Day 22…Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear

Life is scary…terrifying.

Things can change so quickly. Things that seem so stable can crumble to dust.

The key is to live your life despite the fear. It is so hard.

I have a confession. I did not care much for Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman’s Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia. I thought it was self-indulgent and contrived.

So…

I was pleasantly surprised that I liked Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear. Elizabeth Gilbert wrote and narrated a truly inspiring book.

Basically, she encourages everyone to be open to their creativity…even if they do not necessarily feel like a creative person. This seems like such an easy concept, but the reality is…it is a difficult thing to do.

Embracing your muse can be scary. But it does not have to be hard. Gilbert maintains that the picture of the starving artist is misleading and unnecessary. Allowing yourself to give into the creative process can be frightening but it does not need to make you miserable.

If you are an artist, a writer, a graphic designer, a knitter or a doodler…this is a great book to read.

Let that muse out and let her have fun!

Day 22…

…today I am reading

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Day 21…The War of the Worlds

The War of the Worlds  is one of the all-time classic science fiction books…for good reason. H. G. Wells is a pioneer in this genre and his books are just as thrilling and compelling today as they were over a century ago.

By now, his storyline is predictable…strange robotic creatures from outer space. man separated from wife, chaos everywhere, rumors abound. But Wells did it first. And best.

This is a short book. but it has tons of excitement and suspense. Most people know at least a little about it but I encourage anyone who hasn’t read it to do so. Fans of science fiction will enjoy seeing the beginnings of the genre; others will enjoy it for the great writing and interesting concept.

Day 21…

…today I am reading

Day 20…Sanctuary

Ah…more Southern Gothic literature.

Sanctuary  by William Faulkner has everything…murder, salacious acts, bawdy houses, eccentric characters, traditional religious values, a lynching, moonshiners and a jaded lawyer trying to find the good in the world again.

Temple Drake, a student at the University of Mississippi, finds herself in a terrifying position. Horace Benbow is the lawyer tasked with representing the man accused of the crime. Popeye is the typical redneck bad guy.

Like many books of this genre, the grotesque is the norm and the sad ending is expected.

Sanctuary has a bleak, rather hopeless tone. Faulkner has a way with words, descriptive sometimes to a fault. I understand why this is a classic and why it is an important part of Southern literature. This is my least favorite of the Southern Gothics I have read.

Day 20…

…today I am reading

 

Day 19…After: The Shock

Sometimes, you find a book that speaks to you and becomes an instant favorite.

Unfortunately, After: The Shock by Scott Nicholson is not one of those. I like the idea of his “zombies” who are not really zombies. But that is about it.

I did not care what happened to the characters. The non-zombies were not as interesting as I hoped. And I am not of fan of books written expressly to be part of a series.

I don’t mind books with sequels. Even leaving a bit of ambiguity is okay as long as the story is resolved. But this felt like part of a book…not a book.

You cannot win them all. This book was not a winner.

Day 19…

…today I am reading

 

Day 18…On Having No Head

Um.

I am not sure I understood this book.

At all.

Apparently, On Having No Head is about a man who believes he has no head. Not in the “I am out of my head” way. In the literal “there is nothing on my neck” way.

Douglas Harding cannot “see” his head; therefore, he must not have one.

Huh.

Then he discovers Zen…and things begin to make sense to him.

He creates a movement he calls, for lack of a better name, the Headless Way.

It lacks organization

Our overriding purpose, then – which is seeing into and living from Nothingness – is necessarily organization-resistant. —  Douglas Harding

This little book made no impression on me. I have read reviews where it changed lives. Unfortunately, mine is not one of those.

I think that a reader must be in the correct frame of mind and consciousness to truly appreciate a book such as this. I was not.

I think I will revisit this book in a year and see if I feel differently toward it.

Day 18…

…today I am reading

Day 17… Fahrenheit 451

The idea of burning books is absolutely horrifying to me! I mean, I am a big fan of dystopian novels, but this just goes too far!

