Tag Archives: Books

Gone Girl is Just Okay.

I’m just now getting around to the summer blockbuster book of this year, Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. This is a little backwards of me, I know, seeing as I write a blog that consists largely of book reviews telling other people what to read, but when a book suddenly becomes so popular that even that one friend you’ve always secretly thought might be illiterate has read it, I loose all want to explore it for myself. It’s like all my pent-up strong-willedness comes bubbling to the surface, and I just can’t make myself read that one gotta-read book. (I still haven’t read Girl With a Dragon Tattoo for this very reason.) Often times that means that I finally read it a season or two late and then realize why everyone was so gaga about it in the first place.

This instance was like that. Sort of.

This book review is Cambria approved.

I probably wouldn’t have picked Gone Girl up if my book club hadn’t selected it this month. Suspense isn’t usually my thing, but this one was intriguing. The female half of a seemingly idyllic couple, Amy, disappears on the morning of their fifth anniversary. With a messy scene left at the house, the police start investigating the abduction and possibly homicide. As the evidence starts rolling in, all signs point to Nick, Amy’s bar-owning, ex-journalist husband. Cleaned-up blood, his lack of emotion, their marital and money problems, and a bombshell secret make it seem like Nick is a man with something to hide. But as Nick lawyers up and both his family and the public turn against him, something still seems off. What really happened to Amy Elliot Dune? Did Nick kill her, or is there a much more sinister force at work?

Let’s start with the good. Gillian Flynn is an incredibly gifted writer. Although I don’t think she fully understands the meaning of the word poignant (How does one smell or look poignant?), her prose is expertly dealt out and she captures the voice of her various characters well. In addition, the plot is well delivered, fast paced but never rushed,  and I like the way she organized the chapters, flipping back and forth between Nick and Amy’s perspectives, and using diary entries to catch the reader up on the couple’s background. I like the little clues that she left the reader in the first section that later made much more sense in the second and third. This was, overall, a creative and original offering on Ms Flynn’s part.

Now for the bad. It’s rare for me to be engrossed in a book that I don’t end up liking, but that’s exactly what happened here. All of her characters- from Nick and Amy to their families and the police- were singularly unlikable. Sure, I understood them. I understood why Nick cheated, why her parents turned on him, why the Ozark rednecks were thieves, why Amy (to a point) was like she was. But I couldn’t like any of them, even in the beginning before I knew Nick’s secret and when Amy was supposed to be likable. The only one I really liked was Nick’s mom, and she is a periphery character. I’m not some modern Pollyanna who only enjoys books full of sunshine; I enjoy Sherlock Holmes and Agatha Christie and my fair share of drama and true crime and human messiness. But while I was enthralled, like a train wreck you can’t look away from, I can’t say I enjoyed this book. I felt about it the same way I feel about Ernest Hemingway, or certain movies like Mr. Holland’s Opus- I can appreciate the craftmanship, but it left me felling a bit hollow.

Also, I didn’t like all the cursing. I’m not a prude by any means, I know curse words exist and I’m not opposed to them in literature if they serve a purpose. They could have served a purpose here, but I think they were overplayed- a few too many f-bombs dropped, and suddenly no one cares about the damage anymore, they just want the noise and shrapnel to stop. And I never ever, for any reason at all, approve of the c— word. Ever. If offends me down to my very marrow. It’s almost worse when it’s uttered or written by a woman. I know someone out there will think it’s empowering or very feminist, but it’s almost like a betrayal; even if it’s not true, every use of that word by a woman feels like some sort of collusion with the misogynist of the world, like a small admittance that maybe women aren’t really worth more than that. The argument could be made that it’s usage here fits the profile of the characters, but I feel like any usage in any context says it’s okay in other contexts. I just…no. You can’t convince me it is ever okay.

So there you have it. Gone Girl is not bad, but it’s not dazzling. It earns a solid three-out-of-five stars from me.

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What I’ve Been Reading, Part 2.

I think it’s only fair to warn you that these are mostly books that I have started but not finished yet. Some of them will be finished very soon, though, because I’m doing another week of trying to read a book every day. My writing has been slumpish this past week, and a good dose of vigorous reading usually helps me un-slump. Anyway, all that to say that my opinions may change by the end. We shall see.

Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynn Jones: A reader recommended this book to me several months back after a post about comfort books. I finally picked it up at my local Barnes and Noble last month, but just haven’t gotten around to really diving into it. I have dipped my toes in, though, and so far I’m intrigued. A girl who is turned into an old woman? A castle that moves about like it’s alive? If this book doesn’t absolutely tickle my brain I’ll be shocked.

Afternoons With Emily by Rose MacMurray: I’m about a fourth  of the way through this chunkster challenge book about a fictional girl who becomes close friends with the ever eccentric Emily Dickenson. I like it, but I have to be in the right mood to get into it otherwise I find myself reading the same pages over and over. I’m waiting for the perfect afternoon to curl up with some tea and really get into this promising story.

I Capture the Castle by Doddie Smith: I love going to a book store without any specific book in mind and just perusing until I find some unexpected treasure. I almost always find something fantastic, like this book which I first discovered in 2008 on just such an expedition. Doddie Smith is most famous for her classic The Hundred and One Dalmatians, but I can’t figure out why she isn’t better known for this coming of age novel, which is narrated by 17 year-old Cassandra who lives with her impoverished family in a rundown old castle. Witty, charismatic, and just the right amount of quirky, I immediately fell in love with this book. I am sorely overdue for a re-read.

State of Wonder by Ann Patchett: Y’all, I’ve joined a book club! I’m fairly new to San Diego, and making friends takes time. We were lucky that Tyler joined a company full of wonderful people that we have become true friends with, but outside of that I have yet to meet many people, and almost no book-ish ones. Them I met Gina. Her husband also works for Tyler’s company, and I think she may be my long-lost twin. And she has asked me to join her book club, where I am hoping to meet many more kindred spirits. This is the book club choice for the month of September, and  also my book for today. Why on earth have I never read anything by Ann Patchett before?! I could barely force myself to put it down long enough to write this post. An official review will follow soon. (Also, book club meets for the first time this coming weekend. I will definitely let you know how it goes.)

Half Broke Horses by Sheila Walsh: I read Walsh’s dynamic debut, The Glass Castle, in a single afternoon. Her sophomore offering has sat on my shelf for a while, often passed over for newer prospects. But after reading just 30 pages yesterday, I already know that this is going to be a new favorite. Walsh’s voice is pitch perfect and her story is, thus far, captivating.

Lit by Mary Karr: May Karr may very well be the perfect writer, if not the perfect person. Her word choice, the tone she strikes, and her honesty have all turned this into one of the best memoirs I’ve read despite the sometimes difficult subject matter. And I’m not even finished yet. I plan to do a full review when I’ve completed it, so I won’t say too much more, except I will be reading much more of Mary’s work in hopes that some of her genius with the English language rubs off.

New and Selected Poems, Vol. 2 by Mary Oliver: I bought this book during a Modern Poetry class in college, but I could never get into Mary Oliver’s work, and then I discovered Denise Levertov and officially shelved this poet. But then yesterday I was looking for something to read for my book of the day, and nothing was really grabbing me. So I took Mary off the shelf again and what do you know, I feel in love. She writes a lot about nature, but her poems are so much deeper, about so much more, than just simply animals and plants. I read all 172 pages of poems yesterday. My mind in blown and my soul is opened. I think I’ve discovered a new life-long favorite.

On Writing by Stephen King: Like I mentioned before, I had a rough time in regards to writing last week, so I thought it was the perfect time to break out this highly recommended memoir/writing advice book. I’ve tried to read a few pages every day, but I’m so fascinated that I’ll probably end up reading it all in one big chunk later this week.

Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi: I first read this book in a World Literature class in college. That was my favorite college course ever, and this tied with Dr. Zhivago as my favorite book from that class. Nafisi is a literature professor who used to teach in Tehran. She and seven of her most dedicated students started reading classics from the Western canon in secret, and this is the story of that experience. It is a true testament to the power of literature as well as a fascinating exploration of womanhood in the face of tyranny. Like with I Capture the Castle, I’m simply itching to read this fantastic memoir again.

