Reading is FUNdamental

It might be a bit of an understatement, but I love to read. It’s one of my favorite activities. On average, I read two or three books a week. Sometimes I do it to keep the brain firing but mostly it’s just flat-out fun. To me, there’s really nothing better than curling up with a book that takes me to faraway places with interesting characters, especially after a hard day at work.

One of my favorite genres is horror. I know, I know. Very relaxing, Wendy. I like the modern classics. Stephen King and H.P. Lovecraft are a couple of my favorite scribes, but I’ll give just about any horror author a decent shot at winning me over. Mysteries—both hardcore authors like Alex Kava or whimsical writers like McCall Smith—can often be found on my nightstand. Agatha Christie is a true favorite. Then there’s science fiction, another favorite. Old, new, it doesn’t matter. I read it all. Even genre-bending authors like Kay Hooper who intertwines mystery-thrillers with a psychic/supernatural twist can be really fun. As hard as it might be to reconcile this next one given what you know about me, I do enjoy Jane Austen as well.  And yes, I’m also a comic book nerd. I know. Big surprise there, I know.

Even though I am a legit, full-grown adult I have not escaped the blast radius of the cataclysmic Young Adult boom either. Harry Potter?  Yep, I’ve read them too.  Look down on them if you must, but I don’t believe that everything you read has to be on par with Dickens. I’d heard that some parents kept their kids from reading these delightful books because they thought it celebrated witchcraft and their kids would turn into Satan-lovers or something ridiculous like that.  That was a minority of parents and I’m thankful for that because that book series single-handedly got an entire generation absolutely bonkers on reading again. It was great. The books couldn’t come out fast enough and the kids were thrilled to be READING!  Imagine that!? READING of all things!  And parents were trying to squash that. I just don’t understand some people.

At a time when the fear that iPhones and tablets and PSPs and social media were going to rot the brains of our youth, the Harry Potter collection got them reinvigorated on flipping through paper pages. They were reading. Not posting or updating or following or pinning. And I totally get why. I freakin’ loved those books. And they were not all easy reads as one might expect. J.K. Rowling did not hold back on the drama, the emotions, or the suspense. These novels were super exciting in spite of, or maybe because of, the emotional roller-coaster the author put us devoted readers on, and worthy of all the accolades they received.

A few people I know pointed out, as if I didn’t know, that—gasp—those are kids’ books. Their eyebrows would arch as they not so silently judged my reading selections. This air of pretentiousness is starting to pervade our literature choices and I just want to say, let’s not get too snobby, people.

Take book clubs for example. If you’ve ever joined a book group, you know that they usually don’t read “fun” books. No light romances or whimsical mysteries or horror novels for them. Heaven forbid they admit that they like a fun story more than some bloated philosophical 3,000 page masterpiece that takes forever to get through.

No disrespect to Tolstoy of Dostoevsky or Nobokov, but I don’t quite get why a club would choose a book where it’s hard to really understand the “point” behind them even after you’ve read them twice or even three times (but you say you do just so you don’t look stupid in book club)! Yeah, yeah, yeah, they’re classics. They deserve their place in the annals of great literature, but I’m just going to say it: No one really enjoys these books. The problem is that most people in book clubs only say they do so their peers won’t look down on them or think they’re “reading challenged.”

That last paragraph was not just all speculation. I belonged to a book club back in the day. It was mind-numbingly boring. I gave it a good college try though hoping it would broaden my horizons but I only lasted a couple of books. The material they chose was sooo stale. To my credit, or discredit – however you want to view it – I could read the material…easily…I just didn’t want to.  I know, I know, that sounds like something a toddler would say, but oh well. Why read something you’re not going to enjoy? Before bowing out I did notice that no one else in the club seemed to relish the book list either. Yet no one spoke up and said, “Can we please just pick out something fun to read?”

I think it’s high time we remove the snobbishness. I say, if you’re reading, that’s great! It doesn’t matter what you’re reading just so as long as you’re enjoying it because it’s supposed to be a truly relaxing hobby. So, please, read anything. Read comic books or Stephen King or J.K. Rowling or Danielle Steele. Just have fun doing it.

Reading builds the mind and offers an escape from everyday life. While it’s good to learn and improve yourself by stretching your comfort zone, there’s no reason why it always has to be overly challenging or arduous. You should never sulk or heavy sigh when you think about the book you’re about to crack open. Read a book that’s fun sometimes instead of always choosing material that hurts your brain. And don’t let others bring you down for what you read.  Ever.

Remember: Reading should be FUNdamental!

girl reading

An Unrepentant Addiction Redux

So in honor of National Library Week, I’m going to repost a bit of a previous entry about my love of books. Believe it or not this obsession with books even outweighs my obsession with all manner of horror films. I know, I know, but it’s true.

