How Much is Too Much?

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I’m reading Stephen King’s 11/22/63. It’s about time travel and since I write about the same thing–time travel–I wanted to know how the master approached it.

When I picked the book up from the library, the first thing I noticed was the size of the book. I’m not a fast reader, as I’ve said before, so I worried I wouldn’t finish before the return date. I hesitated to look at the last page and see the number.

  1. Yep, that’s right. 862 pages. When I see 450 I cringe. Now I had two weeks to read the book and get it back to the library. Renewing wasn’t an option. In a few days, I’d be going on vacation.

This was my first Stephen King book. As you know, if you read my blog, I’m not a fan of horror or scary writing. I watched the TV series, Under the Dome, (based on a Stephen King novel) and liked that show very much. Not all his stories are scary. Besides, this story is based on a real life event and about time travel so I was pretty sure no horror would be involved.

I can proudly say I’ve made it to page 624. And the book isn’t due for three more days. All my free time will be dedicated to finishing the book. It’s a very good book, hard to put down.

I can’t compare this book to King’s other novels or his writing style. But I can say this about 11/22/63. The author’s into minute details and did his research. I’m learning a lot about the late fifties and early sixties. I couldn’t wait to see how he set up his rules for time travel. There needs to be rules in every good time travel book. He didn’t disappoint.

Let’s get back to the real reason I’m writing this post today. The book had over 800 pages. If I didn’t really want to read this book, I may have passed. How many times have you done the same thing?

So does it matter how many pages a book is? Would too many pages stop you from reading a book? What if it’s a bestseller or famous author? Then would you read it? So many questions. So many pages. What would you do?

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To Finish or Not to Finish, That is the Question

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I don’t care if a reader hates one of my stories, just as long as he finishes the book.”
—Roald Dahl

I love Roald Dahl, author of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, but don’t know exactly what he meant by that quote. Did he just want you to read for the sake of reading? Or give the book a chance?

I think if you don’t like a book and gave it a fighting chance, say fifty pages, it’s okay to give up. Not every book is for everybody.

I found this quote interesting because I also review books and will admit I couldn’t finish some. As an author, I’d prefer that method over a less than stellar review. Forcing yourself to read is like being back in school. Reading should be for pleasure. When I taught, I felt the library was one of the places children could choose. I didn’t have to tell them what to read. They could start a book and put it down if it wasn’t for them. They’d have another chance the next week to find something new.

So what do you think? What did Roald Dahl mean in his quote? Do you agree or not? I’d love to hear from you.

Dead of Winter

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In my “Closing of the Pool” post, I said I’d look for one thing to love during the dreaded winter season. Well, I found it. The days start getting longer after the winter solstice. It happens slowly but by the end of January we get almost an extra hour of daylight. So that’s it.

After rereading that, I decided I could do better. So I’m going to make a list. Things you can to do to help you while-away the cold winter days. Please feel free to add to it. The only rule is your suggestions have to cost little to nothing.

If you’re a homebody-

1. Light candles throughout the house as soon as evening comes.

2. Read a good book in front of the fireplace or any other cozy spot in the house.

3. Play with your pet/pets. If you don’t have one, go on-line and look at cute puppy/kitten pictures. I highly recommend lovebird sites. They’re the cutest things! Also am a little prejudice…Love you, PJ!

4. When you feel down, make a steaming hot cup of tea, cocoa, flavored coffee.

5. Bake! Fill your home with wonderful smells.

6. Eat those baked goods. Freeze some for the next time you need a winter lift.

7. Background music – Make a playlist that can be played quietly and fill the house with music.

8. Organize one thing. Pick a closet, drawer or cluttered spot. Focus only on that. When you finish, relish in your accomplishment.

9. Look for new recipes. Magazines were always my go-to, but with Pinterest and recipe sites on-line you can have a field day. If you don’t have a Pinterest account, create one. Save all your recipes there.

10. Make grilled cheese and tomato soup. An old favorite!

11. Make sure you have a great pair of slippers. Snuggle in some flannel pajamas.

12. Write or journal or start a blog.

If you’re adventurous and willing to head out in the cold and snow

1. Visit your library. Stay awhile and skim through a pile of books. Pick some out to take home so you can do #2 in the group above.

2. This might also involve a trip to the library but it’s a great idea. Reread a favorite book from childhood.

3. Walk a mile or two at your local mall. No shopping allowed.

4. Visit the closest park. Take in winter nature, even if you do it from the window of your car.

5.  Anything to do with snow. Build a snowman, make a snow angel or just tromp through it.

6. Go outside on a clear night and count the stars.

7. Drink hot chocolate outside.

8. Take a walk under the full moon.

9. Visit the closest lake, river, or pond and take in the winter scene.

10. Go outside and blow bubbles. I read they turn into ice bubbles!

And remember! Feed the birds.

