Thursday, April 28, 2011

Books and Writing Confessions

Confession #1 - I am a total bookworm. I always have been. As a kid, one of my favorite treats was to go to the bookstore. There was this little bookstore in a nearby town and I loved it. It was just a little hole-in-the-wall place, worn and comfy and just books, long before the days of Barnes and Noble (which I love by the way). I read all the Laura Ingalls Wilder books. Judy Blume. Beverly Cleary. Nancy Drew mysteries. Sweet Valley Twins, and later, Sweet Valley High. The Babysitters Club. And of course Louisa May Alcott's books. I can still picture myself in the area where they had all the books I loved to read, picking them up, reading the back cover, so indecisive about what to get. Wishing I could take them all home.

Fast forward 15 years, and I'm doing the same thing in Barnes and Noble, with a mocha and a slightly larger book allowance to spend, but still nearly breaking the bank on books and books and more books, which then cluttered my bookshelves, piled up under our guest bed and in the guest room closet and in every other tiny space I could cram them in our little starter home. Then I discovered my love for the library and the reading possibilities became endless. Aaah, it makes me smile just thinking about it.

Go forward another 10 years and here we are, in the age of amazing technology. I'm in two book clubs, both of which I found online. I don't have to go to a bookstore anymore. I just wake up my Kindle, browse for something, hit a button, and it's there for me to read within seconds. With two little ones, it is so much easier to get books this way. I still love to take them to the bookstore and to the library. I still check out books from the library for myself to save money and to enjoy the feel and smell of a paper book once in a while. But it is so wonderful to have the ability to get new books to read without ever getting up from my chair. Maybe I'm a big geek. Maybe I'm lazy. Probably I'm a little bit of both. I love reading books, I love talking about books. I love reading about other people talking about books. Hmmm. What?

Check this out. I found a new blog recently called 101 Books (thanks to Cathy, who writes the blog Stay in the Car Mom for this post that put me on to this blog). The blogger's name is Robert Bruce. He's a writer and lives in Nashville. He decided to read through Time Magazine's list of the top 100 books since 1923, plus Ulysses (published in 1922, so not on Time's list, but important to include in Bruce's opinion). This is such a fun idea, it has inspired me to get back into reading the classics myself. I say "get back into" as if I've done a lot of it. Sadly, I have not read much classic literature. I have only read two (yes, two!) of the books on Time's list (see the list here if you want to check your number), Animal Farm and Gone With the Wind (one of my all time favorites). Several years ago I decided to try to read more classic literature, but made the unfortunate mistake of choosing Anna Karenina as my first classic read, and the plan died right there. I forced myself to read the entire book, though I hated every minute of it. So, while I am thoroughly enjoying reading about Robert Bruce's thoughts on reading through this entire list of 101 books, and am planning to try to read through the list myself, I have decided to only check these books out from the library and if I can't get into them by about 50 pages in, I'm going to ditch them. Checking them out from the library will allow me to give up on reading a book without feeling guilty because I spent money on it. So, I highly recommend Bruce's blog. It's a good read.

I'm going to start with The Catcher in the Rye and To Kill a Mockingbird, both of which I have put on hold at my library and will go pick up tomorrow.

In addition to writing about the books on the list and his reviews of them, Bruce writes about lots of other book-related stuff, including writing. He is a writer after all.

Confession #2 - I'm a mom and a psychologist, but I really want to be a writer. I have published one professional book, but I really want to write fiction. Or something else that lots of people would enjoy, not just the ten psychologists who bought my book. I think about writing all the time. I know that's why I love blogging. What better way for a wannabe writer to write than to have my own space to do so without having to worry about editors or publishers or deadlines or book reviews? I just write about what I know and I love it. But I secretly want to write about stuff I make up. If I could just make up something good. . .

Confession #3 - After I left the federal prison where I used to work, I tried to write a novel about a prison psychologist. It started out wonderfully! I wrote about some of the crazy experiences I had while working in various prisons, while changing names and identifying information and changing the situations enough that they couldn't be linked to any actual inmates or staff members. It was when I got the the real fiction part that I got "writer's block." I got stuck and never managed to get unstuck. I left prison work in late 2006. I wrote like mad for a few months and then stopped. Even as late as mid-2008 I was still reading and editing my book fairly frequently, doing research for it, and trying to get it going again. It never got going again. At this point I have abandoned it. I realized that it was therapeutic to purge some of my horrendous/hilarious experiences right after "getting out of prison," but once the initial outpouring of words dried up, I didn't feel the need to continue that particular story. But I'd still like to write someday, about something.

For now I guess I'll just keep reading and writing my blog. And talking about reading. And reading about other people reading and writing. And thinking about writing. And writing about reading. . .


  1. I am an avid reader too. My mom used to say that I would go into a toy store and go directly to the books.

    You will love Catcher in the Rye! One of my favorites!

    And as a thought...a lot of the classics are free on kindle so you might look into that as well! Sounds like fun!

  2. Glad my post inspired you. My number is 9 books on the list that I've read and To Kill a Mockingbird is one of my favorites!

    You can also check out They send you free classics in little bits every day. I tried to read Les Mis that way but only got about 1/3 of the way through it before I got too bored :).