Why I Like Old Books

IMG_2048

Walking into a bookstore – nay, a store with books – is seriously like a drug for me. When I go thrifting and enter one of those glorious shops with a wall full of books at the back, I am like a bullet heading for its target. There’s no stopping me.

Some people would probably say that my obsession has gotten out of hand. In recent years, my collection has grown by the hundreds, and I now probably have more books than I could ever read (this is also partly due to the fact that I keep buying more and am a loyal member of the public library). If you want to blame someone, blame my parents. It all started when I was six or seven, probably, and my mom took us kids to Barnes & Noble and said we each could pick out one book. It seemed like a daunting task with all those shelves and titles, but in the end it was probably one of the most exhilarating experiences I’d had up to that point. Now, every time I go into a shop with books and tell myself to choose one (ha!) I get that same rush of exhilaration, and it continues, even, when I get home and stack my new treasure(s) in their new home.

IMG_2053

Of course I love Barnes & Noble and other big time booksellers (though they are dying out 😥 RIP Borders), but if we’re honest, I root harder for the little guys. Those independent booksellers and shops filled with secondhand books hold a little more magic on their shelves. There is just something about old books I cannot resist. With new books, though I long for them, the cost alone often gives me pause. Used books, antiquarian books in particular, are generally forgotten, scorned, disrespected by the moths who have been eating their pages for the last half-century, but I love them. And here is why.

IMG_2035

1. That old book smell. There is nothing – nothing! – as pleasant as walking into a store that smells like old books. Immediate peace. New books have a smell, too, but it’s a factory smell – clearly manufactured. All old books smell the same but different; their long lives have carried them across state lines and maybe even country lines, and they smell like adventure, like the past, like memories. There are even candles and perfumes devoted to this smell – it’s clearly a winner!

IMG_2064

2. Old books (like, really old books) have an obvious craftsmanship to them that isn’t always present in new books. The fact that I have books on my shelves that are over a century and a half old is frankly remarkable. Paper, cardboard, and cloth sewn together so meticulously and with such love that it has endured multiple wars and economic depression, not to mention the changing of hands over the years. Would our new books last so long?

IMG_2057

3. Inspiring covers/bookplates/illustrations. Rarely can you find books anymore that have beautiful cover designs, bookplate inserts, and illustrations. I mean, to a certain extent the “beautiful book” is coming back as a trend (B&N Collectible Editions, Penguin Drop Caps, Penguin Clothbound Classics) but in general, affordable books are cheaply produced and very basic looking. Almost every antiquarian title I own has some degree of unique design, and they inspire me so! I am even developing a new line of products for my Etsy shop inspired by old book covers.

IMG_2056 IMG_2055IMG_2072

4. Shelves full of beautiful old books add character and sophistication to a room. There is just something about a room that displays old books centerfold. It is one of the easiest ways to decorate a house, and as Cicero so bluntly put it, “A room without books is like a body without a soul.”

IMG_2091

5. Old books are stories within a story. I love flipping through an old book to find hand-written dedications on the title page or little notes made in the margins. It reminds me that these books have been places; people, like me perhaps, owned them before I did – maybe an artist or a surgeon or a florist – and they read them and felt things about them and talked about them to their friends. Sometimes I imagine up the histories of the people who owned my books before me, and it’s a little easier when their thoughts are marked on the page. Some people hate when books have been written in, but I find it merely adds charm and a little magic to the pages. No harm, no foul.

IMG_2067 IMG_2071IMG_2060

“It is a good rule after reading a new book, never to allow yourself another new one till you have read an old one in between.”

-CS Lewis

Advertisements

15 Books That Will Make You Feel Like a Kid Again

 IMG_1570

Lately, I’ve been frustrated with adulthood and all the responsibilities that come with it. With taxes due soon and my deplorable business record-keeping for the last year, I have had a couple of breakdowns recently. Not to mention all the other adult things: house hunting in a part of the country where houses are really expensive, broken dryers and laundry that needs washing, job drama (Grant’s job, not mine – one of the benefits of being my own boss), etc etc etc. Bleh. It seems like all the stuff comes at the same time, and in these moments all I really want to do is curl up on the couch with a book and a cup of coffee, and forget about adulthood. Let me be a kid again.

