Bibliophile Corner

photo-1421338443272-0dde2463976aBibliophiles unite! We’ve got three wonderful bookish friends telling us what books they are grateful for reading. Join me with welcoming Alex (Alex Green),  Alex (Alexandra Vanhorn), and Cathryn (Runs for Cookies)!


“The Humans” By Matt Haig

The book I am glad to have read this year is The Humans by Matt Haig. This was a book recommended to me by a friend in university who told me without a doubt that I would love it.

So I picked it up as well as Haig’s latest release, Reasons to Stay Alive, the author’s autobiography/self help book on mental health. I’d heard such good things about this one that I decided to read that first. After gliding through Reasons, he mentioned The Humans a number of times as his perfect novel in explaining his own life and the many issues he has dealt with, as explained in the book.

It took me all of one and a half days to read the whole thing. For me that is really fast, seeing as how I usually take a week at most to read any book. Sure, the book is small and isn’t overly detailed but I ate it up like I hadn’t read anything for years, and what a wonderful, poetic piece of literature!

On the outside, the book may seem like a fun, sci-fi flick but the sci-fi element to it exists only as a background matter because the real story exists in its message.

Haig puts an unemotional, completely rational, stress free alien into the shoes of an everyday human. Of course, this might sound like a classic sit-com gimmick but instead of your usual japes and eventual clarity for all involved, this alien experiences what it is really like to be normal, everyday human being.

When you read, it’s clear to see Haig has pulled from his own experiences and I know that many reading this book will also see themselves and their struggles with this character. Throughout he is battling away to understand this alien world around him whilst also attempting to navigate it smoothly with all the obstacles of being human getting in his way.

Our alien friend is constantly torn in his guilt between sticking to his rational, peaceful yet unfulfilling life or leaving his people to live like a human, even if that does bring with it the many emotions being human can bring.

That’s the message I received from this story. That being human doesn’t mean everything will be OK but in fact, for a large majority of us, it means a lot of things will be tough and it
is very tempting not to care. However, it is being human that makes us so special.

Our friend realises that through all the pain of it all, there is also good music to dance to,bookish-corner-picture great food to eat, amazing friends to hang out with and an uncountable amount of love to be shared. This is something he learns the hard way but ultimately accepts because he
knows that at the end of the day, it’s all worth it.

Even if we’re only here for a minuscule minute of time in the aeons of space, all that bad
stuff and all that good stuff is worth living for.

Like I said, I am very happy I found this book.

Website: Alex Green
Twitter


“The Ocean at the End of the Lane” by Neil Gaimanocean_at_the_end_of_the_lane_us_cover

Where does anyone begin with capturing and defining the “The Ocean at the End of the Lane” by Neil Gaiman? This is one of those stories that is not read, but experienced. The story follows a nameless narrator reflecting back on a strange occurrence at his childhood home involving a neighbor girl named Lettie Hempstock and the pond that she claims is an ocean. Telling you more details is a betrayal of experiencing the story for yourself. This book is best unwound like a ball of yarn, methodically so not to miss a detail of it’s texture.

As a writer myself, I’m often trying to push the boundaries of traditional storytelling, searching for new ways to shake up my arsenal of words. “The Ocean at the End of the Lane” is permission to authors to explore the bizarre and strange. It pulls it off with grace and chills.  The descriptions are vivid and the ending will leave you thinking long past mewhen the book is closed. I would recommend this to anyone wanting to learn more about how to make creatures go bump in the night without giving them a broom to jam against the ceiling. Open it up and start unraveling.

