Do You Prefer Reading the Popular or Obscure Books?

Do You Prefer Reading the Popular or Obscure Books_

Popular books: the ones everyone seems to be reading.

Obscure books: the lesser known books that not everyone is reading.

I have a small confession to make: whenever it seems like everyone is reading a particular book or series, I run far, far, far away from it.

I just can’t bring myself to read the popular, hyped up books that everyone says is a must read. I’m sure they’re good and it’s possible I might find them interesting, but I dislike being told what to do.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I do not have a problem with authority. I am strictly law-abiding and you’d be hard pressed to find anything in my record. But, when it comes to taste, I hate being told “You’ll love this!”

Uh, excuse me, how do you know that?

Many people have told me I’ll love this or that or because I love this, then I’ll absolutely love that. Which are common phrases in book reviews. But I tend to have a somewhat bizarre palate when it comes to books. I lack any real author loyalty. Just because I enjoyed one book does not mean I’ll enjoy another from the same book. If I’m told I’ll enjoy a book because I loved another book, I often laugh because I don’t even need one hand to count how many times that has happened. I look at books in isolation. I take a single story and determine whether I’ll enjoy it on its own merits. Maybe it’s by an author I’ve read before, maybe it’s not. Maybe I’ll pick up a book from an author I’ve enjoyed before and found this book to be lacking and will put it back. If anything, I’m a fan of a good story, but I couldn’t possibly tell you what I think a good story is. If it tickles my brain enough, I’ll give it a try. So perhaps you should go and chat with my brain.

f it tickles my brain, I'll read it.

Over the years, the people who know me have learned to leave books up to me. They no longer recommend anything because I hardly ever enjoy it. Even the people who know me well (my mom, best friends, and husband) don’t recommend books because I’m, shall we say, particular.

But back to popular vs. obscure books.

When I was in high school, during my senior year, a book called I Am Charlotte Simmons was making it’s way around my class. We were preparing to graduate and head off to college, so Charlotte’s story was our imminent future. It passed from reader to reader and, one day, one of my best friends handed it to me. Now, I enjoyed the book, but didn’t love it. It felt like a good guide of what not to do in college and it’s safe to say I never read another book by Tom Wolfe.

Similarly, The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold and She’s Come Undone by Wally Lamb were wildly popular throughout my high school years, but I never touched either of them. I simply found the stories unappealing, yet everyone thought they were the best books in the world.

Instead, I read Robert Jordan and a multitude of fantasy authors that literally no one I knew had heard of. I devoured classic after classic and wandered into culinary mysteries. No one else was reading them, but I thought they were fantastic. And when I discovered self-published authors about 10 years ago, I became an avid reader of their books. I still enjoy them, to a point now where I even roll my eyes whenever the next “must read” book is announced.

Perhaps it’s because I enjoy marching to my own beat, or maybe it’s because I don’t like being told what to enjoy, or, more likely, it’s because I’ve never enjoyed the hyped up books.

I’m sure the must reads are great books, but they just don’t tickle my brain. Even though it seems contrary to what book bloggers in general read, I’ll stick to my obscure books, especially if they’re self-published and no one seems to know their name. One of my favorite books is obscure, Scriber by Ben S. Dobson. And I’ve yet to read another book by Mr. Dobson.

What about you? Do you enjoy the hyped up books everyone seems to be reading and raving about or do you prefer the books no one is talking about?

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Where Did This Wall Come From?

I have a wall in my head.

Not a real one, of course. Perhaps a block. Maybe a locked door. Who knows? But it certainly feels like a wall when I crash into it.

And I don’t know where it came from.

I don’t remember having a wall before kids. It’s easy to say it was built from extreme sleep deprivation over the past 4 years. But I’m not entirely sure that’s true. Though I don’t doubt that my ability to think efficiently is at least partially attributable to the lack of sleep.

There are only certain lines of thought that have me smacking into this wall.

Thinking about blogging used to be easy. Perhaps I’m just fatigued and don’t want to think of the content I need to write. Perhaps I just don’t know where this blog is headed or what I want out of it, so my mind refuses to settle on certain topics, color schemes, picking out fonts, etc. In general, I know I’d like to brand my blog, but this wall has me blinking at a gray space. Not pretty.

Then there’s the social media side of blogging. Running into the wall just leaves me twitching. I’ve saved so many articles about how to do Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest to drive traffic to my blog, but haven’t actually read most of it. When I do, my eyes glaze over. A visual wall? Either way, thinking about social media has me all twitchy.

