books


Image: brian fitzpatrick via flickr

So, I just finished the entire Twilight book series in 5 days after swearing I would never read them. I blame frustration with the movies for the last week of my life. I only grudgingly saw the first two films recently & wasn’t impressed. I had no intention of seeing Eclipse, but alas, a good friend wanted to see it, so I went. While it was slightly better than the first 2 films, I still found it ridiculous & cheesy. I was the one in the theater laughing at all the wrong moments & secretly heckling under my breath. When we got out of the movie, I just wanted to know how the series ended because I wanted to know the point of the whole thing. My friend, who has read & is a fan of the books, obliged & finished the story for me. But still, I didn’t think I was getting everything. So, because I’m impatient & don’t want to wait for the final parts of the movie series to fill in the story, I decided to go to the books.

Now, why was I so steadfastly against reading this series before? Admittedly, I’m not its target audience–I’m about 2 decades older than the target audience & I have a cynical/anti-melodrama streak that runs deep. But more than that, I’d read the critiques of Meyer’s writing, her technique, & I was turned off. I admit I read bad books–some by choice & some by accident; but the skewering of Meyer’s writing skills put her on my blacklist. Besides, I am a surprise fan of JK Rowling’s Harry Potter series. I’m not usually a sci-fi/fantasy fan, & really hadn’t read YA fiction since it was age appropriate for me. I’d read Stephen King’s comparison of the two writers, & sharing his praise of what Rowling accomplissed as a storyteller & a writer, I didn’t want to waste time with Twilight. But my impatience & a horrid cold that kept me home from work for 3 days won out. And so I proceded to read all 4 books in the series over the course of 5 days.

…and my impression now that I’m done? (more…)

Ok, just realized it’s been over 2  months since I’ve posted here. Eeks!!

How time flies!!!

Well, the biggest distraction keeping me from posting on a more regular basis is my new job. In February, in a whirlwind chain of events, I was offered & accepted an associate editor job at a magazine. This position has been the one I’ve been hoping for for sometime, & all of a sudden, on the day I decided I was officially tired of the freelance life & really wanted a full-time job with wonderful things like benefits, it magically appeared. I’d been looking for months for this exact position, & there was never anything quite right. But, there it was on one of the job boards that morning, & 8 days later it was mine. (more…)

Today I found out that the Bodhi Tree bookstore on Melrose in LA is closing in the next year. I first started going to the Bodhi Tree when I was about 12 years old. The store, which specializes in spiritual/metaphysical books, was one of my mother’s favorites. I spent many a Saturday afternoon with her there looking for books through my teens. At the time, I was more a fan of their fiction section and their used bookstore. Many of the older books on my bookshelves today came from those trips with my mother. With its creaky wooden floors and the smell of incense, the Bodhi Tree is where, thanks to my mother, my love of independent & unique bookstores started. And probably my love of literature. One of my favorite purchases was a collection of E.M. Forster’s works. I know my love of British literature started with that book.

The Bodhi Tree is a landmark on the independent bookstore scene. In the last year, Vroman’s bookstore–another fixture in my bookstore/reading life–saved Book Soup–also one of my favorite independent bookstores in LA. Maybe the Bodhi Tree can similarly be saved. If not, I’ll be sad to see it go.

To bad we can’t trade a few Borders and Barnes & Nobles just to save it.

Image: eflon via flickr

Image: eflon via flickr

I can’t imagine a world without bookstores. Of course, 5 years ago I would have said I couldn’t imagine a world without record stores. Always a record store junkie, I was slow to embrace online music sales, one, because I appreciate the actual CD, & two, just because I love the atmosphere inherent in a good record store. But for the most part, I’ve accepted browsing and shopping for my music online.

There are definitely advantages: I can listen to samples & I can buy only what I want. Admittedly, online music sales have likely increased my music buying given the fact that I can try before I buy. Still, I always make a point to stop by my favorite record store in LA–Amoeba–when I’m in the neighborhood or when I really do want the hard copy of a favorite CD. I’m thankful Amoeba, and all the other independent stalwarts, have held-out. But, I guess if they too disappeared I would survive.

