"The pages are still blank, but there is a miraculous feeling of the words being there, written in invisible ink and clamoring to become visible." -Vladimir Nobokov

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Book Borrowing Etiquette

I'm a very generous person with my books. You ask to borrow one, and I will say yes in a heartbeat. But, as I'm sure we've all experienced at some point, there will always be people who test your patience with their inadequate knowledge of the rules that come with borrowing books. For all you lenders and borrowers out there, this post is for you. Follow these few simple guidelines, and the book sharing process will be a fun one!

From: The Secret World of Arriety (Based on the book: The Borrowers)

For the Borrowers:
Borrowing books from friends and acquaintances is one of the best ways to expand your reading repertoire.  It's better than the library because, unless you have a rather uptight friend, you can take your time reading the book, and you have someone to discuss it with when you're finished. Despite many borrower's good intentions, things can happen that will strain your book sharing relationship and put your future chances of borrowing from that person again at risk. Below are a few things that could go wrong, and how to avoid them.

  • Make sure you know the lender's expectations: Does he or she need it back soon? Is it a book that is particularly special to them? What was their reaction when you asked to borrow it? Did they give it to you to read without you having to ask for it? These are all important things to think about. If the the lender seems reluctant to let you borrow the book, make it clear that you will take good care of it and possibly even set a date at which it will be returned to them. If they asked you to read it, they want to share it with you, and while you should make it one of your first priorities, you have a little more wiggle room as far as the length of time you hold on to it. If they really don't want to lend it to you, don't push the subject. That is one case when going to the library is the better option.
  • Take good care of the book: Even if it seems like the lender couldn't care less if they never see that book again, you never know how people will react to you damaging their property. Books can get damaged in unexpected ways (I have to be very careful about putting books in my school backpack), so keep an eye out. This also includes not losing the book. That's just not right.
  • Set some sort of time limit: You may be a slow reader. I get that. I know I am! Most of the time people don't mind if you don't return book within a few weeks and some can get away with keeping them much longer than that, but that doesn't mean you can read it and forget about it. As soon as you are finished, contact the lender, say thank you, tell them what you thought of the book, and discuss a time at which you can return it. They will be impressed by your initiative to follow up.
  • Don't borrow too many books at once: Lending books is often a very personal act. When you give someone a book, you want to share that reading experience with them. It can be discouraging to the lender if they ask if you've finished it yet and you say, "No, I've got too many other books to read." Borrowing several books from several different people just adds to your stress level and their disappointment at you not having read it yet.
To some people this post might seem a little over the top. "Why are there so many rules?!" they would say, "It's a book. It's not that big of a deal." And in some cases, that's true. But some things are just polite, and the right thing to do.  Borrowing books is like being a good neighbor. You share each other's joys and sadnesses, and if someone comes over asking for a cup of sugar or your copy of The Goose Girl, by Shannon Hale*, you let them have it, knowing they would do the same for you.

ps. Stay tuned for my next post about Book Lending Etiquette!
* Guess who I had the pleasure of meeting recently? More on that later!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

On Being Interesting

So, guess what everyone....I have a twitter account! Some people would shrug that off as if it were nothing. "Oh," they say, "Well, I've got a Facebook and Tumblr and Flickr and Twitter and Pinterest and Blogger and Google+..." The list goes on. And maybe they are the type of person that will say anything on the internet, that doesn't care if their status updates lack substance (A prime example being: "I'm booored. Text me!"), but I'm not that kind of person. I want people to take something away from my words, or at least empathize with them, or at least think about them.

When I first started this blog, I was terrified that no one would want to take writing advice from an unpublished author (And a teenager, no less). Why would anyone want to hear about my life when they could read the thoughts of their favorite authors, go behind the scenes of their favorite books? And while that fear still haunts me at unexpected moments, like the first time I opened my twitter page and freaked out, having no idea where to begin and wondering why anyone would want to follow me, I've learned that, for the most part, the internet is not that different from real life. Be yourself. Share what you love, and learn from people who love the same things you do. Find a community. Have a laugh,  and make new friends.