And don’t forget I’d like to be a working mom. If I can figure out how to work from home with my anything but working from home skill set, I would. But I don’t really see that happening. This wall pops up out of no where and has me landing on my bottom whenever I try to consider my options and what to do about childcare.

And can’t forget all the books I want to read. Thanks a lot to Yesmoreblogs and Becky @ Velvet Spade Reads for continually having me adding books. Whenever I even attempt to consider what book to read next, I have this wall laughing at me. Who knew walls could laugh? It’s a big gaping mouth with coral lips and the most annoying laugh ever.

And yet there are things that I wouldn’t mind seeing the wall pop in front of. But the wall seems to be non-existent.

Let’s see, there’s cleaning and organizing. There’s a little me zipping around in my head, noting what needs to be cleaned and making a to do list taller than me. She’s also talking away at how I should organize our stuff and what order I should clean everything and to not forget the laundry. I swear, this little me never sleeps. She invades my dreams sometimes. How annoying.

And then there’s activities for the kids. There she is, zooming around and taking stock of what we need. She considers what activities we can do, what we need, how to lay it out, and how to execute it, all while asking me how much of the activity I want to do of it myself. At midnight.

Geez, can someone cage that little me?!

Well, my point is, I have this wall in my head. I don’t know where it came from, but it’s downright annoying. If anyone knows a wrecking crew, I’ll gladly take their number.

 

What is Myasthenia Gravis?

June is Myasthenia Gravis Awareness Month.

What is Myasthenia Gravis (MG)?

A not too well known autoimmune neuromuscular disorder that usually takes 1-2 years to diagnose, it’s also called the snowflake disease because every case is different. It usually starts with a routine infection, like the cold or the flu, and then myasthenic symptoms start to appear, but are often misdiagnosed. It isn’t a genetic disorder, making it possible for anyone to develop it.

Generally, MG involves muscle weakness. This can be localized to certain parts of the body, such as in ocular MG where only the eyes are affected, or generalized to all parts of the body. It usually doesn’t result in death, unless someone enters myasthenic crisis and doesn’t receive medical help right away, but does tend to limit the amount of activity someone can do. The more exertion, the more tired an MG patient becomes. It can be devastating to individuals and families when their loved one is no longer able to do the things they were once able to.

For more information, check out: http://www.myasthenia.org/

Why is this important? And why do I even know about it and spread awareness?

My mom was diagnosed with this over 10 years ago. At the time, she was the mother of two adolescents and one pre-adolescent. It wasn’t an easy time, and finding our mother asleep on the couch in the middle of the day because she was just so exhausted was hard for us. I was, and still am, very close to my mom and was old enough to realize something was wrong.

It took almost 2 years for her to be properly diagnosed. Two years of useless treatments, countless doctor appointments, and dietary changes that didn’t help. There were periods when she was better and periods when she was too tired to do anything. It was hard on us as a family. We didn’t know what was going on, didn’t know what MG was, didn’t know if Mom was going to be okay.

I’m happy to say that, more than 10 years later, my mom is very stable. Due to dietary changes that just happened to work in her case and the proper medication, she hardly feels the effects of MG most days and lives a relatively normal life.

Spread awareness

Even now, years after MG entered our family, it isn’t a well-known disorder. People who have it are routinely misdiagnosed or even ignored. There is a blood test and a muscle test that can tell whether or not someone has it, but most doctors don’t know this disorder, which makes diagnosis difficult.

So, wear teal and spread the word, because most people just don’t know what Myasthenia Gravis is.

Instafamous or Blissful Obscurity?

I saw a shirt in a children’s clothing store that read #instafamous. Perhaps you’ve seen it, too. Perhaps your child even has it. I’ve seen at least one toddler wearing it already.

But it made me stop and think, and what better day to ruminate on it than the one where I write about blogging and over sharing?

Today, children all over the world are plastered across the Internet. By their parents. Their images, names, birthdays, and even how they were born can be found all over social media. I’m not saying this is wrong or these parents are doing something shameful. What those parents choose to do is not my business. My children are my business, not someone else’s.

Do you remember a commercial from a few years ago where two or three (maybe four) kids were making an absolute mess in a beautiful white bathroom? Instead of intervening and disciplining and having their kids clean up, mom and dad were secretly recording this fiasco for the sole purpose of getting a million views on social media. I don’t think I was a mom just yet, but I was aghast. What kind of parent exploits their children in an attempt to go viral?

I don’t share my kids on anything but highly private social media for family and people I actually know in real life to see. I will not record their antics for the amusement of others. Instead, I will be teaching and disciplining.

