Tag Archives: books

Comfortable Books

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The books are comfortable on their shelves. They are organized in the semi-haphazard way that works for me and since I feel comfortable surrounded by books, every room in my house (with the exception of the bathroom, which has a basket) has at least one bookcase. I grew up surrounded by books, being read to from birth, maybe even before, and I still have some of my original books, Goodnight Moon, Moy Moy (signed by Leo Politi with a water-color flair), The Umbrella, Lucy McLockett, The Birthday Party by Ruth Krauss, Harold and the Purple Crayon, and a collection of Beatrix Potter stories. I am not even sure that all of these books are still in print. They are on the top shelf as the crown jewels to my extensive children’s book collection.FullSizeRenderMost are too dear to part with and I can remember reading each one to my daughters during our traditional “three books before bed” story time each night. Of course, books were read during the day too, and kept in baskets, tubs and bookcases around the house for easy access. My mother managed a children’s bookstore for twenty years after she retired from teaching English and creative writing and found it impossible to visit my daughters without bringing a book for each one of them.  Leo Politi

 

 

The books are comfortable on their shelves. The dining room houses two tall bookcases filled with more mature memories, books belonging to my mother, then in her late 20’s and friends with Ray Bradbury, Norman Cousins (who was my godfather) and other young emerging writers of the time, those from my reading past and on a top shelf, the biographies of musicians that could suck Gary into reading. There are books with beautiful photography of Yosemite and hopeful gardening books for someday.FullSizeRender_2

The shelves of books are organized thematically: one bookcase holds the spiritual books, a bible from Gary’s bar mitzvah, and books seeking to answer the questions that seem to have no answers.  FullSizeRender_1

 

The books are comfortable on their shelves. The living room bookcase holds books more current, books about finances, organizing and an entire shelf devoted to books on writing. Most books here have been recommended by people I hold in high regard and whose opinions I respect, and though some have only been half-read, my stopping point noted by a bookmark, all have been started. The writing books have been read more than once and their exercises practiced to lend motivation during the times when I felt stuck or that I needed to expand. Some books here arrived as gifts of distraction, comedic books and popular books from the bestseller list to even out the fiction/non-fiction aspect of the bookcase.IMG_2049

The books are comfortable on their shelves. The small bedroom bookcase next to my bed holds treasured books, books that must reside close by, books with meditations to reflect on nightly and a few I need to look at just to regain a sense of composure and that feeling that friends are close by. Some stand tall and others rest on their sides, nestled together like long time family members who have lived together so long they take each other for granted. I don’t take them for granted and when I hold them, I remember when and why each one came into my life and take comfort in the special place they hold in my heart.FullSizeRender_3

The books are comfortable on their shelves. I was comfortable too, but now I find that I have to downsize, begin to purge or at least to sort through the lifetime accumulation of possessions in residence. I thought books would be the easiest things to start with, easier than say, clothes or mementos, but these books have personalities and they are so comfortable on their shelves. They look back at me and I find it hard to pick them up off the shelf and put them in a box. It’s just hard sometimes to say goodbye.

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Filed under books, change, Life thoughts, reading

Ah, The Sweet Smell of a Good Book!

 

Heaven

 

I have to admit that to me, there is nothing that smells as sweet as the smell of a new book.  It can be fresh off the shelf of a bookstore, musty from the library or passed along by a good friend, but the anticipation in combination with the warm, word-filled pages, fills me with happiness. For me, real books are more desirable than their high-tech cousins, though on the treadmill, I really appreciate the iPad’s flat ability to stand on the small provided ledge, the ease of turning the pages with the flick of my finger and especially the ability to make the print really large, and there is something nice about being read to while driving about in the car via books on tape, but real books will always be my favorite.

I often long for the entrance into another world, a journey that takes me away from reality and into another reality with new friends and problems to solve.  I will read almost any book, any genre, but my favorites are the novels with characters aching to become my forever friends.  It is for this reason that I was filled with glee when I opened up my email this morning and saw an email from the public library announcing that a book was being held for me.  I had been number 300 something on the waiting list and had almost forgotten that I had placed the hold on this book:

 

Escape at last!

 

 

but now it is in my hands, all 292 pages wrapped in a lovely turquoise blue cover.  I have to smile that the author’s name, Aimee, is mine spelled in the fancy way I always wished for. A kinship already!  So tonight, everything is on hold.  Tonight I am cuddling up on the sofa for a much-needed escape to places unknown.  I can’t wait!

