Pages

books that made a difference to me

January 27, 2010

so every month, oprah asks a celebrity what books have made a difference. her magazine then gives that celebrity and her favored books a two- to three-page spread in the magazine with pretty pictures and little blurbs.

seeing as how i am a bookseller and a writer and how i've not blogged about books, really, for some time, and because it's a new year and the majority of my posts, unfortunately, have been morbid...here are the books that matter to me. i'm pretty sure yall know most of'm. but these are the ones that taught me to love literature. i should warn you, some of them are pretty dark and twisty, but would you expect any less from me?

you don't get blurbs, though. bah.

daring to dream, holding the dream and finding the dream -- nora roberts
fahrenheit four fifty-one -- ray bradbury
fear and loathing in las vegas -- hunter s. thompson
the good earth -- pearl s. buck
the harry potter saga -- j.k. rowling
a heartbreaking work of staggering genius -- dave eggers
love rosie -- cecelia ahern
the lovely bones -- alice sebold
nineteen eighty-four -- george orwell
our mutual friend -- charles dickens
the pearl -- john steinbeck
the rainmaker -- john grisham
red dragon -- thomas harris
refuge -- terry tempest williams
right before your eyes -- ellen shanman
a separate peace -- john knowles
the silence of the lambs -- thomas harris
thyestes -- seneca
the time traveler's wife -- audrey niffenegger
the yellow wallpaper - charlotte perkins gilman

this week's wisdom

January 24, 2010

where can i go from your spirit?
or where can i flee from your presence?
if i ascend into heaven, you are there
if i make my bed in hell, behold, you are there
if i take the wings of the morning
and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea
even there your hand shall lead me
and your right hand shall hold me
if i say, surely the darkness shall fall on me
even the night shall be light about me
indeed the darkness shall not hide from you
but the night shines as the day
the darkness and the light are both alike to you

search me, o god, and know my heart
try me, and know my anxieties
and see if there is any wicked way in me
and lead me in the way everlasting (psalm 139:1-12, 23-24).

and last week's

and there will be signs in the sun, in the moon and in the stars; and on the earth distress of nations, with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring; men's hearts failing them from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. then they will see the son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near (luke 21:25-28).

what would make me happiest

January 23, 2010


i need two weeks on that deck with a supply of heineken, a dozen of my favorite books, and no people, no phones, no computers... just the warmth of the sun and the chill of the sea.

leap already

January 8, 2010

one of my favorite children's books is little quack, about a duckling who's too afraid to leave the nest to go swimming with his mother and siblings. actually, all the ducklings are afraid, but one by one, the mama coaxes them out of the nest and into the water. eventually little quack succeeds in leaving the nest, as well. what i like the best about it is the illustrations. the face and gestures little quack makes as his mama attempts to cajole him into leaving that nest are really too cute. he's so cute, in fact, that the store for which i work has created gift cards with his image on it. and whenever i feel like not nickel and diming my debit card with cafe purchases, i buy one of those gift cards.

the duck was my college mascot, after all.

i went to see leap year tonight. i liked it a lot. not because it's this fantastic story (because it isn't) and not because it's all that funny (because it isn't), but because i dig matthew goode's character and i am in love with britain's countryside.

i've friends who live there. friends who've lived there. they hate it.

i should listen to them when they bitch about it. hell, i've been there. it's horribly, horribly inconvenient. the difficulties amy adams' character has? they aren't that much of an exaggeration.

i almost got arrested in cardiff's airport by a customs officer when i arrived. the lady at the train station didn't ask me which way i'd like to get to hay-on-wye, and because she didn't ask, i was practically dumped off in the middle of nowhere. heads up, boys and girls. if you ever go to wales, builth road isn't a station. there i was, standing on a platform, staring at endless trees to my right and left and a handful of windows opened on the second floor of the building in front of me. residences, folks. and when you yell at the windows, no one answers. i had to knock on doors. i had to pay a stranger, some guy who, thankfully, wasn't a serial killer or rapist, twenty pounds to give me a ride. had the lady at the cardiff train station asked, i could've taken the train to hereford instead and caught a bus that would've deposited me two blocks from my bed and breakfast. of course, i got there on a sunday. maybe that had something to do with it.

it's not an easy country. but is there such a thing?

it's glorious and lush and simple and peaceful.

the villages' businesses close at five o'clock. every night. the only things open after that are the pubs and restaurants. it's quiet and charming and old school. and i dig it.

