Tag Archives: reading

Bookish Blog Hop: How does reading inspire your everyday life?

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This may be my first time participating in a Bookish Blog Hop, but I hope it will not be my last.

Today’s discussion question is:

How does reading inspire your everyday life?

What a great – and in my case, loaded – question!  First, I can’t imagine my life without reading and writing.  They are inseparable in my mind, and I would not be writing – not even here at Ramblings of a Misguided Blonde – if it were not for reading.  As a child, I fell in love with Anne of Green Gables and all the Little House books, and of course, Nancy Drew – along with so many others.  While I did largely stop reading for pleasure during my college years, as I began to explore my love of writing, I found my love of reading again.  It informs my writing to the point where I can’t tell you where one begins and the other ends.  Once I read Reading Like a Writer by Francine Prose, there was not looking back.  I still consider it one of the most influential books I have ever read.  Every day reading offers me hope, inspiration, and an education.  It is as simple and as complicated as that.

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Views She Writes https://viewsshewrites.wordpress.com

Reading is the soul of my existence, the breath in my life. Reading inspires me to live, to dream and to observe the surroundings as our surroundings are the greatest story tellers. I started writing because of these teachings from the books that surround me. I hope to read till my last breath of life.

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Leslie Conzatti www.upstreamwriter.blogspot.com

Ha! I recently wrote a whole blog post on how certain books have played a part in my worldview philosophy!

In short, reading has inspired my everyday life because while on the surface the characters face impossible odds and fantastical situations–deep down, all these exaggerations are just hyperboles of real-world choices we all face. Through reading, I can find a character who struggles with a lot of the same things I do, and I can see a new perspective on it, a fresh way to deal with the issue that I hadn’t considered before. The good books connect me closer to my real-world life, instead of dragging me further away. It’s like that quote I shared yesterday, from Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451: “Good writers touch life often.” In order to make good literature, you have to be grounded in the real world, and bring some of that real world into the writing you do. Only then will it make an impact that will last for generations!

Rush Tree Clouds Bank Old Birds Landscape Book

Rush Tree Clouds Bank Old Birds Landscape Book

Brandy Potter www.brandypotterbooks.com

The best way I can sum up how reading inspires my life is this quote from Stephen King “Books are a uniquely portable magic.”  I have read fiction almost every day of my life. A good book can take you to a place where your mind stops and you become another person. As George R.R. Martin said, you can live a thousand lives through books. When you are troubled or stressed or depressed a good book can lift you up.

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Kim J www.writersideoflife.com

I love how we all read completely different things but, when it comes to how passionate we are about reading, it is exactly the same for all of us. I could have written any one of the above answers!

I simply can’t understand how people can not read. It is a stress release, it helps me get to sleep (as long as it’s not at the exciting part). Reading helps to understand ourselves; why we think the way we do, what others may think about us, what other scenarios may happen. Also, on a more practical note, reading about different times and places sparked my love of travel and pushed me to start writing myself.

BBH Cats Luv Coffee 5Valerie, Cats Luv Coffee www.catsluvcoffeez.blogspot.com

I just read an article that reading fiction makes people more compassionate and increases their empathy. It states that we read, we emphasize with the characters. “Without necessarily even noticing, we imagine what it’s like to be them and compare their reactions to situations with how we responded in the past, or imagine we might in the future.” (Read the full article here) It’s an interesting take and one I think rings true. People who read often immerse themselves totally in the story. We do this over and over with each character that we experience. It’s part of what I love about fiction; that it takes me outside of myself and what might be happening in my life.

 

Jo Linsdell www.JoLinsdell.com

I’ve discovered a lot about myself through reading. Books are a part of my journey to self discovery. Whether I’m reading a romance or a thriller about a serial killer, I always discover something new about myself and how I view the world. Reading shows me my own morals, and helps me get a clearer idea of how I think and feel about certain topics.

