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…)

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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…)

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…)

I’ve never been one for borrowing books from the library. Admittedly, the major reason could be my complete inability to ever return a book on time. But, that’s not exactly it. I’ve never been one for borrowing books from the library for the same reason I’ve never been one for used bookstores: I like the feel of a brand new book. I like knowing that I am the first one to crack it open. The first one to fold down the pages to mark my place. The one to make those creases in the bind. The one whose handwriting lines the margins where I had to note an exceptionally beautiful line. But as I’ve ventured into the writing world, I’ve become an even bigger proponent of buying my books new because that’s the best way to support the writers I love. (more…)

As I’ve meandered along (ok, scraped, clawed, & tortured myself) through this novel-in-progress of mine, I’ve never seriously expected to make a living from it. Of course I’ve had the occasional daydream of such a life & of calling myself a working novelist. But what I’ve come to realize is that I’d be happy just being a full-time working writer. Admittedly, I’d like all my future writing to be spent on work I love, and not on work I need; but still, I’d just like to be able to answer that inevitable What do you do for a living question by saying I’m a writer.

Writer Steve Almond, author of (Not That You Asked): Rants, Exploits, and Obsessions and The Evil B.B. Chow and Other Stories, has an funny/interesting essay in Sunday’s LA Times Books section, Can’t Say No: Why One Writer Can’t Turn Down Any Assignments, about what it means to be a working writer & why being considered a writing “slut” isn’t such a bad thing.

It really wouldn’t be such a bad thing.

Mood: Frustrated with my procrastination

Currently listing to: Wisconsin by Bon Iver

I’m expecting a book order from Amazon today. Just 3 books this time around, as I’ve realized I have quite a book backlog on my nightstand.

  • The Bell by Iris Murdoch (one on my summer reading list)
  • Best Friends by Martha Moody (a gift from a friend)
  • Love Walked In by Marisa de los Santos (I keep starting this book, but can’t get past chapter 2. I should just give up, but I hate to leave books I buy unread.)
  • The Flanders Panel by Arturo Perez-Reverte (another one that I keep starting & can’t get through. It must have been a bad book buying day when I bought this, because I bought Love Walked In the same day.)
  • Archetypes for Writers by Jennifer Van Bergen (one of those craft books. Looks interesting. Just haven’t been in the headspace to read it.)
  • The Master Bedroom by Tessa Hadley (just bought last week. Will get to it.)
  • The Complete Shorter Fiction of Virginia Woolf (this is one that I just open up & read a story here and there when I have time.)

…and soon to arrive:

  • Straight Up & Dirty: A Memoir by Stephanie Klein (read about this book here & it sounded like a fun read. Also, I like Klein’s blog & keep meaning to read one of her books.)
  • The Art of Mending by Elizabeth Berg (I read her book Open House a while ago & liked it. I’ve been meaning to read something else from her. Noticed this is written in 1st person, so that made it appealing given my current needs–read below.)
  • Style Statement: Live by Your Own Design by Danielle La Porte & Carrie McCarthy (this book is part of my quest to figure myself out. Never hurts to be more self-aware.)

…and currently reading:

  • The End of the Story by Lydia Davis (half-way through & really liking this. It’s exactly what I’ve been looking to read.)

I’ve just been a slower reader than usual the last couple of months; but a apparently a very prolific book buyer. I don’t know what’s going on. Probably just a phase. Will say I’m really liking the book I’m currently reading. I think part of my reading funk has been because I can’t seem to find exactly what I want. Because my plan is to work on draft #2 in 1st person, I really want to immerse myself in 1st person. But I’m having the hardest time finding books that I want to read. Yes, there are plenty of good books out there written in 1st, but I guess I’m just looking for a certain voice. I keep walking into every bookstore I come across, pulling books off the shelves, & reading the first page. More often than not, it’s not what I’m looking for. But I guess I’m realizing that what I’m looking for is what I’m trying to write. My head wants to hear a certain voice that letting in any others, any that aren’t quite right, is just difficult.

I know what this all means. I need to write my own book.

