So this weekend I found several boxes of my stuff stored at my parents’ house. I didn’t even know they were here!! From the time I was a small child I wanted to be a writer. I fiddled with tall tales, poetry and “chapter books” (those were really more like sentences on separate pages, but ya know!) Here are a couple of poems I wrote when I was 8 and 9. Clearly I was obsessed with the sea for some reason haha. I don’t think I did too bad for a small child! I’ll scan some of my books and post later but for now enjoy the poetry!
At Sea by Paige
The water on the rocks
The seagulls in their flocks
Pew, I smell someone’s dirty socks!
That’s at Sea!
The sailor calls “Land Ho”
Listen to the water flow
This is how the children go
That’s at Sea!
Splash goes the whale
“Stop it!” Said the man who brought the mail
“Look at me sail”
That’s at Sea!
Look at the dead crab
I fed my horse on shore
Look at the led in the pincel [sic] in the sand
That’s at Sea, Sea, Sea!
The Pilgrims by Paige
They sailed across the deep blue sea
There were more than three
The pilgrims they were called
Finally the sailor called “Land ho”
Everyone started to glow!
The pilgrims they were called
They met an Indan [sic] named Squanto
Who showed them how to make plants grow
The pilgrims they were called
The winter was very hard
The men were to guard
Their famalies [sic] from the times of hard
Yes, the pilgrims they were called
Thanks to a really good conversation about some Bible things at my writing group on Monday (Thanks, Adam) I have been thinking a whole lot about some really strange topics. I started rereading one of my favorite books “Saving the Appearances” by Owen Barfield. It is a book on religion, God, people and the changes we’ve gone through as a human race with regard to religion. But not on a historical level. More on a mentality level. It is a little esoteric but I love how radical his ideas are without even seeming radical. Some people would probably disagree with him a good deal and more probably would if they really understood what he was saying. But all that is background to my mental state. Haha. I was thinking really hard today about prayer.
I remember praying and prayer lists from the time I was little. There are plenty of people who believe prayer is just a way to make yourself feel better. Or that there is no God so it doesn’t matter. Others believe in a God who is disinterested in our lives or at least “hands off” and others think that every prayer is a letter to Santa asking for more presents. Still others think it is a practice that is good for you soul and that sometimes the answer is no or there is no answer at all. To be honest I’ve been pondering is what is the purpose of prayer. I’m not talking about prayer in a group out loud with other people. I’m talking like a private conversation. Not even the conversation part, but the request part. What is the purpose of a prayer request? (I’m not asking in a hopeless “what is the point of it all” way but more in an intellectual question way.) My whole system of beliefs has changed a great deal since high school. . . and yet in some ways not as much as it would seem. But this is a question I’ve never been able to answer. Even when faithfully praying every night. If you believe that God’s will is going to happen then what is the point in God asking us to ask for it? I’m asking for opinions here not answers. Not trying to convince me or others of the greatness of prayer. Just why does it do any good. Will you change God’s mind? Is it for personal growth?
I know this is super nerdy of me, but I have always loved research and part of me would like to write a research paper about this as I read through one of my favorite books on religion (I almost said theology, but Barfield is almost more than theology.) I think this tendency is why Andy Tyler used to suggest I go to seminary. haha. Input? I know I have plenty of people who don’t believe in any of this, so you guys don’t feel like you have to respond if all it is going to be is putting down religion. I’m asking on a purely intellectual level not on a debate level, please.
I originally began reading “The Fountainhead” because a friend of mine said it was her very favorite book in the world, but it had been years since she had read it. So the two of us planned to read it together and compare thoughts and opinions. I had also heard all sorts of rants and raves from people of all sorts of different political opinions so I was curious. If I really wanted to delve into Ayn Rand’s political world I, perhaps, should have chosen “Atlas Shrugged,” but then again, that wasn’t my friend’s favorite book. I’ll try to do this without too many spoilers and then give warning once I’m getting into the spoilers part.
The story revolves around architect Howard Roark, who is dedicated to his own style of architecture (he detests the use of the word “modern” for his style.) He will not compromise on his buildings — they must be done exactly as he designs them. He is a true individualist who lives only for himself. He does not desire fame, glory, fortune any more than he fears, poverty, pain or criticism. I suppose I shouldn’t say he doesn’t want them, but he doesn’t live for those things and doesn’t see the point in thinking about them. We also see his character foils in his classmate Peter Keating, who lives for the approval of others, and Ellsworth Toohey, who lives for the collective good of others. We also read about another architect who tried to live for himself and failed, Henry Cameron, who was destroyed by his attempts to live in such a way. Gail Wynand is a man that “could have been” according to some of Rand’s notes. He lives for power, but sees the value in Roark. Also involved is Dominique Francon, who loves and is loved by Roark, but also seeks to destroy him.
