Books 3

Favorite Book and Favorite Author

For the avid reader, this can be a difficult question to answer. This asks one to consider everything from the classics to beach reading, fiction, and non-fiction, history, poetry, and prose. Rather than doing a detailed evaluation of your reading over the past, let’s make this easy. Which author comes to mind at this moment? Which book?

Fine. That is asking too much, so please share with us your top three favorite books. Likewise, your three favorite authors. That should be easier and the books and authors should coincide, right?

My Favorites

You know I would never ask you to do something that I am unwilling to do, right? You also know I love sharing with you, the readers, so here goes in no particular order.

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The first book that comes to my mind is A Prayer for Owen Meany. I read this book by John Irving many years ago and it has remained a favorite of mine to this day. In fact, after a few years, I simply remembered that it was a fun read and recalled only a few parts of the storyline, so I read it again and then later again. Naturally, the author became a favorite and I have read many of his books and now that I write this wonder why I have not read all of them.

It may be that I especially enjoy Irving’s writing because he is my contemporary. If you are not familiar with his work, you may recall some of the movies based on his writings. The first is The World According to Garp (1982) and another very popular one is Cider House Rules (1999). Do either of these ring a bell?

Irving’s mind and imagination are astounding. They might also be described as bizarre. In my opinion, he is more imaginative than Stephen King another favorite of mine. Warning, if you are offended by sexual content, Irving is not the writer for you.

“Imagining something is better than remembering something.” John Irving in The World According to Garp.


 

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Another writer that I have great admiration for is William Styron who died in 2006 at the age of 81. Styron wrote many award-winning novels and essays. Most are familiar with the movie Sophie’s Choice which is based on Styron’s book of the same name. Being born during WWII, I have always been interested in reading about that era and particularly the Holocaust. Styron received a fair amount of criticism because the main character in his book was not Jewish, but Catholic. I can understand some being sensitive to that since over 6 million Jews died in the Holocaust, however, there were others who were targeted, Jehovah’s Witnesses, homosexuals, Romas (then referred to as Gypsies) and the handicapped to name a few. That controversy aside, Sophie’s Choice is a spellbinding and at the same time heart-rending book.

The Confessions of Nat Turner, which won the author a Pulitzer Prize is another of Styron’s that I particularly liked. This historical novel tells in first person the narrative Turner’s leadership of a slave revolt in VA in 1831. 

Styron was a prolific writer and his works included accounts of his own challenges living with depression.

“A good book should leave you… slightly exhausted at the end. You live several lives while reading it.”  William Clark Styron


 

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John Steinbeck was born in Salinas, CA in 1902 and was known for both humor and a strong social conscious. Four years before his death at age 66 he won a Nobel Prize in Literature. Two of my favorite Steinbeck books are described briefly below. 

East of Eden, my favorite book by Steinbeck, was published in1952 and set in his homeland, the Salinas Valley of Central California. It was originally written for his two young sons so that they might know the valley he loved in detail. The writer tells about the entangled lives of two families one of which is believed to have been his maternal ancestors. Steinbeck is reported to have considered East of Eden to have been his masterpiece stating “I think everything else I have written has been, in a sense, practice for this.” 

The Grapes of Wrath published in 1939 won Steinbeck both a Pulitzer for fiction and the National Book Award. It is about a family of tenant farmers living in the Oklahoma Dust Bowl during the Great Depression. Because of both their financial distress and the years of drought hundreds of families fled their homes to look for a future in California. 

One year after this historical novel was published a movie was made by the same name, starring Henry Fonda.

“Ideas are like rabbits. You get a couple and learn how to handle them, and pretty soon you have a dozen.”  John Ernst Steinbeck


It was not until I started writing this post, that I realized all these favorites are all American writers. There are others who I love to read, but they are predominately American, too. As mentioned earlier I enjoy Stephen King, but also Tony Morrison, Maya Angelo, Rebecca Wells, and poet Niki Giovanni. 

Before wrapping this post up I must add Gabriel Jose’ Garcia Marquez, a Columbian journalist who became a prolific novelist. He too has won the Nobel Prize in Literature. There is so much more I want to say about Garcia Marquez but will stop by recommending these two books, Life in the Time of Cholera and One Hundred Years of Solitude. 


 

Part 3 of 5

 

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Books 2

First Book Memory? 

