Before the New Year Happened…

Leading up to the New Year, in all of my ambition and bookish desire, I dove into my newly acquired Library treasures. I made sure to at least attempt to be diverse in my choices; not just to include books that spoke about social or otherwise important issues, but also to keep up my interest. I knew if I picked too many classics, for example, I would quickly get bored and revert back to my previous habit of mindless IPad clicking and YouTube video watching.

My first selection was The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, By Rebecca Skloot.

First off, I just want to say that I love non-fiction. As much as stories and fantastical worlds, and even the everyday stories of people draw me in; I am always attracted to a good work of non-fiction. The research that any particular subject involves and the passion for specificity and education the author brings to the table always ignites my own insatiable thirst for knowledge.

And knowledge of nearly any kind, really. I love to skip around from subject to subject; from historical research (especially if it includes lots of really juicy trivia) to human interest stories….and from the very broad to the insanely detailed. Mary Roach is a great writer for deep research and tireless detail. I love her work and have read most of her books, in all of their passionate and humorous glory.

OK, but this isn’t about Mary Roach. I’m sure I’ll get there again before the year’s out (I  hope–as I said, she’s a pleasure to read).

Rebecca Skloot also kept me mesmerized. She has a lovely way of combining real and obviously hard-earned research with a very human and personable touch. Her respectful and patient treatment of Mrs. Lacks’ family and her dedication to their cause was inspiring and touching. She also managed to be very technical and educational without being preachy or too academic.

The book follows Ms. Skloot’s mission to uncover and tell the whole story of an amazing and remarkable woman. Henrietta Lacks was a cancer patient at Johns Hopkins, whose cervical cancer cells were taken (without permission, as was the custom at the time) and isolated for study. Her cells did not behave as predicted, and instead of dying, lived on and divided; always replicating. This led to countless leaps in medical research over the years–as well as controversy and quite a bit of heartbreak for her family, who was never included or acknowledged. The book takes us through the author’s mission to promote understanding of the importance of Mrs. Lacks’ cells to medical science, while also working hard to bring the family’s struggle and unique story to light. It was important to her that she emphasize to the world that this was a real woman…a genuine, living, breathing human being who was loved and missed–deserving to be remembered for everything she was, and not simply for the incredible HeLa cells she left behind.

I loved it. This book was everything I long for in non-fiction, and it reinforced my enthusiasm for learning. In my humble opinion, for any book to be great, it has to draw me in, allow me to become lost in its world, and leave me wanting more. I’m always so happy when a non-fiction book can do this for me. I think people tend to see non-fiction as a bit dry and boring–something given as an assignment or required for work, and it’s very pleasing to be able to argue the opposite.




Library Adventures

As with most endeavors, the lead-up to New Year’s came with ambition, planning, and excitement. We decided that moving away wasn’t going to happen just yet and that we’d be staying in our town and renewing our lease, at least for the next 7 months or so. I’m not ashamed to admit that the first thing I did after our discussion was to make my way to our local library.

And, oh….it’s a great library. Because we’re in Florida, it’s in a strip mall (but don’t let that discourage you–it’s a really big strip mall).

As soon as I walked in, I realized that our town definitely loves its readers. It’s enormous and lovely and full of beautiful things. The used bookstore (one of my favorite places to be) that’s attached is pretty sizeable, too. Fliers advertising gaming groups and mothers groups and book clubs garnished the front hallway, as well as the obligatory display cases, showcasing rare books and works of art.

The interior of the library was also enormous; stacks and stacks of beautiful reference books (oh, how I wished I had something to research), conference rooms, reading rooms, comfy chairs, rows of DVDs and books-on-tape, lovingly worn paperbacks on those neato little spinning racks, some intriguing looking map books…

It’s a library, folks. I mean, it’s pretty standard. But so awesome.

The staff must have thought I was an alien–or at least someone who’d never been to a library–probably because of my wild stare and the way I gushed with pride when I sauntered up to the counter, announcing that I would be getting a library card today (ho, ho, ho). I subtly leafed through my little notebook as the library technician took my information and generated my card, paying close attention to whether her gaze drifted to my massive TBR list with its “MASTER LIST” heading.

They’ll be so proud when they see what I’m reading….and we’ll be great friends and sit over coffee and discuss the finer points of some of the greatest works of literature. We’d snoot over allegory and plot devices and wonder how the rest of the world can live in such ignorance of fine music, poetry, and delving into the genius minds of the great, dead, white dudes.

