I have found that one of the continuously reliable joys in life is that provided by a good book. The written word has the power to transport a person living here and now to another time, another place and view the world through the thoughts and eyes of another person(s) in a deep and meaningful way. Truth be told, some cherished authors and their works have become dear friends who have kept me company; inspired, engaged and appreciative of life on countless unhurried and quiet days.
Perhaps finding such quiet and unhurried moments remains the biggest obstacle to enjoying the rewards of some awesome prose. Reading is not a passive pursuit after all; it requires more attention that a 3-minute YouTube video or half-hour sitcom. In order to gain comprehension the reader must commit to tune in and zone out. It is only by concentrating on the imagery and dialogue contained on the page that you can engage your mind with this new and unfamiliar vision. With a gifted author you become connected and concerned about their characters on an emotional level. That payoff, the emotional connection to the humanity within the pages, is highly absorbing and satisfying.
I have just experienced such a delight from a book and feel compelled to share the source with you.
Perhaps the finest short story collection I have ever had the good fortune to read is 'Blueprints for Building Better Girls' by Elissa Schappell. This compilation is a masterful weaving of different women's voices into a sisterhood of recognition and awakening. So many of the characters in this colourful assortment seem familiar, sometimes even a little too familiar as in I can see myself close family members in them. The stories are diverse through age and circumstance of life (college co-ed, career woman, new mother, empty-nest mother) and yet the theme of what it means to be a woman and how we are all connected flows through their tales. Many of the characters in these stories are inter-related ( the young woman in the sad and honest depiction of female friendship in "Elephant" is sister to the daughter in the mother and daughter dance with anorexia in 'The Joy of Cooking') which aids the understanding of how linked together we, and life, are. The voices of the women in these tales are honest, endearing, ironic, and all with an underlying sadness. The more I read, the more enchanted I became of the writer's spectacular gift for subtly highlighting the nuanced differences in us which magically manages to make our similarities blinding. I liked gaining the new perspective on love and relationships and recognizing the pattern within those on the written page and those in real life. In particular I thought of my niece who struggles with anorexia and my sister-in-law who bears that burden. 'The Joy of Cooking' was the most haunting story for me, especially this passage:
I realized I had been like the rest of the world and judged my own sister-in-law unfairly. I felt reprimanded and ashamed and must thank Ms. Schappel for providing this revelation for me to digest and act upon. There is no greater gift than learning a needed lesson. This book provides many insights why living wiser and kinder will triumph over all the bravado and bling.
If you have the opportunity to read this book, I highly recommend it.
Books are like flowers...you can never have too many. Grow a wild garden in your mind.
There's no such thing as too much information on things that matter.
Peace, love and empowerment.