Ray Bradbury wrote Fahrenheit 451 over concerns of book banning in the 1950’s. This is a definitely a social commentary and it is a fine one.

Guy Montag is a fireman. But he does not put out fires. He starts them. In houses. To burn books.

He is becoming increasingly discontent and curious about what he may be missing in his highly controlled world. As he begins to question more, he realizes his life is untenable. Everything in the world is controlled. Independent thought is not encouraged. This is no kind of life.

One thing that really stood out to me was the regret an English professor has over not fighting enough when he realizes that they are taking the books. He is filled with remorse with the lost opportunity to stop the madness of banning books and rewriting history.

It is important that we stand up and address the wrongs we see in the world before it is too late. The time is always NOW!

This book is a fascinating and short topical read that is highly relevant during this tumultuous time.

Day 17…

…today I am reading

Day 16… The Outsider

Stephen King continues to write phenomenal and unique novels. The Outsider is surprising, suspenseful and riveting, and I enjoyed every word.

Terry Maitland is unequivocally linked to a tragic murder. His DNA and fingerprints are all over the scene, and eyewitnesses saw him picking the young man up before the crime and covered with blood after the crime.

Terry Maitland has an iron-clad alibi and was miles away from the scene of the crime during the time it was committed.

Both of these statements are true.

But how?

King explains this…and more…in this fast-paced novel. I have been reading Stephen King books for 30 years and he has written some terrifying stories. The Outsider ranks high on the scare-o-meter. It is a well-written tale with many twists and turns. As King is wont to do, he weaves some familiar characters throughout. And, though he sometimes struggles with his endings, this book has a satisfying conclusion.

I am definitely biased when it comes to Stephen King. I love his writing. I admire him as a person…he is extremely funny and ridiculously clever. I have read everything he has written (except for a few unpublished and unavailable works) many times. Some of my most beloved books were written by him.

So

I say this with conviction…

The Outsider is one of his best books.

Day 16…

…today I am reading

Day 15…We Should All Be Feminists

Today is my birthday! I got to spend all day reading Stephen King’s new book.

Yay for me!!

Not so “yay” for my review of We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. I am going to make this short and sweet.

This essay was based on her TED talk about feminism and is a must read for everyone. She presents compelling arguments why feminism, not just human rights, is important. Women have been systemically discriminated against for millennia and it is imperative that we as a society address this problem.

If you are a woman…or are related to a woman…you need to read this.

Day 15…

…today I am reading

Day 14…William Wilson

There is no other author quite like Edgar Allan Poe. William Wilson is a great example of Poe’s mastery with words. He manages to evoke many emotions in a short story…fear, angst, horror, suspense.

In other words

typical Poe.

This story starts off normally and quickly turns strange. The narrator declines to tell his name and insists we call him William Wilson…which is strange, because he soon meets another student in his school name William Wilson.

Original William Wilson keeps running into Other William Wilson and wreaking havoc. It turns out that Original WW has a doppelganger. This is such a short story that this is all I can reveal without revealing the ending.

I will say that this is a fascinating study of the concept of the alter ego.

The reason I read William Wilson is because Stephen King cites this story as a major influence on his newest book, The Outsider. I am reading his new book tomorrow and thought this would be a fun way to prepare. I am SO excited!

Day 14…

…today I am reading

Day 13… The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie

Miss Jean Brodie is in her prime.

She does not mind telling anyone that.

And she is enjoying every minute of her prime.

As the teacher of 10- and 11-year-old girls in the 1930’s, Miss Brodie is a bit daring…to say the least. She delights in telling her students of her sexual exploits and her exciting journeys.

She picks six girls as the “crème de la crème” and molds them into the “Brodie set”. From a modern perspective, it seems she is using them to feed her ego, be her moles and become confidants. It is a truly bizarre relationship between teacher and students.

Bless her heart…she ends up being betrayed by one of her set and loses her career.

Do not worry! That is not a spoiler. The reader learns that very early on.

The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark is another quick and fun read.

Day 13…

…today I am reading