In all if I hadn’t started the book with sooooooo much context and opinion surrounding it, I probably wouldn’t have even thought that much about it. I love theme and I would have noticed, of course. (She does, after all, dedicate nearly a whole chapter to allowing the protagonist to go on a long speech basically laying out her philosophies.) But that isn’t the sort of thing that upsets me in books. Literately, I think the book was solid. The characterization was one of the best I have read in a long time and I appreciate that because so many characters in so many books are the same exact people that you read about over and over and over and you see on TV every day, and they are flat. But these characters were fleshed out. I was surprised because initially I was annoyed that we had very little to no information about the characters’ back stories (except for the antagonist, who we do learn about his childhood.) But most characters when we meet them is where we start, we learn almost nothing about their families or how they came to be how they are. It does bug me a little, especially about Howard Roark — how does one becomes such an avid Individualist? Besides learning that he grew up poor and that his dad was a longshoreman, we know nothing about him and how he learned to be how he is when we meet him in architecture school.
Spoilers be here below: (more…)
This weekend I was meandering through bookstores, and I made my way through the young readers’ section. I rarely go there these days. In fact, I rarely went there when I was a young reader. I never read a whole lot out of this section. After third grade, I pretty much jumped to all adult books. But while I was there I spotted the tell-tale yellow and blue covers of Nancy Drew. I pulled out a copy of The Secret of the Old Clock and smiled. I’m sure that I read other books for class before that. I read that book in second grade. And I read a lot of chapter books before that. I had already read all of the Little House on the Prairie books. But my very first book report was over The Secret of the Old Clock.
I don’t really remember what my “analysis” was. Other than the book was “good” and that I revealed the secret of the clock at the end. My mom helped me with the report by taking me to a second hand store where we bought an old clock that looked strikingly like the one on the cover. For the grande finaleI swung open the door and revealed the secret. AND WITHOUT WARNING THAT THERE WERE SPOILERS!!! Hahaha.I was not a good second grader. I don’t think any of my classmates were reading the books though, so I was safe.
I already loved reading, but those books really fostered that love. Soon after I discovered Louisa May Alcott, who is still among my favorites. During third grade I was so inspired by Ms. Alcott that I wrote a research paper about her even though there was no assignment. Am I a nerd? Absolutely. Such moments continued throughout all my school years and continue now as I discover new writers whose words and stories delight and surprise. What was your first book report? Was it toil or delight like mine?
Is there anything better than opening up a new book, ruffling through the pages and the scent that wafts off of it — ink, paper and glue? Maybe an older book does — one that has taken on the scents of former owners, has that light dusty/musty smell, but just seems to have more “weight” because of the scent that floats off the pages.
I adore my book collection. I am not sure how many I had at my most — probably around 300. My dream has always been to have a house that has a library of its own. My favorite scene as a kid in any movie was the part where the Beast gives Belle his library. So many books that there were ladders and stairs to reach them all! What could be more romantic than a gift like that? Well, nothing, really.
I also have a technology obsession. I love how electronics work. I love the way that facebook has allowed me to connect with people I knew half my life ago — and to again befriend them over many miles and countries. So you would think I would automatically love e-readers (I don’t like how it is traditionally written without the hyphen. . . it looks weird!) That isn’t exactly true. I was fascinated when I first heard of them in high school. Apparently Hearst first worked on the idea in the 1970s (or at least that is what I was told 10 years ago in high school.) But the more I thought of the loss of the pages and beautiful covers and the SMELL of books, the more I mourned the thought. (more…)
Paul Young had even critics laughing throughout much of his speech yesterday at First United Methodist Church in Seattle. Young, who wrote “The Shack” under his given name William Paul Young, was in Seattle to speak with another one of my favorite writers on religion Jim Henderson. Henderson runs a site called Off the Map, which talks about the modern Christian and church. My best understanding is that Henderson believes that evangelism shouldn’t be so much a speech or trying to convince people of anything but more of treating people kindly and with love. I think regardless of anything I agree or disagree on theology or methods, I really appreciate this thought.
