Cozy Reader, Hidden Danger

The bags under my eyes have returned. I did not invite them. However, I did stay up rather late reading the end of “The Scorch Trials”. This is akin to throwing crumbs on the front lawn and being upset when the neighborhood birds show up for the feast.

So my face is slightly puffy, a headache is brewing between my temples, and my entire body feels achey (#flawless). And you know what? As much as my body feels out of sorts, it is nothing compared to what those characters have gone through in the “Maze Runner” series. (spoiler-free zone).

The extreme polarity between our situations struck me as I read the remaining chapters over the last two days. I’m no Van Gogh, Monet, or Kinkade, but let me paint you a picture:

My eyes frantically jumped from word to word as they raced to the bottom of the page. My toes curled tighter into my feet. My jaw clenched. My entire body became invested in the reading process.

My mind filled with questions. What would happen next? How would I cope if misfortune struck? What—

“Hey, Sis,” my Aunt greeted as she walked into the guest room. “Just wanted to say goodnight.”

That is right, people. As the characters in the book frantically fought for life, I was tucked away in bed. Adrenaline kept me company, but danger remained far away from me and my Hillbilly heating pads (dry beans in cloth bags #hatersgonnahate). After all, this is the way of the Bookworm.

Right?

Bookworms delve into every genre and hang tight for the wild, sweet, otherworldly, tragic, hilarious, and harrowing rides. We mourn, we laugh, we freak the #fudgetarts out, and we lecture the characters (I’m looking at you Ron Weasley). All of this takes place from the relative safety outside of the book.

(I mean, yeah, we often find ourselves in the most uncomfortable positions while reading, but it is rarely life threatening.)

The craziest part is how real it all feels. I made the mistake of reading the last book in a popular dystopian society trilogy prior to work once. It was horrible. On the outside, I probably looked like a train wreck because on the inside I was curled up in the fetal position in the #depthsofdespair. My thoughts alternated between trying to make sense of it all and planning a verbal and/or physical attack on the author.

Falling under the spell of a sweet, thrilling, or mind-boggling story is one of my favorite feelings in this world. A talented spell master transports the reader right into the heart of the action. The reader remains unscathed on the outside, but is in constant flux internally. So while it may seem I’m not doing my part as I cuddle down with blankets and Hillbilly heating pads, I’m really with the characters in spirit.

And honestly, without me the poor guys would be stuck in limbo twiddling their thumbs on page one.

(RL2015 update: I’m at the beginning of John Green’s “Paper Towns”. Moose warned me I will want to throw the book down in frustration at the end. Let’s find out!)

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Mission Improbable: Reading List 2015

“Whenever you read a good book, somewhere in the world a door opens to allow more light.” – Vera Nazarian

I will not lie to you. I had no idea who Ms. Nazarian was until about 30 seconds ago when I googled, “quotes about reading and love.” (FYI: she is a Russian-American author of fantasy, science fiction, and Mythpunk books #themoreyouknow.)

However, the until-recently-unknown authoress has provided the perfect reason for why I need to diversify this year’s reading list. Somewhere in this world a whole lot of light is being shined— kind of like a supernova to the retina— and it is all my fault. I’ve spent the majority of my life reading books similar in nature (fantasy, science fiction, the occasional classic, contemporary young adult, dystopian), and not to brag, but I must have opened hundreds of doors.

The problem is these doors might be in close proximity to each other, as I do not often read outside of my immediate interests. (Can you imagine the headache that kind of light would induce? #notgonnadontwanna.) So the goal is to put some space between these figurative doors by challenging myself to read like a bride: something old, something new, something borrowed, and something blue.

Ok. That was a joke. I just mean I am going to add some new genres to my reading list.

Also, I should probably admit I’ve primarily read only female authors. I had a weird bias against male authors as a youth and it took the combined powers of Isaac Marion, James Dashner, and John Green to set me straight. While I am going all Usher on you guys with #myconfessions, I might as well add I tend to lose interest with a book if it does not have some type of love subplot.

Please refrain from throwing stones and/or rotten tomatoes.

***Quick Aside: I will not be adding horror to the list as my mind does a perfectly exceptional job freaking me out all on its own.***

Books (being) turned into movies: Paper Towns, Wild, In the Heart of the Sea, The Longest Ride, The Best of Me, Far From the Maddening Crowd, The Martian, The Queen of Tearling, and Love Letters to the Dead.

Books I want to read: Never Have I Ever: My Life so Far, The Scorch Trials, The Death Cure, Isla and the Happily Ever After, Water for Elephants, Yes Please, It Happened at the Fair, Size 12 is not Fat, and Sheepfarmer’s Daughter.

Books outside my norm: The Lord of the Rings trilogy, The Ender quintet, 2 a.m. at the Cat’s Pajamas, A Room with a View, The Fifth Wave, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, The Count of Monte Cristo, A Time to Kill, High Fidelity, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, and On the Road.

Oldies but goodies: Anne of Green Gables (1-3), Harry Potter (4-7), Mixed Signals, To Kill a Mockingbird (especially before this summer), and Kissing Adrien.

