Tag Archives: Used Bookstores

Natural beauty in a fractured world.

18 Oct

Driving on the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Sometimes it takes my breath away that I live in such an incredible place. However, more than that, it seems surprising that I’ve only lived here a year. When you consider how attached I’ve become to all the natural beauty that’s around me as well as the wonderfully accepting people who live in Asheville, you’d probably assume that I’ve been living here for years. Truthfully, that’s how it seems sometimes.

I’ve had very few times in my life that I could honestly say that I have completely loved the way my life seemed to be spanning out before me. However, I would definitely consider now to be one of those times. No, things aren’t perfect. Today just felt close to perfect. For instance, I got to campus 30 minutes earlier than I normally do on Thursdays just so that I could take pictures of the fall leaves that are finally fully bursting with reds and oranges, I went to my favorite used bookstore to buy Life of Pi (which I started on Tuesday while I was at work but wasn’t able to finish obviously), and then I just spent some “me time” driving around town looking at all the incredible natural beauty that I’m fortunate enough to see on a daily basis. So yes, today was pretty perfect.

I’ve always loved natural beauty. Since I grew up making frequent trips to the mountains and went camping and hiking with my family starting at a very young age, I guess you could say that it was pretty obvious that I’d become a mountain/nature girl. However, despite having all that exposure when I was young, I love it for all my own reasons (even though all the hiking and camping definitely helped). I love it because it shows that even through adversity, there can still be beauty. Yes, that’s cliché, but it’s cliché for a reason. I think nature in itself has always reminded me that there is something to smile about in every situation. Though it may be something small, like a red leaf that has landed on the asphalt in front of you, it’s reason enough to stop, take pause and breath in the beauty that surrounds such a fractured world. Even as I write this, it seems sad to think of our world as fractured. However, when you consider all of the bad things that happen in the world for unknown reasons, I think it’s an accurate description. Despite its fractured nature, there is something to love about the persistence of natural beauty. No matter what, autumn always comes. Even if things seem like they are falling apart around us, we can count on the seasons. We can count on looking out before us and being overcome with love for the mountains we call home.

Advertisements

Monday’s Musings: October 1st!

1 Oct

Despite it being Monday, there are numerous things that have made me happy today:

  • Completing my annotated bibliography for my Community Psychology project on the social stigma of physical disabilities. If you’ve ever had to do an annotated bibliography, I’m sure you’re squirming at the thought of it. If you haven’t, count yourself lucky. I wish I could still be uninformed about all the effort and time that goes into making an annotated bibliography. I would explain it, but I’m relieved to be done with it, so that’s that. If you’re really curious, there is always Google.
  • The fact that it finally feels like Fall: complete with cool weather and changing leaves. Despite the rain and relative cloudiness today, it’s felt like the perfect Fall day. A pumpkin spice latte from Starbucks would seal the deal, but when is there time to go to Starbucks when I have so many other things that require my attention? Thankfully, I love college, and I’ve always loved learning.
  • A quick trip to Mr. K’s, my favorite used bookstore. Since I finished my annotated bibliography today (despite it not being due until Wednesday), I decided to treat myself to a quick trip to Mr. K’s. Since I have been wanting to read another book about writing after reading The Spirit of Writing: Classic and Contemporary Essays Celebrating the Writing Life, I settled for Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott. After reading the first sentence of the Introduction, I couldn’t help but realize how much I’m going to love this book:

I grew up around a father and a mother who read every chance they got, who took us to the library every Thursday night to load up on books for the coming week.-Anne Lamott

  • It’s the beginning of a new month. Though this may seem like something small that made my Monday enjoyable, I’m always excited to welcome a new month. A new month means new experiences, new memories to be made, and yet another month that I get to live and breathe among the Blue Ridge Mountains that I love so much. And as the leaves begin to change, I feel even more lucky that I get to call this place home.

The Beauty of Used Bookstores.