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Becki  A Book Lover’s Adventures

I find that books give so much and all they ask in return is a little of our time. For me, I think I have become a better person because of reading. Reading makes me more empathetic towards others because I’ve read about so many different life situations. I am more creative and imaginative when I read fantasy. I tend to be more adventurous and take more risks when I read about adventure and bravery. Books are part of the tapestry that makes up who I am!

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That is it for today’s Bookish Blog Hop, but be sure to check out yesterday’s offering at Lovely Audio Books.  Eline hosts a discussion on favorite book quotes!  You can find it here.  Also, stay tuned tomorrow for the next stop at Views She Writes where the topic of the day will be the worst film adaptations of books!

A BOOKISH BLOG HOP

 

Summer Plans 2019

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I have so much planned this summer when it comes to my writing and life in general.  Below is an overview of some things to watch for here at Ramblings of a Misguided Blonde.

Participation in Bookish Blog Hops:  Summer Hop 2019

On June 17th, I will be hosting a discussion as part of Summer Hop 2019.  I haven’t participated in a blog hop in years.  I am hoping this will go well and reenergize things here.  The question I am hosting is perfect.  Trust me.

Book Review:  Healing Your Self with Journaling Power by Mari L. McCarthy

Like my participation in blog tours, book reviews took a backseat over these last several years.  Well, I am getting back to it.  I will review Healing Your Self with Journaling Power by Mari L. McCarthy, creator of CreateWriteNow on July 2nd.  My review will be followed up with an interview on July 9th.  If nothing else, check out her inspiring blog.

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Informational Interviews

I’ve long planned a series of information interviews with creative people I know personally.  I am still working on the details, but I have several people in mind.  Just know that I deeply admire the work of anyone I share here.  They are a varied, interesting group of people with true talent.

Articles and Guest Posts

Keep an eye here for new guest posts and articles written by yours truly.  Some are already in the process of publication.  I will share as soon as I can.  I am in the process of making a schedule in order to truly get going on some of these projects.  So many projects!

Generally, this summer will hopefully be one of positive change.  If all goes well, my professional life will finally come together, both as a business owner of Russell Canoe Livery and as a teacher.  It is time to get to work!

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Book Club

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Read It Forward – 13 Reasons Why Book Clubs Are Saving the World

What is it about a book club that makes it so irresistible? Personally, I believe it is the structured discussion of a set topic. It is nice, neat, orderly; we all know exactly what to expect. And yet, we don’t. Book club discussions often lead to interesting places. I’ve formally been a member of a book for the last five years. During that time, I’ve read books I never would have picked up otherwise and had discussions I never dreamed I would have all thanks to book club.

The Standish-Sterling Book Club, however, is not my first. I like to think that Grandma Buttrick and I had our own little book club of two for a few years. Every time I visited, usually weekly, she never failed to ask me what I was reading. I loved sitting with her in the den, cold drinks in hand, talking books. I clearly remember both of us reading Malcolm Gladwell’s books and discussing them at length. Even when poor eyesight and memory issues made reading difficult for her, she still loved to talk books. I wouldn’t leave until I told her about the latest book I read.

When Grandma passed away in 2014, I saw it as no coincidence that I soon discovered the Standish-Sterling Book Club. The fact that they were discussing The Fault in Our Stars at the time captured my imagination. I’d read it as well, and due to the loss of an old childhood friend, that book will stay with me for the rest of my life. I wrote about the connection here and even quoted part of the book. On some level, I like to think that Grandma knows all about book club and that our family still shares books.

Regardless, book club will always be a part of my life, even if one day I must start one myself. I get too much out of it – as a reader, a writer, and a human being. This article nails it when it comes to the importance of book clubs and their resurgence. I hope the trend continues. I don’t see myself giving up book club any time soon. I enjoy it far too much.

