Monday, December 28, 2009

Confession #1

All right, I have a confession to make. My sister came to visit for Christmas. We had a wonderful day at the mall, had lunch, had our picture taken with Santa, and eventually ended up in the book store. Surprise, surprise!
There's a book I was dying to have, The Help. Being it's a bestseller, it's right up front the minute I walked in the door. I held it, fondled it, caressed it gently.
"The book club is reading this for the January meeting." I said.
"Then get it." Martha responded.
"I can't. I'm trying to do the steps, remember."
She grabbed it from me. "It'll be your Christmas gift."
I admit I knew full well what I was doing. She'd buy the book for me without too much whining on my part. As long as I didn't pay for it, I'm still on track, right? Please tell me I am.
We walked up and down the aisles commenting on books we'd read or wanted to read. The urge to touch the books, stroking the beautiful covers, hoping the words would seep through my hands directly to my soul, overwhelmed me. I only touched. I didn't ask for a shopping cart.
Martha picked out a few more items and we went to check out. Does the fact that I let her use my discount card let me off the hook? Or that I promised to send her the book when I was finished with it? There was another book I wanted but couldn't remember the name or the author. I never located it so I couldn't trap her into buying it for me which was clearly in the back of my mind. I left the store empty handed. God works in mysterious ways, doesn't He?
My friends who are well versed in the steps scolded me for skipping to step 7. I must start at #1. I must admit I am powerless over books and that my life has become unmanageable.
I admit I am powerless. Walking into a book store turns me to mush. With 76 unread books on the shelf, my life is unmanageable. But that didn't stop me from tricking my sister into buying me a book. I guess I have some more work to do on that one.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Gods in Alabama by Joshilyn Jackson

I believe that Gods in Alabama came to me from one sister via another sister. One loved it, one didn't get it. Being that we are sisters, I find myself somewhere in the middle.
As a teenager, Arlene Fleet makes a pact with God. She stops lying and having sex if He will make sure her crime of murder is never uncovered. She leaves her 'do no wrong' cousin Clarice, demanding Aunt Florence and her mentally out of touch mother far behind. When she can't hide any longer, she tells God all bets are off and returns to her roots in Alabama. With her boyfriend,Burr, who happens to be African American.
The pace is lively and the prose is intriguing. The characters come to life as Arlene confronts her demons once and for all. Burr becomes the voice of calm and reason as the wild ride through her past begins.
I laughed out loud remembering my own teenage years. The author's description of their home, possessions, and fashion made them come to life again for me. I'll rate it 4 out of 5 books. Gods in Alabama is a delightful read that will keep you guessing until the end.
I'm all out of sisters, so in order to keep this book in the family, it's going to Becky, my niece. She's a voracious reader who will enjoy the Southern antics of Gods in Alabama.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

What Step am I On?

It's the Sunday before Christmas and the newspaper is chock full of coupons and sales.
"Here's a coupon to Books A Million," Richard waved in my face.
I grabbed it. Five dollars off a purchase of twenty-five dollars or more. Doesn't that sound good? I read the flyer drooling over one interesting title after another. I could spend twenty-five dollars in a heartbeat. No kidding! I got up to get dressed before I realized it was only six thirty in the morning. The store wasn't open yet. My hands started to shake.
I went to the computer and looked up the 12 steps again. Then I clicked on Amazon. Trying to come to my senses I clicked back to the 12 steps. Which one do I need to call up right now? I read the list over and over thinking I really needed them all.
I settled on number 7. 'Humbly ask Him to remove our shortcomings'.
I couldn't stop staring at the advertising for books. I just couldn't. "Please dear God, help me. Remove my shortcomings."
I calmly went to my purse, got my car keys and handed them to Richard.
"Hide these."

Monday, December 14, 2009

The Power Book by Jeanette Winterson

I picked up this book during a vacation to Key West a couple years ago. I'd found my way into an old book store in town, stuffed to the rafters with new and used books. Tables, shelves and racks overflowing with something to delight anyone. A book addict's dream come true!
I found this book tucked away on shelf in the back of the store. At eye level showing pinks and reds on the spine, I removed it from it's space. I was intrigued by the title and the description of 'computers meet human beings'. But the cover tugged at my soul. The dust cover displays tulips of silky soft colors in a variety of stages of bloom. Tulips are my absolute favorites. Being that I live in Florida, the chances of me growing any in the yard are non-existent. It never gets cold enough to freeze the bulb. A tulip will instantly attract me however, every time. I don't recall even opening this book. The cover had me at hello.
Winterson does an excellent job crafting this story. The prose is beautiful and creative. It's the kind of story telling I strive for in my own ability to perfect the craft. But personally when it comes to the plot, I just didn't get it. I like to know who is who and where they are when I read a book. Just when I thought I'd figured out this was a story of a man and a woman, I find out it's two women. I wanted the story to end yet I wanted more. What I learned as a writer is that it's time for me to get out of my box. I learned the true meaning of the old writing adage, 'show don't tell'. And I learned I need to broaden my reading horizons.
The Power Book is well worth the time to experience something new and thought provoking in a novel. I'd rate this novel 3 1/2 out of 5 books. It's not on my list of keepers. I think the local library will be the lucky recipient. This story is meant to be shared.
Next up. Gods in Alabama

Sunday, December 13, 2009

The Story Behind the Story

I'm a book addict, plain and simple. Some people are addicted to drugs or sex or chocolate. For me it's a book. I love to be surrounded by them, touch them, flip through their pages, savoring each and every detail. For me a trip to the bookstore is like being a kid in a candy store, so many choices, so little money.
Sadly in 2009 my husband and I both lost our jobs. Now a trip to the bookstore is pure, unadulterated torture. During a recent visit Richard had to drag me out the door kicking and screaming unwilling to part with my armload of new books. The smell, the crackle of untouched paper, the words calling out to me, I had to have them. I lost that battle needless to say. It wasn't pretty.
Just because I love to buy books doesn't necessarily mean I read them. My shelves are full of unread books. Seventy six to be exact. Plus two more that I know I want to read but have been missing since we moved last January.
I titled this blog The Story Behind the Story because I remember each book and why I have it. So here's my goal. I promise not to buy another book until I have read all that are on my shelf. If I succeed, next Christmas I'll treat myself to an electronic reader. I'll have a whole year to figure out which one I want.
I will post a review of each book I read. I'll tell you the story behind the story and the disposition of the book. The people and places that receive my recycled books have their own story too.
All of this is in the name of curing my addiction, sharing what I have with others and learning something about myself along the way. My own little way of putting myself through a 12 step program.

City of Thieves by David Benioff

City of Thieves by David Benioff It's World War II in Leningrad, Russia.  17 year old Lev elected to stay behind in the city when h...