16 Aug

I’ve been back in Asheville for less than two days, and I’ve already high-tailed my butt on over to my favorite used bookstore, Mr. K’s. Despite have the new Nicholas Sparks book that I haven’t read, you can never have too many books, right? Here are the gems I found in the mere 20 minutes I had inside Mr. K’s (I knew if I gave myself much more time then I’d be walking out with an armload full of books):

  • These Things Hidden by Heather Gudenkauf: I read The Weight of Silence by Heather Gudenkauf and absolutely loved it. Therefore, when I saw another book by her (and in the bargain section no less!), I knew that I couldn’t pass it up.

 

[Summary from Goodreads.com]: When teenager Allison Glenn is sent to prison for a heinous crime, she leaves behind her reputation as Linden Falls’ golden girl forever. Her parents deny the existence of their once-perfect child. Her former friends exult her downfall. Her sister, Brynn, faces whispered rumors every day in the hallways of their small Iowa high school. It’s Brynn–shy, quiet Brynn–who carries the burden of what really happened that night. All she wants is to forget Allison and the past that haunts her. But then Allison is released to a halfway house, and is more determined than ever to speak with her estranged sister. Now their legacy of secrets is focused on one little boy. And if the truth is revealed, the consequences will be unimaginable for the adoptive mother who loves him, the girl who tried to protect him and the two sisters who hold the key to all that is hidden.

  • The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver: I got in a Barbara Kingsolver kick over the summer, and when I found a few books by her that I haven’t read yet, I just had to get them!

 

[Summary according to Goodreads.com]: In her first novel in nine years, “New York Times”-bestselling author Kingsolver tells the story of Harrison William Shepherd, an unforgettable protagonist whose search for identity takes readers to the heart of the 20th century’s most tumultuous events.

  • Small Wonder: Essays by Barbara Kingsolver

 

[Summary according to Goodreads.com]: In 22 wonderfully articulate essays, the author of “The Poisonwood Bible” raises her voice in praise of nature, family, literature, and the joys of everyday life while examining the genesis of war, violence and poverty in the world.

I can’t wait to start reading these! 🙂

A Soft Place To Land by Susan Rebecca White.

10 Jun

Since I’ve been reading like crazy lately, I thought I’d post book reviews for the next few days. Two weeks ago I read  A Soft Place To Land by Susan Rebecca White, which was yet another book that I bought at my favorite used bookstore in Asheville, Mr. K’s. Here’s the synopsis of the book (according to Amazon.com):

For more than ten years, Naomi and Phil Harrison enjoyed a marriage of heady romance, tempered only by the needs of their children. But on a vacation alone, the couple perishes in a flight over the Grand Canyon. After the funeral, their daughters, Ruthie and Julia, are shocked by the provisions in their will.

Spanning nearly two decades, the sisters journeys take them from their familiar home in Atlanta to sophisticated bohemian San Francisco, a mountain town in Virginia, the campus of Berkeley, and lofts in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. As they heal from loss, search for love, and begin careers, their sisterhood, once an oasis, becomes complicated by resentment, anger, and jealousy. It seems as though the echoes of their parents deaths will never stop reverberating until another shocking accident changes everything once again.

I read A Soft Place To Land soon after reading How To Be Lost by Amanda Eyre Ward, and even though they were two different books, I am now catching myself getting them confused since it’s been a few weeks since I read them. If asked to choose, I’d say that I enjoyed How To Be Lost more. However, they are 2 different books by 2 different authors, so there’s only a certain amount of comparison that can be done.

More than anything A Soft Place To Land is about sisters and the connection that the sisters have with each other before and after their parents deaths. This book was a quick read for me, which most of the time is a good thing. However, I think at this point I’ve read so many books in the last 2 weeks that the differing plot lines are beginning to mesh together. In my personal opinion though, How To Be Lost was a better read. Feel free to check out my review for How To Be Lost here: https://lifeintheblueridges.wordpress.com/2012/06/02/how-to-be-lost-by-amanda-eyre-ward/

Beyond The Waves by Elizabeth Marek: A Book Review.

6 Jun

During one of my many trips to my favorite used bookstore in Asheville, I came across Beyond The Waves by Elizabeth Marek when looking through the bargain books. After reading the synopsis on the back of the book, it seemed like a book I’d like, but more than that, it seemed like the type of read that I’d pay much more than one dollar for. I’ll take the deals where I can get them though!