So, like, I was 12 for a few minutes. Also, I don’t go to places. Or talk to people. Or only read dead, white dudes. So.

I moved on, list in hand, and quickly found my two selections. I checked out without the slightest hint of fanfare. No confetti. Not even any wide-eyed youngsters staring in awe and wishing they were clever enough to pick such well-rounded and well thought out choices. It was time to leave. I had my books.

Now the only thing remained was to strut through the parking lot, head held high (and very slowly, of course) so the world could witness by great decision.

Before you wonder, I did realize how supremely dorky I was being. Mostly because I am always supremely dorky (I’ve come to terms). I also realized that I overdo the daydreaming thing and I’m probably not now on the path to becoming a librarian in a few short years after miraculously getting into a free masters program because I’m Charlie Bucket and I want it more.

But I did have my cool books. And I read through them like a starving cartoon character crawling through the desert toward a mirage–desperately, ravenously; picturing each of them as talking pastries or ice-cream sundaes.

And tasty pastries they were. I picked The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, by Mark Haddon and The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, by Rebecca Skloot. Both great reads and I’ll be talking about them soon, I promise.

Since they were both read before New Year’s, I don’t consider them as part of my goal, but as I did end up reading them in the days before New Year’s (plus one other: Watership Down, by Richard Adams–which changed my life, until the next adventure anyway). I still plan to talk about them in my next entry…something to keep me writing while I’m reading my first week’s selection: An Absolutely Remarkable Thing, by Hank Green.

It’s half-past midnight…and I’ve missed my goal of posting on a Tuesday, because welcome to me. I thank you for your continued patience (some or none or one of you) and hope you’ll visit me in my next entry. It’s too late to watch any more Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, so I’m going to continue wasting time before bed, most likely scrolling through Facebook or Twitter and listening to podcasts (which are less of a waste, but do take time).

Good Morning, all….and see you next time






Intro to LynLlew Lit. (3 credits, fee waived)

Okay, so maybe it’s a little cliche, starting a new thing like a blog on New Year’s.

And, yeah, so maybe I have a history of starting things on New Year’s and usually quitting or fizzling before March

Is that unusual? Or painfully ordinary?

Also…why did you just tell, like, literally EVERYONE that you fizzle on things? Is that how readership works?

And with that little window to my neuroses, I welcome you, friend(s), to my book blog.

This may be a little different than other book blogs you find out there–at least I hope that’s the case. On the base level, it’s a space to chronicle my goal for 2019: to read (at least) a book a week and to share my thoughts on what I find.

That’s the base level. And it’s fine and all. But I wanted to do so much more than simply breaking out of my multi-year reading slump–not to mention my multi-year writing slump. I wanted to do more than read a certain number of books and write little book reports on them. I wanted to stumble on new stories and new ideas from people I’ve never considered. I wanted to discover the parts of other people’s minds that strike familiarity in my own. I wanted to lose myself in another world and savor the book hangovers when I leave them. I wanted someone else to read this crazy drivel and say to themselves (or, in a really nice comment, if they so wish) “LOL. Same”.

I wanted to be personal and introspective. Or sometimes silly and weird. I picture this place varying from one entry to the next. It’s for me, but I would love it if someone else found something in my words they could cling to.

I’m not a professional. My thoughts are all over the place. I’m a conversational writer. This could possibly be distracting…or enticing. Maybe at least interesting?

So, the takeaway from all of this? I’ve gotten some great recommendations from some amazing people and I’m really excited to start devouring books and sharing my crazy thoughts on them. I might gush like a girly-girl sometimes. I might be cynical and snarky. I might spend paragraphs and pages in a tangent about some show I’m binge-watching. I will very likely be talking about my cats, which are so much cuter than anyone else’s cats (fight me) and do original and amazing cat-things that no one else is posting everywhere on all social media.

But, ah..the books. It’s always, in some weird way, about the books.

Tomorrow is 2019. I read three beautiful books in the days leading up to the new year, and I’d love to gush about them. After that, my project will begin. I’d like to come here on Tuesdays and check in on how it’s going. I’d like to promise structure, but then I’d laugh, you’d laugh, I’d cry a little…and we would all awkwardly stare at each other.

Which might be good material, depending on what y’all are looking for

And so, I’ll see some or none or one of you here tomorrow!

Thank you for visiting….and please, feel free to watch this space!