As a teacher, I wish I could impart my love of books on all students. I truly believe that everyone can learn to love reading. Those who supposedly hate reading just haven’t found the right books yet – or they equate reading with reading in school. In school, students often have little or no choice as to reading material – although that is changing for the better and one of many reasons why I love Donnalyn Miller’s work. You can find more information on her work here. She stresses how important it is for teachers to help students discover good books and learn how to make solid reading choices on their own. I hope one day book clubs – and more importantly, the love of reading – will become so pervasive that students will want to create their own. There is so much to be gained through reading and too many good books to allow a hatred of reading to grow.

The Fault in Our Stars

Libraries

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Palaces for the People – 99% Invisible

If you love libraries and haven’t checked out this podcast yet, you need to do so.  Personally, I believe libraries are more important than ever.

I’m not quite sure when I first fell in love with libraries, but it did happen at an early age. In kindergarten and first grade, I remember Mrs. Mosley, the Sterling Elementary librarian with a wonderful British accent and the personality of everyone’s favorite grandmother, reading books such as Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day aloud.  What’s not to like?

As I grew older, I devoured mysteries, especially the Nancy Drew series.  In second and third grade, I scoured the shelves for ghost stories and the latest Choose Your Own Adventure book.  Time spent browsing the library shelves are among my favorite memories of my years at Sterling Elementary.

My love of libraries and reading grew as I grew.  In junior high and high school, I started my day off in the library readying myself for the day or reading.  Later in high school, that same school library served as workplace as I tutored younger students after school.  Now as a teacher, I still believe that school libraries are a crucial part of the fabric of any school.

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Of course, the same is true – or maybe even more true – of community libraries.  Whenever I need a quiet place to work without the distraction of everything I need to do at home, I head to the library.  College libraries such as the library at Delta College or Saginaw Valley State University are among my favorites.  Smaller community libraries have so much to offer.  For example, Mid-Michigan Writers, Inc. meets in the community room of the West Branch Public LibraryHuron Shores Genealogical Society (HSGS) has its own room at the Robert J. Parks Library in Oscoda.  In fact, HSGS hosts their fall and spring programs at the library too.  Where else could such groups meet publicly?

In rural communities, libraries, and to a certain extent schools, are often the only places where people can come together freely.  Personally, I love reading and writing in independent coffee shops and cafes, but I always order something.  Even book stores eventually expect you to purchase something.  Businesses count on it.  Libraries are one place where everyone is welcome and there is space to just be.

There is a great case to be made that libraries are an important part of our social infrastructure.  The idea didn’t even cross my mind until I discovered this podcast.  You can listen here.

Not long ago, many felt that libraries were becoming obsolete.  I understand the thinking behind that statement; however, just a simple glimpse beneath the surface would prove the exact opposite.  Libraries are needed now more than ever.

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“The Great Alone” by Kristin Hannah

Robert Service
Sometimes a novel ends up giving me the worst case of wanderlust. That is precisely what happened with The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah. I thoroughly enjoyed the novel. The Alaskan wilderness itself comes across loud and clear as a distinctive character. I particularly enjoyed descriptions of how Alaska changed from the 1970s to the 1980s. These descriptions were normally accomplished through Leni’s observations. It is this Alaska in all of its forms that I plan to visit one day.

It just so happens that I read the novel in the midst of a severe winter weather crisis that affected most of Michigan. Something about being housebound for a few days added to my enjoyment of The Great Alone. I kept telling myself “at least it isn’t as bad as winter in Alaska. At least I have power and indoor plumbing.” It made me feel better about my circumstances and helped me to empathize with the characters to some extent.
The characters throughout are wonderful. I particularly enjoyed Leni’s view of the world, her love of Matthew, and the protectiveness she exhibits towards her mother Cora. Ernst, Leni’s father, is, of course, a complex character designed to make us uncomfortable and question what we know about family dynamics. He largely drives the plot, and he is the reason why the Allbright moved to the Alaskan wilderness from Seattle in the first place.

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Secondary characters that I particularly enjoyed were Large Marge, Mr. Walker, Geneva Walker, and Matthew. Even though Geneva Walker does not play a large role in the novel, her presence is felt until the end. Matthew’s tenacity, dedication, and love for the women in his life is exemplary. Mr. Walker seems to try to hold it all together under the worst circumstances. He even expands his business in the process. I admire his entrepreneurial spirit.