The speech was moving and Young seems to be one of those “breath of fresh air” people. I’ll probably do a couple of posts on his talk because there were several interestig points. I’ll file those under my book blog, and those WILL contain spoilers. Though, honestly, I don’t think knowing any details of the story would take away from the reading of it. The biggest shocker is already out there and people talking about it.
The speech was followed by a Q&R (he said only Americans have answers… Canadians give responses.) There were between 30 and 40 people there and the sanctuary was far smaller than I was expecting — I guess I’m used to Texas-sized sanctuaries.
The woman who sat next to me was from the area and attends the church of one of Young’s biggest critics. She hadn’t actually read the book but wanted to hear what he had to say. I think she probably won’t read the book by her reaction, but more on that later. Anything you’re curious about the book? I can’t say the Q&R was comprehensive, but he answered all the questions I had, so check out Paige of the Book and leave the question in the comments section. I’ll either answer there or if I get a lot of questions I’ll answer in a post later. Look for maybe three Shack-related blogs in the next few days.
When I have a hard time reading through a book, I’ll sometimes put it in my restroom to read when I’m taking a bath. One I struggled with for upwards of a year was Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of Now. I bought it because so many people had said how inspirational it was. However, it just didn’t “click” my inner inspiration.
His book describes detaching from physical and earthly things in an effort to live in the now. The book’s concepts are good. However, I think the presentation is what got in my way. It is written in an “argument” style, where an unnamed person representing the reader offers questions and arguments with Tolle. For me, this merely leads to frustration that I can’t ask questions of my own. Better questions, at that. I think it is worth a read, even if it wasn’t what I was expecting.
But as I tidied my drawer in the restroom I did find inspiration elsewhere.
I’ve been thinking a lot about my journey with reading lately. At my job I have been hearing a lot about how kids learn to read and the various test results that correspond with state requirements. I really have no memory of learning to read. I think I was reading when I started preschool, but I don’t remember specifically. I have a distinct memory of reading the Little House on the Prairie series because in first grade a friend of mine and I were having a competition on who could read through them the fastest.
I also have strong memories of getting bad grades in reading in second grade. This wasn’t because I had “fallen behind” but because I was so far ahead. I believe we were required to read something like five books per week for class. Well, at that point I was reading through the Nancy Drew series. My classmates weren’t quite reading chapter books yet, but my teacher wouldn’t allow me to count the books I was reading as more than one, but I wasn’t yet fast enough to read five in one week. Stubborn kid that I was, I refused to just read through the smaller books for the grade. Oh well! It was also around this time that I saw a commercial on speed reading. The infomercial went into some detail on it and said that the essence of speed reading was beginning to see groups of words and whole sentences instead of reading word by word. It was years and years before I started doing it, but I did start practicing then with books I had already read.
Now I read maybe three or four books a week. Sometimes seven. When I didn’t have cable at all I was reading closer to seven on average. I am recently obsessed with non-fiction books, but fiction is still my favorite.
It seems like I”ve been on a fast from reading. I’ve been writing so much lately I haven’t read hardly anything! I did just finish The New Diary by Tristine Rainer. Although I already knew most of the techniques in it, it was a good inspiration. I’ve been writing in a journal nearly every night now. I wouldn’t say big revelations, at least not yet! She suggests naming your journal before beginning as a sort of blessing, mantra or vision for the time recorded in the book. I named ine Verto Prosperitas Venustas. I haven’t really shared that before and it seems so personal, but that is ok. I’ve been thinking a lot about Harry Potter and the various spells and the relation of that and the visions I have for my future. So it is a play on words from a transfiguration spell, meaning transfigure: prosperity, beauty. I suppose it is also a test of myself and my ability to work on something and stick with it. I’ve never kept a journal to the point that I finish an entire notebook, probably because I’ve always been afraid of someone reading it. Now I’m taking charge of that. I have a vision of journals lined up on a shelf chronicling my life, journal and future. 🙂 I know this is less about books and more about MY books, but this seems like the right place for this blog.
It is the story of a family who is haunted by the disappearance of their mother — Hope — who is carried away by a tornado, and her body is never found. Her three children and husband have lasting repercussions from never having a closure on her death. That lack of closure is further emphasized by the complicated and slightly eccentric funeral rituals that is common in their hometown. The story is told in shifting points of view (although most of it is told in limited objective narrator, it allows us inside the minds of alternating characters.) We are allowed also inside the mind of the ghost of Hope as well as her younger mind through her diary (the only portion told in first-person.) What develops is a complex and sometimes surprising and sometimes predictable story on a quest for redemption and closure.
I will be anxiously awaiting anything new from Kallos.