ALL the Books!

Hi, I’m Donna, and I’m a bookaholic.

I have a problem – I love to read. I’ve loved to read as long as I’ve been able to read. If my  parents couldn’t find me, they knew I was likely tucked into a corner somewhere, or laying across the recliner, or huddled on the couch, reading. My godmother took  us to the library weekly. The five-book limit drove young me insane. Who could read *just* five books in a week?

I read everything I could get my hands on, but  my favorites were pretty typical – Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, Little Women (along with all the sequels), Anne of Green Gables, Little House on the Prairie series…..all the childhood favorites. Most I re-read multiple times. I read Gone With the Wind when I was ten, Pride & Prejudice at eleven. It’s no surprise I ended up majoring in English Literature in college – it seemed a natural progression.

I did take a break from reading for a few years after college. Analyzing and diagramming books into 30+ page papers for five years will do that to a person. But I slowly found my way back into reading for pleasure, first with brainless trashy novels and then onto popular novels.

I’d still rather read than watch television, unless sports are on, then it’s a draw. When Kindles first came out, Spouse got me one for Christmas. Oh lordy….access to new books 24/7? YES PLEASE!!! And also, “Danger Will Robinson!!!” Everyone knew to buy Amazon gift cards for me at every occasion. I will admit, I went a little crazy those first few months with my Kindle.

I have a thing about owning books, maybe because we grew up with little money for extras. I rarely had brand new books. I still enjoy the library, but there is just something about owning a book, holding it in your hands, knowing it’s yours, knowing you can go back and read it anytime you want. I go 50/50 between real books and e-books. I think I prefer real books – love the feel of the paper, the weight of a good, long book. You just don’t get that on an e-reader. But it is also easier, when you finish your stack of books, to jump online and have a new book on  your iPad within seconds.

I digress……If there was a catastrophe, or WWIII started while I was in a Barnes & Noble, I probably wouldn’t mind much, especially if it’s a B&N with a Starbucks inside. I mean, seriously….a seemingly-endless supply of reading material, music, coffee, pastries, and cheesecake? Sign me up. (I am being facetious…kind of). Let’s just say, I wouldn’t be opposed to living inside a bookstore for a few months, with  uninterrupted reading time, able to just work my way up one row and down another…..

I found myself inside B&N after yoga this morning. I didn’t  need to be there. I have three unread books on my Kindle, and six real unread books on my bookshelf in my room. I do not NEED any new books. But I wanted books…I wanted ALL the books. It’s like crack to me….I love seeing the covers, the titles…..love reading new things by favorite authors, love finding new favorite authors, love sharing new faves with friends, love re-reading classics and childhood favorites, love gaining new perspective on novels I read long ago. I limited myself to four novels and a biography. They sit waiting for me on the shelf beside my bed, until after I finish the two books I’m reading right now…..

Can I get a Representative?

I recently read Glennon Doyle Melton’s book, Love Warrior.   Oh my gosh – if you have a chance, read it. I loved so many things about it, highlighted so many passages. It spoke to me in so many ways. But one thing that stuck with me most is when she talks about sending her Representative out into the world…not her real self, but who she needed to be in order to be perfect and admired. Yep, I’ll wait. Go read it again. The quote is: “…we can choose to be perfect and admired or to be real and loved.  We must decide. If we choose to be perfect and admired, we must send our representatives out to live our lives.  If we choose to be real and loved, we must send out our true, tender selves.”  There’s risk of being hurt when we are our real selves, but “There is pain in hiding”.  (Glennon Doyle Melton, Love Warrior, pg 225)

I spent much of my childhood, teenage years, and most of my 20’s sending my representative out there. Why? Because I didn’t really like my real self much. I truly believed she wasn’t good enough. My true self was messed up, sad, imperfect, terrified. She didn’t feel worthy of like, much less love. She was afraid of being hurt, afraid of being seen as anything less than having it completely together. That real scared self hangs around even to this day. And yes, sometimes my representative gets sent out into the world when I am scared, intimidated, full of anxiety, or really feeling less-than.