Then there is Large Marge. She makes it her business to know all that goes on in Kaneq. What may seem to be simple nosiness elsewhere may just save a life in wild Alaska. Her steady presence tends to help make everything right, even in the face of the worst situations. She knows how to handle just about anything. In many ways, I want to be like Large Marge when I grow up.

I largely focused on the characterization in this novel simply because I don’t want to give away much. The novel is definitely action driven. I will leave it at that. If you are looking for a solid adventure novel, this is it. In my opinion, it has the right balance of description and action. In the end, I truly cared about the characters – or at least most of them. I would recommend The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah.

Warning: The discussion questions include spoilers!

As a side note, I read this for the Standish-Sterling Book Club. This is very much the type of book I would hope I’d discover on my own eventually. You can find discussion questions for The Great Alone here.

Great Alone

Thank You!

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I simply want to thank all my readers who have stuck by me all these years.  I’ve blogged off and on since 2005.  Blogging saw me through so much, including the last half of my 20s and, so far, most of my 30s.  The best is still to come.  I blog simply because I love to write.  That’s it.  Actually, there is more to it.  I would love to host or participate in a thriving writing community of bloggers.

Over the years, I have come across some wonderful blogs.  As I found them, I shared them here.  I recently went through my links, and frankly, it is frustrating.  Several blogs haven’t been updated over the last few years – and yet, the wonderful content is still there.  As long as it is accessible, I left the link.  Most of the blogs and websites listed here are continually offering fresh content.

Yet, I still can’t get some of my favorites out of my head, even if they are long gone.  Christina’s Shoebox, which dates from 2006, and the Nerdy Apple, which dates from 2015-2017, come to mind.  Both offered a unique take on the world.  Since both blogs no longer exist, I feel cheated out of wonderful content and a fresh take on life.  I may not write as often as I would like – which I am trying to change – but I am still here.  Ramblings of a Misguided Blonde is going nowhere.

Now for what’s ahead.  I have long wanted to do two things:

  1. Create a realistic writing routine.

I am in the midst of working this out behind the scenes.  Hopefully, this will result in most consistent posting here at Ramblings of a Misguided Blonde.  Once I am consistent, I will share my ideas and resources with everyone here.  There are so many wonderful resources for writers!

  1. I miss writing about the role music plays in my life.

Long ago – way back in 2006 – I wrote a series of articles for the now defunct online magazine JamsBioJamsBio paid writers like me to discuss music and the role music continues to play in our lives.  As writers for JamsBio, we were encouraged to write about our memories and how we associate those memories with certain music.  As a woman who grew up watching and adoring Ally McBeal, it appealed to the idea that there is a soundtrack to my life.  There most definitely is.  Ever since I glimpsed what was possible through JamsBio, I struggled to find a way to include music in my writing – without infringing on the rights of songwriters.  It is time for me to start writing about music again.

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Here is to many more years!  If you are a blogger and you would like me to profile your blog, please contact me.  I am always looking to make new connections with fellow bloggers.  As a side note, I just freshly updated my reading list, which you can find here.  I am always open to book recommendations.  Finally, if you enjoy Ramblings of a Misguided Blonde, please feel free to like our Facebook page.  You can do that here.Music 2

Book Review: “The Stage is on Fire” by Katie Steedly

The Stage is on Fire Book Cover

It isn’t often that a book comes along and grabs you by the jugular.  Katie Steedly’s The Stage is on Fire did just that.  At the same time, I’ve struggled to write this review in the weeks since I finished the book.  I related to and adored the first two-thirds of the book.  The last third left me angry and upset, which I will get to later.  While I wouldn’t go out of my way to recommend the book, there are certain people I feel need to read the book, namely girls and women with Turner Syndrome.  Actually, I would recommend it to anyone struggling to find their place in the world.  That said, it is not for everyone.