So I bring to you fifteen books/book series that are perfect for forgetting all your gross adult responsibilities for a little while and sailing back into that carefree time of youth. Even though these are “kid” books technically, they each explore universal themes that can be applied no matter what age you are. Adults should make more of a habit of reading about kids – it helps bring that spark back into life. There’s nothing wrong with a little magic.

IMG_1556

1. The Beginning of Everything by  Robyn Schneider. I am currently reading this book, so I cannot speak for the book as a whole, but it is really great to disappear into so far. It tells the tale of Ezra, a high school senior who went from being a popular athlete to a nobody after a crippling accident left him unable to play tennis and alienated from his old crowd. It’s a raw look into the intricacies of social groups as linked to human emotion, personal tragedies and how you let them define you, and young love.

DSCN5253

2. The Chronicles of Narnia by CS Lewis. This should be read over and over again. As soon as Lucy, Edmond, Susan, and Peter crawl through the wardrobe I am transported. Narnia is, I think, my favorite fictional world because it combines good, evil, fantastical, and realistic in such an uplifting and frankly beautiful way that it’s unforgettable.

3. 101 Dalmatians by Dodie Smith. Did you know 101 Dalmatians is not just a movie? Not many people do, but I am thrilled to say that this book is just as charming as the Disney feature film. Dodie Smith knows her way around the English language and created characters that are incredibly lifelike – even though they are dogs.

IMG_1560

4. The Light Princess by George MacDonald. This novella is a light and humorous take on a fairy tale with a poignant ending. The story centers around a princess who has had her gravity stolen from her by a witch, in turn making her a silly heroine with no grounding in reality. The way this character gains her footing in the world is charming and ultimately very meaningful.

IMG_1559

5. The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Graham. Perhaps you remember my book review of this a while back. Let me reiterate how wonderful of a story this is. The misadventures of Ratty, Mole, Toad, and Badger are entertaining and engaging – perfect for an evening getaway. Not to mention, Graham’s use of language is lovely.

6. To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee. With the recent hullabaloo about Go Set a Watchmen I’ve been thinking a lot about To Kill A Mockingbird. It’s been a long time since I’ve read it, but Scout Finch lives on in my heart – she is such the picture of young innocence, and the relationship she has with her father is so endearing it’s impossible to forget. This books holds what remains to this day my favorite quote: “Until I feared I would lose it, I never loved to read. One does not love breathing.” Need I say more?

DSCN7736

7. The Harry Potter Series by JK Rowling. Obviously. The best books written in our generation. Harry Potter, the boy wizard, is magical but surprisingly easy to connect to (even for us muggles). Though it might seem like a bunch of people in a school for witchcraft and wizardry would be hard to relate to, the story is more about human relationship than magic. This series covers it all, from losing ones parents to making the right choices when it comes to friendships. Because it spans the seven years that Harry is in school, you get such a perfect picture of growing up, even if his life is a bit unconventional.

8. The Magicians and The Magician King by Lev Grossman. Here’s another story about magic kids, but rather more mature in nature. The story takes place in “college” of sorts, and the characters experience anything that normal college students would experience – all while being put through a rigorous education in sorcery. These books are like a combination of Harry Potter and Narnia, except with older kids. Who couldn’t love that?

9. Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins. Okay, so I have to admit that I did not like The Hunger Games when I first read it. I thought the writing was a bit bland and contrived, so I decided to put the series down after the first installment. However, after watching the second movie which put me in an absolute frenzy of turmoiled confusion, I just had to read the last two books – which were much better than the first. I was totally taken in by the story – if not the greatest writing on the planet, the story at least is thrilling and transporting.

IMG_1562

10. The Secret Garden by Francis Hodgson Burnett. This story is about a churlish child who learns to love life with the help of a friend and a beautiful garden. It is one of those stories that should be read every year, around springtime.

11. Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury. One autumn night, a dark carnival comes and grips the town in shadow. Two young boys, James Nightshade and William Halloway, experience terror and thrill alike as they fight to save their town from evil. I don’t think Ray Bradbury is capable of writing a bad story, and this is one of my favorites.

IMG_1561

12. The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien. A timid young hobbit ventures out of his comfortable hobbit hole to encounter trolls, a dragon, and a number of other adventures. This is a lighter and easier read than The Lord of the Rings – better for a quick escape into fantasy. 

13. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. Cliche, I know. Everyone and their dog has read this book, but it is a really easy look into the hard life of a teen struggling with cancer. There’s everything in this book: adventure, hardship, love, loss. All the feels.

DSCN5657

14. Nancy Drew by Carolyn Keene. Pick up a Nancy Drew book and join the amateur detective in her search for truth and justice. These books are what made me love books. They will always be close to my heart.

15. The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart. Another story about special kids in a special school, this story is about younger kids who have incredible talents. At this school they are taught how to solve puzzles and their ultimate test is to go on a secret mission. A fun read.

IMG_1570

These are truly some of my favorite books in the world, and I have read a lot of books. The older I get, the more captivated I am, it seems, with the stories of younger people. It’s as if my innermost self longs for those bygone times, where worries were few but adventures high.

What books make you feel like a kid again?

Read This: Selected Poems by EE Cummings

IMG_1162

I don’t read much poetry – fiction is my genre of choice most of the time – but sometimes I get in this poetry mood during which nothing will satisfy me but a juicy, thought-evoking poem. When I get in these moods I almost always reach for Selected Poems by E.E. Cummings.

IMG_1129

E.E Cummings was an innovative 20th century poet who was known for his experimentation with form and syntax, which helped create a very unique and memorable personal style. His poems are precise and often blunt, with sharp imagery and grammatical oddities (such as using words like “if,” “am,” and “because” as nouns).

IMG_1131

While I like most of his poetry (he published A LOT in his life), his love poems and nature poems are among my favorite. The way he plays around with words and images are irresistible – it’s like the poem grabs hold of your heart and won’t let go for a few minutes. Probably his most famous poem is “i carry your heart with me”:

i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear;and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
i fear
no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)

My personal favorite of his poems, however, is this one:

i thank You God for most this amazing
day:for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky; and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes

(i who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun’s birthday; this is the birth
day of life and of love and wings: and of the gay
great happening illimitably earth)

how should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing any–lifted from the no
of all nothing–human merely being
doubt unimaginable You?

(now the ears of my ears awake and
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)

DSCN6320

Many people have issue with reading poetry, so here are some tips I’ve learned over the years to help really appreciate poems as I am reading them:

  1. Don’t read it like a novel. If you pick up Selected Poems by E.E. Cummings, choose one or two poems to really focus on.
  2. Read the poem a couple of times straight through. Try to get a sense of the overall theme.
  3. Read it again, this time stopping at the end of each line. Think about your favorite images in the line, favorite words, and try to figure out what the line may signify.
  4. When you’ve finished going through each line, skim it one more time and then simply think about it.

Maybe this seems like too much work for a casual reading, but it is simply a different process than novel-reading; if you want to get the most out of poetry, it is the best way to do it. I love reading E.E. Cummings poems because no word is squandered – you can find meaning in every pronoun, comma, and missing space.

IMG_1142

i will wade out
till my thighs are steeped in burning flowers
I will take the sun in my mouth
and leap into the ripe air
Alive
with closed eyes
to dash against darkness

Read This: Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli

IMG_0559

Good news – I’ve got a new favorite book! After I finished the last book I was on (These Things Hidden by Heather Gudenkauf, which was all right, but not something I’d read again), I got out a stack of books on my to-read shelf and asked Grant to help me decide which one to read. He chose Stargirl because he had actually read it (in middle school, apparently, and he couldn’t even tell me what it was about, so I don’t think it really stuck). It’s pretty rare that Grant, a math guy, has read a book that I have not read, so I figured it was probably a good idea to get this one out of the way. I’m so glad I did!

IMG_0540

Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli is a charming coming-of-age story set in a run of the mill high school in the desert of Arizona. Mica High is turned upside down when an eccentric new student called Stargirl comes to school – she serenades people at lunch with ukulele song, carries around a pet rat named Cinnamon, and is the exact opposite of normal.

IMG_0543

Her stubborn hold on individuality has an effect on everyone at the school. At first they are wary, then they are mesmerized, then they are self-righteously angry at her oddities, and then they are back to mesmerized again. Throughout all of this, the narrator, a boy named Leo Borlock, can’t stop thinking of the mysterious, magical, can’t-put-your-finger-on-it Stargirl. Before long he is in love, but he does not know how to navigate the intricacies of her unique personality. He tries to convince her to become “like everyone else”; it doesn’t stick for long, though.