So, after I finish all these up, I’ll have a few weeks worth of books that I actually own to read and then I’ll run out of books! I’m sure I don’t have to explain to you why I simply cannot EVER let that happen! So I need some suggestions. So far I plan to get:

  • The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson
  • In the Garden of the Beasts by Erik Larson
  • Shadow of Night (All Souls Trilogy #2) by Deborah Harkness
  • What We Talk About When We Talk About Ann Frank by Nathan Englander
  • Let’s Pretend This Never Happened: A Mostly True Memoir by Jenny Lawson
  • Where I Was From by Joan Didion
  • Love, Life, and Elephants by Daphne Sheldrick
  • Women Food and God: An Unexpected Path to Almost Everything by Geneen Roth

I know that seems like quite a list, but if these are all as good as I anticipate, they will last we a few weeks at best.  Plus, I think my reading is getting faster. That means that in a month, I may not own any books I haven’t read. Eeek! And though I have a long to-read list, nothing else is jumping out at me. So, dear friends, give me your suggestions! What books do you love, what are you dying to read, what great new tomes would my life be incomplete without?

And finally, I leave you with a gratuitous animal picture. Because I just love my little furballs oh-so-much. And because they aaaaalmost like each other, and it’s starting to get cute!

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Filed under Book Reviews, Books, Cambria, Oscar, Poetry, writing

What I’ve Been Reading, Part 1

The funny thing about making resolutions is that you never know what the future will bring you, so you never really know if your resolution will be practical, or even possible. I mean, a girl can vow to lose fifty pounds, but if she gets pregnant that just is not happening. (No, no! Don’t do it! I can see you doing it- your brain is jumping to conclusions! I’m not hinting at anything, mom and various baby-crazed friends!) You can vow to travel more, but if you break both of your legs in a skiing accident you’ll probably be more home-bound than expected. Or maybe your priorities will shift and your resolution to write a new chapter in your book every day won’t matter as much as making what you do write really good.

As I’ve stated in earlier posts, I’m probably not going to meet my goal of reading 104 books this year, and I’m okay with that. Instead of continuing my obsessive reading habits of years past, I’m spending a lot more time with my husband and friends, and I’ve made time for some other stuff in my life, like cooking more and adopting a dog and writing more and taking really long, refreshing walks.

But lest you think I’ve given up on my great love of reading, here are a few of the books I’ve read since the spring:

The Magicians by Lev Grossman: I really wanted to love this book. The premise is everything I adore. I love fantasy oh-so-very-much, and the prospect of a book about a sort of Hogwarts for grown-ups seemed so promising. (And this book is for grown-ups. Like, pay-all-their-own-bills grown-ups. Anyone under legal voting age need not apply.) The world Grossman built at Brakebills was fascinating, and the story was solid and well told, but I just couldn’t love it. It was, in a word, stark. Cynical and jaded would also have sufficed. And I am none of those things. I can normally stand them in doses, but even Grossman’s wordsmithing genius could not sweeten the morose tones enough for me. I probably won’t read the sequel.

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness: Move over Twilight. This is a story that has Vampires aplenty, but it’s actually well-written, and it won’t make your teenager think a boy secretly watching her sleep is romantic and desirable. Diana Bishop is a witch who doesn’t want to be, Matthew Clairmont is an old vampire of great power, and Ashmole 782 is the magical manuscript that draws them together. And also attracts he attention of some of the most dangerous and influential members of the underground world of magic. No big deal. Harkness takes all the preconceived notions of magic and modern fantasy and turns them on their ear so effectively that it creates a wholly unique experience. I really enjoyed this book, and I will definitely be reading this sequel.

The Death of King Arthur by Sir Thomas Malory, retold by Peter Ackroyd: Any Arthurian fan or folklore buff will enjoy Ackroyd’s modernization of the classic Le Morte d’Arthur. He remains true to the spirit of the original stories while making the language more digestible and taking out some of Malory’s superfluous repetitions. Not a text-book retelling, but perfect for the layman enthusiast.

100 Cupboards by N.D. Wilson: This delightful little young adult fantasy is a quick but good read. It’s not as deeply developed as say, the first Harry Potter or The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making (Seriously. If you haven’t read that one yet, do it!), but it’s the first of a trilogy, so I’m hoping Wilson will broaden and deepen the story as we go. It really annoys me when authors don’t fully develop the potential of a story just because it’s for kids. Children aren’t stupid, they can handle a real story and probably do it better than many adults. So please, Mr. Wilson, please develop this well. There is so much potential here! End impromptu rant.

Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White: Speaking of a well-developed children’s story, I just have to re-visit this beloved classic every now and then. As the term “beloved classic” implies, it does not disappoint. In fact, it’s so well-loved that this little blurb was probably unnecessary.

The Story of Charlotte’s Web by Michael Sims: I started this book last year, but never got past chapter three. It just wasn’t the right time. Until now. I’m about three-fourths of the way through this book that is both the story of the creation of one of the worlds best-loved books and a biography of its brilliantly eccentric creator. I have long loved all of E.B. White’s children’s books, but now I’m falling in love with the man himself. I’m going to have to read some of his essays very soon.

The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman: I’m about half-way through this novel which follows the lives of various reporters at an English-language newspaper in Rome. Written with a journalistic sensibility, but still somehow plump with detail, I am really loving this book. So far my favorite chapter was the second, in which a lazy obituary writer goes to interview a famous, dying intellectual…without telling her he’s interviewing her for her own obituary. One of the best things about Rachman’s writing is the one-liners. My favorite? “If history has taught us anything, Arthur muses, it is that men with mustaches must never achieve positions of power.” Hipsters beware.

I’ve read several other books as well, but I’ll turn them into a part two for the sake of time and space and not getting bored.

Wait. What’s that? Adopted a puppy you say? Tell us about him, you say? Well, okay. I guess I can do that before I skadaddle out of here.

This is Oscar.

He’s the Boston Terrier we adopted a few weeks ago. We think he’s about two years-old, and despite the fact that he always looks like he’s frowning, he is actually very cheerful and snuggly and sweet. He loves every one, including Cambria, who is okay with him being here as long as he leaves her food and toys alone. And as long as she does not get left out of anything and is still the Queen of everything. Naturally. I’m sure you’ll be seeing a lot of our new boy in the future. Those goggly eyes and scrunchy face are so adorably photogenic that I may or may not have used up all the memory on my phone and had to erase a bunch of duplicate shots. Oooops!

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In Which I Fail At Adulthood And Write This Blog Instead.

I am reverting right now and acting like a total college student, which is to say that I have about 10,000 things to do today, you know, boring stuff like shower/pay bills/work/clean my kitchen/write something with real meaning, but instead I’m surfing Facebook and taking pictures of the cat while she plays with my shoes. Consider me writing this blog the official equivalent of skipping class. Ooops! Adulthood fail.

Since I am failing so magnificently, I might as well tell you what’s on my mind…

1: I really need to re-color my hair. The red of summer has turned into a rather streaky version of dirty blond, and it needs to go away. I want to go a darker brunette with some black, Tyler thinks I should do red again. It’s a stalemate. What are your opinions? I’ll do anything but straight-up blond or an un-natural color, like green. Help! I am truly, sincerely asking for opinions. I’m so indecisive.

2: I still have not seen The Help, but I really want to . The only problem is, Tyler has zero interest in seeing it, and all my friends I have asked have seen it already. Even my mom has seen it. I reeeeeally want to know what all the fuss is about! Who will save me from my pop culture crisis??! This is my overly dramatic way of saying if we live in the same town and you have either not seen The Help or wouldn’t mind seeing it again, please contact me ASAP. I will even buy you popcorn in reward for your charity toward a poor, socially awkward girl like me who has no one to got o the movies with.

3: Our second week of small groups last night was a success! We have an interesting mix of people- young marrieds, engaged, single, parents, soon-to-be parents-but we seem to blend really well. Our last small group this past spring was such an amazing experience- we truly met some of our best friends through it- that I was a little worried: would I ever be able to love another small group as much? My fears were misplaced. These people are awesome! I love the candor and openness everyone shares with. We’re going through the book Chazown (pronounced something like khaw-zone. Kind of like calzone without the l.) by Craig Groeschel, which is all about finding God’s vision for your life. I had gone through it quickly a few months ago as part of my church internship, but I’m excited to go through it more slowly and along side others. Tyler and I have already had some great conversations because of it.