So when my son was little, and then again with my daughter, we’d make the weekly trek to the library, dufflebag in hand, prepared to raid their shelves of as many books as I could physically carry out to the car by myself.  Oftentimes it was quite the struggle out to the parking lot (and then again into the house) and to an outsider it probably looked as though my bag was filled with bricks what with the way it bent my back. And trust me, this was not an exercise made in vain either…we actually read every book we stuffed into that dufflebag, usually before the week was over. Our bedtime ritual was quite a lengthy one given the fact that we had to read 5 or 6 books each night. Keep in mind, we had books of our own…stacks and stacks of books. But we soon exhausted our own supply and since I didn’t have a money tree in my backyard for trips to Barnes and Noble, the library was a weekly fixture for us. Of course they’re older, but my kids retained their love of books…as have I.  And my house shows it.

Now, if you’ve ever been at home watching network TV in the late morning/early afternoon, during The Price is Right, Family Feud, or any old school soap opera you’ve no doubt seen those cheesy coffee commercials where a woman wrapped tight in a pastel shawl has her hands cupped around a steaming mug of French Roast. Without a care in the world she looks out the window of her breakfast nook just contemplating how wonderful of a morning it is. She’s in no rush at all to start the day and just basks in the comforts her caffeine and nook are providing her. How silly, right? Well…

I want that! Not exactly that, but close to it. The only thing I’d change about those commercials is that instead of standing around like a zombie I’d be curled up in a decked out bay window seat with a good book in my hands. It’d be a requirement.

Books, reading, literature…appreciation of the written word is the lifeblood of my house. I may not have the breakfast nook or the time to laze around in the mornings or a sprawling vista of oaks and elms rolling into the distance from my backyard, but I do have the book part down. They’re absolutely everywhere; stacked on nightstands, scattered around the bed, piled on stairs, and littering the kitchen counter. Hell, it’s not rare at all to find a book under my bed covers because I fell asleep reading (again). My daughter’s room is practically a library in and of itself.  Even the spare room isn’t safe and has more than its share of bookshelves.  We’re hopeless addicts (a nicer way to say this would be bibliophiles) to novels, tomes, epics, thrillers, horrors, mysteries, best sellers, unknowns, contemporaries, and classics. It’s all fair game.

This addiction doesn’t make for the tidiest house in the world but certainly an entertaining one seeing as how you can literally stumble across a good story at any given moment. While the rest of the Barnes and Nobles are going down quicker than the Titanic, I may be single-handedly keeping the one near my house in business. Every time I go in there with my daughter any cash I may be fortunate enough to have in my pockets is quickly transformed into a bag of books.   You can never have too many, right? At least that’s my understanding. It’s simply impossible for us to window-shop in a book store.

On top of the whole Barnes and Nobles temptation problem I have, there is another one closer to home.  The downtown area of my neighborhood is reminiscent of Mayberry (showing my age here).  And right smack in the center of the main drag next to the coffee shop is a used/rare book store. It’s large and dusty and unorganized and the guy who runs it looks like he hasn’t stepped out into the light in decades.  But it’s a treasure trove to me!  I could seriously spend hours in this place.  And have.  I enjoy everything this hole in the wall offers — the smells of the old books, the joyous wonder of searching through the shelves to find some rare book I’ve never seen before or perhaps one that I remember from my childhood or maybe a classic in its original print rather than the abridged edition.  They’re all fodder for my unrepentant book compulsion.  And did I mention it’s right next door to a coffee shop!?  Nirvana.

One day I may have a house that has that beautiful vintage inspired reading nook complete with a cushioned window seat and surrounding bookshelves in an oh-so-cute and artistic arrangement.  Until then, though, I’ll enjoy the hard and softbound jungle that is my cluttered home, which really, in itself has become the greatest reading nook of all.

The literacy site

Stranded (I wish)

You know that old phrase, “If you were ever stranded on a desert island…” Meh, I’m not a huge fan of that. It’s not like I have anything against beaches or sunshine or lounging in the sand. I just happen to have a better place in mind to be stranded should the next polar vortex or zombie apocalypse rear its ugly (and rotting) head. Put me in a bookstore before any place else. It’s the one place I know of that never gets boring. A desert island, yeah, it sounds nice but I think I might get tired of eating coconut every day and seeing the same damn horizon day in and day out. In a bookstore nothing remains the same. Around every corner and on every shelf is a new landscape to traverse, a different perspective to consider, a unique set of lives to explore. It’s a sanctuary of endless possibility and I revel in the impossible task of trying to find that nonexistent end. I can’t think of anything better than being stuck to while my days away in a Barnes and Noble…especially one with a Starbucks in-house. Throw in some pastries and caffeine and that pretty much sums up Nirvana for me….even if zombies are knocking at the door.