The Lot is Full

book-67049_1280People are still reading. People are using the library. So many things are going out of style or out of date. Kids hardly watch television and find their shows on-line. They watch at their convenience. Newspapers are scaling back because sales are dipping. Only old people read it…or so I’ve been told. The younger generation gets everything on-line.

So I was very happy to see the library hasn’t turned into a dinosaur yet. I know they have computers and try to stay up-to-date but let’s admit it, it’s a place filled with books. Books! Not much else.

Don’t you love the feeling of stepping into a library? I always considered it a magical place. You go in with high hopes and come out with unknown treasures. If you don’t like one of the gems you picked, you can close it and move on to the next hoping to find the adventure of a lifetime. Nowhere else in the world can you go and get that same experience without spending a dime.

Let’s keep the younger generation reading…for fun. Not because they have to for a school assignment but because they want to. I know there are young readers out there because they blog about books. Young adult is a popular genre in reading.

Life’s at warp speed these days but I have faith in our younger generation. I think they’ll continue the tradition of reading books and supporting their libraries. Libraries may have to continue to change to keep up, adding more high tech advances inside their walls.

Maybe one day a person will scan the walls searching for the perfect book and just hold up their phone to download it. I know virtual libraries already exist and you don’t have to go to the actual place. I use one to check out books at times. But let’s admit it, there’s nothing like walking into the real thing, being greeted by the scent of a good book. Let’s hope it never goes the way of the dinosaur.

The Feel of a Good Book

Library-Books With the invention of the Kindle and Nook, there are so many ways to read a book these days. A lot of people say they like the feel of the book in their hand. I admit I was one of them.

As a young girl, I remember how it felt to pick a book out at the library, carefully taking my time. I’d place the stack on the check-out counter with a feeling of accomplishment. The librarian would slowly turn the book over, open the back cover and remove the card. She’d stamp the card and then the book with the due date. Things were pretty simple back then.

A book plays an important part in my novel, too. Without it, Katie would never be able to live her two lives. She reads right before she goes to bed, places it on her nightstand and off she goes!

When I was teaching third grade, I had a gifted student with a wide range of interests. During library period, the librarian rushed up to me with a very thick book in hand. That third grader wanted to read Moby Dick. She was all flustered and said the book was too hard for an eight year old and he’d never read it. I sat, smiling and nodding, while she made a list of reasons why he shouldn’t check it out. She finished with a flourish, “You’re the teacher. I need your approval for him to check out this book.”

I paused and said, “Let him check it out.” Little did she know, I swelled with pride that a student of that age wanted to tackle Moby Dick.

Her stunned expression said it all. “I think you should tell him he can’t check it out.”

Surprised, I didn’t want to argue. “Why?” I had to ask.

“He’ll never read it.”

Now those were fighting words. How did she know he wouldn’t read it? In my mind, if he tackled the first chapter and gave up, it was a win-win. There weren’t too many places in school where children get a choice and I felt the library was one of them. I always let the kids pick what they wanted.

You’re probably wondering who won the Battle of Moby Dick. Me, although that doesn’t happen very often in my life. But when I set my mind to something, watch out…especially if it involves kids.

I don’t remember how far the student got in the book, but he did read it. In years to come when I’d run into his mom, she’d always bring up the subject of Moby Dick. She’d tell me how thrilled her son was to bring the book home and that I let him. Even she was hesitant and doubted he would read it but he proved her wrong. She said he always remembered he was allowed to get the book. Those are the memories that stay with us.

Before my first book was published my husband said I should get a Kindle. I fought it for awhile but realized he was right. My book would be available on Kindle besides print. It’s the way of the world these days and I realized we can’t freeze time. I enjoy my Kindle, found my library has an ebook website and you download your book without leaving home. It’s easy to read in the sun, too. I upgraded recently to the Kindle Fire and passed the old one on to my husband.

Still there’s something about walking in that library and checking out a book. Seeing the cover in person, flipping the pages, using a bookmark takes me back to the time when I was young and carried my stack of books home. I know some will vote for progress and say “get with the program”. Others will say give me the good, old-fashioned book. I still lean toward the book in hand. Imagine how it would have looked if my student ran home to tell his mom he was allowed to download a book. I much prefer picturing Moby Dick hoisted over his head and him shouting as he ran in the door, “Look what I’m going to read!”