State of Wonder, by Ann Patchett

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I’m an Ann Patchett fan. I loved both of her novels, Bel Canto, and then I rushed out to read Commonwealth when it was released. Sadly, State of Wonder sat on my bookshelf for far too long before I finally read it. Here’s the real reason I finally picked it up… when I read Big Magic, by Elizabeth Gilbert, there was a fascinating chapter about an exchange that she and Ann had in which she believes that she transferred the idea of this novel to her. I thought it was fascinating, so I moved State of Wonder to my pile of books to be read ASAP.  One last thing, Ann Patchett believes in the power of a local bookstore. So much so that she opened up Parnassus Books in Nashville, click on over to hear her interview about why she did this!

Here’s a quick synopsis: Dr. Marina Singh is sent by her boss to the Amazon in an effort to determine two things: What happened to her colleague, who had died mysteriously there scant weeks ago, and what kind of progress was being made by her former mentor in the development of a new fertility drug that was being funded by her pharmaceutical company. Both of these tasks prove to be most complex and difficult to achieve. Her former mentor’s work is at the centre of her journey and involves a little known tribe of people whose fertility extends well into their seventies and proves to be as closely linked to their life’s rituals as the environment in which they live. As Marina spends more time in the Amazon, it seems she is learning some deep, dark secrets that could end up extending her visit!

Hope is a horrible thing, you know. I don’t know who decided to package hope as a virtue because it’s not. It’s a plague. Hope is like walking around with a fishhook in your mouth and somebody just keeps pulling it and pulling it.

State of Wonder is awesome. I was skeptical, because a guest on Anne Bogel’s podcast WSIRN had said she threw this book across the room because she hated the ending so much!! I, on the other hand, just felt like giving this book a really long hug after I read it. There were crazy scientists, an insane anaconda fight, and some risky love!! All of these things had me sitting on the edge of my seat while I read this book. But as exciting of a story it was, there were some big themes and beautiful writing!

Never be so focused on what you’re looking for that you overlook the thing you actually find.

If you haven’t read any Ann Patchett, I strongly encourage you to. She writes an effortless story that just makes a reader feel so satisfied at the end. Her novels are all really interesting concepts that make you go, “Huh, what would I do in this situation?”

That’s all friend, happy reading!!

 

 

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6 books that Shaped my Reading Life

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Today I wanted to share with you the books that over my reading life have really shaped my views and way I read. Not only are we going to talk great books, but I will share with you the reasons why I connected with these books. Think of this as a look into my reading soul! I hope this post inspires you to look back and think about the books that have meant a lot to you at certain points in your life.

The BFGThe BFG, by Roald Dahl. As a kid, I adored Roald Dahl. I ate his books up like candies, devouring each one until I looked up one day, and there were no more to read! But of all his books, this one is the one that made me fall in love with reading. I still re-read it frequently for myself, but also with my son. I remember being completely wrapped up in Sophie’s story, and the idea that dreams could be locked up in a jar.

 

Nancy Drew Mystery Collection Vol. 1-10 (Boxed Set of 10 books) [Hardcover]Nancy Drew Series, by Carolyn Keene. I feel like this one is a given, and that most people can relate. I remember being a kid reading under the covers, just trying to figure out how Nancy Drew would work it out. They are great stories, and my parents bought these for me one after the next, because even as a kid I needed to read them in order. Thank goodness my parents always encouraged this, and I think it’d be so fun to read the whole series again!

 

The Piano Man's DaughterThe Piano Man’s Daughter, by Timothy Findley. This book… oh man! You have all read about my love of Tiff. But it was my grade 10 English teacher, Mrs. Desjardins, who introduced me to Timothy Findley… and from there I became enamoured with him and the idea that someone so creative could live so close to me. From here on out, I have read A LOT of his books. Not all, but one day I will get there!

 

The Pillars of the Earth (Kingsbridge Book 1)Pillars of the Earth, by Ken Follett. Here’s a special one. Growing up I had heard my parents talk about this book. They had talked about how it’s based around a cathedral… and all I could think was wahhhh wahhh wahhh… it sounded so boring to me. THEN, a friend’s Dad had bought it for me as it was one of his favourite books. I then read it, and did not put it down until it was done. I loved it, and it made me realize that I really loved historical fiction. Also that my Mom and Dad’s book taste, was actually pretty damn awesome!!

 

Jane EyreJane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte. Before I read Jane I had a view that classics were tough books, and only for people who studied classic literature. Then I read it, and I fell so deeply in love with the wuthering Yorkshire winds, old mansions, and the complex time it was for women. I also fell in love with the Brontes. This classic is a classic that still stands up today, and is a must read. Click here to see my review.

 

Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear

Big Magic, by Elizabeth Gilbert. This is a recent read of mine, but holy smokes did it pack of punch. And there are sections of this book that will never leave my memory. Gilbert’s theory is that an idea is something that floats around, and can be yours if you take it… but it also can pass on to the next person. And her example of this with Ann Patchett is truly inspiring. This book made me want to stand up and be authentically me. Check out my review here.

So that is it for today, bookish friends! Please leave me a comment with some books that have shaped your reading life. I’d love to hear them.

 

Big Magic, by Elizabeth Gilbert

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Happy Sunday! Today I’m coming at you with a non-fiction book about creativity. Elizabeth Gilbert has written many novels, but you probably know her best from the bestseller, and movie Eat Pray Love. I had put Big Magic on my required reading list for My Happiness Project for the month of January. I thought that maybe it might inspire me to live a little more creatively and write more.

And you have treasures hidden within you – extraordinary treasures – and so do I, and so does everyone around us. And bringing those treasures to light takes work and faith and focus and courage and hours of devotion, and the clock is ticking, and the world is spinning, and we simple do not have time anymore to think so small.

The key points of the book are to stop being so afraid of doing what you want to do, and to stand up like your badass self and embrace the thing that makes your heart sing. There is a wonderful story about one of Elizabeth Gilbert’s friend in this book who at the age of 40 decided to start figure skating again. She described that her friend had a completely different feeling within herself when she would skate, even though she hadn’t done it since she was a kid. So she did it, and still does it. She’s not preparing for the next Olympics… but she is happy, and healthier for it.

She also talks about how originality isn’t the key, but authenticity is. The idea of thinking up something entirely original is really daunting. Because in all honesty, how many ideas are really original. All the great writers, songwriters, athletes, and everyday people have most likely been inspired by someone else’s thoughts. So you do you, and embrace the ideas and feelings that make you want to be creative.

To me this book is all about inspired living. I love to read. I love to write. I love to run. I also love my job as an RMT. This book has ignited a fire within me to just do what I love to do, and fully commit to it. Be in the moment, and let the magic take over. And likewise… if you need to go through the motions of your day before you can arrive at your beloved task/hobby, do that without complaints. It’s all part of the process.

It’s nobody’s business but your own.

You may think that the books I’m reading are a waste of time. You may think that my writing is terrible. You may think that my career choice is crazy. But dammit, I really don’t care what you think. I know in my heart that I love these things. I know that the books I read are part of a bigger picture for me. I know the writing that I do is part of my process. And I know for sure that my work is deeply meaningful to me, and my individual clients. So, friends, your opinions are great, but what they are are yours. And this book has taught me to be authentically myself, and go where my heart wants to.

Believe in the magic. Until next time, happy reading!

Podcast listeners may enjoy these with Elizabeth Gilbert: