Favorite E-reads of the Month: July/August

Morning E-reads

I love Summer Vacation because it is a time when my life and body can move (or not) by its own rhythms. One of my favorite rhythms is waking up, making my “poor man’s mocha” and sitting down for an hour (okay, sometimes that’s “hours”) of e-reading. I learn a lot, and find a lot of inspiration in the practice.

So, why don’t I just do this all year round? Well, there is one thing I like even more than my morning routine, and that is sleeping as late as possible before getting up and going to work.

July/August E-reads

This month, as last month, I’ve got a great selection of online reading for you. So here they are, from the most to least recent:

A Little Weird? Prone to Depression? Blame Your Creative Brain” by Susan Biali, MD: This is from one of my favorite blogs–Psychology Today. I particularly liked it because it explains why creative people (like me…maybe like you?) might feel a little out of sync and experience the blues. The good news is…it’s because we’re creative. Or are we creative because we’re a little weird and sensitive?

Literate Lives E-Read: This Incandescent Llife6 Ways Reading Fiction Will Inspire You to Live Bigger” by Emily Morgan: This is from Emily’s blog This Incandescent Life. I love to read and encourage other’s to read, and so when I see someone pointing out reading’s awesome benefits, my brain does a little happy dance.

What Becomes of the Brokenhearted: Why Fiction Heals Like Nothing Else Can” by Kristen Lamb: The premise here it that fiction provides the kind of experience and perspective that can only be mirrored in real life, and brings emotional healing through the emotional experience of story rather than reason and logic. Again, yay reading!

Other Great Reads

More Awesome E-Reading to Come

Just two and a half more weeks and my long hours of summer e-reading will be at an end. But have not fear, my morning routine will remain the anchor of my weekends, and there will be many more awesome e-reads to come.

Your Turn

Have you read anything interesting online lately? Please share the title and link in the comment box below. Remember, the more we share with each other, the more great reading we can all enjoy!

New Reading Rotation

A Reading Rotation

As happens periodically, usually at least once per year, I get tired of my established reading rotation, and I revise it.

(So, why bother? Because I have found in the past that without some form of genre rotation, I get stuck in a rut reading the same kind of book over and over again, despite my wider range of interests. So, when I get tired of one rotation, I find it worth my while to reinvent the “beast”.)

This time, I felt like I was not getting to spend enough time in the genres I either write or love to read. So I revised.

Here is the New Rotation

How Does it Work?

The basic rotation is the column on the left and the top chunk in the middle. I read through this from the top down through the two columns and mark with the month and year each listing read.

Nightstand Book: If a book I’ve read in the rotation is a series, the rest of the series goes on my nightstand to pick from so I do not have to wait for a full rotation to read the next book in the series.

Other Fiction: This is a list of other fiction genres/categories (ex. Goudge is author Elizabeth Goudge, a long-time favorite. I just keep rotating through rereading her books.)

Mystery Rotation: This category allows me to rotate through my favorite mystery authors so I don’t have to wait for them to get their turn in the alphabetical rotation. (I have a lot of books in my favorite genres.) You will find the list of authors to rotate through in the right column.

Non-fiction: I both enjoy and need to read nonfiction (to expand my horizons, build my writing craft, and support the world-building for my fantasy writing). So, this is the list of non-fiction works I rotate through.

Byzantine

I know it looks rather crazy and complex, but it works for me. What really matters is not that I rotate through the genres but how much I read different types of books. This newest helps me read my favorite genres, while sticking to a desire to read other types of works as well.

Your Turn

How do you organize your reading time, or–not? What do you feel are the benefits of your method or non-method for organizing your life? I’d love to know! Just use the comment space below.

Favorite E-Reads of the Month: July 2017

It’s hard to believe that it’s already time to reflect on my e-reading this month. One of the things I love about summer is the increased time available to read the many blogs and newsletters I subscribe to, and to follow the trail of links to discover more on topics that interest me. Here is what I have enjoyed this month:

Media:

The Other Side of Anne of Green Gables  As an Anne of Green Gables fan, I was eager to watch the reboot of the franchise. As a grandmother, however, I was glad not to be watching with my granddaughter. While I enjoyed the miniseries, despite the missing pieces and added material, I would definite consider this an adult version of the popular tale, and when I read this article, I understood why; that was the intention of its creators. My only wish is that it would have been clearly labeled as such.

