One of the highlights of my reading adventure last year was when I pulled my old college textbook The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne off the shelf, where it had waited 43 years, and rediscovered the magic of those old words from 1850.
Is this the year I revisit these old words from 1851? I have taken the first step of pulling it off the shelf. (I refer to “the” shelf, as if it waited there in the same place all this time. Actually the shelf in this room is only the latest of a series of shelves, books and bags where my old books have waited to be rediscovered.)
Receiving Sam Weller’s biography The Bradbury Chronicles for Christmas, I was reminded of Ray Bradbury’s grappling with Melville’s whale after being tapped to write the screenplay of the 1956 film adaptation. That piqued my interest as much as seeing the bulky old beast on the shelf for years.
Two things have caught my eye immediately.
First, I don’t recall ever noticing that there is a hyphen in “Moby-Dick.”
Second, Melville’s dedication: “In Token of my admiration for his genius, This book is inscribed to Nathaniel Hawthorne.”
Well. Anyone who recognizes the genius of Mr. Hawthorne is worth my attention, don’t you think?
And so the grand old epic has been placed in my pile of books to read. Maybe not today – I confess that The Scarlet Letter waited in that pile for a few months or so – but soon.
The increasing convenience of audiobooks and career choices that put me behind the wheel of a vehicle for long periods are partly responsible for my reading 84 (!) books during 2018.
Since I started tracking my reading in 1994, I had averaged as many as one book a week only once, in 2012 when I read a short book on Dec. 31 so I could hit 52 books for that year. But my trusty iPhone and the Overdrive app (thanks Wisconsin Public Library Consortium) pushed me to 66 books in 2017 and this year’s total. My Kindle also got a good workout, and I even perused an even dozen good old dead-tree editions.
The list for 2018 includes 12 by Craig Johnson, nine by Michael Connelly (21 in 2017), eight by J.K. Rowling/Robert Galbraith, all six Lunar Chronicles books by Marissa Meyer, and 10 books about the writer’s craft, especially late in the year – which may give you a hint about my thoughts for 2019. Continue reading →
Finnegan Moore was good at starting things, but he seemed to have a phobia about endings, completions. It was if he believed that endings were little deaths, as if finishing a book was a good time to die, or finishing a work project, or the last film in a trilogy, or the last show of a series – and he didn’t want to die.
“Lord, let me live to see how the story ends,” was a constant refrain of his life. He was relieved to reach the end of the Harry Potter stories, but also terrified, because now that he knew how the story ends, would someone in the sky decide it was now an appropriate time to take him?
“But you know how the story ends,” his friend Dan said one day. “You know how everyone’s story ends – with an ending, and not necessarily wrapped up in a bow.”
“That’s just it, you see,” Finnegan said. “That’s just it. I’m afraid of finishing because it’s a little death.” Continue reading →
While rummaging through my writing for a project to be announced later, I came across a line that begged to be expanded:
Dance as long as your heart can stand the joy.
Joy makes you want to move; it’s expressed in dancing of all kinds – from the tapping of your foot to the spreading of arms to reach the sun and jumping.
Joy brings the dance, and the dance brings joy: Dance as long as your heart can stand the joy.
The heart is the conduit: Dance, and your heart will seek the joy. And through the joy, the heart dances.
Cause and effect – which comes first? Which is cause? Which is effect? Both.
One brings the other.