Tag: Favorite Things

I need to preface this whole post with the disclaimer that I am not a big reader.  Ally is a voracious reader…but I’m not.  I love to read when I travel…or at the beach…or on a rainy/snowy Sunday with a hot cup of French vanilla coffee by my side.  But I don’t read every day.

It takes a really good story to get me hooked on a book, and then once I’m hooked, I don’t put it down.

So when I do think about reading a book…I’m totally drawn to fiction, as I love a good story.

Not that true life can’t be turned into a good story, but I guess I prefer the made-up version of life when I curl up with a book.

Interestingly – even though I’m a sporadic reader – I’m particularly drawn to novels in a series.  I guess I like to know that when I start a book, I’ll be able to follow the characters through different times, places and experiences…taking multiple books to complete the saga.

(Or maybe I’m just lazy and like the idea of having my next few books all laid out for me)

And I’m not at all particular about the genre of the books/series I choose.  In fact…I’ve read and totally enjoyed…

  • “Young adult” fiction like The Hunger Games series and The Twilight books;
  • Books that deal with espionage, terrorism and political intrigue like The Bourne series, Vince Flynn’s series featuring the super good guy assassin Mitch Rapp and anything by David Baldacci;
  • Stories about prehistoric times like Jean Auel’s the Earth’s Children series (Ally and I just went to a book signing last week and heard the author talk about her latest book and each got a signed copy!);
  • Quirky stories about weird people in Sweden (yep…I got hooked on the whole Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series);
  • And most recently, a story about a woman who steps through a group of large rocks in the 1940’s only to get sent back in time to Scotland in the 1700’s where she falls in love with a hunk of a Scottish man who rescues her about 20 times from danger in the first two books alone (the Outlander series)!  LOVING IT!

I think I like historical novels a lot…but I can’t seem to get through a nonfiction book about a historical figure or event.   I’ve tried to read about several of our Presidents, various wars, and even the civil rights movement.  But honestly…I haven’t finished any of them.

I love to read stories about strong and interesting women, but when I’ve tried to read about real women (who I thought were role models) like Hillary Clinton or Jane Fonda, I found that I don’t really care all that much about their lives once I got into their books.  They’re still role models…but just not as authors.

I’ve tried to read about how to better my health, my mind and my body…but I lose interest quickly and end up sitting in front of the TV eating a big ham and cheese sandwich.

But oddly enough, I like to read cookbooks.   I know it sounds silly…but I can read through an entire cookbook, learning different techniques, food and spice combinations and serving ideas, and walk away feeling totally fulfilled…but not feeling like I just read a book.

Weird.

So I guess I do like some types of non-fiction.

And as I think about it…I think I read more than I think I read.

So I guess I’ll go finish up the 2nd book in the Outlander series right now.  I’ve already got the next two in the series waiting for me.

I’m a total fiction fan.  I love stories, whether they be love stories or fantasy stories or scary stories or stories written for pre-teens.  I love them.

(OK, especially the ones written for pre-teens.)

I have a hard time with non-fiction.  I get bored very easily.  I drift off.  I don’t find it very exciting or enthralling.

I just don’t connect.

And that’s what I really want from a book.  Connection.  And by connection, I don’t mean that I have to necessarily relate to it.  I just like feeling connected to a character or a plot and interested in what happens next.

And I don’t really get that from (most) non-fiction.

(There are always exceptions.  For example: humor.  (Enter Mary Roach, Jen Lancaster, David Sedaris, and – most recently -  Tina Fey.)  That’s because I’m connecting to the funny.  But even that’s not always enough if there’s no plot.)

I once read in (ironically) a non-fiction book that life is too short to read books that you don’t enjoy.  So I don’t read a lot of non-fiction because I just don’t enjoy it very much.

Honestly, I thought that everyone read mostly fiction, because I’ve always equated “reading” WITH “fiction”.  And then I started working in a bookstore.

Oh, the things you learn working in a bookstore!

I won’t go into it all now (because I’m compiling a list that will someday make a very long short story and probably a wildly popular film), but one of the biggest lessons has been that non-fiction is the popular choice for many, if not most, people.

(This is where I will ask that you refrain from going into a large bookstore and asking where the “non-fiction section” is.  Odds are that the WHOLE FREAKING BOOKSTORE is non-fiction, with a row of novels.)

(This is also the part where I ask you to refrain from saying some rude comment to your local bookseller when we point this fact out.  I understand that you’re scoffing and rolling your eyes at me because you realize that you asked an idiotic question, but still…)

(Moving on…)

I honestly didn’t realize that people read so! many! self-help books and religious books and new age books and history books and biographies.  For entertainment!  I hear the statement “I don’t really read fiction” far more than “I don’t really read non-fiction”.