i drove home through the flat and ever increasingly coldly concrete landscape of what once was a fairly small town surrounded by dense forests of pine trees in every direction...

i so want to get out of here.

and it's not that i'm too afraid to leave the physical nest. i've left it before. and every time i leave it, i get a little better at having done so.

that scene from five hundred days of summer? the one where it shows his expectations on one side and his reality on the other?

i feel like my persona's split somehow. not in a schizophrenic sort of way, but in a...

in a bipolar sort of way.

in certain situations, i could approach anyone and ask him or her anything at all. that tricky question that you're too afraid to ask, because you feel like it's too rude to ask it, but you really need to know the answer? let me.

but in others, i can't say jack shit.

i've probably written about this before, too.

this is what happens when you're me, though. the damned thoughts keep circling, like vultures.

i wish i could be ballsy all the time. god knows the world would like me much better for it.

i would like me much better.

amy adams' character stages apartments and homes for a living. this means that she goes in to a property that's available for purchase and fixes it up just so, so the people viewing the property would feel compelled to purchase/lease/rent it.

but i imagine one would have to have an interior design degree for that, and i have no depth perception, thereby having lousy spatial recognition skills. pair that with the rather sizable chunk of change i owe in college loans (i tried to boost my grade point average so that i could get into graduate school, but that didn't go so well...all kinds of good things came from that experience, though, so i'm not too disappointed) and the credit score of a financially irresponsible chick and you get? bad idea.

i can talk myself out of anything.

i don't know who taught me that, if it was my peers or my parents.

but i learned at a very early age to be practical. i don't always appear to have learned the lesson, but the reasonable person doesn't shuck everything and move to colorado or california or the celtic lands without a plan. and you can't just jump in.

there's a reason there's a shallow end.

it's not realistic to shoot for the fences. only the beautiful people manage to hit them.

look at all the damage in my noggin.

i want a life so very different from the one i have. not a glamourous life, but an eventful one. more an exciting one.

because inside of me is a woman so very different from the one most people see.

on the rare occasion i think i could make it out of the mental nest to swim freely in those waters and live the life i imagine, all i have to do is look in the mirror.

weeding

failure at some point in everyone's life is inevitable, but giving up is unforgivable (catherine eugenia finnegan biden). 

‘there is no use trying,’ said alice; ‘one can’t believe impossible things.’ ‘i dare say you haven’t had much practice,’ said the queen. ‘when i was your age, i always did it for half an hour a day. why, sometimes i’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.’ (lewis carroll).
if you’re going through hell, keep going (winston churchill).  
could you expect me to rejoice in the inferiority of your circumstances (mr. darcy—pride and prejudice)?   
be gentle with yourself. you are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars. in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul (max ehrmann).  

to laugh often and much, to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children, to earn the appreciation of honest critics and to endure the betrayal of false friends, to appreciate beauty, to find the best in others, to leave the world a bit better…to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived—this is to have succeeded (ralph waldo emerson).   
nonsense. i have not yet begun to defile myself (doc holliday—tombstone).   
never start with the head; the victim gets all fuzzy (the joker—the dark knight).   
my mind has an endless capacity for useless information (keenan—playing by heart).   
the women i like best aren't always strong, and they're certainly not invincible (lisa kogan).
speak your mind, even if your voice shakes (maggie kuhn).    
i have been told there is much to see upon a walk, but all i've detected so far is a general tendency to green above and brown below (tom lefroy—becoming jane).   
well, it certainly illustrates the diversity of the word (connor mcmanus—the boondock saints). 
if you can't handle me at my worst, then you sure as hell don't deserve me at my best (marilyn monroe).   
i am jack's smirking revenge (narrator—fight club).   
courage does not always roar. sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, ‘i will try again tomorrow.’ (mary anne radmacher).   
the million-guys-are-after-you-and-they're-blinded-by-your-beauty kind of shit. real big stuff. you know, that just—even—we got the dick that kidnaps you and sticks you in a cave, and you're guarded by a five-headed dragon. you know? and the tales of your plight are spread throughout the land, and all the guys go and put on their shoes so they can see what's up, but none of them have the balls to save her (henry roth—dedication).   
i think we live our lives so afraid to be seen as weak that we die perhaps without ever having been seen at all (alan shore—boston legal).   
any man who judges her as harshly as she judges herself isn't worth knowing (carla sosenko).
who is the happier man, he who has braved the storm of life and lived, or he who has stayed securely on shore and merely existed? (hunter s. thompson).

