Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Story Over Style Every Time

The problem I have always had with reading books that other people (usually vastly more literate than myself) recommend, is that often more importance is given to the writing style and use of verbiage than to the story itself. Yes, there are several great books I have enjoyed that come with extensive literary pedigrees. But that's not the reason I like them. I like them because of the stories they tell.  I have been able to read many a novel and have overlooked writing that isn't great just because the story was intriguing. I enjoy these novels because it is the story that stays in my head and twists and turns around in my brain for days after I put the book down. On the other hand, I have read many highly-acclaimed books that left me empty and feeling like I had just wasted some portion of my life that I will never get back. Just because it's a big hit with the literary critics doesn't mean it's good.
For example, I love Baldacci and Clive Cussler books and have recommended them to my book clubs in the past. These books weren't exactly sneered at, but I could tell that this kind of general consumer literature would not be included in the annual reading list. Why? Because a really great story that is entertaining and enjoyable isn't usually considered literary. I have also recommended Victor Hugo's Les Miserables and Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre, and they were considered wonderful book choices. Why? Because they are literary classics, of course! Those happen to be two of my personal favorites, alongside the less literary, but no less classic, King and Maxwell and The Camel Club series by Baldacci.
I don't care what pedigree comes with the book, as long it tells a great story. If it takes me into another world for awhile and makes me forget that my toilet overflowed this evening and that I had to spend an hour cleaning it up, then in my view, it was a great novel!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Wondering ...

It's sometimes amazing to me that I ever deeply desired to have children. And now that our biological children are a little older, we're even considering adoption. But it's nights like these, where my two youngest are fighting non-stop, my teenager is being particularly rebellious, and my husband is gone on yet another business trip that I question myself. Is parenthood worth it? Does it really have to be this hard?

Wait. Give me a second to take a deep breath ...

OK. The answer to both questions is a resounding "YES!" Parenthood is wonderful, simply because it is so hard. All the endless disciplining, nagging, negotiating and bickering has a flip-side. It's the moment when your youngest child comes up and gives you a sweet hug for no apparent reason. It's also the moment when you see that your bed is mysteriously made for you and there's an 'I Love You, Mom' post-it note on the pillow. It's when you watch your husband teaching your daughter some of his 'famous' dance moves as she prepares to go to her first church dance. It's when I get so mad at my children's fighting that I say sternly, "The first person to say anything else will get spanked!" And then, as it turns out, I'm the first one to speak, and yes, I get spanked.

Parenthood is a moment-by-moment adventure and if you're thinking of having kids or adopting kids, DO IT! You may find yourself exasperated and tearful (a lot!), but you'll never, ever regret it.