Monthly Archives: September 2019

Reading – Childhood Favorites

“Books to the ceiling, Books to the sky, My pile of books is a mile high. How I love them! How I need them! I’ll have a long beard by the time I read them.” — Arnold Lobel

Early Likes

Some of my earliest memories include getting my first library card. Our local branch, in a strip mall, looked like a cute little shop. At four, I didn’t understand the concept of borrowing books. I just knew I’d found a lot of fun and colorful stories. By the time we left the parking lot, I asked for more books because I’d already finished the stack we’d just gotten. You might say I read early and often.

Elementary Choices

While I took home “Dick and Jane” readers as homework, I wanted “Gentle Ben” for fun. Many books in my school library were set in the 1950s so I talked more like my parents generation than my own. This was before “Happy Days” nostalgia hit so everyone thought I was pretty strange.

Favored in Junior High

My school librarian recommended the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew Mysteries. Set in the 1950s, the stories followed cool teenage detectives. I loved Nancy’s relationships with her boyfriend, Ned Nickerson, and good friends, Bess and George. Best of all, Nancy’s titian hair (a shade of red), sounded very close to my own strawberry-blonde. Frank and Joe Hardy ran around without much adult supervision aside from brief interactions with their father, Fenton, or their Aunt Gertrude. The final chapters of each book almost always ended in mortal peril so I kept turning pages until the heroes or heroine escaped. My favorites in these series would have been “The Phantom of Pine Hill” (Nancy Drew) and “While the Clock Ticked” (The Hardy Boys).

High School Treasures

My reading became even more eclectic as I progressed through public school. One series by Rosamond du Jardin, also set in the 1950s of course, followed the exploits of twin sisters Pam and Penny Howard. The stories progressed from “Double Date” to “Double Wedding” with all kinds of interesting tales in between. While working through the Howard Twins series, I also continued reading any new Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew Mysteries that came my way.

Full-Circle Favorites

All of the books I’ve mentioned here bring back wonderful memories of childhood days (and nights) spent curled up with a good book. Having my own children, and now grandchildren, have taken me back to the early days of reading Dr. Seuss or other easy readers. We’ve also shared a lot of evenings with the Harry Potter over the past few years.

My adult reading continues to be pretty eclectic; everything from the latest romances to classic sci-fi, biographies/autobiographies, and historical fiction. While I enjoy reading just as much as ever, nothing these days brings me quite the same feeling as curling up with one of my favorite childhood reads.

What were your childhood favorites? Did anything mentioned here bring back fond memories for you?

Luck for All & All for Luck

Luck (from Dictionary.com): good fortune, advantage or success, considered as the result of chance.

Luck is something people wish each other all the time. The problem is, traditional notions of luck may lead to negativity due to the element of chance. In March of 2018, Scientific American published this interesting article by Scott Barry Kaufman about how luck may be a bigger factor in life than we often realize. Kaufman lists findings related to the achievement of success, like country of residence or how a name looks or sounds.

While these elements may be part of the equation, I believe redefining luck may also lead to success in life…and in the art of writing.

L = Love

Everyone experiences love. We may not all feel the emotion the same way. Yet each of us loves someone: a parent, friend, significant other, our even ourselves. We may love our work, a hobby, the earth, or life in general.  As the song goes: It’s written on the wind, it’s everywhere I go. (from Love is All Around).

Some writers love what they do so much they don’t care if their work is popular; the act of creation is reward enough. Others love the idea of achieving best seller status without putting in the work necessary to make the dream a reality and become disillusioned when they don’t achieve their greatest desire. The former writer will most often be happier than the latter because of the element of love.

U = Understanding

Galileo said: All truths are easy to understand once they are discovered; the point is to discover them. Understanding comes with familiarity. We can all learn a lesson by watching how children often repeat an experience over and over until they’ve mastered the task. People who are serious about learning something are willing to put in the work necessary to achieve a comfortable level of understanding. Even in maturity, adults can continue to learn and grow.

Understanding how to write well is difficult. As mentioned above, many wanna-be writers don’t have the drive to put in the time necessary to master the art. Loving what they do enough to achieve understanding is an important factor in achieving success.

C = Compassion

Most of us feel sympathy toward someone who’s facing a situation we’ve experienced for ourselves. While we can’t always ease pain, we may try to do something for them because someone helped, or didn’t help, us in our time of need. To quote the Dalai Lama, If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion. 

While we don’t all experience life in the same way, I believe creating characters to whom readers can show compassion helps to enhance the reading experience. This is a great way to expand horizons in the hope that those readers may show more compassion to people they’re dealing with out in the world.

K = Kindness

A simple smile, a compliment, or even holding open a door can be a kindness. Being nice to someone doesn’t have to take much time or effort. No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted (Aesop).

While equating writing with kindness may be a stretch, think about how often reading a book can make a bad day more bearable for a reader. Entertaining and inspiring authors provide a kindness. Popular authors like JK Rowling are often kind to their fans in more personal ways, too.

Looking at luck in this new way can be transformational.

Thinking of luck as a way of being loving, understanding, compassionate, and kind instead of just as an indicator of random chance can improve life in unimaginable ways. We all need more of this in our lives. Learning more about the ‘other’ who we may distrust is a good way of finding common ground and understanding. Showing kindness during disagreements helps diffuse tension. Being compassionate to someone else can ease our own pain.

And the world can never have too much love.

For those of us who write, following these principles will add depth to our work. Having our characters show some or all of these traits helps our readers relate to them. And using the components of ‘luck’ may just inspire us to write that best-seller.

Luck for all and all for luck!