look up

January 7, 2010

we should never go through life doubting our existence or believing the lie that our life does not matter. by being alive in this day and time, we should be eager for each new day that comes our way to meet its challenges and exceed what we even thought was possible. by having a quiet confidence, we are reaffirming our faith in ourselves as well as our faith in the lord who has promised our success and our victory. get it deep in your mind and heart that you are special and are alive today because you are meant to accomplish something that no one else has been equipped to accomplish

if we only knew how special god sees us, we would never allow our temporary trials to get down or discouraged. we would be true overcomers because we would see with renewed eyes how special we really are. be encouraged to believe this truth about how special you are in god's eyes and rededicate yourself to being positive, outgoing, steadfast, faithful and unwavered in your walk with the lord. by doing our simple part of staying in faith, the lord will continue to do his part to lead us onto the path that is best for our life (psalm 139:17-18, psalm 103:10-12, philippians 3:13-14).

you are worth it.

do not undermine your worth by comparing yourself with others. it is because we are different that each of us is special.

do not set your goals by what other people deem important. only you know what is best for you.

do not take for granted the things closest to your heart. cling to them as you would your life, for without them, life is meaningless.

do not let your life slip through your fingers by living in the past nor for the future. by living your life one day at a time, you live all the days of your life.

do not give up when you still have something to give. nothing is really over until the moment you stop trying. it is a fragile thread that binds us to each other.

do not be afraid to encounter risks. it is by taking chances that we learn how to be brave.

do not shut love out of your life by saying it is impossible to find. the quickest way to receive love is to give love; the fastest way to lose love is to hold it too tightly.

do not dismiss your dreams. to be without dreams is to be without hope; to be without hope is to be without purpose.

do not run through life so fast that you forget not only where you have been, but also where you are going. life is not a race, but a journey to be savored each step of the way. he hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. for as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him. as far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us (psalm 103:10-12).

a merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones (proverbs 17:22).

let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, i will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. so that we may boldly say, the lord is my helper, and i will not fear what man shall do unto me (hebrews 13:5-6).

trust in the lord, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed. delight thyself also in the lord; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. commit thy way unto the lord; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass. and he shall bring forth thy righteousness as the light, and thy judgment as the noonday (psalm 37:3-6).

finally brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the god of peace shall be with you (phillippians 4:8-9)

once upon a time i was happy

January 6, 2010














i miss the days in which i was oblivious to the imperfections of my face.

this week's wisdom

but thanks be to god, who gives us the victory through our lord jesus christ.

therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the lord (1 corinthians 15:57-58).

bananas foster bread pudding

January 4, 2010

paula deen's bananas foster bread pudding
get this:


five large eggs, lightly beaten
two and one-half cups whole milk
two cups heavy whipping cream
one and three-fourth cups sugar
two tablespoons dark rum
two tablespoons banana liqueur
two medium bananas, mashed
one and one-half teaspoons ground cinnamon
twelve cups cubed sweet hawaiian loaf bread
custard sauce (recipe below)
bananas, sliced for garnish

do this:

lightly grease thirteen-by-nine inch baking dish. in a large (the biggest one you've got, folks) bowl, combine eggs, milk, cream, sugar, rum, liqueur, mashed bananas and cinnamon. add bread, tossing to coat. let stand for thirty minutes. pour mixture into prepared baking dish. place baking dish in a large roasting pan; add water to pan to a depth of one inch. bake at three-hundred-fifty degrees for seventy-five minutes (yes, i know) or until center is set, covering lightly with aluminum foil during last half of baking to prevent excess browning. remove dish from water bath. cut using a two-inch round cutter, if desired. serve with custard sauce and sliced bananas.

custard sauce
get this:

two egg yolks
one twelve-ounce can evaporated milk
three-fourths cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
half cup milk
one tablespoon corn starch
one tablespoon cold water
two tablespoons dark rum
half teaspoon vanilla extract
four tablespoons butter

do this:

in a medium bowl, whisk together egg yolks, evaporated milk, brown sugar and milk. in a small bowl, whisk together corn starch and cold water until smooth. add cornstarch mixture; pour into a medium saucepan. bring to a simmer over medium heat, whisking constantly, seven-to-nine minutes, or until thickened. remove from heat; whisk in butter until melted.