Pursuing Life's Daring Adventure

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Good Books and Shelf-Space

"The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go." -Dr. Seuss 

In June, the five in our family made a goal to read ten books this summer. It was a great challenge, during these wonderful months of an untangled schedule and sunshiny days, that we make reading a priority.

My boys immersed themselves in worlds of fantasy and humor, places inhabited by Beasts, funny Mr. Gum, potty-humored Super Diaper Baby, adventures in Tunnels, and the always-a-hit Batman and Star Wars. And usually, after time reading, they couldn't wait to share the lavish tales and terrible troubles of their fictional friends. What a great peek into the mind and interests of a child! So fun for me ... to watch their excitement in the new places they would go in their reading. 

We now have books used as doorstops, as they've again run out of shelf-space ...

I would be most content if my children grew up to be the kind of people who think decorating consists mostly of building enough bookshelves.  ~Anna Quindlen, "Enough Bookshelves," New York Times, 7 August 1991

Our adult bookshelves also run over-- which makes me smile. Above, a peek into my recent shelf-space of books. Out of the many books I've read over the last few months, I have loved the worlds of a few:

  • The Art of Racing in the Rain: Wow-- this was a beautiful book that not only surprised me with its depth but also with its important story. Told from the perspective of the family dog (really!), the angle on the family's struggles and the dog's role in holding them all together amazed me. The strain applied to Enzo the dog's family by extended family is a stress so familiar, the story strikes hard ... and lingers, well past the final page. I enjoyed this book immensely. by Garth Stein.
  • The Mountain Between Us: I enjoyed this moving story for its setting in the wilderness of the Rocky Mountains, and the depiction of the power of love to help us survive past pain. Well-told by Charles Martin, one of my favorite authors.
  • The Shell Seekers: In rereading this classic, I'm rediscovering Rosamunde Pilcher's brilliance in sustaining vivid characters, and the deep pain she's able to recreate in their relationships. A fantastic portrayal of family and the rift caused by those who take toward those who give. 
  • The Help: This breakout novel shines for its authentic characters and unique glimpse into the South at an unpopular time and topic in USA's history. A big thank you to Kathryn Stockett for sharing her exquisite world. 
  • On Writing: Even though it's a non-fiction book in my list of summer reading, I can't help but place it among books I have loved reading. Because I do love it. For writers and avid readers, Stephen King gives a rich look into the life he lives turning out well-loved stories and reflecting on the creative process. I'm not sure, as a writer, that I could ever read this book enough.

    For the other books I've read, and enjoyed or not enjoyed reading--I defer to literary agent Nathan Brantford's excellent post on the judge of quality. Not everyone likes a certain book. For a novel I like, there may be 100x more people who do not like it. And vice versa. But, the judge should be if a book achieves what the author set out to accomplish in writing that book. I wholeheartedly agree. There are books that do not strike me in my reading taste, but that are well-done and accomplished what the author intended. A wonderful way to approach new books, I think.

    So, as I delve into writing my next novel, I am confident that not only are our shelves bursting with stories immersing us in new worlds, but that has reading become a fixed habit in our house, and also a destination worth pursuing.   

Starting the conversation (leave a comment below): What books have you enjoyed reading recently? What are you reading now?


  1. I am reading The One Year Mini for Busy Women by Jennifer Lyn King (can I get a whoop whoop); ProBlogger: Secrets for Blogging Your Way to a Six-Figure Income; and Lonesome Dove, a classic.

  2. Hi Carrie,

    Yes-- a whoop-whoop for sure. Thank you. That's so kind. I hope you like it. I haven't read either of your other two-- I'd love to hear what you think about them when you're done.

    Thanks for taking the time to leave your thoughts.



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