A Joyful Read

One of my favorite fiction authors is Katherine Center. I eagerly await her books. But then a funny thing happens. Once I buy her newest book, I hesitate to start reading it. Because once I start reading, it’s hard to stop. And if I read too quickly, I’ll finish the book too quickly. 

Ms. Center’s latest novel, What You Wish For,  was no different. It made me smile. It made me laugh. It made me cry. It made me bite my lip. And it made me look up George Michael’s “Freedom! ‘90,” and play the sample on the iTunes store. (page 234, if you’re curious)

This week, allow me to share some of my favorite passages with you:

“Joy is an antidote to fear. To anger. To boredom. To sorrow.”
“But you just can’t decide to feel joyful.”
“True. But you can decide to do something joyful. You can hug somebody. Or crank up the radio. Or watch a funny movie. Or tickle somebody. Or lip-synch your favorite song. Or buy the person behind you at Starbucks a coffee. Or wear a flower hat to work.”

 

You really have to read the description of the school library (page 107) to become fully enchanted, but meanwhile I’ll share this bit with you:

“I wanted to make sure that if kids felt an impulse at any moment to pop by the library, there’d be nothing to stop them. It was the best way I knew to turn them into readers: to catch those little sparks when they happened and turn them into flames.”

 

“I’m not happy because it comes easily to me. I bite and scratch and claw my way toward happiness every day.”
“It’s a choice. A choice to value the good things that matter. A choice to rise above everything that could pull you down. A choice to look misery right in the eyes … and then give it the finger.”
“It’s a deliberate kind of joy. It’s a conscious kind of joy. It’s joy on purpose.”
“I’m telling you. I know all about darkness. That’s why I am so hell-bent, every damn day, on looking for the light.”

“Life doesn’t ever give you what you want just the way you want it. Life doesn’t ever make things easy. How dare you demand that happiness should be yours without any sacrifice – without any courage? What an incredibly spoiled idea – that anything should come easy? Love makes you better because it’s hard. Taking risks makes you better because it’s terrifying. That’s how it works. You’ll never get anything that matters without earning it. And even what you get, you won’t get to keep. Joy is fleeting. Nothing lasts. That’s exactly what courage is. Knowing all that going in – and going in anyway.” 

A Title for the Times

The problem with being a reader with an insatiable appetite is that I read so much I don’t always remember books I’ve read in the past.

During this shutdown, I’ve been doing the book-version of shopping from my closet. I’m re-reading and re-discovering books I already own and have read in years past. 

My latest “re-read-but-it-felt-like-a-new-read-because-I-read-it-so-long-ago-I-didn’t-remember-it” was Terry McMillan’s The Interruption of Everything. (In my defense, the book was published in 2005.)

Because without even reading the book’s jacket copy, the title was perfect for life right now.

While the protagonist, Marilyn, is the same age as me (44), her kids are in college. My son will be starting the 7th grade this fall.

But how perfect is this paragraph when it comes to describing moms?

“Being a lifetime wife and mother has afforded me the luxury of having multiple and even simultaneous careers: I’ve been a chauffeur. A chef. An interior decorator. A landscape architect, as well as a gardener. I’ve been a painter. A furniture restorer. A personal shopper. A veterinarian’s assistant and sometimes the veterinarian. I’ve been an accountant, a banker, and on occasion, a broker. I’ve been a beautician. A map. A psychic. Santa Claus. The Tooth Fairy. The T.V. Guide. A movie reviewer. An angel. God. A nurse and a nursemaid. A psychiatrist and psychologist. Evangelist.”

And then there’s this paragraph, about acknowledging the need for change:

“It has taken me a long time to recognize that I’ve never put myself first, I’m always on the bottom of my things to do list and I keep getting carried over to the next day/month/year. But not this time. I think I finally get it. You don’t have to give up everything to own your life. And you don’t have to give everything you own to fuel someone else’s.”

That’s the part I’m working on.