August 2017 archive

About That Stephen King

By Natalie

IMG_0533Growing up if J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter was demonic then Stephen King was the devil himself. I’ve had this stigma about him all my life. His books are untouchable. He writes horror, they shouldn’t be read. Until I realized that my goodness I am twenty six years old and I can read whatever I choose.

Don’t worry, I didn’t go straight for It or Carrie because I don’t think they are particularly my cup of tea. Perhaps I’ll read Christine one day simply because that’s my middle name and who doesn’t love a good suspense about a car with a vendetta? Who knows, we’ll see.

I was stumped after reading Mary Poppins and terrified of losing the momentum I’d acquired in my reading this year. That’s when I toyed with the idea of reading a Stephen King novel. For the past couple years King has unexpectedly become an inspiration in my writing. In desperate searches for substance during my many writing blocks I’d find quotes of his or snippets from his books always surprised to hear they were King’s.

The place where you made your stand never mattered. Only that you were there… and still on your feet.

You cannot hope to sweep someone else away by the force of your writing until it has been done to you.

Precisely. As an avid reader I’m desperate to become an avid writer. Whenever I’d hit those road blocks in my writing I’d consider King’s words.

If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others; read a lot and write a lot. There’s no way around these two things that I’m aware of, no shortcut.

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If you don’t have the time to read, you don’t have the time or the tools to write.

These words have done wonders for me when I didn’t feel the urge to write. I could feel it welling up from somewhere deep down, but it would never reach the surface until I simply sit down to give it the time of day. I’ll often jot down terrible beginnings and even worse middles. The important thing is that I got something down. Eventually it’d turn into something substantial or it branched a new train of thought for a new post. During the times when I feel absolutely discouraged or uninspired I’ll use this quote as an excuse to read. That’s where I’ve been all this time. Nose buried in books. I may not be up to date on my writing this year but my reading has become a satisfying escape which I’ve convinced myself is an important tool in writing. I’ll take King’s word on that one.

I know what you’re thinking, this is the man who’s mind came up with Pennywise that terrifying shapeshifting clown. Did I get that right? The man who has written so much horror. But he’s also the mind behind many other suspenseful books and a captivating memoir which is definitely next on my list. Plus this ↓ This right here is a writer’s gold. This is everything I feel as I sit here time after time attempting to bear my soul.

The most important things are the hardest to say. They are the things you get ashamed of, because words diminish them — words shrink things that seemed limitless when they were in your head to no more than living size when they’re brought out. But it’s more than that, isn’t it? The most important things lie too close to wherever your secret heart is buried, like landmarks to a treasure your enemies would love to steal away. And you may make revelations that cost you dearly only to have people look at you in a funny way, not understanding what you’ve said at all, or why you thought it was so important that you almost cried while you were saying it. That’s the worst, I think. When the secret stays locked within not for want of a teller but for want of an understanding ear.

When Brandon shared the trailer for The Dark Tower movie I knew it was time. Time to finally read one of the books of this author I have admired for so long. I shared with Nadir through unsure gritted teeth that I was thinking about reading a Stephen King novel.

After I explained why her next words were “Hey if he inspires you then I say go for it.” That evening I popped on my kindle and devoured the first few pages of the The Gunslinger. I figured it was a fitting choice as I’d read that King was inspired by Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, thus he created the Dark Tower series.

IMG_0530In under a week later I finished The Gunslinger and have now been flipping between his memoir On Writing and the second book in the Dark Tower series The Drawing of the Three. Which I recently picked up at the library. Or as I like to call it The Happiest Place on Earth. Move over Disney.


Just Your Average Bibliophile

By Natalie

IMG_0532As a child my mom would offer to pay me a dollar for finishing one of my many American girl books. I’d skim through them but remained completely uninterested. I had yet to read a book that sparked my imagination. Somewhere along the way that spark eventually caught fire to something deep inside me. I finished a book I was forced to read for school finally feeling that sense of accomplishment that couples with reading a book cover to cover. After that I was hooked.

There’s a series of books and events that I believe have lead me to become the reader I am today. This is that story.