She was bendable light: she shone around every corner of my day.

Stargirl is a celebration of individuality at its best. Though the book is classified in the children’s/young adult genre, I am glad I did not read it in middle school as my husband did. While I think that the message is a great one and needs to be taught in schools, I was able to appreciate it so much more now, as an adult, than I think I would have as a kid. With some of the most beautiful prose in a book that I have ever read, Jerry Spinelli weaves a delicious tale of understanding, non-conformity, and kindness. I highly, HIGHLY recommend this book for anyone who believes that individuality is something to be cherished.

Live today. Not yesterday. Not tomorrow. Just today. Inhabit your moments. Don’t rent them out to tomorrow. Do you know what you’re doing when you spend a moment wondering how things are going to turn out? You’re cheating yourself out of today. Today is calling to you, trying to get your attention, but you’re stuck on tomorrow, and today trickles away like water down a drain. You wake up the next morning and that today you wasted is gone forever. It’s now yesterday. Some of those moments may have had wonderful things in store for you , but now you’ll never know.

To Read: House of Mirth by Edith Wharton

re

Edith Wharton will always be my favorite author. That being said, I am rather ashamed it took me so long to read her first and most acclaimed novel, The House of Mirth. Part of me was afraid that it wouldn’t live up to the high standards the world of classic literature has given it. Now that I’ve actually read it, I can assure myself and everyone else that there was no disappointment to be had.

IMG_20150111_175832

Joy and laugher are lacking in this book, which is perhaps shocking to those who do not know Wharton and did not pick up on the irony of the title. Mrs. Wharton has a knack for throwing her characters into a harsh and judgmental landscape, and it is no different for Lily Bart, the protagonist of the novel.

Though without money herself, Lily plays a leading role in 1900s New York high society, essentially existing off the sumptuous charity of friends. Her mother, long since gone, raised her to abhor dinginess and poverty, and since she is not rich, has made it her goal in life to capture a rich husband. In trying to attain this goal, she ends up sacrificing her beliefs, morals, and reputation; in the end, she has nothing to show for her life except debt.

The saddest part about Lily’s steady decline into deprivation is that she had a chance at true love but squandered it. Lily has a hold on Lawrence Selden’s heart from the very beginning of the novel; his love, in a sense, becomes the antagonist, because her life’s purpose is to snare a wealthy husband but the man who loves her and whom she loves is not rich. “The only way I can help you is by loving you,” Selden tells Lily in an early fit of passion. Though she finds herself on many occasions craving his love, she turns from it again and again – but not because she is cruel or selfish. She is fastened in a vicious cycle that she cannot escape from, one of ritual, social mores, and maintaining reputation.

IMG_20150111_180320

Lily and her chance at happiness are always circling but never meeting. Cruel circumstance and haughty breeding have doomed her, and in the end this ruins not only Lily herself, but the few who love her as well.

The House of Mirth is a great book to curl up with and enjoy in these harsh winter months, and though it is not a happy read it comes highly recommended. It is the kind of story that you simply cannot let go of for a while.

IMG_20150111_180230

I have tried hard – but life is difficult, and I am a very useless person. I can hardly be said to have an independent existence. I was just a screw or a cog in the great machine called life, and when I dropped out of it I found I was no use anywhere else. What can one do when one finds out that one only fits into one hole? One must go back to it or be thrown out into the rubbish heap – and you don’t know what it’s like in the rubbish heap!

It’s A Wonderful Life

MBDITAW EC010

As far back as I can remember, every Christmas Eve, after opening our gifts and gorging ourselves on a splay of hors d’oeuvres, my family would sit down together and watch the most wonderful Christmas movie ever, It’s A Wonderful Life.

I don’t think I truly started to appreciate this movie until I got to college. It is replete with symbolism and heavy themes, much that goes unnoticed to the child’s eye. When I was a kid, the thing that most struck me about this film was that angels got wings when bells rang and a man named George Bailey got to see what life would be like if he was never born. In fact, I sort of tuned out the beginning portion of the movie, where nothing is happening but character development.

Now this beginning part of the movie is the part I love most. We get to see into the life of a small-town hero, one who is great in the minds of his fellow townspeople but feels like life should have offered him more.

