One of the things I appreciate the most about my parents is they never said no to a book. Mom started reading to Lindy and I way back when we were babies. And when I started reading on my own, my thirst for stories was insatiable. I was that kid who always had a book with me (and another book or two tucked in a pocket or a backpack, just in case I finished the first one and needed a spare).
When we lived in Bird City, my summers were split evenly between the library and the city swimming pool. And every time took a road trip to visit grandparents and made a pit stop at the Walmart in McCook along the way, I would tell Mom and Dad that they could find me by the books, and then I’d take off before they could think to say no. By the time they finished their shopping and came to collect me, I’d usually have at least a half-dozen books cradled in my arms and I’d ask if I could get them. Mom and Dad always agreed to let me have one, (sometimes more than one if I chose a few that weren’t too expensive), and I’d leave the store clutching my prize and itching to settle into the back seat of the car and lose myself in a new story.
If there is anything in this life that I’m irrationally attached to, it’s books. And you know what? I’m okay with that.
Cadence had a school assignment over Christmas break this year–count the number of books you have in your house. I apologized to her before giving her a pad of Post-It notes and a little advice–go room by room and shelf by shelf. When you finish one shelf, jot the number on a sticky note, stick the note to the shelf, and repeat.
Final count = 1,308.
I’m fairly certain there are a few more books squirreled away in boxes in the basement, but we weren’t going to make her take on that excavation. And in the four months since she finished the assignment, I’ve probably added at least fifteen or twenty more to the count.
If it was anything other than books, I might have to admit I have a problem.
But here’s the thing–books are magic. And I truly believe they are the only way we humans ever get a chance to see what goes on inside the mind of another human being. They’re the only way we ever get an opportunity to step outside of ourselves and our own private world and get a glimpse of another. Only words wield that sort of power.
So yes, I hold onto them and return to them, and I enjoy walking into my house and seeing them sitting there on the shelves waiting for me to dive back in. And I love passing them onto others, sometimes mid-conversation saying, “Oh, have you read _____?” and then plucking a copy off the shelf and pressing it into their hands telling them to take it and read it and enjoy it and pass it along to someone else when they’re done because I can buy another copy if I want to replace it. There’s no better gift than the gift of a story.
Pass it on.
Okay, so I set some goals for myself at the beginning of this year. Nothing too crazy (at least I didn’t think so at the time), but nothing ever goes according to plan now does it? After these whirlwind first two weeks of the year, I figured I better do a little check-in with myself and see how things are going.
Goal #1 – Write every day. Surprisingly, so far so good here. Now, I’m not writing the great American novel, or even a whole lot worth reading, but at least there has been time set aside and words being put to paper every single day. Gotta say, I’m proud of myself on this one.
Goal #2 – Write one letter every week. Two weeks down. Two letters written. Boom! Onto the next.
Goal #3 – Read one book a week. First up, Radical Candor by Kim Scott. To be fair, I started reading this just before Christmas, but it was slow going and got set aside with the holiday craziness. I didn’t want to try and start another book until I finished this one, so I decided to count it. (Hey! My blog. My rules.) Great read. Stepping into a new leadership role in my career and hearing about this book from some of the leaders I look up to made me want to read it. A lot of the advice and suggestions should be obvious–things like caring deeply about other people, giving the time and space needed to look at things from multiple perspectives before making big decisions, and the importance of being honest and direct without letting emotion take over. Leadership has become something of a buzzword, and I think a lot of people spend a lot of time talking about leadership without really being able to clearly define what good leadership actually looks like. The book is well-written, and it definitely prompted me to reflect on the people in my life who showed me what a leader should be.
My second book of the new year is Five Plots by Erica Trabold. I found out about this book when I was catching up on some of my writing magazines over the holiday break. Erica Trabold is originally from Nebraska, and the book is a collection of her lyrical essays that explore how her life story was shaped by the Nebraska landscape, just as the Nebraska landscape was shaped by the people who lived and settled there. The writing stunning. Trabold was the winner of the inaugural Deborah Tall Lyric Essay Book Prize, and if you take the time to read her debut collection, you’ll see why. Anyone who was born, raised, or feels a connection to Nebraska should pick up a copy immediately. I already ordered one extra copy to send to some family who have moved away and still miss “home,” and I’m sure there will be more orders coming soon. The book is way good good not to share.
Goal #4 – Exercise 30 minutes every day. Well, if I’ve fallen off the wagon anywhere, it’s here. Now, I will say, I was good right up until this weekend when Henry got sick. Some mornings I was waking up at 5:00 to do 30 minutes of rowing and 30 minutes of writing (how’s that for two birds with one stone?). Other days, I was making sure I took a break during the day to get my steps in around campus during lunch, or simply counting the amount of walking I was doing in between meetings and from my car to my office and back toward my daily amount. As busy as last week turned out to be, I’m giving myself a little grace here and saying that I earned two full days of being lazy with my sick kiddo snuggled in on the couch.