(Probably because us fiction lovers are embarrassed that we prefer fantasy over books that, you know, might teach us something.)

My bread and butter is fiction.  My love of reading is for fiction.  When I walk into a bookstore, I make a mad dash for the fiction section.

Since starting at the bookstore, I’ve tried to expand my horizons.  But really?  If I find the time to sit and read, I’d rather read some epic love story than a self-improvement book about how to “be a better me”.

(Snore.)

I just loose interest reading about the same thing over and over, without a plot moving me forward.  When I read, I want characters and secrets and imagination.

I want escape.

I crave (fictional) connection.

It’s my comfort zone, and reading should be about being comfortable, no matter what genre makes you feel that way…

(PS: I truly believe that there’s no “better” preference.  I just think you should read, no matter what it is…)

In order to answer this question I found myself walking around my house looking at all of the “stuff” I own and asking myself if I thought one thing or another  was the most important.

I knocked lots of things off the list right away.  Electronics, clothes, shoes (come on…I like ‘em but I’m not that shallow!), furniture, bake ware….ya know, all the stuff that sits in and on cabinets and closets throughout the house.

And then I thought about my artwork.

The oil painting hanging over the couch in my office was my first piece of art worth more than $100 and I do love it.  It’s a beautifully done oil painting of flowers in an exquisite frame.  It is the most beautiful painting I own.   But truthfully, it’s not even close to being the most important thing I own.

In addition to the painting, I now have 3 amazingly beautiful sculptures that Brian has given me since we separated (I know…don’t even get me started) that I certainly would make a point to grab and put in my car if I was told that I had 15 minutes to gather my possessions before my house were to blow up.  But again…when it comes down to it, they aren’t the most important items I own.

So then I thought of all of the sentimental stuff I have.

Obviously, the first thing I thought of was our family photos.  After Brian and I split up, I was the one who declared that I would be the keeper of the family photo albums (of which there are probably 20-25) and I have them neatly stacked on top of each other on storage shelves in the basement.  Not that I don’t love to look through them, and cherish all of the pictures/history/memories in them…but the reality is that they “live” in the basement.  So in all honesty, how can I proclaim them the most important items, when they gather dust in the bowels of my house 99.9% of the time?

Jewelry?  I do now have some amazingly beautiful and sentimental pieces, and I would be absolutely heart sick if I ever lost them…(like a necklace that was my mom’s and another from Ally, a watch from my grandmother, earrings from Brian and a bracelet from Matthew) but I just can’t elevate any one of them to the status of “most” important thing that I own.

So how about books?  There are a few (not many as I’m not a voracious reader like the other members of my family) that have shaped my life.  They influenced the way I look at the world.  They occupied hours of my life by taking me to places and times I’ll never visit.  They broadened my mind.  But they certainly are not the most important things in my life.

So what the hell could it be?

It’s my dogs.

We could get into a philosophical argument as to whether or not our pets are our property or chattel?  But the reality is…that they (there are 4 of them now) are the most important “things” in my life.

I don’t treat them like things.  I treat them like pets.  That I love.  And cherish.  And care for.

And when it all comes down to it…if my house were on fire, the ONLY thing I would run in to rescue without thinking about it twice…would be my dogs.  The rest…while important to one degree or another…are just not the most important things in my life.

It’s funny.  I have stuff.  Lots of stuff, actually.  Too much stuff, some would say.

But what’s actually important?

What would I grab if there was a fire?

What do I love more than anything.

Of course, first and foremost, there’s the dogs.  But most days I feel like they own me, and they’re not really things.  And the importance that the two of them hold for me should be assumed.

So in terms of actual THINGS that I own, what’s the most important thing to me?

My computer has so much important stuff on in that it would be a total bummer if, for whatever reason, I no longer had it.

But is it the MOST important thing I own?  No – it’s definitely not.

I have a ring that Mike gave me several years ago for Christmas.  I love it.  I wear it every minute of everyday.  It makes me happy every time I look at it.

Yeah, I would say it’s a pretty damn important thing that I own.  It’s not only beautiful, but holds an incredible amount of sentimentality too.

And the only thing that’s tied in first place with THAT ring is a new ring I got 2 weeks ago.

One of those rings.

THE ring.

The big one.

The one that came with a question and a promise from a boy who wears glasses and who’s my best friend.

Yeah, that’s my most important thing.