I’ve never been one of those people who makes a vision statement for my life or who has had an over-arching goal in mind. I’m a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants kind of girl. If I had to boil it all down to defined goals, I’d say my goals are to love God, show His love to people, and be a good wife and mother. I think those are great goals but there are a plethora of way to achieve them, and I’ve quickly realized that I need focus. Last night, one of the things we talked about was how having the focus of a clear-cut chazown would simplify making decisions. If I already know that God’s will is for me to carry out this vision, to asses a choice, all I need to do is decide if it fits with-in my life’s mission. No? Then we move on. Yes? Then we pray about it. That’s so much simpler than the agonizing I’ve done in the past! And simplifying life, living with purposeful focus, would undoubtedly lead to increased peace and contentment, not to mention confidence.

One of the passages from the reading that stuck with me this week is this:

“Before God starts something, He is certain of the outcome. And God’s map of history includes a unique plan for your life. (Psalm 139:13-16)…God created you with a divine undertaking in mind. Before you were born, God knew you. And knew what He wanted your life to be like. That’s why God calls us to live on purpose, keeping the end in view. And what’s more, He invites us to seek Him in order to learn what His perfect plan is for our lives. Then, with that plan in mind, we can reach His our our greatest dreams. Anything less in a mistake, a lie, and a ripoff. ” -page 7 (emphasis mine)

I’m not willing to settle for a mediocre life. My Father created the universe, why should I ever settle for a lie, or even worse, boring?! I’m excited to see what the coming weeks hold. This small group is sure to be an adventure!

4: Speaking of boring, I have realized that I must be the most boring person to follow on instagram or twitter. All I ever post are pictures of my cat, books, and the occasional oddball like this:

This is my Chazown reading buddy, Eddie the Book Monster

5: I’m pretty excited for this weekend! We’re taking a mini vacay to San Diego! We’ll be traveling down Sunday after church and staying all day Monday. The high is supposed to be 73 while we’re there, and, obviously, there will be beach. Color me excited!

6: Also, the Fair started this week. My friend Emily is a missionary here in town with an orginization called Child Evangelism Fellowship. Every year, they set up a booth where kids can play games and hear a story about Jesus, and every year children give their hearts to Him. Please pray with me for Emily and all her volunteers! The days can be very long and hot, but the work is so worth it!

7: And finally, for those of you who have stuck with me this long, I present you with this gift:

An early Caturday picture of a very sleepy Cambria, as a reward for your patience with this ironically un-focused post.

And now, I really do have to go shower and be a responsible adult. A girl can only use dry shampoo so many days in a row before it becomes socially unacceptable, and smelly. Wish me luck!

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Wednesday Book Review: The Night Circus, Etc.

Is it possible to have a case of The Monday’s…on Wednesday? If so, I totally have them. Which is why this edition of Book Review Wednesday is coming to you rather later than I would have prefered. But it is here, and that’s all that counts in the end, right? So let’s get to it…

The Night Circus.

Go. Get. It. NOW.

Now! I mean it! If you are a fan of magical realism, or any fiction at all, or just plain books, read this book. If you read no other hint of fiction this year, read this book! If you don’t swoon, I will pay you back tell you how sorry I am. And then secretly wonder if you have no soul. Seriously, it’s that good. I feel like I’m qualified to make this judgement because a: I half-majored in English, and b: I read more fiction that your average bear. I’ve read some bad fiction (Did anyone else suffer needlessly through Geraldine Brooks’ People of the Book? No? Lucky you. Don’t let the pretty cover fool you. That’s five hours of my life I can never get back.), I’ve read some good fiction, I’ve read some superb fiction, and it’s my expert opinion that The Night Circus belongs in the superb category.

This nomadic circus creeps into town, always at night and always without warning. Like something out of a dreamscape it’s sprawling tents of black and white stripes are discovered by the towns people the next morning, but they cannot be explored until sun down when it’s wrought iron gates creek open and the magic begins. There are forests made of ice and mazes constructed of cloud. An illusionist, a contortionist, and a tiny tent where you can smell stories, the best caramel apples you can imagine, a wishing tree clothed in candles instead of leaves, and so, so much more awaits you inside. But do not be fooled. This is no mere circus, and nothing is as it seems.