Psychologist Abby Cohen is still reeling from the loss of her beloved daughter when another young girl arrives in her life-twelve-year-old Miranda, who appears at Abby’s hospital mute, terrified, and completely alone. In her struggle to connect with this deeply disturbed child and unravel the mystery of her past, Abby must grapple with her own frozen self.

Numbed by grief and on the verge of losing her relationship with both her husband and little boy, Abby finds herself tempted to leave behind what is left of the family she once cherished. But something about Miranda and the bond that has begun to form between them awakens Abby’s capacity to feel, and reminds her of the power-and the limits-of love.

The way the characters of Abby and Miranda came together in order to deal with the demons of their different pasts was moving to me. I was most drawn to the character of Miranda simply because my heart ached for her and the mysterious past that she seemed to be very troubled by. Through much of the book, Miranda was afraid and alone. Though that was heartbreaking for me, it was also a very huge reminder of why I want to be a counselor myself. Psychologist Abby Cohen tries throughout the book to connect to Miranda, despite the fact that Miranda seems very frightened and alone. However, that’s all the more reason that I strive to connect with others. Though my past wasn’t as extreme as it could have been, it wasn’t easy. I spent so many years afraid, in pain, and surrounded by doctors and parents, and yet feeling utterly alone. When I was going through my intense physical therapy and 3 intense surgeries, I wanted someone who understood or at least could be there to remind me that I wasn’t alone through all the pain. Studies show that every person benefits from a strong support system. Though I had support from my parents and other family members, that wasn’t the kind of support I was looking for. Even though at the time there wasn’t a friend who was aching to understand, what I didn’t know at the time was that the support was coming.

My support came during my junior year at Salem Academy when I met my best friend, Skidmore. Skidmore was the very first person I completely opened up to in regards to all the details of my past. Every memory of pain, fear, loneliness….Skidmore knows it. Realizing that I had someone to share everything with was big, but once I began to understand that Skidmore longed to know so that she could understand who I truly was, I practically never stopped talking. I mean, it came out slow (the details of my past), but it felt so good to tell someone. Telling someone about my pain, fear, and loneliness and having them not judge me or feel sorry for me, but just love me….scars and all…that’s what I had been looking for, and I found it. Though I know have other friends who are an equal amount of support, no one knows as much as Skidmore does. Once I said everything single memory in detail once, it seemed like enough. I mean, my other friends know me really well too, but I guess you could say that since Skidmore was the first person who seemed to want to understand me for exactly who I was, that’s what she got: the stories of pain and fear that I carried around for so long without telling anyone. The stories that, though they don’t define me, are the truest form of the difficulties I’ve faced that I can possibly show.

How To Be Lost by Amanda Eyre Ward.

2 Jun

Since getting into my “pleasure reading mode” of summer, I’ve realized that most of the books that I’ve gathered by frequenting the bargain bins of my favorite used bookstores in Asheville are truly amazing reads! One of these truly amazing reads is How To Be Lost by Amanda Eyre Ward. It was such a wonderful read, so much so that I couldn’t put it down and ended up finishing it in one day! Here’s a synopsis of the book (according to Amazon.com):

To their neighbors in suburban Holt, New York, the Winters family has it all: a grand home, a trio of radiant daughters, and a sense that they are safe in their affluent corner of America. But when five-year-old Ellie disappears, the fault lines within the Winters family are exposed. Joseph, once a successful businessman, succumbs to his demons. Isabelle retreats into memories of her debutante days in Savannah, Georgia. And Ellie’s bereft sisters grow apart: Madeline reluctantly stays home, while Caroline runs away.

Fifteen years later, Caroline, now a New Orleans cocktail waitress, sees a photograph of a woman in People Magazine. Convinced that it is Ellie all grown up, Caroline embarks on a search for her missing sister, armed with Xerox copies of the photograph, an amateur detective guide, and a cooler of Dixie beer. As Caroline travels through the New Mexico desert, the mountains of Colorado, and the smoky underworld of Montana, she devotes herself to salvaging her broken family.

With dark humor and gorgeous prose, Amanda Eyre Ward brings us a spellbinding novel about the stories we are given, and the stories we embrace.

