literature, time, and other thoughts

They were drawing me.  The books.

It was like my car was on autopilot– I thought I was headed to Dunn Bros, but when I drove past it, I wasn’t surprised.  Instead, I just let my car take me to Barnes and Noble.

It’s been a little while since I have been here.  Now that I have a membership and have free shipping, I’ve been buying most of my books online.  Today it wasn’t enough.  I had to be with them, surrounded by them, which is why I am drinking a banana chocolate smoothie, typing on my laptop alone, but feeling like I am in the company of friends– or future friends.

To be honest, I feel a little overwhelmed.  There are so many books I want to read, I don’t know when I’m going to find time to get to them all.  I perused the “Summer Reading” table and found more that intrigued me.  From where I sit, I can see the “New Fiction” shelves, and I wonder if I’ll ever have a book there.

I feel pulled so many ways.  I want to readreadREAD, but I am trying to balance that out with plenty of time for writing, which I love even more.  But my writing is informed and inspired by what I read, so I have to keep fueling that fire.  Those two activities alone could keep me busy until I die, I think, and yet– I have even more important things in my life than these.

People.  God.

I know everyone gets 24 hours a day, but I wish I could have more.  How am I supposed to be a loving, caring daughter and friend while working fulltime and writing a novel and feeding an obsessive reading habit– all while never neglecting my true love Jesus Christ and his church?

Praise God that OCD is no longer demanding so much of my attention.  How did I manage?  It feels like a different lifetime.

And yet, I have friends who do all this and take care of a spouse and children.  It boggles my mind.

I want my life to matter, want to leave a mark.  It seems difficult to do when my interests are so spread– I worry that my efforts in each area will be lacking because I didn’t have enough time invested into each one.

I think that one of the reasons I decided to keep a list of books I have read and reviewed (click THE READER tab above) was to try to organize at least one part of my life.  When I sit here in the bookstore, surrounded by all this brilliance, I know that there will be corners I never explore.  Somehow maybe this will help me keep better control of the labyrinth I’m in.

And what a beautiful labyrinth.

Why I Love YA Lit

Young adult literature is my favorite to read, regardless of how old I am.  While I in no way eschew literature written specifically for adults, YA is at the top of my list for these reasons:

1) So much drama!
I think of myself when I was in high school and college, and it’s true that I was a Drama Queen.  While I am not proud of it, I do think that drama in literature keeps things exciting!  Love triangles, deaths, adventures, secrets, fights … and that’s just at Hogwarts!

2) Incredible characters.
Teenagers are fascinating, opinionated, and passionate.  When we write about them, we end up with characters who are full of energy and who often haven’t found a rhythm or routine to life yet.  Hence, Augustus Waters, Anne Shirley, Stargirl Carraway.

3) So much life ahead of them = so many options!
Not to mention, so many lessons to learn.  I love watching young characters take on the world and grow so much from the beginning to the end of a story.  Anything is possible when you’re seventeen!  Everything is shiny and new and full of wonder, which we see as we watch Liesel Meminger learn to read or Edmund Pevensie discover who he truly is.

4) Accessible.
Don’t get me wrong; I find literary fiction to be gorgeous.  But I side with C.S. Lewis who encouraged writers to always choose the shorter word.  YA lit is like the ESV version of the Bible– dead-on accuracy but also very readable, nothing sacrificed.

And believe me, I don’t think that YA writers need to (or should) sacrifice any of the beauty or imagery or depth.  John Green is a pioneer in this, and I love that he writes for very intelligent teenagers who love to think.  They are out there, he says, and we ought not insult them.  Agreed.

Do you like YA lit?  How come?

my top 10 non-fiction books

1. Traveling Mercies by Anne Lamott
2. Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller
3. The Problem of Pain by C.S. Lewis
4. Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis
5. Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott
6. A Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Donald Miller
7. A Grief Observed by C.S. Lewis
8. For the Time Being by Annie Dillard
9. Walking from East to West by Ravi Zacharias
10. Traveling Light by Eugene Peterson

Okay, I’m not sure that in the end I got everything in the right order.  What are your thoughts?  Which ones did you love?  Which books would you include on this list?

adult fiction

So, last week, I posted about my favorite YA lit titles, and it was fun to see others’ reactions and suggestions, both in the comments and on Facebook.  This week, I thought I’d post my top ten fiction books that fall outside of YA.

Peace Like a River by Leif Enger
The Last Unicorn by Peter Beagle
C.S. Lewis’s space trilogy, but especially That Hideous Strength
East of Eden by John Steinbeck
Rosie by Anne Lamott
Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis
Life of Pi by Yann Martel
Les Miserables by Victor Hugo
The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

Which ones have you read and enjoyed?  Which of your all-time favorites did I miss?