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There's nothing like a good book to inspire a writer. You read an incredible story that transports you to another place, and magically, you're unable to put the book down. The beautiful prose, the edgy dialogue, you read it and say to yourself, "I want to create something like this."
That said, there's nothing like a bad book to get you writing.
Don't get me wrong - I love, love, LOVE getting lost in a good book. But . . . I've noticed that there's a little problem with that. When I can't put a book down, my reading time cuts into my writing time. I find myself making bargains - write 500 words and you get to read five pages. Only five pages turns into ten and then I'm sweating trying to squeeze in the other 1500 words I try to write a day, laptop on the counter while I'm making dinner, literally stir the pot, type a sentence multitasking, and that's no fun.
I consider myself lucky that I had a really long run of great books to read. Only, that seems to have come to an end. At first, I was really uncomfortable, pulling at my collar, looking at the words on the page, thinking, "But this isn't good. The writing doesn't flow, the characters aren't developed, I don't like this at all." It was the same kind of itchy uncomfortableness that comes from trying to give up chocolate. It just doesn't feel right.
Instead of looking across the room at my book with longing, I find myself not looking at it at all. Instead, I find myself typing. Creating. Being much more productive in my own endeavors. And when I take a break and, say, take the dogs outside, the book is there. When we come back in, there is no battle to put the book down and get back to work. I just do it.
Eventually, another incredible book will fall into my hand. I'll treasure my time with it, even if it takes time from my own writing, because you gain so much from reading a good book. But if the next book is subpar, I'll read that one, too. Because sometimes bad books, stories with gaping holes in the plots and poor writing and boring characters, have even more to teach you. What not to do when you get back to work!
I picked up this book not knowing anything about it but the author. I had no idea about the plot or the significance of 19 minutes. I was pleased to find myself immersed in a controversial subject ripped from the headlines - something that Picoult does well.
Jodi Picoult is a storyteller. I love the way she writes, the way she puts herself (and the reader) in the shoes of such a wide array of characters. I especially love it when she pushes you into the uncomfortable position of considering circumstances from a point of view you'd rather not experience.
The good news, besides really enjoying this book, is that I finally made it through a Jodi Picoult book without crying! The bad news is that once I finish one of her books and pick up something written by another author, it tends to pale in comparison because Picoult has mastered the trifecta of fiction writing - the plot, pacing, and emotion always work together to create a dynamic vehicle that drives the reader to race through the book, unable to put it down.
Sharp Objects, the first novel written by famed Gone Girl author Gillian Flynn ~ it took me a while to get into this book. I didn't really identify with any of the characters (which, after reading the book I've decided is probably a good thing). I actually didn't even like any of the characters. What I did like was the depth Flynn created in her psychologically flawed characters.
In a way, the book seemed like a collection of character studies of mental illness. Was it Gone Girl? No. Did I enjoy reading it? Yes. Would you like it? If you're looking for a dark, edgy book, you just might.
I love reading debut novels, which this was. I also love being able to see an author's talent and storytelling skills develop. Gone Girl didn't just happen. Reading Flynn's prior works, the bones and muscles and ligaments that underlie the flesh of Gone Girl, reveal a lot about her method and progression as a writer. As a writer myself, I find it fascinating and would definitely recommend this book.
Only a few pages into this book I thought, Wow, what fun. Very campy. It's like one of those cute, cozy cat mysteries. Then I looked at the quote from Stephen King on the cover and thought, Stephen King likes cozy cat mysteries, hee, hee, hee.
But this is not one of those cozy little books where the cat helps the old lady solve the mystery. Far from it. Moriarty is like a magician. An awesome Australian magician. Somewhere along the way, things get real. Only you're still having fun, so you don't really notice until suddenly you're novel deep in serious subject matter.
I really enjoyed this book and definitely recommend it, but I have to disagree with Mr. King. I didn't find the book scary at all. The only thing that's scary is the willingness and ease with which women will blame themselves and shoulder burdens, but as a woman, I already knew that. The horrors in this book were those of everyday reality, artfully told. Five stars.
What can I say about Kurt Vonnegut's Cat's Cradle? Well, since it was written over fifty years ago, everything's probably already been said at least once (not that I'll let that stop me from adding my opinion to the mix). As a whole, not my favorite genre, not my favorite literary era, and not my favorite style. Despite all the things working against it, the book still retains a timeless luster.
