Posts Tagged 'bookish confessions'

Heart Books

Eva over at A Striped Armchair has a very thought-provoking post up: what are your “heart books,” or books that have impacted you so powerfully that you’ve never forgotten them? The heart books she writes about are Sara Maitland’s From the Forest (which I haven’t read, but would like to, simply on the basis of how strongly it seemed to resonate with her!) and Jane Austen’s Emma, which I’m actually in the middle of reading right now.

Anyway, after reading Eva’s post and thinking of my own heart books, one in particular immediately came to mind: Doris Lessing’s The Golden Notebook. For those of you who are unfamiliar with it, The Golden  Notebook is the story of Anna Wulf, a writer, and her five journals. Each journal is a different color, and represents a different point in her life (the red notebook, for example, tells of her time as a member of the Communist party). The fifth notebook–the golden notebook–is her attempt to tie all of the other notebooks, really all of the other parts of herself, together.

The Golden Notebook i’s now considered a feminist classic, but at the time, I didn’t know that. I picked it up from my local library on a whim; perhaps I recognized the title, or just thought the cover was interesting.

Then I started reading it, and it was as if a blinding light suffused me. This book–despite being  published in 1962, from the point of a view of a Communist and a mother–was speaking directly to me. Anna is disillusioned, confused, warring with both the freedom and the confusion that post-war London has brought her. She’s talented and ambitious, but emotionally and psychologically lost–floundering.

I read The Golden Notebook at a time in my life where I was struggling to define myself in a job that felt increasingly unfulfilling. (And that’s not to say that I have all the answers now, but I do have a slightly better sense of the things I find important in a career.) I’ve always measured my self-worth by my academic and my work output, and after college, I felt a bit lost. I wanted to be a writer, but found it impossible to corral my thoughts enough to actually put words to paper (or computer screen). I was dissatisfied with living in NYC and craved change–I just didn’t know exactly what. It’s a feeling, I’m sure, that many people can commiserate with. And that’s what The Golden Notebook did for me: it commiserated. It showed me that these challenges were particular to ambitious women. I didn’t even need a happy ending; the commiseration, defined so unequivocally, was enough.

As I’m going through a similar period of dissatisfaction–of wondering how to best live by my values and still be able to provide for myself–I should probably pick up The Golden Notebook again, to see if it holds any new revelations for me.

What are your heart books?

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Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Best Bookish Memories

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish. This feature was created to share lists with other bookish folks! For this week’s Top Ten Tuesday list, we were asked to list our top ten best bookish memories!

1. The time that Lev Grossman, author of The Magicians and The Magician King, asked if I was named after the hero of The Chronicles of Prydain. (I’m not, but I wish I was!)

2. The time that I waited in line twice, on two separate days, in order to get Chris Van Allsburg to sign a copy of The Polar Express.

3. Related to #2–my family’s tradition of reading The Polar Express and my mom’s old copy of The Night Before Christmas together on Christmas Eve!

4. The many times that, as kids, friend J  and I would read Calvin & Hobbes comic strips to one another and roll around on the floor laughing (even at the jokes that we were too young to understand)!

5. The time that I went to the Brooklyn Book Festival with my good friends S and J, and had a blast despite the heat! The used book stands are the best. (Oh, and the panels and people are okay, too!)

6. The time that I met Bill Clinton at an event in my undergrad college’s bookstore and had him sign a copy of his book My Life, which I still haven’t finished. (He also complimented my friend A’s necklace, a fact we tease her about to this day.)

7. The time that Eva at A Striped Armchair (one of the first book blogs I really followed closely) mentioned bookwanderer in a post!

8. The time that Sherman Alexie did a reading at Barnes & Noble and was utterly and completely hilarious. (I didn’t realize that he had been a stand-up comic, but that makes a TON of sense.) The audience was also great–it included a high school class that audibly gasped when Alexie read a sex scene aloud, causing everyone (including Alexie) to laugh. He even drew a little Native American caricature in the book I was having him sign!

9. The time that I first read G.R.R. Martin’s A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire #1), without having been spoiled to the ending. It’s probably the most shocked I’ve been at a book’s plot in AGES.

10. All of the times that I’ve had fun, informative, and instructive discussions with other book bloggers! 🙂

What are your best bookish memories? Feel free to link to your own post in the comments!

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Bookish Confessions

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish. Each week, they post a topic and encourage fellow bloggers to list their own top ten answers. This week’s prompt was to list your top ten bookish confessions! Now I’ve been lax on keeping up with TTT, but now that my life has settled down somewhat, post-move, I’m going to start them up again. 🙂

1. I used to be absolutely neurotic about keeping my books in good condition. In middle and high school, I actually hated to lend out my books, because I knew that they would invariably come back with a gouge in the cover, or a broken binding, or worse. Shudder.

2. I have gotten MUCH better at letting my books get scuffed up! It no longer gives me a coronary to have a new book get a bent cover. I’ve also realized that if I lend out and recommend books, then I’ll have more people to talk about those books with–it’s worth a couple of dog-eared pages!

3. However…I still don’t like physically marking the pages of my books, and so I am a serial dog-ear-er. I never seem to have any bookmarks on hand, so dog-earing pages is the quickest and easiest way for me to remember where really excellent quotes or insights are.

4. I am also a book hoarder. I keep EVERY book that I’ve every bought. Even (and sometimes especially) ones that I hated. I have a ceiling-high bookshelf that’s entirely stuffed…and I need another one. :/ It’s an addiction. But I’m trying to get better about it!

5. The main reason I got an iPad was to read e-books. No regrets.

6. I love getting ARCs and galleys, because I love reading books I’m excited about, for free. But sometimes I worry that I’m reading too many ARCs in place of reading already-published books that have been on my TBR for ages.

7. I’m awed, inspired by, and intimidated by many of the established book bloggers out there. Their dedication, consistency, and writing blows me away! I sometimes struggle with my own posting schedule and developing insights about everything I read, so the book blogging community is super-impressive to me!

8. I’m on a personal mission to not buy any full-price books this year. (I started this promise in May.) I’ve been successful so far! But my downfall is the used bookstore. How can I turn down three books for three dollars?! It doesn’t help that I work pretty close to the Strand, and that I have an account on Better World Books.

9. My bookshelf is organized by genre, but I almost always just find books by memory.

10. Once, I couldn’t find my copy of Angela Carter’s The Bloody Chamber, hunted for it in a frenzy for a day or so, gave up, and bought a new copy. (I think I may have even requested the new copy as a birthday present!) Naturally, the original one surfaced and I now have two.

Bonus #11! I lent my copy of Connie Willis’ Doomsday Book to my boyfriend. We both forgot about it. When we were moving earlier this summer, I discovered it under our bed, crumpled up and with torn pages. I am now forcing him to buy me a new copy, but I still really bad about my original one getting destroyed.

What are your deepest, darkest bookish secrets?


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