The Bookshelf Purge

As I go accumulating more and more books, I have less space available on my bookshelf, naturally. This has made me reevaluate what I allow space on my shelves, so I recently did a bit of a purge. I had kept so many books for so long that I’d never read because I kept telling myself, “Someday.” I think it’s time I stop deluding myself. There’s no way I can ever get through ALL THE BOOKS before my life is over, especially since I’m a responsible adult with a life. What did that mean for some of my old second-hand purchases? It was time to let go of the notion that I’d eventually get around to them.

The deciding factor though for purging some books off my shelves was the diversity. I admit, I’ve been guilty of not reading diversely, but I’d like to change that. Making room physically for such books is a start. I didn’t just get rid of all white and/or male authors from my shelves, because I’d essentially be getting rid of my entire collection altogether, and I’m not that evolved of a human being yet. I did, however, rid myself of copies of the remainder of Dean Koontz’s Odd Thomas series and Michael Connelly novels. At this point, in my attempts to be a more conscious reader, I’ve come to realize the problematic characterization that can occur with such writers.

It’s not just the way certain characters are written that prompted me to purge these books from my shelves, although that aspect definitely made me feel less guilty about getting rid of books I hadn’t read yet. With the above two mentioned authors, I’ve already read enough of their canon to feel satisfied with having experienced those worlds and characters. Yes, Odd Thomas is a cool series, but having already read the first three books, I think I get it. He’s a ghost-seeing fry cook that it reticent to get into the action but does so anyway because that’s what protagonists do. Yes, Connelly’s Detective Bosch is a fun, cranky officer of the law with a gritty personality and serious machismo faults, but I’ve read enough of his adventures to know he’s always gonna catch the bad guy and be a terrible romantic interest.

With a significant chunk of books gone with getting rid of those two authors alone, I’ve made room for Roxane Gay, Zoraida Cordova, and Isabelle Allende. I know I should probably get rid of some more books from my shelf, but I’m still working on letting go of my material possessions. I have, however, extended my white and/or male author purge to my Goodreads TBR list and gotten rid of the last book in Veronica Roth’s Divergent series, the remaining Percy Jackson series books, and others. It felt like a breath of fresh air to see a good number of books get off my shelves and lists, taunting me with guilt for not having read them after all these years. From now on, I’m going to read what I want and not what I feel obligated to read (sans school textbooks).

Sharing from Valprehension

I thought this was pretty nifty and wanted to share with anyone who may have an interest in crafts and stitching.

So it turns out that people are, in fact, willing to pay money for my cross-stitch pieces, which is super exciting! So far orders have been coming in a really reasonable pace for me where I don’t feel stressed out or buried in work, but I am motivated to keep stitching – it’s been pretty […]

via Crafty Update: New cross-stitches! — Valprehension

Triple Threat Reader

Gone are the days when I could settle down with one book in my lap, perhaps a snack or two and a hot beverage, and focus on one story line at a time. My attention span has been shot to death with the invention of the internet, and I freely admit that. I still enjoy reading though (obviously). How to solve the problem though of a wandering mind. Over the last couple of months I think I found the solution.

I’ve allowed myself to pick up more than one book at a time and switch between stories when I feel like one isn’t captivating my attention at a certain time, even if I really like it. The real trick though is the medium by which I consume these reads. Last month, for a lighter daily bag, I brought my Kindle with me to work and read an e-book (The Death Cure) during lunch. During the 50-minute car ride home I’d listen to my audio book (Gulliver’s Travels) as I navigated Miami traffic. And at night, when I was comfy cozy in my pajamas, ready to settle in with the lamp alight on my nightstand, I’d read a physical hardcover or paperback (Leyenda and Lord of Shadows). Some nights I still can’t concentrate on a full fledged novel though, so I compromise with comic book reading. Short pages and mostly artwork does wonders for keeping the brain entertained.

My new strategy of reading multiple books and stories through different channels at different times has also expanded the amount of reading I get done in a month. The thing about trying to keep reading one book when I wasn’t feeling it, is that I’d read the same sentence at least five times over and still not process what was happening. Letting myself give in to the new millennial attention span and spreading my reading around through e-book, audio book, and physical book has increased my ability to multitask and enjoy a story even more than I already could.

For the first time in a long time, I look forward to taking a look at my TBR list and not feeling a dreadful pit in my stomach, making me feel guilty for adding, adding, adding and never making a dent. I’ve finally started to get some of those books off my list. Should I even dare to dream that one day I can make it through the whole list? Alright, that’s probably farfetched, but a reader can dream.

A Strangely Isolated Place — stripSearchLA

In Mexico, it is an honor to be the firstborn male of the family. It is an even greater honor to bear your father’s name. It is also a good way of killing two birds with one stone: honoring an ancestor and naming your kid. This ancient practice keeps cacophonous names in rotation for longer […]

via A Strangely Isolated Place — stripSearchLA

For those lost to the cliffs

The following is a poem I wrote about an experience I had during my travels to Ireland. I’d shared a glimpse on my Instagram, but a fellow traveler whom I’d met on the trip requested to see the full poem, so here it is. Enjoy!

“For those lost to the cliffs.”

Is what the sign at the bottom of the trail read.
Yes, many a tourist stood too close to the edge
and with a gust of wind was blown over the tall
green and muddy rocks to the unforgiving waves.
Knowing this, and even in the chill gray rainy day
I set my boots to the slick brown mud, squelching
beneath my feet as every step created suction between
myself and the earth.

Up and up we trekked, staying safe behind the stone
barricade and sticking to the trail until it stopped and
opened up. We’d made it to the top…
Of the first cliff, at least, and that’s where my asthma
let me go. We walked no further, being on a time crunch
but, oh, what. A. Sight.

I ventured toward a sloped edge, my boots sliding, precarious
but I needed to see. Cold, frothy waves beat against the jagged
rocks, blue-grey over brown curtained with mossy green. My lungs
ached deliciously and the wind numbed my cheeks as I stared
down the long drop and spread my arms in praise. I breathed
in the clear air for the few short minutes we had and closed
my eyes, like praying.

The journey back down was slick, but I made it.
I made it back, but, oh, I was lost to the cliffs.

Ron Swanson Listens to Flo

This was a silly poem I wrote for our Floetry writing challenge last year, but I liked how it turned out. Enjoy!

Ron Swanson Listens to Flo

I’ve never been a man into the hippie dippy subculture of America.
I think they’re lunatics, soft and turning children into inept adults,
but what the heck, my stepdaughter asked me to listen to this
Florence and some machine she’s a part of? I don’t know.

This Florence woman, her music may not by my tastes,
but damn, can she sing. Not my usual fare, but I can
appreciate and recognize a true artist dedicated to her craft.
If my little girl is going to listen to any singer, I’d rather it be “Flo”
as she calls her, rather than those pretty boy bands who sing some
nonsense about not knowing she’s beautiful makes a girl beautiful?
Please. I’d set my good friend Leslie on them in a heartbeat if I got the chance.

Ah, now this song, this is some good subject matter.
Miss Flo, you minx, trying to butter me up with a good piece of poetry
about a wood carver. I respect that.

Yes, yes this is true. Building not just for work and not just for play.
Wow, she really gets it. I must say I’m impressed.
Coffins are a bit macabre for my taste, but I suppose someone has to build them.
Death is an inevitability; no use in denying its existence.
I dare say, I could sit and carve one of my own chairs
listening to this song all day.
Miss Flo, you’re alright.