~ Reading Bliss ~

Cover of "Thinking About Memoir (AARP)"

Cover of Thinking About Memoir (AARP)

Some days this bliss journey gets a little long and twisted and I am baffled as to whether I can keep it up. As anyone who reads this blog on a somewhat regular basis knows, my 2013 resolution is to find my bliss. Some days I want to pack it in; some days finding my bliss is pretty….blissful.

Cover of "Old Friend from Far Away: How t...

Cover via Amazon

Before I run out of things to say about bliss, I really must address the thing that has given me bliss since I was about six years old. The thing that has stood me in good stead all of these years, through thick and thin, through good times and bad, through…..okay you get the clichéd gist.

Quite simply, I love to read. I can depend on reading to provide bliss. Even before I could read, I was read to—so the magic of the written word has been with me all my life.

Today I am going to share with you a few of my favourite books and authors—just off the top of my head, because I am feeling lazy (so lazy I put the Sunday roast in the crock pot with potatoes cause I am too lazy to pay attention to it).

Cover of "On Writing:  A Memoir of the Cr...

Cover of On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

My favourite authors are Margaret Atwood, Alistair McLeod, Elizabeth Berg, Natalie Goldberg, Julia Cameron, Annie Lamont, Ray Bradbury, Abigail Thomas, Stephen King, Ina Garten, Chef Michael Smith, and a whole lot of other people. I do not like everything these people have ever written, but I like a great deal of what they have written. I am  a voracious reader of non-fiction but the only name that comes to mind right now is Rabbi Harold Kushner.

My favourite book from childhood is Little Women—I loved Jo, and grew up to be a writer precisely because of her. My favourite character from my preteen years is Trixie Belden—she was smart and independent, and I read every one of her books several times.

My favourite books on memoir are by Natalie Goldberg and Abigail Thomas. I suggest that if you like this genre you should rush out and buy, or put on hold at your library, Goldberg’s “Old Friend from Far Away” and Thomas’ “Thinking About Memoir”.

If you could only read three books on writing—these are my picks: Goldberg’s “Writing Down the Bones”; Annie Lamont’s “Bird by Bird”; and Stephen King’s “On Writing”. My fourth pick is one I am re-reading right now, Jack Hart’s “Storycraft” which is “The Complete Guide to Writing Narrative Nonfiction.” He has reinvigorated my newspaper writing.

Cover of "Writing down the Bones"

Cover of Writing down the Bones

So for the record, just in case this bliss thing comes to an end—I need it stated that reading is my bliss.

Off the top of your head—what are your favourite books or authors. Don’t think too hard (it is Sunday after all)—you will miss some as I most certainly have.

V ~ is for Vicarious

Trixie Belden and the Secret of the Mansion, t...

Trixie Belden and the Secret of the Mansion, the first Trixie Belden mystery (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“If a movie is really working, you forget for two hours your Social Security number and where your car is parked. You are having a vicarious experience. You are identifying, in one way or another, with the people on the screen.” ~ Roger Ebert

I have a rather positive outlook on vicarious experiences. Though I may not have experienced something firsthand, that does not mean the experience is not worthy.  In fact vicarious experiences can be just as satisfying. Is that not what we do when we get lost in a good movie as Ebert so ably puts it, or better yet, when we read a book?

I remember as a young girl reading the adventures of Trixie Belden and Nancy Drew, and living them in my imagination. The things that they dealt with did not happen in my “real” life, but I was richer, as was my imagination, for having experienced them vicariously.

I sometimes live through the tales my friends tell of their adventures, their travels, and their creative acts. And by listening to them, my attention is rapt, and their memories become not my memories, but an open door to things I have not had the chance to do or create.

Some of the synonyms I found for vicarious are not at all how I define it.  The words second-hand, displaced, remote, indirect, removed or distanced do not play a part in my vicariousness.

To me, living vicariously opens up worlds that may not be available to me otherwise. It also provides an impetus to do the things that I find appealing. Sometimes living out something in your imagination translates itself into action.

I have lots of things on my life list (as opposed to my bucket list which sounds a little too final to me) that I want to do: travel, publish a book, learn to golf and play tennis, get involved in more community activities—and as I work on this list, I derive pleasure from those who do travel extensively, write books, play the games I want to play, and join the activities I want to take part in. It is part of the learning process—it is all part of my life research.

I think of  “living vicariously” as a practice run wherein I am identifying what it is I want to accomplish.

1966 cover of the revised version of The Secre...