Like everything else in my life, the spread isn’t complete until there are half a dozen half-finished projects. Books aren’t safe. I will forever be in-between three plus books. I used to have a guilt about leaving a tale lingering before finishing it, but a friend reassured me, “You used to read lots of [text] books in school; You were always in the middle of one. Why is this any different?” Now I embrace the fact I’m always between pages of various books. Sometimes they are even left unfinished, but that’s life.
As I shared in this week’s “Seven Ways,” read, read, and read some more. A lot of people claim they don’t have time to read, but will gladly waste an hour (or seven) scrolling through the Internet or watching Netflix. The next time you find yourself getting lost in the waves of the world wide web, consider diving into a new book. I find I never regret bringing a book along with me (unless I bring four on a backpacking trip). It’s a nice escape while waiting in line at the post office or bus stop.
People are forever asking me for book and author recommendations, and although I’ve created a special place for such things on my blog, I’ve decided to dive into a more in-depth break down of what pages my fingers graze.
Most of my book recommendations come from Tumblr or mentions in other books. I recently read The Art of Poetry Writing, which prompted me to get my hands on Rilke. My friend, Eliza, turned me onto Margaret Atwood while we were getting lost in the isles of Twice Sold Tales.
Wilderness Tips by Margaret Atwood is one of my first novels of this author. I’ve already got a soft spot for this book since it is composed of “ten beautifully controlled tales.” My short attention span can appreciate the joy of short stories. “Julie broke up with Conner in the middle of a swamp. Julie silently revises: not exactly in the middle, not knee-deep in rotting leaves and dubious brown water. More or less on the edge; sort of within striking distance. Well, in an inn, to be precise. Or not even an inn. A room in a pub. What was available. And not in a swamp anyway. In a bog. Swamp is when the water goes in one end and out the other, bog is when it goes in and stays in. How many times did Connor have to explain the difference? Quite a few. But Julie prefers the sound of swamp. It is mistier, more haunted. Bog is a slang word for toilet, and when you hear bog you know the toilet will be a battered and smelly one, and that there will be no toilet paper. So Julie always says: I broke up with Connor in the middle of a swamp.“
Walden, by Thoreau, is a great book to simply “have around.” You can flip open any page at any given time and be satisfied. “If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.”
And for The Notebooks Of Malte Laurids Brigge? Where do I begin? I fall more in love with this novel after every page I read. To choose simply one passage to share would be torture, so I leave it to fate. Flipping open a page, “The draperies were drawn back, and the robust light of a summer afternoon investigated all the shy, startled objects and turned around awkwardly in the ripped-open mirrors. And the people did the same.” The way Rilke turns feelings and emotions into what seem to be tangible objects is absolutely breath taking, and I highly urge you to get your hands on a copy of this book. “The fear that a small wool thread sticking out from the hem of a blanket is hard, hard and sharp as a steel needle; the fear that this small button on my nightshirt is bigger than my head, big and heavy; the fear that this crumb of bread now falling from my bed will hit the floor glassy and shattered, and the oppressive anxiety that everything would be broken along with it, everything, forever…” Pluck my heart’s strings, Rilke. Play me a sonnet. How undeniably beautiful.
Remember to visit your local book store. One of my favorite spaces in Seattle is on the edge of going out of business since people are more apt to purchase books online or download novels for their e-Reader.
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