Friday, October 31, 2014
BOOKS!! (There’s always an exclamation point when books are involved!)
October was a great month for books. (Reading, them, not trying to write them. That is never great, because I set a goal like ‘500 words by lunchtime’ and then I remember I have laundry and papers to grade and stuff like that. Sheesh.)
First, I won a book at The Cottage Market! Do you know Andrea? If you don’t, you should. She is a clearinghouse of all things cool and trending, and she gives so much love to great projects and bloggers. She also has AWESOME graphics for sale…as well as Junkin’ Joe’s vintage finds. (Joe is her husband. He finds stuff. Like DL, but without the penchant for huge industrial pieces. Joe’s stuff is more refined. DL’s stuff is … well, stuff that only DL can love.)
Anyway, this book is by our mutual friend, Karah! She does AMAZING things over at her blog, The Space Between. I believe her strength is in her tutorials, which are incredibly well done. I teach for a living, and I can’t put together a tutorial to save my life. I’m more the “pace and talk while showing” kind of person, rather than the “write it down so that someone can actually DO it,” kind. Karah’s book is DIY Wood Pallet Projects: 35 Rustic Modern Upcycling Ideas to Personalize your Space. It’s full of fun projects and you’ll find that you don’t even mind crawling into that dumpster to haul that pallet out.
The next book I won (which was for guessing a musical theatre question, which may have been totally unfair, but I don’t care because all’s fair in love and musical theatre) was Miss Mustard Seed’s Milk Paint (a look book). I won that from Lorraine who took a road trip with me, but not the Thelma and Louise kind; we lived. She has a remark PUBLISHED IN THE BOOK!!
See? (She is the only one who has a quote who didn’t use her last name. I think it’s because she’s incognito.)
The last book is the one my book club decided to read: The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry, by Gabrielle Zevin. Hmmmm….how do I describe this book?
I have read approximately 10,000 books in my lifetime. This includes the 3/day I devoured between the ages of 9-13. It includes the 5 or 6 a day I read to my kids when they were little. (It does NOT, however, include those I read over and over and over again…I count each book one time. Because if I had to count that fireman book I read 72 times a day for a month? Sheesh.) Therefore, I know how books work. I know the patterns…all of them. I know when a book does not follow a prescribed pattern, that we call BS and throw the book across the room. I even had the cajones to ask Janet Evanovich if her publisher asks her to write the same book over and over, or does she think of that herself?
Books that are too predictable? Not interested. (Even though Janet Evanovich makes approximately seventeen bazillion dollars writing the same book again and again…so I guess most people WANT predictability in their reading material. Change is hard, peeps.)
So I wanted to put AJ Fikry down. I could see every single plot point coming as if it was a mile down a long, straight road on a sunny day. (That's a simile, in case you've forgotten.) Love interest? Check. Baby Daddy? Check. Cop and you-know-who? Check. All of it.
And do you know what I teach my students? I teach them that in order for a book to be interesting, there needs to be some sort of conflict. That our protagonist has to face something big. And AJ Fikry, other than being ornery, had no conflict. Yeah, his wife was dead…big deal. We never met her, so there was no buy-in. A baby showed up on his doorstep, but we knew what was coming there…so…
…and I was about to put the book down.
But AJ Fikry’s comments about his favorite short stories (which appear at the beginning of each chapter) had me intrigued. And I thought “well, I’ll just read those and skip the rest.” Luckily, just as I thought it…WHAM! The conflict appeared. No, not appeared…hit me like a freight train going 75 miles an hour! Oh, lawd. I lost my $hit, my peeps. That conflict dragged me down a long dark hallway and beat the crap out of me. (That’s personification, by the way.)
Yep…it’s winner, winner, chicken dinner when I can recommend not just one or two, but THREE books to y’all!
Check out AJ Fikry at Cozy Little House!
And at Cassie's!