What is the first book that you remember? For this exercise, the Holy Books such as the Bible or Qur’an do not count. Many children are read these sacred books at home and/or in religious classes. Such books contain many stories suitable for young children and they may actually be the first memories of a storybook. Let’s think outside that genre looking at books that are a few centuries more current.

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It was a long, long time ago when living on Crooked Creek that I remember https://crookedcreek.live/2016/08/30/first-blog-is-coming-soon/ my Mother reading a book to my older brother, Norman, and me. The book that I can see her holding had a soft cover and was very worn. It looked nothing like the copy I bought a few years ago (pictured above). I wish that as an adult I had discussed Toby Tyler with Mom or my brother, but I don’t recall that I did and it is now too late. I vaguely remembered that Toby was a little boy who ran away with the circus, but that is all that I could recall.

Buying and reading the new copy in 2003 was upsetting in so many ways. First of all, it is one of the saddest books I have read. I just cried again today re-reading it all the way through in a few hours. It seems cruel if it was intended as a children’s book, which it seems to be. Funny, though that I do not remember being traumatized hearing it read as a child. Perhaps my Mom didn’t finish it or made up happy parts to cover the cruel events in Toby’s life. Minnie was fully capable of doing that.  https://crookedcreek.live/2016/12/10/minnie-ii/  

Regardless, I have a feeling that many times memories are simply better than the event itself. Perhaps it was that time of closeness, hearing my Mother read that made it so special.  

Do You Have a Bookshelf?

Where do you keep the books you’ve read or plan to read? Do you have bookshelves and if so how do you organize them? I often see books organized by similar color, especially in magazines and home furnishing stores. It does look nice, but unless I remembered the color of a particular book, I might have trouble finding it easily. I think that arrangement is more for decor than utility. I hang my clothes in the closet by color, but my books are organized by genre, more or less. This works for me, a person often accused of being obsessively organized. 

My bookshelves (above) are very traditional but apparently there are more creative ways to store your books. By coincidence our local newspaper advertised bookshelves the day after this was written. Here are some other options.

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How do you feel about Coffee Table Books?

I have to admit that is not a question I would have thought of presenting, except that I heard someone say recently that they were not that into coffee table books. I won’t say who it was (my firstborn), but it caused me to pause. After some thought, I realized that I might love the book and appreciate its wonderful photography and still not want it to live on my coffee table for long. You? 

Confession

  1. I feel it necessary to tell you that my therapist daughter says my organizational skill is all an “illusion” but what does she know? 

Coming Up: Your Favorite Book/Author

Part 2 of 5

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Reader Feedback

After the first post on February 19, I was amazed by the immediate feedback from two book lovers! They shared many of their family memories, favorite books, and reading habits. I was especially touched by one sharing that she was reading to two separate family members when their lives came to an end.

Please read the comments of Pat and Lula in the last post. (Note: the only two at the time of this writing, certainly more may be added later.)

Books

Do You Still Read Books?

Do you have books or do you use a Kindle or other eReader? Do you read or listen to electronic books? Since all the information in the world is available on the Internet, do we even need books anymore?

 

 

If you still have real paper books where do you store them? What do you do with a book when you’ve finished reading it? Do you loan it to a friend? Do you donate it or sell it for a fraction of the price you paid for it? Or can you not part with it at all?

Exploring Books

Over the next few blog posts let’s talk about books and what they mean to us in today’s world.  Let’s discuss how and what we read and how that has changed over time. I look forward our discussion and will start out with a brief confession about my reading.

Confession  

I have always been a very slow reader. I cannot scan. I cannot rush and still comprehend written material. For some reason, I seem to mentally pronounce each little preposition and I often must go back and reread a sentence or paragraph because my mind has wandered onto some earth shattering issue or maybe my grocery list. 

Coming Up: Your First Book Memory and Your Bookshelf

Part 1 of 5

 

Snow

How do you feel about snow?

I love it! I especially like the fluffy kind that makes good snowballs and snow people. It has been a long time since I really enjoyed a good snowball fight, but I remember the fun when the snow packs nicely together in a ball that has the ability to frighten and sting just a little. 

1960s

One of my favorite home movies (remember those 35 mm cameras with the bright blinding light for indoor shots?) from the sixties is of an igloo built by my daughters, Raymond, and his two nieces. It was big enough for all four girls, Linda, Della, Dianne, and Allison to get inside. Winter back in those days always seemed to provide many days of that perfect snow for sledding, building forts and huge snowmen.