The illusionist, Celia, is locked in a magical battle of wits and endurance with an unknown opponent. The circus is but the stage, a place for them to display their skill. As time wears on, five years, then a decade, Celia discovers her opponent is Marco, the handsome assistant to the circus’ creator. In him she finds not only her opponent but the love of her life. Unbeknownst to the lovers, this is not a game where there is a winner and a loser. This challenge will last until one of them is left standing and one of them dies. As the game wears on and the stakes get higher, Celia and Marco will have to risk everything and use every ounce of their ingenuity, not only to survive and be together outside of the confounds of the challenge to which they are both irrevocably bound, but to save the lives of all connected to this amazing circus of dreams.

I am confident that the monochromatic world Erin Morgenstern creates in le cirque des rêves will captivate you as it did myself and countless other readers. (Though the book has only been on book store shelves for a week, the pre-release buzz was huge. Movie rights have already been bought, and countless reviewers have raved. It is a lot of hype, but it is all, in my opinion, well deserved.) Hemmingway this is not. Morgenstern crams the book full of images and near-sensory experiences that manage to draw the reader in without overwhelming. Not since The Time Traveler’s Wife have I been so enthralled.  I have read 36 books so far this year, and this one may very well be my favorite.

I also finished Sam Wasson’s Fifth Avenue, 5 A.M. It detail’s Audrey Hepburn’s break into acting and the  journey of Truman Capote’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s from classic book to iconic movie. It was pithy and quick paced; I found myself easily digesting facts that I would otherwise have found uninteresting, but Wasson dispenses them in such a way that you find yourself fascinated. Suddenly, I cared that Capote collected both paper weights and rich, dissatisfied women, who knew?! Any Audrey fan or movie buff should enjoy this slick, witty little opus.

And this is what I’ll be working through over the next two weeks or so:

Floors by Patrick Carman; The Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb by Melanie Benjamin; Tolstoy and the Purple Chair and Nina Sankovitch

It’s ambitious, and I won’t have much free time, but I’m sure I’ll make it work. Even if it means I have to hide out in the bathroom late at night to read. (I hide out in the bathroom because we live in a studio apartment right now, so the bathroom is the only other place to go besides the kitchenbedroomlivingroom. )

Anyway, what have you been reading lately? What should I be checking out? Anything you’d like me to read and weigh in on? Let me know.

‘Til next week, happy reading my friends!

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Old Book Smell

I am simply ravished by old books. I love them. Maybe more than I love most people. Shhh. Don’t tell.

I love the smell of them and the look if them. They make me happy, like seeing an old friend after a long time apart. Everything about them invites me in as though I was made to read their crumbly pages.

I love how they double as great reading and great decoration.

And did I mention they smell incredible?

I love opening up a newly acquired antique book and finding an inscription from the giver to the receiver…

For Pat, on her 23rd. With Love, Shel.

Phoebe R. Rosenberg, October '45

W.L.W.

or old notes…

Barbara Briggs, 2369 First Avenue, N.Y. 10035 6E

or slip of paper, a long-forgotten, make-shift book mark.

Sometimes there are underlined passages, but no notations.

What about the passage spoke to this ghost reader?

I want to know: who has held this book? Was it a student, or just a good, old-fashioned book nerd? Did they love it? Hate it? Read it on assignment? Was it a gift they never really cared for but kept out of duty to the loved one who selected it for them? Where has this book traveled? How did it come to this shabby little book store or garage sale or library cart of dime and quarter cast offs?

When I hold one of these old treasures, it’s like I’m holding a whole life in my hands. The paper is brown and wrinkled, sometimes creased with long-suffering and experience. You can keep your perfectly cared-for collectors tomes, I want the books with a little dirt on their binding, with a few turned down corers, and lots of that intoxicating old book smell.

Cambria loves old book smell too.

This is my oldest and best-smelling book. It was printed in 1908.

So now, whenever I’m reading a good book, or any book really, I make my mark. I underline the passages and write out my thoughts. Maybe someday my grandchildren or great-grand children will discover these notations long after I’m gone and learn something about the world they never knew, or see a familiar passage in a whole new light, or somehow feel a little closer to me across the times that divide us.

Maybe my offspring won’t keep all of my ninety-nine thousand books and some other book lover will pick up a few of the volumes from my library in a shabby little book store or garage sale or library cart of dime and quarter cast offs, and they will inhale the old book smell, and decipher the scribbles in the margins, and the cycle will continue.

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