Allowing Myself

…to feel, to love, to be.

Tag: library

Library Haul – February 2015

The other day, I was feeling pretty crappy, but after a hot shower & a mug of hot chocolate spiked with coffee, my energy was on the mend. I ventured out to run a bunch of errands (including buying my bridesmaid dress for L&T’s wedding – woo!), and found myself at the public library.

I fucking love the library.

The quiet, the stacks of books, the gathering of people all minding their own business. It’s an introvert’s dream. Any time I feel out of sorts, a trip to the library always helps. Not to mention it feeds a need to have new items – but the great thing about library books is, if I don’t like them, they’re due to be returned in 4 weeks or less. #winwin

Recently, all things reading have taken up residence in the forefront of my mind. I have a stack of fiction books waiting for my attention (explains why most of the titles above are non-fiction). I discovered BookRiot and Reading Lives podcasts. I even had a reading date with Billye where we both sat together on her front porch, reading our own books, separately, together. It was great.

Hoping to share more of my reading life here, since I think a lot of you are readers yourselves. So we’ll start with my library haul updates and I’ll share what I’ve been reading soon. And I would love for you to share anything you’d like about your reading life in the comments.

You can check out my (outdated) history of reading here. I find it hard to be recommended books, but Lindsey has yet to steer me wrong. Happy reading.

Book Love Rekindled

Last week, I took a trip to my favorite library – the Santa Monica Public Library’s Main branch – and went to town taking books out. I thought I would share a slightly messy list of my notes.
Got it! – Steve Martin – Born Standing Up –¬†791.4092¬†MARTIN
Couldn’t find – Marukami – Running – 921
Yes, but not now – Wakefield 153.3 – Creating from the spirit
Didn’t find – On Becoming An Artist – 153.3 Langer
Didn’t look for it – Maisel – Book Proposal 808.02
Not really good – Note To Self – O’Shea – Journaling¬†808.066
Took this book out a long time ago – decided no this time – 158.12 Bliss – writing journaling
Couldn’t find it – A Walk Between Heaven and Earth – Holzer 818
Didn’t look – The Blue Jay’s Dance – 921 Erdrich
Got it! – A Drink Before the War – Mystery – MF Lehane, Dennis
Got it! – Donald Miller – A Million Miles in a Thousand Years – 921 Miller

Reading is important to me. A priority, you could say. It calms and energizes me at the same time. My reading habit is a direct reflection of how I’m feeling. Interestingly enough, the happier I am, the more I’m reading (at least this year). Wish it were the other way, since when I’m feeling crappy, I probably need that comfort even more. There’s a big gap in my reading from about April to August this year. Yes – I read a few things, but it wasn’t joyful. It felt forced, dull and exhausting (much life how I feel about that time in my life hah).

But I’m back in the swing of things – both in reading and in life – woo! Thanks to a friend who recommended Divergent, an amateur version of Hunger Games, it made reading feel fun again. Engaging, like rekindling a love affair with my Kindle (see what I did there). And I’ve devoured a 4-5 books in the past 6 weeks. Feels good. Feels real good.

I’m in the middle of A Light Between Oceans and can.not.wait to read the Steve Martin memoir.
Would love to hear your book recommendations or what you’re currently reading. Please share with me. If you’d like to see a list of books I’ve read this year, visit my library.

When In Doubt, Go To The Library

Y’know how you have that place that you escape to? The one where your mind clears and your heart stops racing? For some people it’s church or a nature hike or a quiet, sunlit room. For me, it’s a library.

Any library will do. The local one in my hometown is small, but they renovated it during my high school years. I used to walk there after school sometimes and meet friends. Other times, I used it as cover for more exciting plans. I wasn’t allowed to “hang out downtown” but I was allowed at the library. A dear friend used to hide notes for me in the psychology section. I always loved that.

It was there that I started complementing my reading with Sparknotes. I lived in the research stacks for English and American History papers. I loved critical essays. I borrowed CDs and DVDs. My first copy of The Artist’s Way was a perpetual borrow from that location – I ended up just paying them for the book.