In fourth or fifth grade I read Out of the Dust. The book captured the dryness of the 1930s dust bowl through the fictional eyes of a little girl. I still remember the desperation of the people during that time and I remember the strained relationship the little girl had with her father. I completed a project on the book which entailed summarizing the story and its characters on a poster board folded book jacket. I was proud of myself for not only finishing the book and project but for allowing myself to become engrossed in the words on every page. I’d found a new love for reading. I received a C on that project. I remember that vividly because my teacher hung each book jacket on the ceiling above our desks. My big red C spun above me for at least a week and I wondered where the disconnect came. I loved the book. I tried my hardest to emulate that through my work but it didn’t translate, at least to my teacher. As much as I could have let that discourage me I continued seeking new worlds through thousands of pages.

Sometime after that I read Homeless BirdThat’s the first book that opened my eyes to the wonder of different cultures. Which remains a favorite genre of mine.

Following Homeless Bird I had to read Esperanza Rising for school. I encountered my first book block and didn’t actually make any headway on it until I found my sister at the kitchen table one day with the book in her hand. She’d just finished it and encouraged me to read it. Soon after that I flew through the pages all the way to the end. Then and there Nadir and I had our first book discussion. Our first of many. She loaned me The Bean Trees which I read one hot summer spread across the living room wingback chair. Wingbacks truly are the best for reading are they not? The Bean Trees was my first true adult novel and I devoured it.

I moved on to the Secret Life of Bees which kept me wanting more out of stories. On to The Sugar Island which taught me that although I didn’t particularly care for a blah story, reading was still reading. It remained my favorite pastime always leaving me hungry for more. Nadir at some point when I was in High School finished A Bend in the Road by Nicholas Sparks. I have this vivid memory of her stepping out of her room with tissues in hand. Tears steadily streamed down her face. “I finished it.” She muttered. “It was so good.” She said as she continued to sob. That Nicholas Sparks. He’ll get you every time. It was then that I realized just how much emotion could come with this new hobby of mine. I want to feel that rawness I thought to myself. I want to become so engrossed in a book that I can’t contain my emotions. I want them to change my perspectives. I want them to blow my world apart and step in someone elses shoes while my eyes remain fixed on their words.

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Nadir read Memoirs of a Geisha, then she passed it on to me. This was the first time I truly became attached to a story’s characters. Feeling their pain and wanting more for them.

[Spoilers]

“I don’t want Sayuri to be with Nobu!” I pleaded with my sister. “She loves the Chairman. Tell me she ends up with the chairman or I won’t finish it.”

Nadir smiled and encouraged me to open my book back up and keep reading. I came across my first complex characters in Memoirs. As much as I wish to explain them to you here you simply won’t understand until you read the book yourself and form your own attachments. This book completely broke my heart in the best and worst ways.

If it weren’t for Nadir’s encouragement or vulnerability I might not be the reader I am today. The people around us truly shape who we are whether we choose to believe that or not.

Soon after Memoirs I read The Lovely Bones which left me angry. Every page was painful to finish leaving me feeling so out of control just as the main character of the story had been. I wanted to rip her from the pages. I wanted to write a new story for her and erase all of the horrible parts. I wanted justice for her. Every few chapters I’d walk into Nadir’s room furious. At some point I’m certain I even threw the book across the room. She lay there, bright blue cover begging for me to finish her story out. Ultimately I was left unsatisfied with the ending. But something greater had happened in my world of reading. I’d felt it all now. The full spectrum of emotions that authors invoke upon their readers.

Since those days I’ve read dozens of books. Goodreads pushes a reading challenge each year which has helped me to keep up with my reading regularly. You can catch my most recent reads below ↓

2016 Reads
2017 Reads

Perhaps it’s because I only read two novels last year, but this year has been loaded with Fiction. Fiction is the literary vacation and I’m enjoying it while it lasts.

You’re probably thinking my reading material is rather eclectic which would be absolutely correct. Generally I’ll reach for anything from dystopian, to classic, to cultural fiction, to a good honest memoir. I am however always up for reading anything recommended.

If you’re curious what has been added to my ever growing To Read list you can check that out here.