So What Are You Reading?… (Read this even if you don’t like to read.)

Western reading

Will Schwalbe is one of my writing heroes.

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Will Schwalbe & me

Will has written: SEND: Why People Email So Badly and How to Do it Better (2010), The End Of Your Life Book Club (2012), Books for Living (2016). He does a terrific job of making connections with his readers because of his writing style and powerful messages.

It is Will’s practice to ask everyone he meets, “What are you reading?”

This question never fails to elicit amazing responses or conversations from those who are asked. Even if the person being asked isn’t a big reader, there are always books or stories from the past that seem to create connections for those in the conversation.

Recently our family took a trip to a state park. During a few of my MANY trips trips to our cabin, I noticed a gentleman reading outside his lodging. After the second day, I stopped and asked him, “What are you reading?”

“Oh,” he said, “nothing that would probably interest you.” 

I said, “Try me.”

He was reading a Western novel by William Johnstone.

As an avid reader, former bookstore employee, and proud possessor of a soft spot for Westerns, I began to list off some of the series and books that I happened to know were written by William Johnstone. He was tickled by my knowledge and appreciation for the genre. Continue reading “So What Are You Reading?… (Read this even if you don’t like to read.)”

The Power of “Yet”

The Power of Yet

Do you know the power of “Yet”?

The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu is a book by Joshua Hammer. I learned about The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu on Goodreads and I want desperately to read it. However, after laboring through the first few chapters, I realized that I do not possess enough knowledge about Timbuktu, Mali, or the plight of the Islamic peoples as they have been tortured by Al Qaeda. The words of Adbel Kader Haidara, the original Bad-Ass, were beautiful, terrifying at times, and wonderfully descriptive, but my ignorance of how to pronounce and process many of the words left me feeling lost. After page 70, I put the book back on my “To Read” list. I just wasn’t smart enough for this book.

When I told my husband about being confounded by the book, he told me that I would get it; I just might have to read it a few times. He was hinting at the “Yet.”

The Power of Yet 3.jpgA few days after re-shelving The Bad-Ass Librarians, I was speaking to my friend Donna. We were discussing The End of Your Life Book Club and the reads that were recommended in it. It was fun to compare what she had read to what I had read and what we both still wanted to read. It was then that I told her about Hammer’s book. I shared my disappointment in myself for not being educated enough to read the book. That is when Donna reminded me of the power of “Yet.” Continue reading “The Power of “Yet””

Responsible Reading and Radical Listening – The Time I Met Will Schwalbe

There were so many things I wanted to title this post… “Long Live the Tree Books,” “Becoming a Watch Deputy,” and (the title that almost made the cut) “Buying Books We Knock Over.” (I call dibs on all these titles for future posts.)

This past spring Aunt Carol recommended that I read The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe. The End of Your Life Book Club is a memoir of the books Will and his mother read and bonded over during her diagnosis and treatment for Stage IV pancreatic cancer.

I am not gonna lie. Reading this book made me feel smarter because Will and his mother Mary Anne read some AMAZING stuff. (I have an entire Goodreads book shelf dedicated to books I learned about in The End of Your Life Book Club.) It wasn’t so much the knowledge about the books they read that increased my intelligence; it was the way Will conveyed the powerful life lessons fostered by their reading, conversations, and the tremendous responsibility assumed because of their reading that made me feel smarter.

Will SchwalbeWill was announced as the author of the 2017 Capital READ in June. I was so excited! The date went immediately on my calendar and I ordered a new hardback copy of The End of Your Life Book Club from Amazon Marketplace.

Will Schwalbe 2When my copy arrived, I discovered that I had unwittingly ordered an autographed copy. I was bummed because I wanted my copy to be signed when I met Will. (Silly thing to be bummed about, right?) My signed copy ended up being a cool thing. Continue reading “Responsible Reading and Radical Listening – The Time I Met Will Schwalbe”

Farewell to Non-Fiction (for a while)

Farewell to Non-Fiction (for a while)

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Reading non-fiction has always made me feel smarter. I have not always liked reading non-fiction because I found it to be dry and uninteresting, but for the last six months I have been drawn to biographies, self-help, and historical books. These books definitely educated me on the lives, events, and ideas they captured, but something was missing.

On a recent get-away with my best friend, I read an autobiography and a blogging guide. She read one and a half romance novels. I liked my autobiography and made some great notes on how to improve my blog from the manual. When we discussed what we were reading, it was clear that her reading was much more stimulating for relaxation and imagination. As we discussed her books, I brought up books that I had read in the past I thought she would enjoy, and she recommended a few to me. I realized I missed fiction.

It is time for me to take a break from non-fiction. My brain needs an escape from reality. In the last week I have already plowed through one Nora Roberts novel and a Linda Lael Miller book. My aunt recommended titles from Jodi Piccoult and Sandra Brown. This break from the stark realities of history and technical advice should do my synapses some good.

Consider doing the same for yourself. Turn off CNN or the talk shows. Turn on to something fun and imaginative. Pick up a book, tell ghost stories around a camp fire, color pictures with your kids, paint a painting, play with play-do. Give yourself a vacation from the cold facts of the evening news and soften your heart with creative words and comfortable interactions.

I know I will find my way back to the world of biographies and history soon, but for now I am excited to unravel unreal mysteries and build relationships with the fictional friends only found in books.

Give yourself some time to unwind from the world and release energy from the works and writings of those who know how to tell a great story. It is healthy to let your mind wander every once-in-a-while. You can always reel it back in when you need to. Say, “farewell, non-fiction, if only for a little while.”

By: Melanie A. Peters