stranded at bookstore

If I could bottle my nightmares (in prose)

I could easily be a multi-millionaire. Seriously. I’m very close actually. If I can get my brain to work with me, I’d be raking it in. How? Easy. I’d be an author using my dreams as inspiration. Not really dreams so much as out and out nightmares. The one problem I have is my memory isn’t cooperating in my get rich scheme. I can’t remember my dreams well enough to write them down.  If I could, I’d make Stephen King books sound like lullabies. Pretty much all of my dreams are some kind of nightmare that are spilling over with titillating plot lines, unbridled suspense, and chilling revelations at every terrifying turn. My novels would be easily adaptable into movie form. No need to be picky about that. We can franchise it even. Maybe make an app for them. I’d be into merchandising too. T shirts, boxers, hats, those little do-thingies with the bobbly heads. We can discuss all of the logistics later.

Right now I’m just ready to start writing and I fully believe my literary creations would be a rousing success. The monsters I see when I sleep are right on par with anything portrayed in John Carpenter movies (back when he made kick-ass horror movies). I want to be humble, but honestly, they might even be better. The things my unwitting mind conjures up while it’s supposed to be resting are truly horrifying and unique. I mean, I should get credit even though I’m completely unconscious. That’s only fair.

The only thing holding me back is that I can never fully remember the way the story goes. (If you believe that, I have a bridge to sell you.)  Seriously though, I can visualize the dream easily but getting it out of my mouth or onto paper is the problem. I know it would make for good story material and I know I’m ready to write.  The fact that I lack any type of writing skills or motivation whatsoever shouldn’t even come into it, right?  So come on, brain, let’s start working together and get the next Salem’s Lot on the shelves. Now…just where did I put my thesaurus??

calvin

An Unrepentant Addiction

If you’ve ever been at home watching network TV in the late morning/early afternoon, during The Price is Right, Family Feud, or any old school soap opera you’ve no doubt seen those cheesy coffee commercials where a woman wrapped tight in a pastel shawl has her hands cupped around a steaming mug of French Roast. Without a care in the world she looks out the window of her breakfast nook just contemplating how wonderful of a morning it is. She’s in no rush at all to start the day and just basks in the comforts her caffeine and nook are providing her. How silly, right? Well…

I want that! Not exactly that, but close to it. The only thing I’d change about those commercials is that instead of standing around like a zombie I’d be curled up in a decked out bay window seat with a good book in my hands. It’d be a requirement.

Books, reading, literature…appreciation of the written word is the lifeblood of my house. I may not have the breakfast nook or the time to laze around in the mornings or a sprawling vista of oaks and elms rolling into the distance from my backyard, but I do have the book part down. They’re absolutely everywhere; stacked on nightstands, scattered around the bed, piled on stairs, and littering the kitchen counter. Hell, it’s not rare at all to find a book under my bed covers because I fell asleep reading (again). My daughter’s room is practically a library in and of itself.  Even the spare room isn’t safe and has more than its share of bookshelves.  We’re hopeless addicts (a nicer way to say this would be bibliophiles) to novels, tomes, epics, thrillers, horrors, mysteries, best sellers, unknowns, contemporaries, and classics. It’s all fair game.

This addiction doesn’t make for the tidiest house in the world but certainly an entertaining one seeing as how you can literally stumble across a good story at any given moment. While the rest of the Barnes and Nobles are going down quicker than the Titanic, I may be single-handedly keeping the one near my house in business. Every time I go in there with my daughter any cash I may be fortunate enough to have in my pockets is quickly transformed into a bag of books.   You can never have too many, right? At least that’s my understanding. It’s simply impossible for us to window-shop in a book store.

On top of the whole Barnes and Nobles temptation problem I have, there is another one closer to home.  The downtown area of my neighborhood is reminiscent of Mayberry (showing my age here).  And right smack in the center of the main drag next to the coffee shop is a used/rare book store. It’s large and dusty and unorganized and the guy who runs it looks like he hasn’t stepped out into the light in decades.  But it’s a treasure trove to me!  I could seriously spend hours in this place.  And have.  I enjoy everything this hole in the wall offers — the smells of the old books, the joyous wonder of searching through the shelves to find some rare book I’ve never seen before or perhaps one that I remember from my childhood or maybe a classic in its original print rather than the abridged edition.  They’re all fodder for my unrepentant book compulsion.  And did I mention it’s right next door to a coffee shop!?  Nirvana.

One day I may have a house that has that beautiful vintage inspired reading nook complete with a cushioned window seat and surrounding bookshelves in an oh-so-cute and artistic arrangement.  Until then, though, I’ll enjoy the hard and softbound jungle that is my cluttered home, which really, in itself has become the greatest reading nook of all.

Image