Gist- Musings and anecdotes about Mr. Hemmingway’s experience of living in Paris in the early 1920s.

What Stuck- The book struck me as a bit odd.  It’s disjointed and seems random.  And yet philosophical. I mentioned this to my mother who informed me that this was Hemmingway’s style. Since I haven’t read anything else by Mr. Hemmingway I was unaware of this, but not particularly fond of it.

Should you give a flip?- I can’t say you should. I want to say that it’s an interesting read, but I can’t describe why I feel compelled to say that.  I guess it was comforting to read that many of the greats out there struggle as much as the average joe. There…that lack of clarity pretty much reflects the book. Use your own discretion.

A Paper Desire

When I was in grade school every few months or so the teacher would pass out these booklet flyers things on newsprint from Scholastic, and it always felt like the world was filled with unimaginable possibilities.  I would scour the pages and dream of having a new book in my hands.

On one of these occasions we were given an extra insert about joining the Scholastic book club.  There was a monthly member fee, but you would receive two books in the mail every month.  The books would be suited for the student’s age.

I think I must have been only in first or second grade.  All the details are a bit fuzzy, but I remember wanting it so very much that after the idea was pitched to my parents I was sent off to my room so they could discuss it. I think they wanted to discuss it sans puppy dog eyes.

I vaguely remember trying to listen through the door to their conversation without much success.  However, the final verdict was that I would be allowed to join.  It was a triumphant moment, and I received books every month for several years before my parents and I decided to stop.

At that point, they were sending me two chapter books a month and I wasn’t able to keep up with reading all of them due to school work and activities.  But I remember a lot of those books; particularly those from the early years.  I probably remember them because I read them over and over and over again.  I was especially a fan of the book called Underwear. I also thoroughly enjoyed No Dogs Allowed and Harvey Potter’s Balloon Farm.

Actually, I think my parents still have most of these books.  They are just packed away now.  I can’t imagine my mom getting rid of them.  She has a soft spot for these as much as I do.

It was also due to a Scholastic order mix up that I ended up discovering Harry Potter before it became the craze that it did.  One of the things that Scholastic did was enable students to purchase books at the end of the school year, so when you came back to school in the fall there would be books waiting for you.  I had convinced my mom to get me an Amber Brown book at the end of my 5th grade year all the popular girls were into them so when I came back to sixth grade (just across the hall from my fifth grade classroom), I could pick it up.

However, when I asked my former 5th grade teacher about it.  She said that some sort of error had occurred. By the time realized it, they were out of the Amber Brown book I had ordered.  In a pinch, she had picked me another one called Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. I was less than pleased with this news, but thanked her anyway.

Well I’m sure you all know the end to that story. Love…true book love. I guess it was just a happy accident.

Those Scholastic flyers were the best, and I was excited to learn that they still send them out to school children today.  They still print them on the same newsprint and the ink still has a certain haziness to it.  And it seems that kids still get excited to take them home and try to pitch to their parents why they will simply die if they don’t get the books they believe they vitally need.

It’s wonderful to know that somethings don’t change because they don’t need to.  Thank you Scholastic for being the rock of the children’s book world.

Does anybody else remember these magical flyers?

The Other Side of Reading

I have recently been reading Elizabeth Berg’s book on writing called Escaping into the Open. It’s fairly obvious that I not only like reading but fancy writing a bit as well.  I’ve known for a while that there aren’t necessarily strict, firm rules to writing in order to be successful.  However, I don’t believe it truly sunk in until reading this. People say what works for them, but that doesn’t mean it’s applicable to everyone.

Thus, a big part of writing is simply figuring out what the heck works for you.  This is comforting and yet terrifying. It’s nice to know that my bumbling around is not only normal but encouraged; however, I really would like to stop bumbling.  But it sounds like that’s just the way of things.

Berg gives the impression that being relaxed about writing will make everything easier.  I think this is true. I’m just not quite sure how to Zen out my brain about this.  Writing tends to make me get this… tightness.  I want to put a masterpiece on the page. This includes my blog posts. I realize I have to get past this, and Berg makes it seem like one day I will.  I just can’t force it.

She reiterates many things I already knew, but it’s nice and necessary to hear them again.  Such as:

  • Write, write, write, just keep writing, no matter what. I have seen transformations in my own writing as time goes on.  Even though there are many times I feel like I’m spinning my wheels.
  • Read everything. This I try to do on a regular basis. (This blog helps.)  Ideas strike in all kinds of weird places.  So just keep that nose in any reading material you can find. As a personal addendum to this I’ve discovered listening to a wide variety of podcast can also get the ideas flowing.
  • There is freedom in writing and don’t let other writers’ hang ups or beliefs limit what you do or how you do it. There are a lot of myths about writing some could be true for some people but they don’t necessarily affect or apply to everyone.
  • Work hard, but be kind to yourself. Natural talent always helps, but drive and passion can make almost any writer succeed.  Furthermore, I know that I’m not a super-star writer, I like to think I have the drive to become one.  And that this hard work does not include mean or self-deprecating thoughts/comments.  A firm gentleness will suffice.  Positivity will go a lot further than negativity.

Berg provides quite a bit of solid advice for a green writer like myself.  She’s realistic but encouraging and right now that’s what my sensitive writing ego needs.

There is a lot of writing advice out there for bloggers and well for all forms of writing.  What is some advice you’ve received?  Any advice that was particularly unique?