We all put faces on. Sometimes we do have to “fake it til we make it.” There’s no harm in that. Sometimes, we have to be who we want to be until we are that person. But when we are faking our entire person so that others will see us a certain way, we are not only selling ourselves short, we are being unfair to those around us. We are, in a sense, saying we don’t trust them enough with who we are really are, don’t trust they will accept us just as we are, mess and all.

How many times have you met someone who seemed perfect, and it actually turned you off? Yeah, that. I’m always SO intimidated by perfect people. They make me feel less. But after I read this book, I started to wonder how many of those “perfect” people I’ve met are really representatives? How many people do you know who truly have it that together? Just food for thought.

I’m trying to be more mindful of being my true self, particularly with teenagers in my house. They need to know this is a safe place to set their representatives aside, and be who they really are – that their true selves are good enough, accepted, loved deeply. With that practice at home (hopefully), they can gain enough confidence to send their real selves out into the outside world. They will get hurt sometimes. That’s just life, and the risk you take when dealing with other people. But you are good enough – you, just you.

Gah!!

When you can’t focus on a post to save your life, and everything you’ve written (three drafts so far today) is rubbish…..yeah, that. The mother of the Herd needs a mental health day. I’m blaming it on Outlander, and JoJo Moyes. Who the heck puts out the second half of Season 1 of Outlander, and After You – sequel to Me Before You – in the same week? All I want to do is watch, and read. Well, I did read. I finished After You yesterday just before noon. It had kindly shown up on my iPad Monday at 9pm (it’s awesome living on the West Coast when you’re pre-ordered a digital book!).  Fabulous book by the way. I highly recommend it, but I will warn you, it will leave you with a book hangover. I’m stuck in the land of Lou, who has also been joined by Claire and Jamie Fraser.

Seriously, I’ve accomplished near nothing around the house. My iPad keeps sucking me back for more. Even now, as I sit here trying yet again to get something written, I feel it calling to me, “Just one more episode! You have twenty minutes before you need to pick up the kids….” I’ve only ever been this way with a new season of Downton Abby. And this is why I try not to get started on shows.

What has you distracted lately? Now that I’m finished with After You, and all but one of the books on my Kindle, I need new reading suggestions. And since I only have four episodes left in this season of Outlander, you may as well throw out some suggestions along those lines as well. In the meantime, you can find me with my face in the screen. Jamie and Claire need me.

Revisiting an old friend

I’ve spent the last two weeks re-reading the entire Anne of Green Gables series by Lucy Maud Montgomery. It was a childhood favorite for me, but it’s been probably thirty years since I last read it. I’ve enjoyed renewing my friendship with Anne, Diana, Gilbert, Marilla, Matthew, and all the other Avonlea inhabitants.  I’ve giggled like a girl over Anne’s antics. I’ve smiled at her long, elaborate speeches. I’ve sighed over her girlhood dreams.  How I have missed her, and yet I wasn’t even aware of it.

It is good for the soul to go back and revisit old friends such as this. I think it’s also enlightening to re-read childhood favorites. I remember how I felt, what I thought, what I wanted when I read Anne’s story the first time. I come at it now, older, a woman rather than a girl, mother of a girl myself. It’s a different perspective. There’s nostalgia in that. I miss the girl I was when I first read these books, but re-reading brings that girl back to me. Maybe that’s a large part of why I have enjoyed reading them again.

The Princess never made it very far into Anne’s world. It didn’t interest her. Neither did the Little House series of Laura Ingalls Wilder. I will admit, that hurts a bit. My daughter doesn’t see what I saw. She would much rather read about vampires, ghosts, mysteries, and such than the simple life of a late-nineteenth century orphan girl in Canada. Sigh. Harry Potter, Katniss Everdeen, and Tris Prior are the heroes of her books, her time. I wonder if there will ever be the same interest in the old classics, the old friends of stories of the past.

Reading Anne of Green Gables has been soothing. It takes me back to a simpler time, a simpler me. I’ve needed that in the insanity of the last few months/  I strongly suggest, when life gets crazy, revisit an old friend. It will definitely bring some peace, and I’m sure, more than a few smiles.