The Best Medicine When I’m Feeling Down…

I’ll be honest, friends. I’ve been feeling rather down. Things have been good in some ways but also there’s just a lot of things that have been stressful and discouraging and I feel like I’m just treading water here. I feel such a lack of control over a lot of things and some days even existing is hard and exhausting. It’s just one of those kinds of tough patches and I just try to ride it out as much as I can — being intentional to change the things I can and know that things will get better.

Some of these days are harder than other and I have to get out of my own head. Somewhere along the line I was having a bad day and I found a way to lift me up a little bit and it’s become my sort of foolproof plan on the days where I feel like I’m going to break.

I’ve found the best medicine for these days is wandering the library or the bookstore.

I spend a good hour or two just wandering and browsing with no real intention or end goal. I just wander. I pick up books I’ve never heard of. I browse in sections of the bookstore I wouldn’t typically go to. I creep on what people are looking at (you all know I’m a book creeper). I move books I loved so that they can be seen (SORRY BOOKSTORE PEOPLE). I read from books that look interesting and jot down the titles for later (okay I type them into my phone but jot sounded better). I find new interests. Discover new things. I TOUCH ALL THE BOOKS. There’s so much freedom in just wandering and picking things up on a whim. Potentially holding your next new favorite book or that book that will change your life.

ALL THOSE WORDS. ALL THOSE STORIES. They calm me. They do. It’s incredibly freeing to not rush into a store with a goal of something to pick up…some sort of intention. I’m allowed to go where my whims take me and there are no expectations. As the time passes I find the stress and that negative energy have lessened.

But mostly it helps me to remember that the world is so much bigger than this day. All those stories neatly lined up on those shelves contain hope, struggle, magic, perseverance and so many more things that are part of the human experience — some better or worse than my own. It helps me to remember in these moments I’m not alone. People have been there before me and people will be in the future. This is one day. ONE DAY of my story. One little slice of this great big world and what it has to offer me and what I have to offer it. Maybe it should make me feel small and overwhelmed (okay I DO feel overwhelmed because SO MANY BOOKS, SO LITTLE TIME) but for some reason it doesn’t.

There’s all sorts of perspective to be found in wandering in the bookstore and even though it doesn’t fix everything…it sure does help my heart and calm me down a bit. And I just enjoy being surrounded by all those books.

I think this is one of the many reasons I love reading so much — sometimes it’s so calming and  helps me get out of my own head or sometimes it gives me perspective I need/offers up something that helps me think about what I’m going through. It always reminds me that I’m not alone. That this is fleeting. That there is reason to hope and persevere.

Books = the best medicine. I don’t care what anyone says or if it’s not scientifically proven.

This Always Seems To Happen!!

Last week I talked about the end of the year reading blues but this week I want to talk about another thing that happens to me at the end of the year.

I’d say I have a pretty good eye on what is coming out each month. I always scour the catalogs way ahead of time and I’m always up to date each month. However, without fail since I started blogging in 2010, the end of the year approaches and I realize there are some books that must have flown under my radar or something!

Sometimes I knew about the title but it didn’t stand out to me initially or I didn’t know what it was about but had seen it in passing. In other cases I completely just must have missed it and I don’t know how. Then all of a sudden I start reading end of year lists or Top Ten Tuesday lists and I keep seeing books being mentioned almost universally or by a few people I trust and I’m like WHY DID I NOT GET THIS MEMO? Why did I not hear of this book? Why was it so far off my radar??

So today I’d like to share with you the books that apparently flew off my radar and I plan to get to!

under the radar 2013 YA booksunder-the-radar-books-2013

 

If You Find Me by Emily Murdoch: I’ll be honest. This is one I had seen around but the cover didn’t really draw me in and the synopsis sounded similar to some other books on my radar so I just really didn’t pay much attention to this one. Then suddenly I see this explosion of love for this book!  I missed the boat apparently! OH and then it was on the Goodreads award thingy too! (Biggest pusher of this book: Judith)

Openly Straight by Bill Konigsberg: I had never heard of this one until I started seeing Estelle rave about it and now I’m seeing lots of love for it and I definitely feel out of the loop! No idea what it was even about but I definitely want to check it out after such praise!

Charm & Strange by Stephanie Kuehn: Another one I hadn’t heard of at all until bloggers had started labeling it as a favorite of the year. Where was I on this one??

The Summer I Became A Nerd by Leah Rae Miller: I had never heard of this one until someone said it was their hidden gem favorite of the year and lo and behold I find lots of people I know liked it on Goodreads. This one totally flew under my radar but seems like something I’d really like!

Unteachable by Leah Raeder: Okay, so I had heard rumblings of this one but had no idea what it was about or anything. I also kept confusing it with another book so that probably didn’t help. But I’ve seen this on some best of lists and people who have done my End of Year Book survey. Then I went on Goodreads and LOTS of people loved this one this year. WHAT THE HECK? And now reading what it is about…I AM VERYYYY INTRIGUED.

Splintered by A.G. Howard: I had seen this one before but didn’t know much about it but then everyone started talking about how they can’t wait for the sequel and how it was a favorite so I HAD to look to see what it was about. Why did I not know about this?!

Winger by Andrew Smith: I had never heard of this one until Magan started talking about it and gave it such praise! How did this slip off my radar? And now I keep seeing A LOT of talk about it. I’m vowing to buy it next with my B&N gift card.

Altered by Jennifer Rush: Where did this one come from and why hadn’t I seen anything about it? Lots of talk on my Twitter lately about this one! Especially from Betty!

My adult fiction picks:

Burial Rites by Hannah Kent: I’m always looking for a good adult historical fiction when I scour the catalogs but I never heard of this one until Hannah started raving about it and I just don’t know how I missed out on this one! It just came out in September but I’m just very surprised I hadn’t scoped it out before!

