Saturday, April 17, 2021

My Storied Life (Day 107)


There are few things I love more than reading. I'll read anything--when I was a kid and there weren't any books left in the house for me to read, I'd sneak into my Dad's filing cabinet and read his home improvement books and sometimes, the manuals for the appliances in the house. It is not just a good story that I love, it is the way the words are constructed to make something come to life--whether it is a character in a novel or the instructions on how to use the food dehydrator or some ad copy on a social media post. 

The way you write the Keurig manual is not the same as the way you write the Hot Wheels Garage manual--different audiences need instructions (and sometimes people don't even read the manual!). And I know it is super strange, but I love those nuances in writing. It is just like sometimes you pick up a book and you just cannot get into it. Then you pick it up a month or a year or even many years later and it is like the greatest thing you've ever read. 

I just read The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin. I loved, loved, loved this book. In fact, I think it now ranks as my favorite book. The story is delightful--funny, sad, tragic, miraculous, whimsical, but still very real. The main character is a book store owner, who writes reviews of books for his customers. His reviews change as his life changes--and sometimes he is surprised he enjoys a book that he previously could not even bring himself to open. 

For my storied life, there are several books that met me right where I was and others that I could never quite get through. My first favorite book (which I still own!) was Dance like a Bear. I loved Nancy Drew (and still sometimes grab one of my old ones and read a chapter) and I adored Sweet Valley Twins (such a fun, relatable escape). My dad gave me my first Mary Higgins Clark book in 7th grade and I've never stopped reading the "Queen of Suspense." 

I discovered Jane Austen in middle school and loved the love stories--but when I reread Austen again in adulthood, I better understood the deep, brilliant comedy that Austen wove into her tales. In my college years and early 20s, Bridget Jones Diary was life changing--I still laugh and long for moments with Bridget's funny interior thoughts and I see so much of myself in her v. v. v. v. Bridget Jones moments (My best friend Rachel and I still text each other when we have a v. v. v. Bridget Jones day). 

Counterposed to Bridget is my love of Margaret Atwood and her sharp, smart story telling that goes deep and delves into the nuances and darkness in a way that is addicting. Everyone I knew in Vermont desperately wanted me to read Ishmael, but I really could not get into it. I did discover a love for travel magazines.  I also discovered Chris Bohjalian in Vermont (and even went to a couple writer's meet ups with him in attendance).  I was in awe of his stories then--now I still like them (The Flight Attendant was excellent!), but I prefer a strong female voice who knows exactly what it is to inhabit a woman's body and life, like Mary Kay Andrews. 

I remember when I discovered Hissy Fit by Mary Kay Andrews--and laughed and cried and felt empowered by her strong, imperfect female leads. I also just love the South--and have so many fond memories of summers in North Carolina. Now, when I find myself reaching for a book, it might be a memoir--I'd like to write one of those and I know that losing myself in someone else's voice is wonderful way to find myself; or I reach for a solid psychological thriller--something dark and dramatic and creepy with a puzzle to unravel; or I wait patiently for Mary Kay Andrews to release her new summer read every May. 

Truly, it all depends on the day. I have a few historical fiction books that I've loved and some that I've begun and stopped. I love reading medical non-fiction, but often read a chapter or two while devouring a suspense story.  I find if a book does not hook me into reading late into the night from the get-go, then maybe it is a book to save for another day. And, of course, I've read my new Keurig manual twice! 

That is the glorious thing about words--they don't go anywhere once they are on the page; but you can go somewhere. Those words will be waiting for you, when you ready to read them. 




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