Christian and nonfiction: the Bible, the Case for Christ, the Case for Faith, Unplugged, Don’t Miss Your Moment, Effective Communication, 100 Words Everyone Mixes up or Mangles, Jab/Jab/Jab/Right Hook, Writing for Magazines, Wide Awake, Cries of the Heart, and The Grammar Devotional.

Now the question remains: will this list make like a New Year’s resolution and slowly slip to the wayside, or struggle through the distractions of life to rise victorious?

Stay tuned, folks.

Pointing fingers and stealing endings

Helen Fielding deserves the blame here, folks. She won my heart through “Bridget Jones’s Diary” and then crushed it with “Mad About The Boy.” The former is one of my favorite books of all time. When I heard the news (spoiler alert), it felt like a punch to the gut.

I am sorry to say I did not give the book a chance— such was my misery. Instead, I listened to some crackpot critics and pushed its existence from my mind. However, my friend Moose was not to be deterred. She read the book and said it was better than she expected.

(So maybe we can blame both Fielding and Moose. They can be the Diabolical Duo in this story.)

Moose’s brief review (just a sentence really) bounced to the forefront of my mind as I wandered the library aisles recently. A thought came to me suddenly. An urge soon followed. What if I just read the last bit of the book? After all, Helen Fielding had done me wrong.

It was jolly and pleasant and awkward and dramatic and just as Bridget Jonesy as ever. ‘Maybe,’ I thought to myself, ‘I should have given this book a chance.’

I immediately wrote to Moose about my actions.

Her reply:

“Noooooo! 

I am so angry at you for reading the last several pages!!! 

You know better than that, woman. 

You don’t deserve an ending unless you’ve read the whole book. 

How could you.”

How could I? Please. How could Ms. Fielding destroy my trust? I bought into her characters and the zany-fun format. As far as I could tell this series was not supposed to cause me pain. So, yes, when I considered the backstabbing turn of events, I thought it perfectly acceptable to read the end of the book.

You don’t deserve an ending unless you’ve read the whole book.

Is that really true? Maybe it makes me a better Bookworm to see a story through to the end in spite of the twists and turns, but does skipping really deem me undeserving of the ending? …It probably does. However, I still maintain this situation is partly Ms. Fielding’s fault. She did not control my actions, but she did trigger my frustrated response with her betrayal.

The two books prior to “Mad About The Boy” were filled with relationship woes, ridiculous friends, mortifying moments, and much f***wittage. There were no signs of true tragedy. Sadness is not what I signed up for when I fell in love with the first book! (As a teen I purposefully avoided Lurlene McDaniel and Nicholas Sparks books #notworthit). How dare she try to make me swallow that pill in the final installment.

And you know what? I completely understand tragedy popping up in odd moments— provided it fits with the storyline pattern. Is the book in question set in a dystopia? Characters will die. Are you reading “A Series of Unfortunate Events”? The title kind of gives a HUGE hint. Can the book be found in the thriller, action, horror, etc. sections? Read at your own risk. Have you fallen under the spell of the frizzy-bearded wizard George R. R. Martin? The guy barely gives you a chance to mourn one death before the next slaughterfest.

All I am saying is most of the time there is some time of WARNING and sometimes there is not (coughFIELDINGcough).

Feel free to unleash any blistering arguments in favor of Moose’s judgment. I’m sure you’ll have no problem (and maybe a little fun) knocking down my defense. And you know what? I’m probably going to add the third BJones book to my #readinglist2015 anyway.

Point to you, Fielding.

Hello, my name is — and I’m a Bookaholic.

My favorite hideouts have always been found nestled between the pages of a good book. There is nothing quite so thrilling as a new world unfurling and growing roots in the imagination. Characters shift from strangers to companions to confidants with each flip of a page.

I have been a lover of good (and sometimes not-so-good) books since I was in first grade. It actually came as quite a surprise. Ear issues and school transfers almost slated me for special education. My mother would not hear of it— and not because it would have made me less to be in a comprehensive development classroom. She just knew with that innate parent sense all I needed was a little extra TLC.

She was right. It wasn’t long before I was scouring the library shelves for my next Reader’s High. The feeling was addicting.

A small part of me honestly believes my love for books (and OK a slight shyness around males) blinded me to puberty for a good four years. My friends regaled me with tales of their romantic entanglements and I was all #immaletyoufinish, but #letmetellyouaboutthisbook.

Bookworm Problem memes seriously get me:

No. 37: Pronouncing a word incorrectly because you’ve read it hundreds of times but never heard it said aloud.

There is never enough space in your bag for all the books you want to bring with you.

#430 Having to find the perfect position that satisfies the right angle of reading while keeping your entire body warm under a blanket.

And, of course: Leave me alone to mourn the deaths of fictional characters I have become overly attached too. (I’d glare John Green’s way, but I’m pretty sure he uses our fiery stares to keep warm during these long, cold months.)

So, yeah, I’m a Bookworm. My idea of a good evening involves a book. If you add a good movie, some fellow geeky friends, and a bookshelf bursting with old favorites then the night is bumped up to fan-friggen-tastic.