1980s

Once in the eighties when we were living in the country, we scandalized the neighborhood by building a very large and well-endowed snow woman at the end of our drive. She wore a halter and hat as I recall . . . but surely there was more attire. Why can I never find the photos from all those years ago? It isn’t like I don’t have them well organized in big binders stored all over the house. I can find photos among the 2,500 on my phone more easily.

Today

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Winter is a season of recovery and preparation. Paul Theroux

Although it was over seventy degrees here in KY two days ago, today we received a snow composed of the biggest flakes I’ve ever seen. While I want to say some of the flakes were as big as saucers they were not. Some were indeed as large as the rim of coffee cups, however! 

If you live in Chicago and certain areas in the Northeast U.S., I’m sure this subject is not appealing. I get it. I was hoping for an early spring here even though we’ve had a very easy winter, but there is something so mesmerizing about the falling snow that I had to take photos and sit watching it fall for an hour or so. 

Wherever you are I hope that your day is enjoyable whether here or on some other continent. 

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O, wind, if winter comes, can spring be far behind? Percy Bysshe Shelley

Thanks

Thank You Readers

As of today Crooked Creek has 120 followers! While I am happy about the numbers, I am a little skeptical. It seems likely that some (or many) of these “followers” signed up but do not actually read many posts. I suppose my doubt comes from the dearth of feedback. Regardless, I appreciate each follower/reader, each comment and “like.”

A couple of folks have told me that they cannot “like” a post without signing up for WordPress. This is up to you of course, but I don’t believe that it would be obligatory in any way to do so. Many “likes” now come from other bloggers because they are already a part of WordPress. If you have questions, please communicate them to me and I will try to find the answers.    suebmattingly@gmail.com 

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Thank You Donors

While concentrating on gratitude, I want to also thank all the people in the US and around the globe who donate blood and plasma. We are all very familiar with the Red Cross and the crucial need for blood during times of disaster and war. What many do not realize unless personally impacted is that very vital components of plasma also play a role in saving or sustaining life.

If you will pardon the very personal account of some of my medical history I want to share with you how donated antibodies withdrawn from donor plasma have kept me safe for almost seven years. In 2011 I was hospitalized and very ill. At that time I learned that I had some serious hematological issues. There is no need to go into a lot of detail and I won’t bore you with the long names of two significant diagnoses that resulted. It is enough to say that I have a primary immune deficiency because I am no longer able to manufacture my own antibodies to fight off infections. That’s where the gratitude comes in.

The immunologist immediately began a treatment with IV antibodies (immunoglobulin) available through donated blood plasma. I responded fairly well to continued monthly treatment as evidenced by a rise in antibodies in my blood but soon these treatments had to be terminated because of serious reactions. For the following year and a half, I was at risk of and sick with infections due to the lack of antibodies. In the spring of 2013 before my 70th birthday, I was put on weekly self-administered subcutaneous (as opposed to IV) infusions of the same type of human antibodies. My antibody level immediately began to rise and it has been in the normal range for a long time now, allowing me to live with much less risk.

#250

This is on my mind because tonight as I began to document the required infusion information in my log I noted that this is infusion number 250. These years passed quickly and easily for me. All I have to do to maintain the ability to fight infection is invest a couple of hours weekly and endure 3 needle sticks in my abdomen or upper thighs. A piece of cake!

This would not be possible without the altruism of thousands upon thousands of plasma donors. Many of you are already blood and/or plasma donors, as are many of my friends and family and I appreciate each of you so very much. Some of you, perhaps, may not have been aware of all the other crucial needs for blood components. Lives are not only being saved in emergencies, but lives are being preserved for patients from birth (remember the so-called “bubble boy?”) through older adults. Immune deficiency is only one of those conditions, but I hope that my account of this diagnosis has been informative and might lead to more donors.

Sometimes we hear so much of inhumanity and selfishness that it would be easy to forget that there are altruistic people who give not only their time and money to help others through charities but some give even their blood, tissue and organs. Each Thursday evening when I assemble the supplies for my infusion, I am mindful of those who made it possible.