Especially at the age I am at now, George Bailey’s story is super relatable. He was a man with big dreams, but unforeseen circumstances stuck him in his small hometown of Bedford Falls, doing a humdrum job he swore he’d never do. He marries his high school sweetheart and starts a family, never accomplishing those far-reaching dreams of his youth. When his business and reputation is compromised, he contemplates suicide, only to be saved by his guardian angel, Clarence, who shows him how much of an impact he has on the ones he loves and how tragic life might have been if he’d never lived.

It is a nice reminder to see that even if the lives we are leading seem insignificant to us, our love and generosity and spirit can have a massive effect on those around us. The actions that to us may seem commonplace or obvious could be changing the very course of someone’s life. George Bailey is “the richest man in town” not because he has mounds of gold lying around or is wildly famous, but because he has friends and family who love him and respect him more than anything, and that is no little task. He leads an honest, good life, and though from the surface it seems like this goodness is not rewarded, in reality he lives a life to be coveted.

I think at some point all people dream of fame and riches. When I was in high school I thought that by now I would have written a novel that put me in the same league as JK Rowling. But writing is a lot harder in real life than it was in my high school dreams, and I don’t even have a sentence written of that great novel (at least, I don’t think I do). The fact is, our dreams are allowed to change; as we get older, we become more grounded, and while it is hard to let go of those dreams, eventually they will be replaced by others – like being a mom and running a little business and being the picture of a housewife. Maybe someday I will still write that great novel, but right now I am content with the little life I am living, caring for my husband (as best I can), contributing to society with my art, and leaving my plans open for the time we are blessed with children. Maybe I will never be famous, but that’s perfectly all right because fame does not define success – love does.

___________________________________________________________________________________________________

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

– Romans 15:13

My Favorite Thing to Make: Book Spine Bookmarks

People often ask me what my favorite thing to create is. After pondering it a while (I don’t want to give a rash answer on this one), I think I finally came up with an answer. I love any and all sorts of creative activities, but my favorite thing to make is my book spine bookmarks (which you can find here in my etsy shop).

DSCN8720 DSCN5463

I really enjoy making these because they exercise my brain as well as my hand. I majored in English in college, but even before then books were monumental in my life. Every English class I ever took was my favorite – there was just something so exciting about delving into a novel, discovering its secrets, its themes and symbols and essence. Book discussions are what I lived for in school. Now that I am out of school I find myself longing for those days of book discussions and intensive reading, and one thing that helps is painting book spines on bookmarks.

DSCN8725DSCN5239

Painting a book spine bookmark is like my creative version of a book discussion. I decide on (or am commissioned) a book to make, and then I stew over it. What color is this novel? What style? Is it classical or new agey or abstract or fantastical? What are the most important or deep-sitting symbols in the book?

DSCN5255DSCN5134

Some books are easier to make than others, but I love this sort of challenge. When in the middle of one of these bookmarks, I find myself flipping through the pages, looking up quotes, and re-meeting the characters. Pure bliss.

DSCN6144DSCN5166

My favorite books to do so far have been the Harry Potter series, but to avoid being cliche, my runner up is Ethan Frome. This was my favorite book in high school.

DSCN7739DSCN5248

Bookmarks are also a great gift option for people who would much rather have their nose stuck in a book than be out partying – we all know the type! If you have a specific book in mind for a loved one, let me know and I can start a custom order for you. Cheers!

unwrap your unique gift etsy

Book Recommendation: Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

DSCN8345

After the whole mice debacle, I decided it would be appropriate to finally read this acclaimed novella with mice in the title. Honestly, it is bizarre to me that after two years of advanced high school english and three years of honors english classes in college, I never read this book. It is both replete with symbolism and short, an english teacher’s dream. Nevertheless, I was obliged to read this treasure on my own.

DSCN8340

Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck is a powerful and touching tale of friendship set during the Great Depression. Lennie and George are laborers who travel from farm to farm to find work; George cares for Lennie, who has a mental disability, like a brother.

DSCN8343

The story pivots around the dream of these men – that one day, they’ll be able to have a farm of their own, living off the “fatta the land”; Lennie would have his very own rabbits to care for. However, this dream is really just that – a dream. These men, symbols of the entire underclass during the time period, are dispossessed, imprisoned by their own lives.

