Monday, September 1, 2014

(all the) time to read

I love Monday holidays. 
I'm up in the mountains camping today, but thought I'd prepare a post for you all!

I recently attended my very first professional development seminar.
For two days me and a few other women from my office hopped in a company van and drove up to Phoenix for an Excel conference. I know, it sounds absolutely invigorating, and it was.
But what I really wanna talk about is the program I bought while I was there. More accurately my mother gifted it to me, because when I got home after that first day I talked so passionately about it that she was moved to buy it for me. It just came in the mail and I can't wait to get started.
It's a speed reading course developed by Evelyn Wood.

The average person reads about 300 words per minute. Evelyn Wood could read 6,000. 

I'm sorry but come again? Can you imagine? 6,000. That's like reading The Count of Monte Cristo on your dadgum lunch break. You could read Peter Pan on your bathroom break. 
36 books has been my goal for my entire year of reading. What if I could knock that out in a week?

In starting this course and thinking about all of the books I am going to be able to devour, I thought it appropriate to reflect on some of my all-time favorite reads. This is a fairly good representation of my favorites, in no particular order.
My dear friends, my dear readers (or should-be readers), if you haven't read any of these boons to mankind, take a gander and pick one at random. If I could, I would wish them to your doorstep with a  giant bow on top.

A Little Bit of Everything:

The Great Gatsby // I Capture the Castle // The Last Unicorn // The Remains of the Day
Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? // Fault in Our Stars // Bread & Wine // Way of Kings
Fellowship of the Ring // Ocean at the End of the Lane // Book Thief // Devil in the White City
Daughter of Smoke and Bone // Pride & Prejudice // Emperor's Soul // The Great Divorce

I loved all of these books, all for different reasons. Some of them are classics that you'll recognize, others are more obscure. I have Brandon Sanderson on here twice, because he's my favorite author right now, and I couldn't resist. The Emperor's Soul is a novella, a really stunning story that will capture you immediately. Way of Kings is my favorite book. Although its sequel, Words of Radiance, may have displaced it. It's going to be a fantastic series. But I don't recommend it to everyone because it's hefty -- each book is somewhere around 1,000 pages, but if you're up for the challenge, do it! I will be your biggest cheerleader in that endeavor.

The Book Thief is one of the only books to ever make me truly cry. I finished it in bed, while my husband was asleep, and began sobbing so hard I had to retreat to the bathroom so I wouldn't wake him. He woke up anyway, and came knocking at the door, completely baffled and scared. I just yelled  a very garbled "GO AWAY!" until I could finally get out, "It's just my book, I'm fine, I'm not dying, go back to sleep". It's incredible, stunning, horrible, beautiful.

If you want to read a book that will leave you enchanted in a melancholy way, kind of like that wistful feeling when you look at a night sky full of stars, read The Last Unicorn, I Capture the Castle, Remains of the Day, and/or Ocean at the End of the Lane. All of them are really beautiful books. I mentioned The Last Unicorn before, because if I could be any book on a shelf, it would be that one. It made me laugh and cry, and filled my dreams for days. Somewhere deep inside I almost think that no one could quite appreciate it the way I do.

For Kids (and the Young at Heart):

Inkheart // Chronicles of Chrestomanci // Dealing with Dragons // The Book of Three
A Wrinkle in Time // Ella Enchanted // The Secret Garden // Prisoner of Azkaban
Peter Pan // Deltora Quest // Haroun and the Sea of Stories // Anne of Green Gables

Obviously the Harry Potter books start with The Sorcerer's Stone, but I decided to feature my favorite of the series, because I love Sirius Black and this book, to me, is the happiest and most exciting of them all. 
These books have all made an impact on me in some way. I remember first reading The Book of Three by Lloyd Alexander quite vividly. He was my favorite author for a while, I read everything I could of his. This is probably one of the only series I've read through more than once. (It was written in the 60's, and is most popularly known by the second book in the series, The Black Cauldron). I was absolutely enamored with it. When I was young I was a very active reader -- the gasps, the squeals, the giggles. (My husband would say I haven't really changed at all.) But those books evoke really strong memories for me. 
The same goes for Dealing with Dragons and The Chronicles of Chrestomanci, which are both wonderfully innovative and charming book series. I would highly recommend them to kids and adults alike, if your imagination is alive and well and you love happy endings. I read all of the Chrestomanci books over Christmas break in high school, and my parents happened to also gift me some perfume that year. To this day, every time I smell it I'm carried back to those worlds. It's delightful. 
My brother and I (and in turn, every cousin and sibling we could convince to) gobbled up the Deltora Quest books, too. A long adventure series of small books with great characters and monsters. Great for little boys and tomboys like me. 

Stories are one of my all-time favorite things to share with people. I love talking about them, dissecting them, loving on them, and hearing other people's literary loves. What are your favorite books? What do you think of mine? Have you read any of these?
(Also, if you have a list of your own, answer the questions at the bottom of this old post!)

Have an amazing holiday!
There's no better way to rest than in a hammock with a book in hand. 

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the list. I'm always looking for new suggestions. I used to spend huge amounts of time reading but sadly not so much anymore. I need more spare time in my life! My most favorite books are the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon. Time travel, love, war, history (but not in a cheesy harlequin romance way) Very large books and the only ones that I own in hardback. STARZ is currently bringing the series to life and it makes me so happy!