 


If you are interested in further information on this particular subject you may reference:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26174901

or

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2935641/

 

Theme photo in title & graphic by Pixabay

She

Sharing Time

For well over forty years I have been in possession of a poem handwritten by a patient when I was a nursing student. I have never shared it because I do not know whether it is original or if he simply copied someone else’s poem. My guess has always been that it was not the latter. Today I have again made serious efforts to find the poem on the Internet. I’ve Googled keywords and even whole stanzas without finding it. I’ve researched poetry sites as well without results. 

Another concern I’ve had is patient confidentiality, but since I will not be revealing anything about the patient and I don’t even remember his name, I believe that it is safe to post the poem. 

Over the years I have read these pages several times, trying to understand the poem better, trying hard to remember what the person looked like who gave it to me or what he said at that moment. I cannot recapture that scene. I remember that I was assigned to his care for at least several days. I recall a few things of interest that surrounded his hospital stay and certainly his diagnosis. Always, I have felt that I was entrusted with something beautiful and that it needed to be shared. 

That is why I am posting it here for you. I believe that it needs to be heard. I look forward to what you think of the poem, “She.”


Note: Unfortunately this WordPress platform will not allow the four line stanza formatting used by the poet. The poet’s words have been transcribed exactly as written except one word which I was unable to make out and have marked by “????”. Where there is an apparent misspelling or wrong use of a word these have been noted by “sic”. Punctuation is also transcribed exactly as handwritten. 


 

She 

Sometimes I see her for you see

She’s the part of reality

Walking in twilight she’s so fair

With shinning eyes, the stars her hair

Sometimes I see her walking there

In starry tiered imaginings

Where dreams are born & if you care,

Go find the one with stars for hair. 

For those who care, theres (sic) an easy way

One takes the road mid night & day

To places lying everywhere

That just exist for those who care

From there they go inside their soul

To see themselves & others whole

To find themselves & if they do

They may even find her too

For she’s as real as she can be

Yet not for every eye to see

Just how to meet one so acclaimed

Just find her first then ask her name

II

I met her, was it yesterday?

Between the mountains & the see (sic)

Traveling for to find a place

Where I could bad thoughts erase

The Timeless plane of many lands

A place that held no grasping hands

I came upon a city fair

And there she was beyond compare

I told her we could travel far

To lands beyond the farthest star

To places ever springtime fair

Where even I would have no cares

But she said, “No, why can’t you see?”

“That all there is lies here with me

“And seeker, through (sic) you have no fame

“You have to do but ask my name”

I looked at her then softly left

For then I knew she placed me free

In a quiet grove I softly wept

For starry eyed seekers who were like me

That woeful day I left that place

Last saw the sunshine on her face

But under the starry midnight sky

I often stop to wonder why

And then with smiling face I stare

And see the starlight of her hair. 

Yet now I see her everyday

On every walk, in every way

But now she turns her face from me

Why? I know yet cannot say

For if I stopped then she would come

Thus giving all of what she is

Yet I cannot for I can see

I’ve gone too far to stop just yet

What do you say seeker, isn’t it sweet

to see the sun rise in the sky

to the right of where the shadows lie?

To close your mouth and blind your eyes?

Yes, try to climb that mountain where 

You were born & had no cares

You’ll see the walls & hateful stares

of the ones above you left behind

You’ll dream about the sunlit skies

Your own little world you once held dear

Your place is lost, you’ve wondered why

And so you learn that which I fear

Your place in life I’ve never known

To step to mine you’ve never tried

And so I thread my path above 

And, now and then, say this to you

Just find a place & sleep in the sun

And tell yourself you’re (sic) seeking’s done

She doesn’t exist for eye to see

Just a dream that never could be

So part of her is just called life

And part of that is sweet and fair

And that you find with much to spare

Yes, you can see it everywhere

Yet part of her cries all the time

It’s exploited, raped and bind (sic)

To racks where greed can find the time

To twist out life & leave just sins

And lastly she is partly love

A part of her most never known

The part of her that’s most abused

A part of her most vilely used

Look seeker see her raked (sic) with pain 

Which (????) braid her starlit hair

to make a rope to hang us with

They hate us for they know she cares

And then she smiles and so is free

For she is all that can ever be

Now as then in Babylon

The spirit of eternity

And so existing around the bend

Kept out of sight from those obsessed

She’s there for those who seek her out

Who want the curse of happiness

For they must share her loveliness

And they must bear her loneliness

And for the sake of living yet

Must die a little to forget

 

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Author unknown by blogger.

Crooked Creek makes no claims to ownership of this poem.