Cat's Cradle is one of Vonnegut's less popular works. The thing about pieces of satire such as this, is that they are so open to individual interpretation that you can read into them whatever you want. Few things are worse than being trapped in a discussion with an overzealous reader who has turned an author's 'open to interpretation' work into the personal manifesto by which they live their life - especially when their interpretation is an outlandish affront to your interpretation. I think that Vonnegut's work has (or had) a tendency to fall prey to this sect.
The Cat's Cradle is a satirical social commentary. To some extent, what the reader will construe as Vonnegut's intended targets - science, religion, war, peace, poverty - will vary. To me, it's the barefaced statements hidden within the nonsense, slices of reality so accurate that they still ring true today, that makes this piece a timeless classic. Everyone should try a taste of Vonnegut at least once.
It was a beautiful August day in New Hampshire and the time had come for us to venture into new territory - the much anticipated Presidential Range. We started our hike at the first parking lot off of Mount Clinton Road, just a few hundred feet from route 302. The plan, and we were determined to not be deterred from the plan, was to hike Mount Pierce, backtrack to Crawford Path, hike up, over, and down Mount Eisenhower to the road, where we would walk a couple of miles back to the car to make a loop.
What sets the Presidential Range apart from the rest of the White Mountains, (in essence they are the elusive holy grails of the New Hampshire 4000 footer mountains), is not that they're much more difficult to climb. Rather, the prestige lies in the greater risk, and the risk comes from the weather. Being so far north, and at such a high altitude, the weather can change quickly.
It's possible for it to snow in July and August. Even a bit of wind and rain can turn conditions deadly for the unprepared hiker. The warmest daily maximum temperature for Mount Washington, the tallest mountain in the range (and New England), is only 54 degrees at the height of summer.
Thus, hiking the Presidential Range calls for a bit more preparedness on the part of the hiker. It means packing extra food, extra water, and extra gear. Carrying cold clothes and rain clothes. All while still being able to hike with the added weight in your pack.
Although the range is said to have the worst weather in America, and for this reason is used by climbers to train for K2 and Everest, we were fortunate enough to have ideal conditions for our hike. The trail up Mount Pierce was well maintained, and almost entirely within the treeline, making for an enjoyable trip. The 1.6 miles between the summits of Pierce and Eisenhower, however, was mostly exposed. At times, with the sun beating down on you, it felt like being lost in a rocky desert wasteland (without being lost, or in a wasteland, or a desert for that matter). All drama aside, when you're over 4000 feet closer to the sun than usual, you can feel it.
The small amount of discomfort was worth it, however, when we finally reached Mount Eisenhower's peak. The view from Pierce was great, but from the top of 4780 foot Eisenhower, it was AMAZING. Well worth the climb. Note ~ when hiking up Eisenhower from Pierce, the trail to the Edmands path is to your right. It's not marked, but a junction about a half mile from the summit will point you in the right direction for the rest of your descent, a hardscaped path to the left.
This was a great loop, challenging at times but not at hard as I expected. We did the 10 miles in 6-7 hours (I forgot to check the end time) and this includes a break at each summit and several stops to talk with other hikers. Besides being a beautiful day, it was also a friendly day on the trails which is always a great bonus that adds to an enjoyable experience. This was by far my favorite climb of the year.
Gone Girl. The books that launched a thousand articles that began with, "If you loved Gone Girl, then . . ." And now, I know why.
I did love it, as in, 'I must immediately read every book this author has ever written' kind of love it, which I haven't felt since I was introduced to Tana French. That was actually only earlier this year, but it seems like forever ago because I have now read all of French's books and am stuck waiting for the next one to be published. Imagine my relief to have found another author that I enjoy so much. And to think, it almost didn't happen.
I rarely ever see the movie before I read the book. Like never. But I watched the movie for this book several months ago. Even more rare - I really liked it. Enjoyed it enough where I thought, 'If the movie is as close to the book as everyone says, then I'll really like the book. Maybe I should read it. Even if I already knows what happens.' This is not a conversation I often have with myself. Part of the joy of reading is surprise. Sometimes it's guessing what's supposed to be the surprise. Sometimes, the shampoo bottle says, 'wash and lather,' but it doesn't say, 'repeat.' Shocking, I know.
So, what makes me really, REALLY know I love a book? The biggest compliment that I can give an author (in my occasionally humble opinion)? It's, as a writer, being jealous that I didn't write it first. Would I be proud to have written a tricky little plot twist like this? Yes. Which leads me to the second biggest compliment that I can give an author. Your book inspires me to keep writing, keep getting better, and to keep thinking of the most twisted, unexpected plots that I can. Thank you, Gillian Flynn.