Links

51nin4uu4qlThread of Grace” by Mary Doria Russell

 This book sat in my pile of to-be-read books from my mother for a while; it was actually one she had not yet read herself, though she read “Doc” (a historical fiction novel about Doc Holliday) by the same author. I picked it up from the pile earlier this fall and spent months making my way through it. (As I’ve gotten older, busier, less focused in my reading, I’ve gotten slower at it.) The book is a thoroughly researched, fictionalized take on the events in Italy following the Italian armistice, the Jews who found their way from other countries to Italy, the Jews who already lived there, and the Italians who helped to save their lives. Most disturbing, there are moments where you find yourself listening to the narrator work its way into the mind of one Nazi or another.
I opened the book one night before bed, my husband and I reading beside one another to wind down, and when I finished the novel’s brief Preludio, I stopped and placed the book against my chest, above my pounding heart. It was a slow, methodical reveal, and the moment the direction became clear, it was like someone had poured ice water down my spine. I immediately read it aloud to my husband so he could feel it too. There were several such moments as I moved through: bearing witness to a Nazi doctor confess his manifold sins to a Catholic priest (is there forgiveness, is there divine mercy for such atrocities? Can one repent, can one really change?); following families split apart by war, by living underground, by helping those stay and survive underground; voices cut short by war. There were several times the week after the election this November that I had to put the book down after only a couple of pages – the parallels were too horrifying.
The characters are plentiful – and there is a character list, which I consulted many times14533597_1842215806021800_2050464786369478656_n due to my very slow movement through this book (unless I had a flight to sit down with it for a more sustained period) – but sharply drawn. Many will pull at all of your empathy; some will draw on your darkest rage and despair. But Jewish or not (and I am), it’s a beautiful, well-plotted, honest, wrenching book that – while not shying from the truth and the horrors of war and the Holocaust – reminds us of how each of us can make a difference.

Why We Like To Read Books

Why do we like to read books? Why not opt to watch them instead, since most of the books have been acted out in movies anyway. Well, reading is something doable and very much likable. Our world has changed so much over the years that reading doesn’t specifically have to include physically holding a book, you can do it anywhere anytime, as long as you have the Internet connection. However, some individuals derive their reading pleasure from the natural feel of a book, including its scent. You have probably noticed one or two people around you constantly reading, and you must be wondering why they like to read so much. These are probably some of the reasons:

  1. To Stay In Shape

Staying in shape is often synonymous with physical fitness. Attaining physical fitness takes a lot of exercising and keen dieting. The impact exercise has on our body is similar to what reading does to our mind. Reading is a straightforward and efficient manner of maintaining mental focus. Our brain, just like any other part of our body, needs some level of maintenance for it to stay alerted and function better. The brain is the central point where all decisions are made, be it financial or career related, etc. It will, therefore, be prudent to boost your mental efficiency and reading is a good way to do so. The way in which the brain functions is unique in the sense that it can be supplied with an unlimited amount of information – its capacity stretches to whatever limits you want it to go. Therefore, exercise your brain – read!

  1. Better Your Communication Skills

Communication is the key to how we relate to people around us. From the moment you why_do_we_like_to_read_books_2meet someone, how you address them speaks volumes. Communication skills are needed in every aspect of our lives, be it family or career. A good way to better your speaking and writing skills is by constantly reading. Reading exposes us to new vocabulary and keeps our grammar and language fluency in check. Having a good grip on your communication skills also makes you sound smart. If you’re into blogging or sending short messages to friends and relatives, your ability to play around with words will be impeccable if you constantly have a good read. Among the top individual skills employers are currently looking for when recruiting, are excellent communication skills. So, we read because we have the goal of becoming excellent at our writing and speaking skills.

  1. Visit New Worlds

I can be seated right next to you but I’m miles and miles away. When we read, we get to visit far away worlds and also get an opportunity to escape our realities. I could be in Maryland but in my mind, I’m in Liverpool. At times, we get so tired of our reality that we turn to books in order to go somewhere else, and despite it not being physical, it’s always worth it. It’s all about your ability to put a mental picture to what you are reading. You can be a princess, a warrior, an alien or even a king. You will get to experience new adventures by looking at the world through the eyes of the characters of your book.