DSCN8342

Lennie, a large, childlike man who does not know his own power, has a fatal flaw – he loves soft things. George’s patience is tried again and again, because he knows that Lennie’s disability is dangerous and cannot truly be controlled, but he still is loyal friend to Lennie in spite of it all. The final climatic scene is the ultimate sign of love and sacrifice – a shock, but one that sits really deep with you, and stays a while after reading.

DSCN8350

Though this book is not long, it is a story that lives on even after you finish reading it. I found myself returning to the characters again and again after I finished, wondering about certain pieces of dialogue or actions. I highly recommend you read this book if you haven’t yet – it shouldn’t take long.

“A guy needs somebody―to be near him. A guy goes nuts if he ain’t got nobody. Don’t make no difference who the guy is, long’s he’s with you. I tell ya, I tell ya a guy gets too lonely an’ he gets sick.” 

DSCN8349DSCN8348

Update on the DeRocher mice situation (if you want the full story, click here): After catching those first two mice, we haven’t seen or heard a peep since. We hope this means the problem has been solved!

Book Recommendation: Looking for Alaska by John Green

 DSCN7758

No, this book is not about someone with really poor geography skills. Looking for Alaska by John Green is a harrowing coming of age story that centrals around Alaska Young, a beautiful, emotionally troubled teen.

DSCN7747

The story begins when the narrator, a boy called Pudge (Miles Halter), decides to discover his “Great Perhaps” (from the last words of Francois Rabelais) and leave his normal high school to go to a prestigious boarding school in Alabama. Though Culver Creek is not at all as extravagant as he had expected, he does end up grasping that elusive Great Perhaps when he becomes close friends with Alaska (the girl for whom he also has incorrigible feelings), his boisterous roommate The Colonel, a boy called Takumi, and a girl named Lara. And when a tragedy hits their friend group, they don’t let it destroy them, but rather grow even closer because of it.

I’ve got to say, I’m rather impressed by John Green. The first book I read by him was The Fault in Our Stars, which was really good, but – I felt – a little flat in terms of characters. The themes were rich and thought-provoking, but it seemed like all the characters had the same brain stuffed in different bodies. Looking for Alaska, on the other hand, does not have this problem. All the characters are elaborately unique: The Colonel, a short, poor boy with a huge brain and an even huger heart, Miles Halter, a timid boy who never had friends until getting to boarding school, Alaska Young, a girl so troubled by her past that she’s let herself become entangled in a sticky web of suffering, and even the secondary characters are full of life.

DSCN7753

“I was gawky and she was gorgeous and I was hopelessly boring and she was endlessly fascinating. So I walked back to my room and collapsed on the bottom bunk, thinking that if people were rain, I was drizzle and she was hurricane.”

What is really fascinating about this book is that everything and everyone in it is brutally honest – there is no sugarcoating. These kids aren’t the image of perfection – they make a plethora of mistakes, including but not limited to drinking, smoking, and hooking up (“But there was so much to do: cigarettes to smoke, sex to have, swings to swing on. I’ll have more time for reading when I’m old and boring.”) – and they know that what they are doing isn’t necessarily on the straight and narrow. Nevertheless, their knowing rebellion is refreshing, and I found myself rooting for them in spite of it all. Furthermore, with their honesty in regard to their own actions also comes an honesty in their way of looking at the world – they are not blinded by what others of their age, perhaps, are.

“What is an ‘instant’ death anyway? How long is an instant? Is it one second? Ten? The pain of those seconds must have been awful as her heart burst and her lungs collapsed and there was no air and no blood to her brain and only raw panic. What the hell is instant? Nothing is instant. Instant rice takes five minutes, instant pudding an hour. I doubt that an instant of blinding pain feels particularly instantaneous.”

This novel delves into some really deep issues about life, death, love, and friendship. If you feel like a quick read with some profound themes, I definitely suggest this one.

DSCN7755

“Alaska finished her cigarette and flicked it into the river.

‘Why do you smoke so damn fast?’ I asked.

She looked at me and smiled widely, and such a wide smile on her narrow face might have looked goofy were it not for the unimpeachably elegant green in her eyes. She smiled with all the delight of a kid on Christmas morning and said, ‘Y’all smoke to enjoy it. I smoke to die.”