On that front, the reading of draft #1 is taking longer than I expected. Not because I hate it or anything, I just keep saying I’ll get to it, & I don’t. This is starting to frustrate me. Yes, my procrastination & I might soon come to blows. I want to get started on draft #2, sooner rather than later. So, to get that going, I need to finish reading this & figuring out what I can take from it & what I need to do to make it better the next time around.

So, instead of saying “I plan to…”, I’m going to say: I AM WILL FINISH READING DRAFT #1 BY THE END OF THIS WEEK.

And: I AM WILL WORK ON AN ARTICLE IDEA THAT’S BEEN FLOATING AROUND IN MY HEAD THE LAST COUPLE DAYS.

I love books. (I’d be amazed to find a writer who doesn’t.) And I especially love the books I own. I know in today’s recycling crazy world, selling your used books is the thing to do. I appreciate the idea of sharing the story. But, I hold on to mine. I keep all my books. Since college I’ve held on to every single one. Admittedly a few have disappeared after being borrowed into friends’ hands & homes causing me to consider some kind of library overdue book policy for the more blatant offenders. I remember the title of each missing book. I know, I should learn to let go. But I can’t. My books are part of who I am. Looking at them, I can recall where I was when I read them & what was going on in my life at the time. The fact that I picked up each one in a bookstore, choosing that one out of thousands, bought it, brought it home, & read it, says something about what was going on in my head at that moment. When it came time to pack up and move from DC back to LA, the movers were nice enough to tell me that I could cut my moving fee in half if I’d just give up the books. But I couldn’t. I paid the $1000+ and they came along with me on this next chapter in my life.

Today, they reside in my living room. They & I have made do with white Ikea bookshelves until such a time when we can find a home with built-ins. Space considerations require that each shelf is filled left to right, top to bottom. But we’re together and that’s all that matters.

With that in mind, I was a little disturbed by this article in today’s Wall Street Journal. In her article, “Why Libraries Are Back in Style,” June Fletcher writes that there is a rising trend in personal libraries, or “memory rooms,” in people’s homes. I love that home libraries are back in style, but I’m horrified by the reason why.

This trend in libraries is not about the books Fletcher writes, “…their appeal is often about creating a certain ambiance.”

She adds:

What can make libraries more soothing than other formal rooms isn’t so much books but the framed family photographs, awards and mementos that share the shelves and define a family’s interests and identity, says McLean, Va., architect Chris Lessard. “They’re memory rooms,” he says. Because libraries are public rooms, oftentimes the books are purely decorative and don’t say as much about the family who lives there. The books that people really read, like paperback novels and how-to guides, often are kept out of sight elsewhere in the home.

….

Tucson, Ariz., interior designer Terri Taylor says she spends a lot of time scouring flea markets and bookstores for books with fancy bindings for her clients’ bookshelves. She selects books to match color schemes rather than for their content.

Yes, my “library” is a memory room, but it’s the books themselves, all read by me, that provide the memories. I have never looked at them as decorative items used to accent the knick-knacks I’ve picked up on my travels or the photos of family & friends that I’ve placed on the edges. There’s no color scheme. Although, I have tried to institute a category system. Basically, fiction with fiction & non-fiction with non-fiction. Simple but it works. It’s all there. I never hide my books & the record of what I’ve read. Hardcover and paperback peacefully coexist. The great literature, the chick lit, the history tomes, the career advice guides sit side by side. I’ve always believed that if someone really wants to know me, they should spend some time looking at my bookshelves. It’s the one place where I seem to have no problem admitting to all my odd and passing interests, & sometimes questionable taste.

I was relieved at the very end of Fletcher’s article to know that there are still people like me who appreciate books & libraries for what they are:

Similarly, author Jay McInerney and his wife, Anne Hearst, happily mix dog-eared paperbacks with first editions of Fitzgerald and Joyce in the overstuffed bookcases of both their Manhattan apartment and their Hamptons house. Mr. McInerney thinks the visual jumble of thousands of mismatched books is appealing. “If you’re not reading what’s on your bookshelves, you should find something else to decorate with,” he says.

Proof that there are still sane people in the world!!

Image: erik via flickr