There are many rules of good writing, but the best way to find them is to be a good reader. –> Stephen Ambrose
On of the joys and the responsibilities of working in a library is reading — lots and lots of reading. There are the book club books — and the research that engenders. It’s important to keep up with the newest releases so the patrons get more than an “Amazon” recap (not to knock them for quick info). I need to read for school, and squeeze in eensy-weensy amounts of time to read for sheer pleasure.
I find that some of the books that we choose for book club or that I revisit for class can yield insights. For example, Harriet the Spy, the canonical girl reporter created by Louise Fitzhugh was never my favorite heroine. It’s rather horrid to confess, don’t you think? There’s a slight fear that I will end up in the “dreaded notebook.” Even though, it’s a book club possibility as well as one of the classics listed in the KidLit text — the appeal factors never reached me.
My ambitions were to have the imagination of Anne Shirley, the writing skills of Jo March and the sheer force of will of Scarlett O’Hara (of course, that could have been a Southern thing). Harriet had this one fantastic quote that I wrote down in my quote book, yes I had and still have one… “Sometimes you have to lie. But to yourself you must always tell the truth.” Her brashness was off-putting, but her willingness to dig for the story did have merit. Reading Kathleen Horning’s fantastic essay in Horn Book Magazine, “On Spies, and Purple Socks and Such,” one gets a sense of another Harriet — she modeled a gender bending, all inclusive society that presaged the equality movement of the next 30 years… isn’t that just jaw-droopingly awesome. She used the quote, which was my standard for realpolitik and history classes (nothing like whipping out Harriet the Spy in a discussion of the compromises of Yalta), for her it resonated for a time and place in the gay community where hiding was self-preservation. Re-visiting Harriet, I find her a little dated for girls raised on Hermione and Katniss — but like an older sister, she may have made their road a little less rocky…
- You Make Me Sing (Kasey Chambers) — an Australian country singer who can bend her voice into an clarion call or a whisper that you feel in your toes
- Steal My Kisses (Ben Harper & the Innocent Criminals) — laugh, roll the windows down — share this, it’s just fun.
- Follow Your Arrow (Kasey Musgraves) — in Girl Scouts, we always sang about making new friends, while keeping the old — this slice of delightful philosophy is a new friend, but I like it in the rotation!
- Stay a Little Longer (Willie Nelson) — going back to old friends — although, the older he gets he is beginning to remind me of Cupid…. can you see it?
- Kisses Sweeter than Wine (Bonnie Raitt & Jackson Browne) — two people who like each other, singing a song about life, and music and kissing…
- History of Lovers (Calexico with Iron & Wine) — Calexico has been called a “desert noir” band, which may not be a standard genre, but this collaboration with Samuel Beam is just lovely…
- Go with It (Shelby Lynne) — straight up, fun country
- Mexico (James Taylor) — I love a LOT of JT, but this one just makes me want to fly….
- Rocks in your Shoes (Emily West) — if you like Shelby, you will find Emily great — and she is awesome live, I had the joy of seeing her at the Opry a few years ago
- Peaceful Easy Feeling (the Eagles) — classic lay you head back, close your eyes and dream song… Little Texas had a great cover a few years ago
- Seven Wonders (FleetWood Mac) — not as well known, but such a deliciously evocative song
- Love you Madly (Cake) — a 90s band that was raucous, brash and made one feel daring
- Drive all Night (Joss Stone) — NEEDTOBREATHE has a more popular song with the same title, but this one tells a story I know — it’s lovely
- Alone Together (FallOut Boy) — not a new friend, but enjoying some new found love…
- Rattle My Bones (Secret Sisters) — dancing music for the joyous, it makes you soar!
- Short Skirt/Long Jacket (Cake) — twice on a playlist — I went through a phase, but this song — hey, I had the look!
- Sentimental Journey (Renée Olstead) — there are a billion covers, I like Renée’s because it’s not a sappy sentimental but a strong, delighted one!
- Come on, Get Higher (Matt Nathanson) — fantastically fun song — Sugarland’s cover is great and generally I would go for Jennifer Nettles — but he just nails the tone, which is good considering he co-wrote it.
- I Take My Chances (Mary Chapin Carpenter) — her songs are so woven into my life, that it’s hard to pick one — she has a couple of fantastic kiss songs (Passionate Kisses, and Shut Up & Kiss Me) — but this one has everything in the live version she even quits smoking, she stays up late, she watches too much news — not a bio, but darn pointed
- I was Brought to my senses (Sting) — of course, there needs to be a Sting song…. and what a song — a sensory roadmap in E minor….
We are made whole by books, as by great spaces and the stars.–> Mary Carolyn Davies