  1. Passion

“I’m passionate about reading”. You have probably heard this phrase like a million times. Well, I doubt that without passion we would be able to accomplish much. Being passionate about an activity is a good way to go. The same applies to being a good reader. Reading becomes more of a hobby than a serious activity. Note that hobbies are activities we are why_do_we_like_to_read_books_1passionate about and can engage in continuously without realizing the passing of time. Taking your time to go through each chapter, every sentence word by word, and every comma or full stop, takes patience, time and a good driving force – passion. Why take days or weeks to read a book that you could have watched in 2 to 3 hours? It’s all about the passion – the desire to experience the book with your own ideas of how each scene might have unfolded. The passion is the ultimate reading motivator.

  1. Entertainment

Every individual is unique with regards to what they consider to be entertainment. Watching movies, listening to music, and engaging in various sporting activities such as tennis, swimming, a good run, etc., are some of the entertaining activities we frequently engage in. Reading is also a good source of entertainment, especially when it has become a culture to you. Yes, reading is a culture which requires self-discipline and commitment.

Reading is a good and enriching way of utilizing your time. It’s bye-bye boredom when you get that perfect book! Ever tried talking with someone deeply engrossed in their read? You would probably go red with anger, since they would not hear a word you say and definitely not respond. You’ll always be forced to repeat what you said. It goes to show just how much captivating and entertaining a good read can be.

We read to get rid of the boredom, get relaxed and entertained!

  1. To Be Knowledgeable

Learning is an endless process. Also, it’s not just limited to school. It’s a continuous process that can be done anywhere, anytime. One of the most effective ways to keep up with your learning process is to read continuously. Being knowledgeable is among the vital tools people need in order to cope with our constantly changing world. We read because we are regularly exposing ourselves to new information that imparts some knowledge to us.

  1. Individual, Spiritual and Professional Growth

People tend to get bored with routine and the best way to avoid it is by constantly initiating change. Reading is an excellent avenue for people to get information that helps them grow personally, spiritually and professionally. Realize, that for you to attain growth in all aspects of your life, exposure to new experiences and information is necessary. A good read is a good source of both. You get to learn through the experiences of the characters in the book you’re reading, and you also get some perspective on various issues. Some people like the idea of being mentally challenged by books they’re reading. In such instances, one can acquire knowledge that they could relate to their everyday living. Imagine a situation where you read about a particular problem and how it was solved. When you experience a similar issue in your life, solving the problem will be as easy as ABC – as a result of prior exposure to it through your reads.

Reading is a good source of spiritual enrichment.

  1. Tool For Success

Throughout your academic life, the constant phrase was “Read, so that you can achieve success.” why_do_we_like_to_read_books_3Yes, reading has been proven to be an essential tool for achieving success in life. Reading on its own will, of course, not have a major impact. It’s rather how we use it to help ourselves. As stated earlier, reading makes you knowledgeable and gives you wisdom. Information is crucial to achieving success. With information, I doubt much can challenge you. We read because we want to be successful. This can potentially help us cross bridges we never thought were passable. With information, we are capable of going above and beyond our dreams and desires.

  1. Show Me What You Read, And I Will Tell You Who You Are!

We love to read. It speaks of who we are. A look at a person’s preferred genre speaks of who they are, to some extent. Reading is habitual, and one requires to master oneself for it to be so.

I am a reader – they are a bibliophile. I fancy sci-fi – they are into science and abstract ideas, or I prefer romantic books – they are lovey-dovey. These are just but some of the preconceptions people get when they see your genre of choice.

We are bookworms – it’s who we are, and we love it!

  1. Freedom

We read because we want to feel alive and because we desire to feel free. We read because we want to see the world from a different perspective. Reading keeps us interested in other aspects of our lives and it’s the perfect opportunity to get what we want on our own terms. How? It’s simple – knowledge is power!

  1. Coping With Difficult Times

In life, we have those experiences that either make or break us, depending on how we decide to cope. It could be the death of a loved one, a divorce, loss of a job, an accident, etc. Such moments require us to be strong, and a good way of coping, that some individuals have attested to, is reading. They were probably seeking answers or solutions to the problems they were going through and in no time got caught in the reading habit. Reading provides some consolation. A read can be so captivating that it distracts us from the pain. We read, not to escape from the pain we are experiencing, but to cope with it.