Writing

Are You a Writer or a Storyteller?  This was a really interesting and informative post about two major aspects of fiction writing. After reading, I realized, I started out as a writer first. Thank God for the complexity of writing assignments at Berkeley. I had to learn to outline, and it has served me well ever since!

SF/Fantasy World-building I am completing a major revision on my historical fantasy novel, The Swallow’s Spring, and have several novels in development that I am really excited about, so one of my great pleasures this month has been reading about world-building. Every article seems to prompt multiple ideas for existing or developing stories.

Reading 

In Case You Forgot, Reading is Important

Mental Health and Well-Being

Why Caring for Yourself Makes All the Difference

Social Sciences

Why Brilliant Girls Tend to Favor Non-STEM Careers

Your Turn

What have you read online that other Literate Lives followers might enjoy? Use the comment space below to include a title and a web address (and if you feel like it, a little blurb sharing why you liked it).

Reading and Writing: Work, Spirit, or Health?

Last post, after reading Writer’s in the Storm , I blogged about this quote:

Imagine life as a game in which you are juggling five balls in the air. You name them – workfamilyhealthfriends, and spirit – and you’re keeping all of these in the air. You will soon understand that work is a rubber ball. If you drop it, it will bounce back.

But the other four balls – family, health, friends, and spirit – are made of glass. If you drop one of these, they will be irrevocably scuffed, marked, nicked, damaged, or even shattered. They will never be the same.

You must understand that and strive for balance in your life.

~ Brian Dyson, CEO of Coca-Cola Enterprises

In my reflection, I talked about my reading/writing life as if it were “work” (and that is how I tend to treat it in the summer when I am off from my job as a teacher).

However, upon further reflection, reading and writing, for me, cannot be labeled only as work, but rather as spirit and health as well. Why?

Writing as Spirit

I truly feel writing, and the reading necessary to be a good writer, is my calling. When I am writing, I feel as if I am doing precisely what I was created to do. The stories that drive me and the poems that sing through me feel like “gifts” received, not something I came up with on my own.

Furthermore, as a praying Christian who has served a long writing apprenticeship, I talk to God about it rather frequently. Many, many times I have considered quitting. (Once I actually did, but not because I didn’t want to write anymore, but rather as a newbie teacher, I could not find the time. This was not a pretty time physically or spiritually.) As with most major decisions, I talk to God about it, and instead of telling me to quit, he always sends me more ideas.

Therefore, writing has come to feel as if it is not just my personal passion, but my calling and my responsibility to the God I love.

Writing and Reading as Health

As stated above, refraining from writing impacts me physically as well as emotionally. The one time I quit for an extended period of time resulted in depression and illness.

Reading and Writing rarely feel like work, although some of the support activities–like researching markets and preparing submissions do. For me, reading and writing are joy, abundance, and life! Writing sustains my spirit, and reading fuels my brain.

These are powerful passions, however, in spite of appearances, I do not love them more than my family and friends.

The Real Balance

As an introvert, I tilt toward quiet time at home. Therefore, I realize I need to push myself to get out of my head and house and spend more time with my husband, family, and friends because I do, indeed, love them very much. Dad’s death this spring has reinforced the importance of spending time with the people I love and who love me.

I want to be a more involved wife, mother, grandmother, daughter, and friend. I definitely need to keep practicing.

What About You?

Which of the “balls” from the quote corresponds to the roles of reading and writing in your life? Are there any other “balls” you feel might need more attention? How would you make the adjustments? Please use the comment space below to share your thoughts. We are all a work-in-progress; let’s help each other along the way!

Favorite E-Reads of the Month: June 2017

With the advent of blogs, I have slowly shifted my magazine reading to what I call E-reading. A perfect morning starts with a poor-man’s-mocha, a chapter of the Bible, and E-reading–reading posts from the blogs I follow. Many I read and then pin on my Pinterest boards, and some I read and delete. But this month it occurred to me: shouldn’t I share some of my favorites with you?