 Now, I wish this post could be a success story about my rise to fame as an aficionado of the social media world. But my (inevitable and glorious) internet celebrity-dom is still a work in progress. Already I have learned so much from fellow bloggers (I mean, Nathan Bransford's post about re-tweets?! I wouldn't have known what that was a week ago, much less the best way to utilize them!), and for the people that have commented on this blog in the past or are one of my followers on twitter (I have 5! Can you believe that!), thank you! You are truly, undeniably awesome.

Oh, and by the way, you can find me on twitter at @laurapoet33... Just sayin'. :)

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Saturday Thoughts: Books, Books, and More Books!

Here's what I've been thinking about, as of late:

Books I Want to Read
What I'm about to do is really just for my own peace of mind. Here is a list of all the books I want to read in the near future. This list is my last resort before I go totally crazy from keeping these titles in my head ALL THE TIME. I have to put them somewhere so I can think straight! (Oh, and as far as time goes....I have none! Looks like I'll be  taking my own advice about making time to read.)

Top Priority:
(These are the books that are just waiting for me to pick them up. Talk about guilt!)
  • The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (Just borrowed this from a friend! Excited to finally see what the hype is all about.)
  • The Irresistible Henry House by Lisa Grunwald
  • Will Grayson Will Grayson by John Green
  • My Name is Memory by Anne Brashares
  • The Revisionists by Thomas Mullen
Medium Priority
(Books that I really want to read, but that require trips to the library, and time -that's a biggie)
  • The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
  • Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman
  • The Member of the Wedding by Carson McCullers
  • A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray
  • Rules of Civility by Amor Towles
  • A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan
  • The Sharp Time by Mary O'Connell
  • Palace of Stone by Shannon Hale
  • A Good American by Alex George
  • What Happened to Goodbye by Sarah Dessen
  • Wild Roses by Deb Caletti
  • The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
In Limbo
(These are books that will probably be read simultaneously with other books, or in little pieces when I have a spare moment)
  • Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
  • Collected Stories by Flannery O'Connor
  • Collected Stories by Alice Munro
  • The Ballad of the Sad Cafe and Other Stories by Carson McCullers
  • Unaccustomed Earth by Jumpa Lahiri

Well, there you have it. I will be keeping you posted on my progress and hopefully doing reviews of most of these. What books are you dying to get your hands on? 

Sunday, April 1, 2012

A Sunday Morning Walk

This morning I was woken up by my mother and my dog at 7 am. This is not an unusual practice in our family. I can remember my mom coming into my room on summer mornings before the sun was up and urging me get up or I would miss out on something that day had to offer. I can remember a time when 24 hours seemed like an eternity, when waking up at 6:30 was difficult, but I did it because I didn't want miss a single minute of summer. Now, 24 hours feels like it's never enough for everything I have to do, but this morning, when I opened my eyes in the half darkness and was practically jumped on by my dog, I was suddenly brought back to those days in summers past when I would dress groggily in shorts and a t-shirt, slip on some tennis shoes, and go for a long walk down Alder. This morning was just the same.

Alder is our favorite street to walk down. It's the closest thing we have to alley, a wide expanse of road with no curbs, lined by lush, un-manacured foliage and interspersed with garage doors and glimpses of people's backyards. Spring is in full swing now, and this morning Alder felt more like a jungle than a barely used street in our usually pristine neighborhood. The air was humid but cool, and all around us were the sounds of bird calls: woodpeckers, mockingbirds, doves, cardinals, blue jays, purple martins. Overhanging trees lush with new green leaves rose from behind chain-link fences and stretched lanky arms out over the street. Even today I caught myself thinking, "This is where the fairies live."

Sometimes I feel like when you reach a certain age people start pushing you to grow up: teachers expect more from you, college becomes a major topic of conversation with every adult you meet, your friends get summer jobs and show off pictures of their new cars on Facebook. And that's good. Great actually. Fun. Exciting. And yet, walking down Alder, I couldn't help thinking about a time when I played with dolls, and spent hours on the swing in the front yard, and went on expeditions in search of fairies. Part of me knows that I'll never have the same freedom I had when I was little, the same feeling of skipping through life without a care in the world, but I know somewhere inside me is that little girl with the wide eyes and the insatiable imagination. And all I really need are a few more Sunday morning walks to find her again.