It doesn’t have to be a painful moment that you may need to cope with, but a day to day life experience. Take for example being stuck in traffic – if you’re not driving or have taken a cab, a good read would be the perfect distraction. You get to escape from the hustle and bustle around you that, truthfully speaking, is just a nuisance at times.

Conclusion

So why do we love to read books? The answers to that question are almost unlimited. This is probably due to some personal and environmental factors that are attributed to our reading culture. When we surround ourselves with individuals who are in the habit of regularly reading, we are probably bound to catch on the practice. And it’s definitely a good habit to catch on. Surrounding yourself with books inevitably leads you to reading – we are curious beings.

At times, reading disorders make people readers. In many instances, individuals with reading habits are people who at a young age were dyslexic. They are such an inspiration. The reading habit enabled them to overcome dyslexia.

It’s indisputable that reading plays an important role in almost every aspect of our lives, be it professional, personal, or spiritual. It’s almost a pillar of our existence. Our ability to read and garner knowledge sets us apart from the rest of the population. It’s been said that knowledge is power, so we read to stay at the top. Our people skills are also greatly influenced by the level of our communication skills, and we desire to be unique in our interactions. Reading does exactly that. It’s probably the ultimate way to better our writing skills. The education we provide ourselves when we take the time to read is probably the best gift we can give ourselves to not only better our writing, but arm ourselves with the knowledge necessary to take on our ever changing world. We can even build a career out of our writing skills and attain financial independence, especially if pursuing it through freelancing. Reading enables us to have self-discipline which can help us in other aspects of our lives, especially if we are pursuing some study courses or are in school.

 

my-photoAuthor’s Bio:

Kevin Nelson started his career as a research analyst and has changed his sphere of activity to writing services and content marketing. Apart from writing, he spends a lot of time reading psychology and management literature searching for the keystones of motivation ideas. Feel free to connect with him on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Linkedin.

Little Victories Vol. 5

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Hello!

It’s been a while since I’ve written in this area, and it feels like the time to contribute again. I hope everyone has been well and thriving this holiday season. A lot of things have been shifting in my life lately, and processing it has been hard, particularly in the two weeks. I’d forgotten to take some time out of the chaos to remind myself that there are things worth celebrating. So, I’ll get to it!

Kindness-As I’ve alluded, things have been a mess for me lately. After a rough few weeks, flashes of old, scarring situations have surfaced. I seized the opportunity to write them down for this blog, to hopefully start a conversation with people who may be feeling similarly or raise awareness that mental disorders are sneaky bastards. I’ve written two entries so far, resulting in some great email conversations with individuals. I urge you to read them and join the conversation. Mental health continues to be considered an unsavory topic, and often people are uncomfortable with talking about it. I had this instance last weekend after my mom followed me into a room and watched a panic attack ensue. She would not address it. She kept talking to me like the attack wasn’t happening. Blindness to or unwillingness to understand mental illness is a true detriment to the individual healing process and societal empathy.

But there have also been some people who have risen to the occasion, and have helped me through the issues. They have supported the weight of it, propped me up when it felt crushing. For them, I am truly grateful.

Sleep-Finals crept up for grad school too quickly. After an incredibly hectic semester, I felt ragged. Finals seemed like an unnecessary hurdle for the end, so I procrastinated my work slightly. This meant I had two weeks where I had extra late nights. However, I achieved a 4.0 semester! My celebration of this will be a weekend of true rest starting tonight. I cannot begin to tell you how excited I am about this. In my true nature, I have pre-scheduled naps tomorrow and Sunday to ensure I complete what I have set out to do. Only one work day stands between me and R&R (I can do this!).

Music-With the emotionally chaotic  few weeks, I’ve turned (even more so) to music to get me through. Like books, music has been a staple in my life since the womb. I grew up playing instruments, stuck with professional lessons on the piano for 14 years, achieved awards in percussion, and started lessons on the violin this year. Music builds me up and allows constructive ways to reflect and relax.