Hence…

Favorite E-Reads for the Month of June 2017

Here are links to the posts that really stuck with me this month:

  1. Is Self-Compassion More Important than Self-Esteem? by Stephen C. Hayes, Ph.D., on Psychology Today
  2. How to Cultivate More Self Compassion: Learning to be Kind to Yourself by Allison Abrams, LCSW-R, also on Psychology Today
  3. 10 Ways to Switch Up Your Sentences by Chris Winkle, on Mythcreants: Fantasy and Science Fiction for Storytellers
  4. Four Functions of Amazing Opening Lines, also by Chris Winkle, on Mythcreants: Fantasy and Science Fiction for Storytellers
  5. How Writing can Assist Sufferers of Mental Illness  by Cassandra Hawkings, on C.S. Lakin’s Live Write Thrive
  6. Worldbuilding Demystified by Becca Puglisi, on Writers Helping Writers
  7. 5 Ways to Use Meyers-Briggs for Characters by K.M. Weiland, on Helping Writers Become Authors
  8. What Exactly Does Facebook “Friend” Mean? The Good, the Bad, & the Ugly by Kristen Lamb, on Kristen Lamb: Author, Blogger, Social Media Jedi
  9. Heartened by Wonder Woman–The Case for Sincere Storytelling by Vaughn Roycroft, on Writer Unboxed
  10. Plot vs. Heart by Donald Maass,  on  Writer Unboxed

As you can see, they cover a range of topics.

The Self-Compassion articles really grabbed me because I am coming out of a “Debby can’t do anything right” period of thinking. It is a comforting topic, but moreover, it is also complements the Growth Mindset training which has been sweeping our school district for the past two years.

Mythcreants is my favorite blog for building fantasy writing skills. I love almost everything I read there.

Writer Unboxed has been a favorite general writing site for many years, and this month I was privileged to be able to hear Donald Maass teach on the same topic–getting more emotion into our fiction. He is an amazing teacher!

All these writers are amazing and enrich my life.

Happy Reading!

P.S. What is your favorite blog, or a favorite post you’ve read recently? Please use the comments space below to respond.

Wonderful Words on the World of Children’s Books

In an age when a limited diet for hundreds of millions of Americans daily is prescribed through the medium of TV, there is more nourishment, more privacy, and—best yet—more freedom of selection to be had in children’s reading. Because it is personal and powerful, reading can help weather children into an individuality which will help them to weather that which is impersonal and powerful.

~Gregory Maguire, from Innocence and Experience: Essays and Conversations on Children’s Literature: Introduction

Your Turn

Are you reading with your kids?
What would you recommend to read to a child? (Or simply to enjoy on your own!)
I’ll start the list with two, one an old favorite and one a new:

  1. The Book of Three by Lloyd Alexander
  2. The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pierson

The Kiss of Deception

 

Best Books of December

best-books-logo

A Return to “Best Books of…”

The end of December is long past, however, I want to get back to a routine that was born with the inception of Literate Lives. Instead of me sharing all the books I read last month (you can still find these on my Reading Log page) I am going to pick my favorite for the month and talk about it a bit.

Your Role

Then… (Here’s where things get tricky.) I want to invite you (implore you, actually) to use the comments section to share about your favorite read from December. Please don’t let me down! The title of this post will be a lie if no one else chimes in with a book recommendation.

Okay, so…I’ll go first.

My Favorite Book of December

doomsdaybook1stedI love to read Christmas novels during the month of December, and this time, I kicked the season off with a re-read that proved every bit is gripping the second time around as it did the first. Even though I enjoyed the other books I read immensely (see Reading Log), The Doomsday Book by Connie Willis must rank as my favorite.

The Doomsday Book is a science fiction novel set in a futuristic Oxford, England during the weeks surrounding Christmas. Scientists have begun to master the dynamics of time travel, and historians have begun going back in time to do research–only not back much farther than two to three hundred years. The Oxford medieval department is eager to get in on the action and the book opens on the launch of a graduate student to the 1300’s–before the plague. Chaos ensues. The technician who oversaw the launch collapses with a mystery illness before he can confirm the student has arrived safely. The doctor who prepped the student for the launch gets caught up in trying to diagnose the mystery ailment. The history professor who observed the launch frantically tries to find another technician to confirm the arrival. As Oxford is placed under quarantine, the doctor’s twelve-year-old nephew arrives for the Christmas holiday and is entrusted to the care of the history professor. Meanwhile, the graduate student who lands in the 1300’s also gets sick. …And did I mention the bell-ringers?

Doomsday Book is a gripping tale, and I had a terrible time finding places to stop reading so I could go to sleep at night.

Your Turn to Recommend a Book

So, I shared my favorite December read. Tell me, please, what was yours? It could be fiction, nonfiction…any genre. What book did you or maybe your children really enjoy? What book made a major impact on you? Please use the comment space to share the title, author’s name, and just a snippet about your book to whet your fellow readers’ appetites.