How To Be Lost is not the first novel I’ve read about a family member that goes missing. Other books in this category that I’ve read are Magic Hour by Kristin Hannah and The Weight of Silence by Heather Gudenkauf (both of which were absolutely amazing reads!). Since I apparently am drawn to novels that portray a missing child, How To Be Lost didn’t disappoint.

I was drawn to the character of Caroline because of her drive and determination to search for a sister that she believed to still be alive, even though fifteen years have passed. Even though Caroline’s determination stemmed from the fact that Ellie was her sister and finding her would mean having her family “put back together” in a sense, her drive to find a sister that the rest of her family believed to be dead already is something that I really admired. I think it remains me of the advice to never give up when it comes to something that we truly believe to be true, even if there is no one standing beside us that holds the same view. It reminds me of a quote that I read once:

Stand up for what you believe in, even if you’re standing alone.

I think the reminder of standing up for what we believe in, even if we’re standing alone is something that each one of us needs to hear from time to time, and How To Be Lost was just that reminder. That being said, I highly recommend this book, as well as Magic Hour by Kristin Hannah and The Weight of Silence by Heather Gudenkauf. They are all just SO amazing! Go read them!

The Bookshelf Chronicles: Part Two.

3 May

This past March, at the beginning of my Spring Break, my dad and I embarked on a trip to Ikea to purchase a wall of Billy Bookcases for my room. I realized yesterday that I never did a follow-up post to The Bookshelf Chronicles. Yes, we (or more precisely, my dad) got the wall of bookshelves up, and boy are they pretty!

I put my books in alphabetical order and put 2 letters to a shelf, meaning that A and B are on the first shelf, C and D are on the second shelf, and the third half while be used as spaced to put pictures or other knickknacks. Also, Jodi Picoult and Nicholas Sparks each have their own shelf since I have so many of their books. Anyway, with each of the three bookcases, there will be at least one shelf that will be for something besides books (to give it more of an artsy feel).

As of right now, my bookshelves look relatively empty (and this picture doesn’t include the 20 or so books that I still have to shelve since I acquired so many more used books when at college in Asheville). However, I love all of the space because it just means that I have room for more books. Also, breaking up the shelves by each 2 letters will definitely help since I won’t have to shift my books around every time I have to add a new book to my collection.

Since it’s now summer vacation for me, that means more time for pleasure reading. The first book of summer was Finding Daddy Cox by Mike Cox (one of my writing mentors that I mentioned in yesterday’s post, How Do You Deal With Criticism, Writer’s Block and Burnout? Anyway, I’ve been meaning to review Mike’s book, but I guess I just haven’t quite gotten around to it. Maybe that’ll be a post I write in a few days. Anyway, yesterday I was sitting in front of my bookshelves trying to decide what I was going to read next. I ended up choosing three different books in case I couldn’t seem to get interested in one of them: The Life All Around Me By Ellen Foster by Kaye Gibsons (Yes, Kaye Gibbons is the author. It’s a rather confusing title.), Saving Max by Antoinette van Heugten, and A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway. The Kaye Gibbons novel is one that follows one of her previous novels, which was simply titled Ellen Foster. I loved reading the previous novel many years ago (and I highly recommend it if you haven’t read it), but I’m anxious to read this follow-up novel by Kaye Gibbons because it portrays Ellen Foster’s struggles as a teen, as opposed to the abusive father that she struggled with in the first novel. A Moveable Feast is a book I’ve been wanting to read ever since I heard it quoted in City of Angels, a romance movie starring Nicholas Cage and Meg Ryan. Saving Max is one of the novels that I found when rummaging through the bargain books section at my favorite used bookstore in Asheville, Mr. K’s. It looked like an interesting read, so I decided to give it a try.

Alright, well all these great books I have yet to read are calling my name, as is the comfy couch. However, I’d love to know how pleasure reading has been for all of you recently?

What are you currently reading? What is a book that you’ve read recently that you’d recommend and why? And lastly, what’s your favorite book? (Because I’m sure we’d all love some more recommendations, as if we all don’t have continuously growing “to-be-read” piles!)