:-)

PS: I also got into graduate school for next Fall.  I’ll be going to the University of Colorado for Speech Language Pathology.  I was trying to come up with a cute way to make that part of the actual post, but I can’t come up with anything.  BUT YAY I’M GOING TO GRADUATE SCHOOL.

(Followed closely by OH SHIT I’M GOING TO GRAD SCHOOL.)

(I have no similar fears about getting married.)

First of all…I really had no idea what the term “guilty pleasure” was until Ally mentioned it awhile ago in a totally different context.  I didn’t want her to think that I was out of touch or uncool…or… (God Forbid) OLD, so I didn’t ask and just nodded my head as if I was following everything she was saying.

And then it came up as a topic for She Thinks.

Rather than take a chance on writing an entire post based on my ASSUMPTION of what it meant… I called her to see if I was correct.

“It sounds dirty” I said.  “You know…like porn.”

“No Mom, it’s not porn.”  (You know the tone)

“Oh good, I thought that would be really embarrassing.”

And then…a pause.

Well…it still might be.”

OY.

“A guilty pleasure” she went on to explain, “is something that you really like to do, but under normal circumstances (i.e. NOT writing about it in a blog for everyone to see) you would be kind of embarrassed and ashamed to tell anyone else about it.”

Another pause.

“And mom…that doesn’t mean it’s about sex!”

(we told everyone in last week’s post that we don’t talk to each other about sex)

”So for Gods’ sake…keep it clean!”

Great.  My kid feels she has to tell me to keep it clean.

So I racked my brain trying to think of something that I really like to do but kind of feel ashamed for doing and have never shared with anyone else (and isn’t about sex).

Baking?  No.  That’s just something I suck at doing, even though I torture myself by trying to do it every once in awhile.

Cleaning my closets?  No…that would fall under the category of Obsessive Compulsive Behavior…certainly not a guilty pleasure.

Oh wait…I think I have it.

I’m actually quite embarrassed to admit it, and it’s harder to admit than you might think…but…

I LOVE to watch “Gene Simmons and the Family Jewels.

In the middle of the night when I can’t sleep.

OK…it’s not just in the middle of the night when I can’t sleep.

I DVR it.  So I can watch it whenever I want.

Don’t ask me what I like about it.  I never liked the band KISS or followed Gene Simmons before.  But there’s something about the relationship of the family that makes me smile.  And they make me laugh.

But now I’m really embarrassed and totally ashamed to have told anyone about it.

So I guess it is a true guilty pleasure. (And it wasn’t about sex…YES!)

I define “guilty pleasures” as those things that you don’t want to admit that you love.  I think it should also be something that you’re not necessarily supposed to enjoy.

(And no, Mom, it’s not about sex.)

Like trashy TV.  You’re not supposed to like it.  You feel dirty just watching it.  But ohmygod you can’t stop watching.

I have a few guilty pleasures.

The first is something that I’ve written about before: young adult fiction.

I love books that were written for girls a decade (or more) younger than me.  I love vampires and wizards and demigods and crazy awesome books beyond description.

Some of the books I read are silly.  Or just plain stupid.  But I just can’t quit them.

I read other stuff, too, but the vast majority of my library is pretty humiliating.

(And may I just offer some advice to anyone else who reads embarrassing titles, whether it’s YA or trashy romance or what have you?  Get an e-reader.  That way, nobody can tell that you’re obsessively reading a book with a cover like this:)

(Seriously, it looks like a soft core porno with a dude who looks like Justin Bieber.)

Another guilty pleasure I have is for a certain ridiculous TV show that defies all logic.

Oh, what to say about Jersey Shore?

Oh.  My.  God.  These people are like really, really disturbing cartoon characters.  I don’t know why I like watching them make fools of themselves or why I love when they fight (actually, I’m pretty sure I love the fights because their accents get super thick when they start screaming at each other and it’s awesome).

I don’t know why I find them hilarious and even (dare I say?) endearing.  It makes no sense – and it’s embarrassing – but what can I do?

The heart is a mysterious thing, and loves what it loves.

My last guilty pleasure (well, that I’m sharing right now), is Lady Gaga.

I love Lady Gaga.

I think she’s amazing.  I think she’s brilliant.  I think she’s crazy and bizarre and a genius.

Actually, she’s so great, I don’t even count her as a “guilty pleasure”.  A guilty pleasure should be something that you feel guilty about – not because it’s bad for you – but because you feel like you shouldn’t actually like it.

And I think everyone should like Gaga.

(Actually, everyone should like YA, too.)

(But I’ll admit that Jersey Shore isn’t for everyone.)