Let me start with what’s working.  Almost immediately, Katie’s voice struck me as authentic and powerful.  She writes spirituality well, and never gives up on her quest to find her place in the world and create her own definition of home.  In the book, Katie details several moves across the country, her experiences in academia – good and bad, and her experience participating in the study of women and girls with Turner Syndrome at the National Institutes of Health in Washington, DC.  Turner Syndrome aside, I couldn’t help but relate to Katie throughout the book.

I am still in awe when I think of just how much Katie and I have in common.  We both taught at some point.  We are both writers.  Both of us have moved across country to pursue new opportunities and a new life.  In addition, both of us struggled with the idea of home and family at various times.  I could go on and on.  In the end, this is why I felt so disappointed in the ending.  It seemed to unnecessarily divide people.

There are several things that stood out and continue to stand out in the book.

  1. Her first teaching experience did not end well – hence the title of the book. Oh, I can relate.  In Katie’s case, she took the opportunity to further her education, eventually landing at the University of Texas in Austin.  She did what everyone needs to do when facing failure:  Get back up and try again.  She does this many, many times throughout the book, always seeking something more.
  2. She captures the journey to find our place in the world, peace, and meaning in life beautifully. I may not agree with her completely when it comes to religion, but I can fully relate to her need to explore what religion and spirituality mean to her.
  3. It took incredible courage for her to participate in the National Institute of Health study. It is much more intense and in depth than I ever dreamed.  Her description of what she felt emotionally while having an ultrasound knowing she will likely never experience pregnancy will stay with me.  I only wish I had written it.  Even though I experienced many of those same emotions as a child when I had an ultrasound, I wasn’t mature enough to fully express them at the time.  Now, as an adult, the fact that those feelings have been so beautifully put into words is a true gift.
  4. Did I mention courage? During her time in Austin, Katie decided to walk/jog a marathon.  A marathon.  Prior to this, there is not much mention of any athletics in the book on her part.  She is much more interested in drama, writing, and education.  Yet, she did it.  She accomplished the goal she set for herself, even if it was out of her element.

Oh, and dating.  It is worth mentioning.  Katie is far more adventurous in the dating  world than I will ever be.  At the time, she had yet to meet the right man.  I get the impression that that may have changed.  Her determination to not give up on love is inspirational – and something I desperately needed to read.

There is so much more in the book, but I will leave it for readers to discover.  It is important to note that the book is written as a series of essays.  I believe they are largely in chronological order.  Ultimately, it doesn’t matter much.  Katie clearly grows throughout the entire book, as does her definition of home.  It may seem to be a small point, but I wish the formatting of the Kindle edition included a full title page between essays.  Instead, they include small titles similar to chapter titles at the very top of the page.  In fact, in writing this review, I had to check my Kindle version to see if each essay included a title at all. Each essay stands alone so beautifully, it is a shame that this feature of the book isn’t more prominently displayed.

Now to discuss what isn’t working.  Frankly, I didn’t enjoy the last third of the book at all.  I almost put it down.  It became far too political for my tastes.  It is one thing to pick up a book on politics, knowing what you are about to read, it is quite another to dive in head first after reading a seemingly different book in the beginning.  I get why she wrote about politics.  It became an important part of her life at that point in time.  I don’t believe it was handled very well.  I left feeling as though she couldn’t even begin to understand anyone who didn’t agree with her politically, which is truly unfortunate.  No one has a monopoly on political truth.  No one.  I wish it had been handled with more care and less judgement.  I get the feeling that Katie would be the last person to think of herself as judgmental, but that is how the political aspect of the book comes across, whether that was her intention or not.

Politics aside, I am happy I read the book.  I am grateful that Katie can connect emotionally with people through her writing.  Her writing is just beginning to teach me how to express what I thought impossible.  For that, I am truly grateful.  I love the fact that I can annotate and highlight my Kindle version of The Stage is on Fire.  I will be coming back to it as I continue to write.  You can find her website and blog here.

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