P.S.  If you are reading this, please post a comment with your current favorite read!


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Cleansing the Body and Soul

If only it were as easy to cleanse the soul as it is to cleanse the body.  Not that the detox cleanse is without thought or a bit of work, but the amount of work it takes to confront memories, to delve into unresolved issues of the soul and to come to terms with current reality is much more complicated.  I am sitting in what was my mother’s living room on the sofa from our soon to be gone mountain cabin.  I am surrounded by an atmosphere thick with emotions and tinged with slight sadness.  This is the room where two summers ago, I sat on my mother’s couch, rubbing her tired legs, reading her stories from the StoryCorp book I got her for her August birthday.  This is where we shared secrets and memories, losses and dreams.  This is where she revealed her feelings and fears to me and while I am grateful for that time and the fact that I devoted the summer to her and really being present while with my mother, I am angry that I didn’t get more time, ask more questions and hold her more.

Loss is a tricky partner that pokes its head up at various times in our lives.  It is two-faced and can be cherished or disastrous.  Loss, as in weight loss, is usually a welcome friend not easy to obtain and the loss of toxins in the body-as in detox cleanse-is a challenging but rewarding experience.  The loss of a person, however, is heavy, pronged with memories, and unsaid words of love.  The only way to prevent these feelings for me is to participate in a voluntary cleanse of my material life, and to focus on the emotional part of my life-that which is important.

I have two categories for my personal cleanse challenge:

To Keep:

Family (relationships)


Friends (relationships)


Sentimental items

Legally required papers


Books I will read again

To Let Go:

Clothes that are outdated or don’t make me feel good

Knickknacks that have lost their meaning

Unnecessary gadgets

Unnecessary papers

Books that are a one-time read


That is a good, manageable start.  Five items.  My new motto being:  “Don’t delay, a shelf a day.”





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Choose

We all come to a certain point in our lives where we have to make a choice that will alter our life as we know it.  The choice can be subconscious, deliberate, spontaneous or well thought out but we all face a time when we are forced to decide.  I am at this intersection now.

I am happy and comfortable in my teaching job, working with five-year-old children, inspiring them, comforting them and confronting each day with the wonder of these children, awaiting the next discovery, surprise, or a book that is destined to become their favorite.  Teaching is a wonderful career, but lately, a new seed of an idea has sprouted in my mind.  It is the writing calling me to the keyboard, to the world of pages.   I choose to write. I choose to take action to propel myself forward into the world of author and book.

My choice opens my eyes to author events, book signings, new books, magazines, and the literary circle that welcomes me with open arms.  I choose to take this path and will discover where it takes me.


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Listen

Last night my dear friend Danielle and I trekked out to Pasadena to the new KPCC building.  We went to hear readings and musings on the book Mom, the latest StoryCorps book introduced by Dave Isay.  The lovely Crawford Family Forum was the perfect venue to appreciate the stories told and recorded by StoryCorps.  It was so wonderful to listen, with no obligations, or expectations; nothing required.  It was a privilege to meet Rueben Martinez of Libreria Martinez Books & Art Gallery-a literacy advocate and MacArthur Fellow, who was selling the books for signing.  In fact, Dave Isay is also a MacArthur Fellow-which put us, as, as Bill Davis president of Southern California Public Radio said: “In the company of two geniuses.”

It was an honor to shake the hands and in the case of Rueben, to get a big hug, by three men so intent on preserving oral histories and the stories of common people, who in reality are not always so common.  What a fantastic project StoryCorps is.  To give people the opportunity to listen to the story of a relative or close friend and have it recorded for posterity.  The story-teller has the opportunity to be heard, to have someone they care about, truly listen to their story, without judgment, in the privacy of the recording booth.  We all deserve to be heard and we all must take the time to listen to others, face to face.  It is through listening that we learn, we appreciate and we grow.

Listening is a common thread in my life lately.  Having gone through the Council training of the Ojai Foundation, and practicing listening with the children in my kindergarten, I find myself slowing down and feeling the calm of uninterrupted listening, of making eye contact, of not formulating an answer immediately, but letting the words sink in.  The words reside in a spiral in my mind and I can close my eyes, patiently letting the words into my soul, the stories melding and becoming a part of me.