However, I can’t say the same for my favorite bookstores. (more…)

Image: markb via flickr

Image: markb via flickr

One of the suggestions for last week’s Artist’s Way was to do a little “reading deprivation.” I never got around to undertaking it last week because I couldn’t quite wrap my head around what it actually entailed. Finally, I did a bit of research to see how others had handled it. On one end of the spectrum, people just cut out pleasure reading, only doing what was necessary for work or school. On the other end of the spectrum were those people who cut out all media–we’re talking TV, radio, music with lyrics, Internet, books. A tad bit daunting. (more…)

With the end of week 4, I have come a third of the way through this process. I feel a real sense of accomplishment that I’ve stayed with the process and committed to it. Now, having said that, I will admit to being a little lax in working through this week’s tasks. As this week was about recovering a sense of integrity, I’m owning up to my slacking. That’s not to say that this week was a bad week. It was actually a good week full of some good things in terms of where I am mentally and creatively. (more…)

This week’s theme: recovering a sense of power. Not so sure if I’ve recovered a sense of “power” or what this “power” is supposed to feel like. I will say that I continued with the Morning Pages. 7 for 7 again. Admittedly, more than a few days were mid-afternoon, or just-before-bed pages, but they did happen. I did slack a bit this week with keeping up with last week’s “little changes”: meditating & getting up earlier. But I still want to do those things, so I’m just letting this week be what it was. I did have some days where all three of those things happened. I choose to focus on those days. (more…)

The theme for this week was recovering a sense of identity. When I first sat down to reflect on the past week, I really thought I was going to say that I hadn’t connected with that theme. This week was busy–work deadlines & some emotional stuff that just made getting the weekly tasks done almost impossible. Since I hadn’t completed most of the tasks, I was sure I’d fallen short on really exploring the theme & wouldn’t have connected with what was going on in my head. But apparently, without realizing it, I did tap into that theme. The theme of recovering a sense of identity really could have been my theme for this week even if I wasn’t doing the Artist’s Way process right now. (more…)

Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity has been on my to read list for a while now. I finally picked up a copy a week & a half ago while book browsing with my friend Kim (Sassiland) who was in town & who recommended it as we were trading recommendations on writing books. Rather than read it through from beginning to end in one sitting & make some promise to myself to actually follow through with the 12-week program at a later date, I decided to start then & there. I do think my willingness to do it now of all times has much to do with the last 9 months of my life. The next 12-weeks of this process will take me through the last 3-months of what will forever be known as the hardest year of my life. There’s something about coming to the end of this process & focusing on my own creative process in the months leading up to the one-year anniversary of my mother’s death. I guess it’s a desire to really cement the fact that while this year has been the worst of my life, it has also (oddly) been one of the most interesting (& at at times even good), & much of what has made it interesting/good has been my interest in really figuring out who I am, what I believe, & what makes me happy. And much of that has to do with focusing on the creative process in general, as well as mine in particular. (more…)

Bright-Shiny-MorningLucky for me, work got canceled tonight. So, I was able to go to a reading by author James Frey instead. I’ve never read any of his work. Of course I knew about the A Million Little Pieces debacle. My opinion of that had always been that it was blown out of proportion. I don’t consider memoir non-fiction. Are our memories or interpretations of any event ever 100 percent accurate? Even if a story I write is 90-percent real, I will always call it fiction. I don’t like the idea of a reader judging the reality of my world, how I need to interpret my world, or how I need to write about it. I read a Vanity Fair article last June about the whole affair & the aftermath. Something about it, & the description about his new book Bright Shiny Morning made me add the book to my to-read list.

So, things just came together this evening for me to go hear him read. I’m so glad I went. He stated up front that no questions were off limits. He has an incredibly refreshing candor & bluntness. More specifically, I appreciated what he said about his writing process. When he’s writing a book, he sees it as a full-time job. He “goes to work” 7-10 hours a day, 7-days a week. And when he writes he just plows through it beginning to end, and essentially keeps off the filter. Yes, this is all stuff I’ve heard before, but it was just interesting to hear him say it & to see how much writing is a part of him despite the hell it brought upon him. I also loved hearing that he didn’t write when he was younger or in college. He came to writing in his 20s. So often, I hear writers say how they have been writing since they are children as if that makes them more of a writer. Yes, I wrote when I was younger, but never with the conscious idea of being a writer. I didn’t decide that I wanted to write a novel until I was in my late 20s.

So, I have my autographed copy of Bright Shiny Morning & will start it as soon as I finish Revolutionary Road–which I should be done with by this weekend. The last couple months I’d been reading a lot of non-fiction. On the way back from DC last week I was craving fiction. During my stop-over in Salt Lake City, I purchased Revolutionary Road. So, the fiction kick is in full-swing. Part of me doesn’t like to really get pulled into any kind of fiction when I’m trying to really focus on my own work, but I realize I need that outlet. Non-fiction doesn’t fill the void.

So, if you ever have the opportunity to hear James Frey speak, go.

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