Friday, July 29, 2011

10 Books for a Desert Island

I found this prompt for 10 books you'd want with you on a desert island online and thought I'd try it. Now that I've tried it, it's a lot harder than I thought--or maybe I just made it that way.
1. Book of Mormon: isn't the reason self-explanatory?
2. Tale of Two Cities: probably my all-time favorite, or at least my favorite-the-longest. Is it the story? it must be because I don't really care for the style of writing. I think I like the story of redemption.
3. The Thirteenth Tale: I like the rhythm of this book. The language is lyrical and the story swamps me. I can't quite figure it out with one reading. But it's like listening to someone speak a language you don't understand in a soothing voice. I just want to keep listening.
4. People of the Book: I love the structure of this book: each chapter a story of a person/family who had possession of the book, through centuries, all tied together by the book curator discovering their traces in the wine stains and clothing threads left among the pages. I like the style of this writer as well. I could read this again and still find ideas I'd missed. Besides, the book makes me think about things that last, things that matter.
5. Eat Cake: I figure I'll be hungry, so a book with cake recipes and about cake and how cakes save her life and her family sounds like a pretty good choice. The main character never lets trouble get her down. On a desert island (why couldn't it be a dessert island???), that would be a good thing to remember.
6. To Kill a Mockingbird: I've probably read it more times than any other book besides scripture, and I always am happy to read it again.
7. Picnic, Lightning: Poetry makes me pay attention to the little things in the world around me. I really like Billy Collins' poetry, too.
8. Peace Like a River. Slow paced but compelling. I think I would get more out of additional readings.
9. Crossing to Safety. Stegner isn't my favorite, but my only reading of this title still leaves me thoughtful. It, too, could bear re-reading.
10. Hmmm.  I don't know how long I would be on this desert island. I think I would like at least one book I haven't read before--and it should be either something funny and/or something non-fiction: Maybe something by Mary Roach or Bill Bryson, both fun and funny non-fiction writers. I'd take recommendations.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

There was a thunderstorm yesterday. It fit my mood. I watched lightning strikes across the valley from my office window--but that wasn't good enough. By the time I got home, the storm was just starting to hit there. Yes! The wind roared and the rain pounded. Big, fat drops of rain. Gabe (my 2 1/2 year old grandson) and I opened the family room doors to watch it and listen to it. I held him up so he could put his arm out into the rain without getting soaked. It was noisy. I loved it.  Gabe looked at me and said, "The rain is my friend." That's what he says all the time now when something or someone is scary: "____ is my friend." I think it comforts him to move the scary person/thing into that role. It's reassuring. I should think of that strategy myself: The audience is my friend. The article I'm trying to write is my friend. Anyway, after watching the storm for a few minutes, we closed the door, shutting out the noisiest elements. Gabe went back to playing cars, and I started dinner. A few minutes later there was a boom of thunder that shook the house. Gabe looked up: "Dinosaurs," he said with wonder. And I thought it was probably what they would sound like, especially just before they charged you. Scary.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

writing myself awake

I just read an essay on NWP with the title of this post. It drew me because I feel a little asleep, but not sleepy. The author (Grosskopf) writes of how writing daily made him live his life differently: more aware and more alive. I know daily writing can do this, yet somehow I let days slip by without writing. That isn't altogether true either. I write, a lot, everyday: emails and grocery lists, syllabi and assignment prompts. But that kind of writing doesn't do what the writer of the article explained that regular reflective writing does: help us live life well.  Not as somnambulists. So, when I read the essay, I thought: I need to get back in the habit. I need to carve out the time again.  I wrote daily during Summer Institute--and it did, indeed, make me more aware of life and the moments that matter. This photo is one I took during our walk-and-write--when we stopped in Tangie's for a place to write with some atmosphere. Did the sweet roll taste better because I wrote about it? I don't know, but I know writing about it made me pay attention. And that is what I know daily informal writing can do: make me pay attention to life. So, here I am, back to my goal of writing daily and hoping that, like the author, I will, through daily writing, find "the bounty of inventiveness, and a heightened sense of possibility in my every day." And maybe another sweet roll, too.