Thanks for reading today. Your support has not gone unnoticed. Happy Friday!

This Broken Brain

this-broken-brain

A 2004 high school snapshot:

“I’m addicted to hurting myself,” I said with a dry voice. Dry eyes.

“What do you mean?” My friend said.

I lifted my sleeve as high as it would go. They eyed the burns, the jagged cuts.

“Fuck.” they said.

“I don’t know what to think of myself. I think I might be suicidal.”

“The hell you are!” They said.

I saw the anger steaming from the top of their head.

“Fuck you!” They said.

The words worked into my brain.We sat together in their car near my parent’s driveway. It was our space for honesty, a closed off sanctuary.

“I’m telling your parents right now!” They said, jumping out, violating our rule of secrecy.

“Please don’t.” I said. “I can’t handle them knowing.” I pulled on my hair to make my scalp sting.

They walked toward the front door, my mind capturing it all in slow motion.

I leaped out too. I ran. After a mile of a full sprint, I jumped into the woods of familiar trees and familiar scopes.

I hid. My parents were going to disown me. I knew it.

I watched the world fall dark. The woods began to turn on me. I walked away from the road, hearing the wind rattle the dead leaves around me. Hot, stinging tears fell from my face. My eyes worked against my brain, as it tried to squelch the pain.

As anxiety began to surface, I started singing.

“So this is odd. Painful realization that all has gone wrong, and nobody cares at all.”

The dark accepted my words. The cold air whisked them away.

My skull throbbed, echoing the scream rising in my throat.

I wandered, blindly. The trees became ghosts, wailing shadows for monsters ready to pounce. I heard the wind playing its sad melody with a creaking door in the distance.

“Follow me,” it sang. “Find me.”

I walked on. Sharp chest pains begged me to stop.

“So you buried all your lover’s clothes and burned the letters lover wrote, but it doesn’t make it any better. Does it make it any better?” I said

“You’ll never know,” something said.

I kept on. “And the plaster dented from your fist in the hall where you had your first kiss. Reminds you that the memories will fade.”

“You aren’t worth the memories.” I felt claws.

“So this is strange. Our sidestepping has come to be a brilliant dance where nobody leads at all.” I said, softly.

“Yes. You are lost.” A heavy weight landed on my shoulders. I cried out, falling hard.

With a ragged breath I said, “And the picture frames are facing down and the ringing from this empty sound is deafening and keeping you from sleep.”

I stood up.

“Stay lost, empty one.”

I ran away. I didn’t look back to see what had tried to catch me. I pushed my lungs as hard as they could muster as I saw the edge of the woods ahead.

I sprinted out, came to a stop, and doubled over. My mind hit its no return zone. The urge ground myself with pain welled beneath my  skin. A haze fell over my brain.

I grasped for reality as my mind hung on to the song. “And breathing is a foreign task and thinking’s just too much to ask and you’re measuring your minutes by a clock that’s blinking eights.”

I spied the screeching door in the distance. My mind focused, and walked toward it. I closed my eyes for long stretches of time as my legs continued on autopilot.

I reached an obstacle. I touched the wooden fence blocking my way. Numbly, I put a food on the bottom rail in an effort to raise myself over it. I heard an abrupt sound, scarily close to me. I looked up to see a white figure brush past me at full speed. I slipped, knocking my chin on the fence as I fell sideways. I cried out, from pain and fear.

I looked up expecting to see Satan standing above me. Surprised to find nothing, I looked around and my mind came into focus. I heard galloping steps and saw the horse moving alongside the fence.

“Well, this is incredible, starving, insatiable. Yes, this is love for the first time. And you’d like to think that you were invincible.Yeah, well weren’t we all once, before we felt loss for the first time? ” My voice project into the open space.

I noticed the horse’s agitation as I realized that the air felt right for a storm. I backed away from the fence  toward the woods, feeling braver.

“Well, this is the last time,” I said, laying down next to a dense tree. I covered my body with leaves and closed my eyes.

A little while later, I called a friend to help me.


*lyrics by Chris Carrabba