30 Days, 30 Books That Shaped My Life – Day 28 NaNoWriMo

I didn’t have a good day. While this is hardly remarkable for me (the good days have always been precious rarities in my life), it does make writing an even bigger challenge than usual. Which isn’t to say I didn’t write today. I wrote a newsletter and two blog posts (which may or may not make it over to this website… I’m ambivalent), plus e-mail queries and other miscellaneous messaging. When my daughter got home from school (she’s in college, but living at home to save money), she said I should focus on those things that make me happy, like writing this blog.

Interestingly, I don’t really think about writing in terms of happiness, although maybe I should. I certainly do think this series has brought joy to people. Friends who know me have expressed how much they love literature (both the books I’ve listed and those that shaped their lives); I have 11 followers since launching this website roughly a month ago (the older posts were migrated from other platforms). What’s really cool is that some of these followers have found me from Britain and Singapore and none of them are people I know IRL. I’m thrilled that something I wrote touched them enough to click “follow,” which is a minor effort that results in a huge boost to my esteem (something I really needed today, so I thank each and every one of you).

When I think about love of reading, I remember a more recent entry to Books that Shaped My Life, The Elegance of the Hedgehog. It was recommended to me by my good friend, Liz, who also encouraged me to publish my novel, The Truth (final proof coming on Friday!). When she read this book, she told me how much the protagonist reminded her of me. Hopefully it wasn’t the dowdy middle-aged concierge part of the character that struck a resemblance, but rather her passion and desire to be lost in the sublime. This novel, translated from the French in my case, is a multi-POV (if you haven’t received the memo, I really like multiple points of view), tells the story about a woman who oversees a luxury building, but mostly just wants to get lost in her daily forays into reading. She loves Tolstoy and Japanese film (maybe my next 30-day series will be about movies!) and basically being left alone.

However, and this is key to my mood today, her desire to be left alone is not because she hates humanity but because she loves the best of humanity that literature presents and so little of day-to-day living offers. Because life is long and hard and so often a disappointment. Art and literature are what we humans have to keep our heads above the fray. This book is one you’ll either love or hate, but you won’t walk away from it without a distinct opinion.

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