I would rather my kids grow up in blissful obscurity than become instafamous. I believe my children deserve that. They deserve the chance to grow up completely unknown without the pressure of the world watching them. I don’t know what the world holds for them. What if they’re interviewing for a job in 20 years and the hiring manager finds a stupid video from when they were 3 and it impacts how they think of my child? I’m a long term thinker. I consider what might happen in 50 years. I won’t do something now that could potentially have an impact on the lives of those other than myself years from now.

If you choose to share your children online, I’m not saying you’re doing something wrong or shaming you. You do what you think is right for you, your family, and your children. I’m only doing the same for mine.

Unless my kids request otherwise, I will raise them in blissful obscurity. I will never share their personal information or their pictures.

What Day Is It?

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I never know what day it is.

The sad part is I have a giant calendar hanging on the wall (that I change every day), a planner, a phone that gives me the day and date, a computer, a tablet, and a TV that tells me the day whenever I use the guide.

So, you’d think I’d know what today is.

Nope. Not at all.

I thought yesterday was Thursday. I thought tomorrow would be Saturday. I thought Tuesday was Wednesday. And, for some reason, thought today was Tuesday. Okay, I’m close. It’s the other T day.

But, in all seriousness, as a stay at home mom whose husband has a Monday-Friday job, the days run together. I know it’s the weekend because the Husband is home. I know it’s a weekday (which one I couldn’t tell you) when he’s not. While I’d like to blame Memorial Day for screwing me up, every week is like this.

Some days I give up and hope I figure it out eventually. Some days I stare at the calendar. Other days I’m asking my toddler what day it is. The funny thing is, I’m trying to teach him how to read a calendar.

I don’t know what day it is. I’ll probably never know what day it is. Don’t even ask me what today’s date is. I barely know what month it is.

What day is it?

“What Did You Do to Your Walls?!”


Earlier today I was reading  Harold and the Purple Crayon to my kids. It’s a cute classic from 1955 with a lot of purple (of course). While I enjoyed Harold’s creativity and hope my kids pick up on it, as an adult I wonder if his parents asked:

“What did you do to your walls?!”

I’m all for creativity and being imaginative, but, preferably, not all over the walls.

See, Harold draws a rather extensive adventure and, while I’d like to think it’s a dream, I can’t help but wonder, what if it isn’t? What if he’s actually drawing with a real purple crayon on his walls? What would his parents say in the morning?

If it were my kids, I would be screaming “what did you do to your walls?!”

And while that’s my question of the day, has anyone noticed that emaciated moose?! It was kind of Harold do give the pie leftovers to a moose (and porcupine), but did it have to be that skinny? And while I’m on that topic, how does this kid even know about hunger and emaciation?

Two theories. One. His parents are humanitarians and care about the people and animals in the world. They’ve taught him to be kind, give to the less fortunate, not be wasteful, and what hunger is. This is lovely and noble and, if Harold can handle it, a great message for kids.,

On the other hand, there are two related options. Either Harold is impoverished and knows hunger first-hand or his parents constantly tell him about all the hungry people and animals in the world to make him finish his meals. Either way, this is a depressing scenario.

When I read this book, which is cute and fun, I’m going to have to keep the first option in mind. After all, it’s a good message to give to kids old enough to understand. But I’d still be asking:

“What did you do to your walls?!”

Do You Know the Ring of…Toys?

We all know the Ring of Fire. It basically looks like the outline of the Pacific Ocean as it meets land. But it’s the Ring of Fire because it’s where earthquakes and volcanic activity often occur.

Then there’s the song “Ring of Fire.” I’m partial to the one sung by Johnny Cash. I grew up listening to Country music and John Denver, which is what happens when your mom drives you everywhere and insists that she picks the music because she’s the one driving. Which explains why 3 Chinese kids know some 90s and older Country songs by heart. My brother has funny stories from when he was stationed in the South. But this song is one of my absolute favorites.

Today my kids introduced me to a new kind of ring.

A ring of toys.

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Created under the coffee table and somehow left undisturbed long enough for me to get a picture. How they managed this is beyond me, especially since the whole floor is usually littered with toys and tissues (my daughter has discovered the tissue box and that it is fun) by lunchtime.

So, have you heard of the Ring of Toys or just the Ring of Fire? Maybe you should check for one. Kids are crafty.

Is My Cat Annoyed With Me?

Before having kids, my cat was my baby. She slept for hours on my lap, kept us company at the foot of the bed, enjoyed treats more often than she should have, and could stretch out wherever she pleased. She was our little spoiled rotten princess.