In Boston, I lived in walking distance of the massive Central Library structure. It was daunting. Wikipedia says it contains 8.9 million books! It felt old like a museum, and smelled like pee due to the homeless population that took refuge in its stacks. I don’t think I made it to every section, but I had my library card, and lugged books back to my dorm where I piled them on the floor next to my bed.

Now that I live in LA, I frequent both the Los Angeles and Santa Monica branches. I’ve only made it to the LA Central location once, back in 2006, with my internship supervisor who had by then become a friend. We bonded over reading, though I can’t say we ever shared any books.

For LA, I’ve gone to the Fairfax, Mar Vista, West LA and Venice-Abbot Kinney branches, but for Santa Monica, oh man – their main branch is the consummate city library. So Santa Monica. It has floor to ceiling windows on all floors, with the 2nd floor creating a landing to let more light in. There’s self-checkout that works, organized shelves, clean air and helpful people. And did I mention the delish Bookmark Cafe?

Recently, I was there with a friend and unsure if I could bring my latte from the courtyard of the cafe into the library. My friend asked a security guard about it and he said, “Of course, so long as it has a lid!” This made me fall even deeper in love. I remember to walking into Boston’s Central Library and being yelled at as a crossed through the metal detectors that “No Drinks!” were allowed.

So today I found myself at a SM location on Ocean Park. It’s a retro ranch-style building that blends into the trees. There’s no parking and the ceilings are low. The librarians aren’t nice. When it’s hot outside, it’s quite muggy inside. Still, because it’s so small, every book seem familiar and interesting.

I went to check-out a book for my In2Books assignment. Even though the digital catalogue said it was there, I couldn’t find it. No worries, just an excuse to hit up another branch. I couldn’t let this detour go without leaving with something. So, I started perusing.

One of the best things about the library, for me, is that it feeds my instant gratification without any buyer’s remorse. I just return what I don’t like and renew what I do. Add to that the fact that I don’t have to store all those books and yet can have unlimited access to them, and I’m in bliss.

Today’s random pickings include:

I probably won’t read all of these before they’re due back, but it’s thrilling to bring them all home. As I type this they are scattered around me in a big arm chair, silent supporters of my mental and emotional state. Just in the way writing with your non-dominant hand can open up your creative spark, walking through library stacks, absorbing and thinking, letting titles and ideas splash around in my brain – it brings me outside of myself and somehow deepens me as well.

And the trip home is just the beginning. Now I’m off to indulge in the random combination that serendipity drew me to today. To sink into the lusciousness of actually reading books.

Self-Help Not the Turn On It Used to Be

I love self-help / psychology / productivity / “how-to-entertain-your-cat-while-juggling-refridgerators” kinda books. I get it from my dad. We’re all about improving ourselves. Discovering blogs like “43folders“, “The Simple Dollar” and “Happiness Project” made me pee my pants. I was all, “You mean there are thousands of other people out there who care about things like organization, personal finance, and getting.things.done (literally)?! OH.MAN.”

But lately, there’s been a shift. I’m reading creativety-based blogs. I’m participating in DreamLab. I’m thinking about things like “how can I express myself?” and “what’s the best way to capture this feeling?”. A little less advancement and a bit more self-care. So it’s no surprise that my trip to the library felt a bit meh today.

It wasn’t the library’s fault. If anything, they had a surplus of books that would normally catch my attention. It was kind of amazing how many I should’ve wanted to check out, but I didn’t. It felt shallow. I wandered around, reading jacket synopsis and table of contents. I grabbed two I thought I may like if this mood passed (Floor Sample and I Need Your Love, Is That True?) and another novel (Olive Kitteridge) even though I’m already working on Hemingway. I reassured myself that I’d find something worth my time.

And bam! Rework appeared on the New Books shelf. I felt like laughing. Here is a book that I’ve wanted to read enough to contemplate buying it and I’ve stumbled on it by accident. LOVE a good serendipitous moment.

Priorities and interests change. Today was just another example. Yesterday is where I’m coming from, today is where I’m going. Things transform in shifts and starts, but we grow just the same.