The Fault In Our Stars

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As seems usual for me, I am a bit late to this party, but now that I am here, I love it! πŸ™‚ John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars is, as you have no doubt heard and/or seen, being made into a movie. I was tempted to wait until after I saw the movie to read the book because I have the tendency to play the “That’s not how it was in the book!” game and I was afraid I might do that with this one. But I really wanted to read the book because I have seen so many great reviews. I bought the book at a local grocery store with a gift card I’d been given. Why buy food with a gift card when there are books? :). I got a trade paperback with the original cover, not the movie cover, because I am funny like that. πŸ™‚

Then I was busy with family in town and other things and only this week did I finally get around to reading it. It took no time to love it. Sadly my life does not easily accomodate reading a book the whole way through anymore, but I did stay up late reading a few nights and finished it yesterday.

Cleaning, who needs to clean? Laundry? It’ll still be there. Kids fighting? Sorry guys, I gotta see what happens to Hazel and Augustus. Mommy, are you crying? Yes, yes I am.

Green does so many things right with this book, and as a writer who is always looking to improve her craft, I had to admire his story and all the little details. I cried several times and not just in the BIG moments. I laughed a lot too, cared for the characters, and could see it all so clearly.

I purposely did not watch this trailer until I had read the book so there would be no spoiling the book for me. Now that I have read the book I am super stoked to see that the movie looks like it will be really great, too.

Since I did not want any spoilers I will carefully avoid giving any. I do want to share with you one of the things that really spoke to me that is not tied into something that would be considered a spoiler. Feel free to comment and we can chat about the book as much as you want though. Because there are so many good things.

Hazel has a book she loves in this story. A book she had read again and again. A book that spoke to her and her experience. A book that meant something to her and then to Augustus as well. Of course as a reader I can identify with having a book that you love like this. But because of some things that happen in the story, I really caught a glimpse into the power of being the author (or creator of anything really) that touches people. What we write has the power to move people. Maybe it is simple entertainment, and that is great. Maybe we just take them out of whatever else is going on in the world for a moment. Maybe we make them laugh. Maybe we make them smile.

Maybe we can change their life.

As Spider-Man’s Uncle Ben reminded him, “With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility”. Reading this book helped me see the power and the responsibility.

As I work on things I am writing, I will remember. And even if all I ever write that gets read is this blog, even this can be important to someone. Maybe not monumental (ok probably not monumental πŸ˜‰ ) but even small things can make a difference.

And we may never know the difference we make.

Bookstores

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B is for bookstores, but also libraries, bookshelves, stacks of books, & just books, books, books!

I absolutely love and am inspired by bookstores and libraries and almost anyplace where I am surrounded by books. I worked in a bookstore in college and made virtually no money. The pay wasn’t spectacular to begin with, but all those books! I needed them! πŸ˜‰

I love to visit a bookstore and just walk through the aisles. I love to be surrounded not just by the books, but also the fellow book lovers. These are my people!

And am I the only one who watched You’ve Got Mail and fell in love with The Shop Around The Corner? Kathleen Kelly was not the only one heartbroken when it was forced to close. It was so very lovely.

I love libraries too. I am grateful for the chance to seek out books there, but I also enjoy writing at the library. My local library has some great little writing spaces. I’d say a quarter of my current book was written at a particular table by a window at the local library. And I plan to spend some time there this Friday working on sorting out my first draft.

Bookstores and libraries are full of inspiration for me because they are full of one of my favorite things in this life.

Books. I love them.

Books on Kindle.
Books on my iPhone.
Books that are old and books that are new.
Books that live on my nightstand.
Books that travel around with me.
Books that are given away and books that must stay.
Books that make me laugh out loud. Books that make me cry.
Books that are beautiful and books that may look dull.
Books “for the kids”.
Books definitely not for the kids. πŸ™‚
Books that had to be hardcover because they will be read again and again.
Books that can be paperbacks, but still get read again and again.
Books that are classics and widely studied.
Books that are bestsellers and widely judged.
Books that teach me about others.
Books that teach me about myself.

I’ll leave you with a quote from JK Rowling – whose books are some of my absolute favorites.

“I don’t believe in the kind of magic in my books. But I do believe something very magical can happen when you read a good book.”

Yes! And when you surround yourself with them.

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Hey Mom, You Should Read This

My super smart, super wonderful 8 year old son (and no, I am not at all biased! πŸ™‚ ) gave me his first serious book recommendation this week. At the time, I was tired, and more than a little overwhelmed with all the STUFF there is to get accomplished and to worry about, so I’ll be honest, at first, I didn’t really give a lot of thought to what that meant to me. But I have thought about it since and decided it was worth a middle of the week bonus blog post to share.

My husband and I are both serious readers. As a writer, it’s an essential job tool, but it is also simply one of my absolute favorite things. For as long as I can remember I have loved to read, so I have always tried to pass along this lifelong love of reading to my three young sons.

Their dad and I have tried to make it a point to always let the boys see us reading. I even make an effort to check out actual books from the library or buy real books at the book store instead of reading all books on my Kindle. My kids are smart enough to know that mommy may be looking at pictures of Tom Hiddleston instead of reading a book on her Kindle. (Don’t you judge me. πŸ˜‰ ) But also, going to the library for books and buying books at the bookstore are part of the joy for me.

We’ve also always read to them, both for school and just as part of bedtime. When they were babies I remember reading something that said it didn’t matter what you read to your kids, it could even be the sports page, as long as you were reading to them, it would benefit them. I proceeded to read them all the Harry Potter books before they were able to walk. I’m certain this benefitted them greatly.

Here’s what happened that made me realize that I must be doing something right.

My family made a special adventure to the ginormous Half Price Books flagship store in Dallas. The place is seriously really huge and packed full of wonderful goodness. While we were there, we gave the boys a limit on how many books they could get and then did our best to manage the giddy excitement of finding new books.

For my twins, who are 6, this meant superhero books mostly. My oldest twin thoughtfully picked up a Thor book with Loki in it for mommy. He’s a sweet kid.

My oldest’s priority was sports books, specifically football, but then he wanted to look at chapter books. While looking, he found the section with graphic novels. He then became very excited and wanted to find this “awesome” book he’d read at school.

I am not sure if this was through the school library or in the classroom possibly, but he had read Zita The Space Girl. Seeing all the books like the one he wanted, he decided we had to get it.

So the search began.

Thanks to the greatness that is having all answers readily available on a trusty iPhone, I was able to find the author’s name (Ben Hatke) and begin looking for the book. The Half Price Books’ employee was very kind but had not heard of the book, so we did our own search, and -miracle of miracles- found the one copy they had in stock!

The book went home with us (along with many others) and my son read it the next day. He then had my husband read it. He then repeatedly told me I needed to read it, going so far as to set it alongside my other books piled up on the nightstand by the bed. Then, and I am not exaggerating here, actually nudged me with the thing while we were all piled in bed watching TV. Evidently I was not reading it as soon as I should.

So after the kids went to bed, I kept my promise and read the book.

I will admit here that I was not excited. I haven’t paid much attention to graphic novels. I told myself, though, that I would at least start taking a look at it.

It turned out though that my son was right. The book is awesome. The pictures are engaging and lovely. The characters are well defined and interesting. And it left me wanting more.

The next day, driving to work, I started thinking about it all. I thought how cool it was that my son cared enough about a book he read to seek it out and them to recommend it to others.

Isn’t that what I want? I have a child who was passionate about something that means a lot to me – a book – and then shared that with me. What an amazing gift.

I am thankful I opened my eyes to see it.