I believe my kindergarten children need the chance to do their own StoryCorps project.  They are often not given credit  for their ability to come up with insightful questions and their own curiosity leads them to question things we might otherwise miss.  These children are our future, and we must give them the opportunity to have the kind of special contact a true, intimate interview can provide.


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Filed under Life thoughts, Mothers, Power Words, reading

The Sun Came Out

Vroman's Bookstore: A book lovers fantasy.

Today, for the first time in a week, the sun was out when I woke up, providing rays of hope for a day filled with energy and productivity.  This is the first day in the three weeks since “the fall” that I have had enough energy to stay in an upright position for the majority of the day.  I decided to do a bit of belated Happiness Project goals from January in the form of moving energy, i.e. cleaning my cherished writing area of the massive amounts of clutter that have accumulated in three weeks and concurrently, I decided to de-germ our home since we have been under the influence of a nagging cold for the better part of the week.  I carefully listed the areas to be cleaned and I am happy to say I actually made good progress.  I can see the desktop, as well as the surfaces of a few random tables.  Papers have been filed, are waiting to be shredded or are resting comfortably in the trash bin.  I have (gag) paid bills, deleted e-mails and sent communications and now am finally settling in to write my latest thought.

I have decided that I want to be a featured author/speaker at Vroman’s Bookstore in Pasadena.  I have fallen in love with this quaint store that is old (1894), classic in its independence and it’s style:  two-stories, sporting wood shelving and paneling and featuring real booksellers.  Yes, the people who work there are actually booksellers, not retail salespeople and they know of which they speak, their love and knowledge of books permeating the store.  The store features events:  book groups, talks, signings, and readings all listed on its informative website where you can find everything you want to know about this amazing store, past, present and future.

The Pasadena area is a great place for a field trip too, pedestrian friendly with many interesting places to eat.  The community is old and established, the home of the famous Rose Parade and the Rose Bowl its streets lined with mature trees and lovely, stately homes.  Traveling to Vroman’s is like taking a little visit back in time to days when times were simpler, technology was less and books read in their proper form, typeset on paper hardbound with sturdy jackets to protect the binding and flaps of information to entice the reader.

I can visualize myself upstairs in the area reserved for book events, presenting my new book to an enthusiastic crowd who waits patiently to have me sign their newly purchased copy of the book and perhaps pose with me for a picture.  A day when I will sit in the little café in Vroman’s and sigh, “I did it.”

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Commiting To Happiness

I made this butterfly cake to celebrate Hope's wonderful journey described in her book The Possibility of Everything.

Last night I spent the evening surrounded by some of my favorite women in the comfortable, serene atmosphere of my friend Sue’s home.  We had delicious potluck (somehow with this group there is always the right combination of food) and conversation followed by a great talk and description of her journey by Hope Edelman.  Her book: The Possibility of Everything is a fascinating story of trust, alternative viewpoints and hope. Hope writes in a most compelling way, and I felt involved in her story on many levels.  First of all, as a mother, I felt compassion for her struggles with her daughter and her commitment to help her daughter come out on the other side.  Secondly, I related to her role as a mother/wife/writer who has temporarily lost her sense of self.  Thirdly, her struggles with her relationship felt all too familiar, balancing time and the energy it takes to support modern lifestyles.  Hope inspired me to write more and to find out what my story will be.

Gretchen Rubin and Me at Vroman's Bookstore in Pasadena

Monday night I had  another literary adventure attending the book signing of Gretchen Rubin of The Happiness Project at Vroman’s Bookstore in Pasadena.  First of all, as my friend Danielle and I entered the store, audible gasps could be heard from us as we took in the amazing variety of wonderful things, books, cards, gifts and more books.  And, it’s two stories of wonderfulness!  We made our way upstairs in the elevator and enjoyed listening to Gretchen describe her realization of her need to create more happiness in her life. Reading both her blog and her book has motivated me to appreciate more, create what I need and to focus on happiness. We waited for the line to go down and got her signature in our books.  I even managed to have her write a note to my sister-who was unable to attend.  Spreading the happiness.

As we were leaving, we noticed that Friday night, Elizabeth Gilbert of Eat, Pray, Love fame will be talking about and signing her new book, Commitment.  We got two books and two tickets and are looking forward to another night of book talk.

I want to be surrounded and embraced by books, words, new thoughts, random punctuation, other worlds and unforseen experiences.  And through some serendipity, I am.  My next task is to visualize myself as the writer, the creator and eventually the person giving the book talk.  Everything is possible with a commitment to happiness.

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