Tomorrow’s a new day. Back at it. Let’s go.
The clock keeps ticking, and in just 2 hours and 4 minutes, it will be 2014.
Seriously, how did this happen?
2012 was a helluva year for us. We ran ourselves to the point of exhaustion, worked too much, traveled from the northeast to the west to the southwest and back east again. And in the midst of it all, we lost Stevie’s mom. By the time the summer ended, we just wanted the year to be over.
When 2013 began, we were optimistic, simply because it wasn’t 2012 any longer. We knew that it couldn’t possibly get any worse. And we were right. Things looked up for us this year. Cadence started (and LOVES) full-time preschool. I got a new job and have been absolutely swimming in freelance work. Steve started taking classes and is looking forward to diving into more programming. We took an amazing family vacation to Disney and had a blast. We have been saving. And we’re starting to feel comfortable.
After the long hard road we traveled in 2o12, we feel pretty good about where 2013 has taken us. And we’re looking forward to where 2014 will lead.
We’re moving in the right direction, and we’re in it together. If you ask me, it’s a pretty good place to be.
And while I don’t really believe in making “resolutions” per say, I do have one major goal that I intend to accomplish in 2014, and I hope that you’ll all come along for the ride…
Ater reuniting with my birth family in 2002, I knew that the very first book I would write would be the memoir of my adoption and reunion and all the tumultuous years in between. I started writing the story in 2008 and have yet to finish it. This year, I pulled the half-written manuscript out of my desk drawer and started writing again. In the next few weeks, this blog will be undergoing a major renovation, and part of that will include a space for me to share excerpts from the story as I finally bring the project to a close. In the meantime, I hope you’ll join me on the Facebook page I created for my upcoming memoir, In a Sea of Strangers.
Whatever the new year brings, I know it will be one helluva ride. And I don’t know about all of you, but I’m looking forward to it.
My name is Lori, and I’m a book hoarder.
Whew. It feels so good to admit it.
I’m not looking to go to therapy though. And I’m certainly not planning to change my ways anytime soon. I figure if there is anything in the world that it’s probably okay to hoard, it’s books. And I don’t think you can ever have too many.
Well…unless you literally have so many that there is not even an inch of room left in your house and you’re forced to live outside in a little makeshift shanty in your backyard. Then, it’s probably time to seek some professional help and start downsizing the collection. But I’m not even close to that, so I’m probably okay.
And I do want to point out that my book collecting has significantly slowed in recent years. I’m no longer a student, so there is not a steady supply of textbooks finding their way onto my shelves. And now that I’m juggling the duties of being a full-time wife, mother, writer, and photographer, I don’t have quite as much time to even sit down and read anymore.
I’ve hit a lull…well, for myself at least.
Now that Cadence is in preschool, I get to revisit the excitement of those Scholastic book order days. Oh, they were my favorite! As soon as the teacher passed out those little paper catalogs, I would work myself into a frenzy–reading descriptions, circling books that I couldn’t live without (which usually ended up being at leave 3/4 of the catalog), and then hurrying home to show my Mom and start begging her to let me order.
My parents were hardworking folks. They both put in long hours at full-time jobs so they could keep a roof over our heads, food on the table, and clothes on our backs. We took the occasional vacations, and we always had gifts on our birthdays and at Christmas time. While there were plenty of things we did without, one thing Mom and Dad hardly ever said no to was books. Sure they had to keep me in check, and my 3/4 catalog order usually ended up being whittled down to just 3-4 books at at time, but it was enough, and I never complained.
Thank goodness I now have Steven to keep Cadence and I in check on Scholastic book order days. Otherwise, the two of us would surely be in trouble. The girl already has a bookshelf overflowing with books (yeah, I went on a children’s book buying binge shortly after the pregnancy test came up positive), and she is now at the age where she is starting to check books out of the library at school, and she loves to bring them home and read them every night before bed, and sometimes just carry them around the house reciting the story from memory.
Yeah, that’s my girl.
And now even Cosette seems to have been bitten by the book bug. When Cadence woke this morning, she found the little elf giving Five Little Monkeys one last read before Cadence had to return it to school.
Smart little elf. You can never go wrong with a book.
And, on an unrelated note, has anyone noticed that Cadence is completely incapable of actually looking at the camera for a picture unless she’s making goofy faces? I wonder where she got that from?
I haven’t had a whole lot of time to read the past few weeks–between the road trips, the interviews, landing a new job (yea me!), taking care of Cadence through a nasty battle with a stomach bug, houseguests, the furnace going out, and a slew of other stessors–but this is the book I’m currently reading…