Margot by Jillian Cantor: Again, I’m the queen of finding good historical fiction and I never even knew this was coming out and I ALWAYS pick out historical fiction set during wars — particularly WW2! Why is this one just showing up on my radar now?

 

What about you — does this seem to happen to you at the end of the year? What books slipped under your radar this year that you HAVE to read next year because suddenly everyone is talking about it? Have you read any of my “slipped under the radar” books this year?

Current Status: Drowning In Books!!

 

Will always comments on how he feels like the books in our apartment our slowly encroaching on his space and soon we are going to have to get rid of furniture in order to house all these books. I mean, LOGICALLY, I’ve known that since I started blogging in June 2010 that I’ve acquired books at a more rapid pace. But it wasn’t until recently that I feel like I’m actually drowning in books. I walk in my room and there are just piles that have no homes. I actually feel overwhelmed by them.

I’m running out of room. This month I got rid of many many tote bags filled with books and gave them to a neighbor who teaches high school English and then put a box of books in our mail room with a sign that said “free!” and even after cleaning off my shelves a little bit I’m STILL struggling with where to put them all.

The thing is…I suck at getting rid of books. I also suck at not acquiring them. (And don’t even get me started on the fact that I’m drowning in books and I still have a stack every week from the library). There are a lot of books I bought many, many years ago and I don’t think I’ll ever read them BUT WHAT IF I WANT TO? There’s also books I was sent for review (unsolicited) that I’ll never read for various reasons. I try to pass as many as I can along to local bloggers but without a job currently I can’t afford to be sending THAT many packages to give the remaining ones away.

My general rule that I set up for myself was that I would keep only favorite books that I would reread and that I would pass along the rest to other people I knew or donate them to a library/high school. I’ve done ok with that to some degree but sometimes I can’t bear to part with books I really LIKED but maybe wasn’t a favorite. I also am ruthless with getting rid of ARCS unless they are a signed fave. My strategy is great and all in theory to get rid after I read them if I won’t ever REREAD them but the fact that I acquire them faster than I can read them all is PROBLEMATIC.

And while it’s amazing to have so many books to choose from…it’s actually kind of overwhelming and I suffer from possibility overload. WHY DO I DO THIS TO MYSELF?? lol

 

Do you feel like you are drowning in books or are you good at keeping your shelves at bay? Do you keep every book you buy or receive? Are you ruthless about getting rid of books? What do you do with your books/who do you give them to? Tell me your methods, strategies, etc. Or just make me feel better that you are also drowning in books, too!

Look At Them All! They’re Mocking Me!

At night after dinner and before the gym, Will and I will put on reruns of Two and a Half Men and Big Bang Theory while I blog or read and he looks at shoes (he is a Nike whore) and does whatever he does on ESPN.com (seriously I don’t understand how he spends that much time on there..there are only a certain amount of games!). We were watching last night and I wasn’t really paying attention until this clip because that is SO ME!

I’m sure MANY a book blogger could have this same meltdown.

(You can skip to about 1:25 where it actually becomes relevant to my discussion. Favorite line: “Look at them all! They’re mocking me. I haven’t read any of them”  )

 

I’ve been having this freakout a lot lately. Mostly because tons of big life things have happened in my life and my family’s so I’m like WAIT WAIT WAIT where has time gone?? How is my baby sister going to college next year? How am I almost 30?? TIME OUT PLEASE. Then I feel the need to drop everything and go do ALL OF THE THINGS I want to do.

My freakout comes out the most in two areas:

1. When I think about all the places I’ll never get to see and experience. The people I’ll never meet while exploring. The food I’ll never try. The sunsets and sunrises I’ll never gaze upon from a new vantage point.
2. The books I’ll never read.

Let’s talk about that point number 2 since HEY this blog here talks a lot about books. I seriously stare at my shelves wide eyed sometimes knowing all that I own. Plus calculating the number of new releases coming out this year. AND THEN thinking about all of the amazing books that everyone raves about that I’ve never read and have been out for years or decades or centuries. I could start hyperventilating now.

I mean LOGICALLY I know HEY JAMIE..you can’t read them all. Get over it. There is just no way. And honestly I don’t want to spend my life holed up ONLY reading books. So there’s that. But sometimes I just very overwhelmed about the stories I’ll never read and the characters I’ll never meet and the way my life might be changed in some way by an amazing story. There’s so many good sounding books and I’m sure some will be duds but I want to inhale them all. I feel a little bit of this same book story frenzy Alan experiences whenever I think about it too much. I try to prioritize my reads according to what is personally important to me but even then…I know I’ll never get through even a fraction of what I want to. It’s maddening!

And really I know it is just a much bigger reflection of what I think about LIFE and not having enough time to do all the things I want to do. Reading is just one of those things.  When the crazy part of my brain pipes down I know that I just need to enjoy what I experience in life, not think too much about what I could miss out on and prioritize the hell out of my life — in books and all other things. Make time for the things that mean a lot and interest me. Allow myself to cease doing things I don’t enjoy or make me feel lively anymore (or stop reading books that aren’t grabbing me). Recognize when my priorities and tastes and interests change and be ok with it because that invites NEW things.

Whew, I need to breathe before I have an existential crisis. I will say I think it is helping me, in theory, to not BUY books at this breakneck pace that I do because realistically a lot are just going to sit. It’s really getting me excited (sort of) to cull my books more often and get rid of things that don’t match my tastes anymore!

Do you guys have freakouts like Alan did? Do you feel absolutely overwhelmed by all the books you know you are going to never be able to read? How do you prioritize? Do you cull books that you have bought but over the years haven’t read and your interests just aren’t there anymore? If anything, PLEASE tell me I’m not the only one who thinks about this too much.

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