All posts tagged: books

Contemplating NaNoWriMo 2016

Are you doing it this year? NaNoWriMo, I mean? If there is anyone among us who doesn’t know by now, I’m talking of National Novel Writing Month. It’s November by the way and almost at our doorstep. First of all, let’s hear it for the People at NaNoWriMo.org. They deserve the capitalization. They are smart, witty, and inspiring while coordinating thousands and thousands of volunteers and participants around the world. You’ll love the NaNoWriMo community. I have participated in other writing fora, but none of them reach NaNoWriMo’s ankles. There are actually pep talks worth reading and they actually leave you feel pepped. The statistics and motivational badges are addicting as is the acceptance that as long as you are putting pen to paper (or fingers to the keyboard), you are doing something right. Then there’s the writing part. Yup, you still need to sit down and pound the keyboard, croaking out word after word. The result may or may not be a finished story – or the much coveted novel – but simply working …

Words, words, words

I often emphasize a book’s story as the primary feature of a given book. The story is the initial joy in a reading experience, especially when it draws the reader in and along for the ride. However, in deconstructing a book, it all comes down to words. A story is in essence one word after the other. In some stories, the words are simply the medium of communication, but in other stories, the words themselves are an art form. These stories beg to be read slowly with minute concentration or even read aloud. Many books that achieve that lyrical quality are written in bygone times, before the speedy writing on computer keyboards, before autocorrect, and without the competition of TV and the internet. The old-fashioned words and their voluptuousness are part of these books’ charm. The term ”slower times” is on my lips, and perhaps there is a modicum of truth to that term. There was no constant word count to strive for and perhaps more emphasis on finding that specific word with all the …

Closer look

Take a closer look. Behind the dusty facades, magical worlds unfold. Flecks of dust dance in slanted rays. Light illuminates slices of the interior, moving from left to right. This magical world exists undisturbed and in silence. Hold your breath. Be truly present. You will hear the faint whispers from faraway. They bear witness of extraordinary happenings. Pain. Sorrow. Death. Birth. Joy. Love. Go ahead, step inside. Feel the wooden floor creak beneath your soles. Run your fingers over the spines, holding worlds together, until you make your choice. Take a closer look, and delve into a magical world.  

Revival

As with a good bottle of red wine, sometimes stories need time to mature. In fact, that is true for many things in life. Some things cannot be rushed without detriment to the finished result or the process. As the writer or creator, it is alpha and omega to listen to the tiny gutsy squeak, telling you to take a break, before mulling things over again, and finally, doing what needs to be done. And sometimes, life just gets in the way. In my experience, life is synonymous with work, work, work, and it has been an exciting roller coaster ride, albeit far away from books, stories, and writing. Louise’s Home Library and the many unread books therein, have rested for months now. At times, I’ve even wondered if the chapter, which featured Louise’s Home Library, was over, but at other times, I have tip-toed into my library and reminded myself of all the stories and reading experiences I have to look forward to. And here I am now. I’ve grown in the last couple …

Binge reading

Binge reading, yes, there is such a thing and I’ve landed – splat! –  right in the middle of the puddle. Perhaps, I’ve exchanged one binge-worthy addiction with another as a consequence of my new year’s resolution. Reading is presumably healthier than copious amounts of chocolate, but as self-indulgent luxury binge-anything isn’t the brightest idea. In the hypothesis, binge reading sounds like the ultimate goal for an avid reader. The mere thought of gulping down book after book after book makes me feel all tingly, but the reality of binge reading is quite another. I’m not talking about that book which engrosses you to the degree where you mourn its loss as you turn the last page. I’m talking about reading books so hastily and without any true commitment that you can’t remember the plot, let alone the names of the main characters, once you’ve read the last page. And even then, you merely shrug it off, and grab the next book. That is the puddle, I talking about. There are situations where binge reading …

The Mountain Midwife – Laurie Alice Eakes

In “The Mountain Midwife” Laurie Alice Eakes asks us what makes a family and a community in crafting a story where these two themes play pivotal roles for the characters. Ashley Tolliver descends from a long line of Appalachian midwives and now she is left behind by her family, who have moved away to pursue medical careers. Hunter McDermott finds out that he’s adopted after a mysterious phone call from his mother, asking him to help his sister. “The Mountain Midwife” is a lovely tale, written with great skill, about these two characters and the actions that pull them into this small mountain community. For Ashley, the community is her family. All the women, she has assisted in birthing and their families rich or poor. For Hunter, his thoughts about the family unit are challenged, but he instantly has a connection and sense of responsibility to his biological mother. The Appalachian Mountains are a beautiful backdrop, while the characters try to navigate the tumultuous landscape of their lives. “The Mountain Midwife” makes the second book …

Delivering the Truth – Edith Maxwell

In 1888, a Massachusetts a mill town, known for its carriage industry, is subject to a vicious fire. Soon after the son of a factory owner is stabbed to death with a knitting needle. The main character is Rose Carroll, who is a Quaker midwife. She is a charming heroine and I can easily see how she can be the center of The Quaker Midwife Series. Being a midwife, Rose moves many circles in town, and the police officers purposefully asks her to keep her eyes and ears open, but Rose would have done so anyway; she is curious by nature. Through Rose midwifery, we meet high and low and see behind the façade of the individual households. As the knitting needle used in the murder is Rose’s own, her incentive to solve the crimes is high. I found the introduction to Quaker society to be a wonderful frame for the novel. The Society of Friends with their simple lifestyle and vows of peace and compassion balance the horrible crimes. That said, Rose isn’t a …

Joseph Brodsky

I studied Russian for a single year and I love the way the syllables round over the tongue. Take Brodsky’s full name for example: Iosif Aleksandrovich Brodsky. It tastes good. Brodsky defined himself as Jewish, a Russian poet, an English essayist, and an American citizen. Born in 1940 in Leningrad, Brodsky grew up in Soviet society with extreme poverty and totalitarianism. Brodsky began to write poetry early on, publishing in underground journals. He never really stuck with an appropriate career path. The Soviet government charged him with “social parasitism” in 1964, because he didn’t support the motherland. Brodsky’s poetry circulated in the West, and in his detention in 1964, he also became a symbol of artistic resistance. In 1972, he was strongly advised to emigrate. Brodsky wanted to stay in Russia, but was eventually “evicted” and flown to Austria. From there, he travelled to USA, where he found his future base, writing and lecturing at a number of prominent universities. Brodsky was award the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1987. Brodsky died of a heart …