Then she became a big sister. At first, it wasn’t too bad. This squirmy little baby barely knew she existed. Until he started crawling around, discovered blinking eyes at the same eye level, and screamed.

My cat hasn’t been the same since. She probably resents us for having not one, but two screaming things who think she’s a toy. Needless to say, she spends a great deal of time hiding. I don’t blame her. Her siblings can become earsplittingly loud.

But because she’s almost always hiding, I often call for her just to make sure she didn’t get locked in the closet.

Oh, you should see her! She comes running out, meowing, full of hope. Her tail is high and her eyes are big as she comes darting straight at me. I know what she wants, what she hopes for. She wants a nice warm lap, or a pet, or a snuggle, or, even better, a treat.

She must get annoyed with me when I interrupt her sleep and have nothing more to offer than a quick pet because the kids can and will descend on her.

My poor baby, I’m sorry. You must be so irritated with me.

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What If…?

What If I took my child to school one day

And sent him off with a hug and kiss and “have a good day”

And watched him run, carefree and happy and laughing?

What if I went home and changed his sheets

So he could be surrounded by the soft scent of lavender

As he rests his sweet head full of letters and numbers?

What if I went out on an errand

And picked up that toy or game he had been begging for

Just so his smile could light up my soul

And bring giggles and smiles into our home?

What if I made his favorite treat: cookies and brownies

Filled with bits of chocolate with a side of chocolate chips

Just waiting for his hands at the end of a day at school?

But what if he slunk out of the car in the morning

Grumpy and angry without a goodbye

Shrugging off hugs and kisses because he’s too old now?

What if we argued last night or this morning

And he flung “I hate you” around?

What If I spent the night or early morning crying

Because I didn’t know where I went wrong or what to do?

What if he slammed doors in my face and cursed at my heart

Angry at me and the world, refusing to understand my pleas?

What if he walked into school one day

Whether happy or sad or angry

And never walked back out?

What if my sweet child was stolen from me

And I wouldn’t see him again until I traveled to a morgue?

What if he was an innocent victim

Someone who would never sleep in clean sheets

Or eat chocolate chip cookies

Or play with another toy

Or give hugs and kisses

Or slam doors

Or even lie to my face

Ever again?

What if my darling boy, the joy of my heart,

Died in school one day?

What if…?

What if he never experienced the painful joy of first love

Or the happiness of an everlasting heart

Or the conflicting shyness when faced with a crush?

What if there were no future adventures meant for him

Whether the wild parties of college

Or solitary travels around the world?

What if he never experienced the tough breaks

Never getting the coveted job or promotion

Always working hard, but never getting anywhere?

Though what if he never experienced the thrill

Of coming out on top

Of conquering the world and feeling

Like Superman?

What if his life was meant

To be charmed

Or full of potholes

Or both

But he couldn’t be alive to experience it?

What if…?

 

As you can tell, all these school shootings have been on my mind today. It makes me terrified to send my baby to Kindergarten next year. My heart goes out to those who have lost their children or watched them struggle to recover from injuries.

What If A Day Was 17 Hours Instead of 24?

My son is obsessed with space. I read the same space book to him every day. Sometimes 3 times a day. I’ve read some of the pages so many times, I’ve memorized parts of it. Which, unfortunately, leaves my mind to wander away. Hey, come back…

It’s because of this obsession that I’ve previously asked about aliens. But now I’ve been reading about Uranus over and over. He has a fascination with the rings of Saturn and Uranus.

A day on Uranus is 17 hours. We are lucky to have 24. But, like many moms, I could use an extra hour. The 24 that we have seems so short. There’s so much to do, and that doesn’t even count sleep. Oh, the things I could do with a 25th hour! I can actually get around to reading. Or figuring out social media for this blog. Or organize toys. Or prep for dinner tomorrow. Or take a nap.

And then I read about Uranus having 17 hours in a day. Wow, that’s short! It makes me feel better about having 24.

What could you do in a 17 hour day? Let’s see, if you sleep 8 hours, that leaves 9 hours to eat, get dressed, go to work/school, commute, spend time with family and friends. And if you work more than 8 hours a day, well, you’re kind of screwed, sorry. But, if you sleep 5 hours, you get a 12 hour day, which feels like a lot more time to get things done, but it’s only 5 hours of sleep! And if you have a baby who wakes every 1-2 hours (my kids for their entire infancies), you’re really not sleeping. At all.

So, thinking of that, it makes me grateful for the 24 hours we get. I’ll still want that 25th hour, but then I’ll try to remember Uranus.

Thank you for 24 beautiful hours, Earth!