Uncategorized

In Memory of My Favorite Reader

An update to What Do You Do When Your Favorite Reader Can’t Read Anymore?

A few weeks ago I shared the fact that my grandmother had lost her eyesight and could no longer read books in the traditional manner. The support from you, my fellow book lovers, and the suggestions you offered, were greatly appreciated. Unfortunately, my grandmother will no longer be reading with us on earth. She passed away a week ago. As I prepare for her memorial service tomorrow, I’ve been reflecting on just how much she loved books and reading.

Moppy & Sarah (maybe)

As I’ve spent the past week going through pictures, I came across this little gem of her reading to me when I was very young, probably in 1990. When I was 3, she bought me my first encyclopedia. When I was 10 and obsessed with Harry Potter, she read the first book, and every book thereafter, so she would know what on earth Quidditch was. And last year, she went to London with my sister and learned how to fly a broomstick for herself.

flyingmoppy

My grandmother, who my sister and I affectionately refer to as Moppy, loved adventure, adventure of any kind. She traveled widely, not just in real life but in books as well. Her love of reading, and in particular her love of discussing books with me will always comfort me during the times that I really miss her most. So maybe, before this terrible month is over, I’ll finish my next book. And write the book that we had always intended to write together, the adventures of Merton (her hedgehog) and Ellie (my elephant) and their travels around the world together.

Uncategorized

What Do You Do When Your Favorite Reader Can’t Read Anymore?

I haven’t posted any reviews or bookish lists for the past two weeks for a couple of reasons. The first, I’ve been reading only advanced reader copies (ARCs) and the books don’t come out until October or November, some aren’t even being published until the spring. The second is much more personal.

My grandmother, whom I call Moppy and think of as a second mom, has not been doing well. She is such a strong lady, she’ll be 87 in December, and she is feisty as hell. All of my family, friends, coworkers, everyone I know, I’ve told about my Moppy. And they all adore her. She is one special woman. And she’s been through medical hell the last few weeks.

About two months ago, her eyesight began to deteriorate tremendously. Presently, this is the least of her medical problems, but it’s the one pertinent to books and reading. I have always given her books for Christmas and some of my favorite childhood memories are of reading with Moppy. She even picked up the Harry Potter series in 1999 when my sister and I started reading it and she is just as big a Potter-lover as any millennial.

Books were always a part of her life. She’s lived on her own for quite a few years now and always, on the couch next to her when we visited, were a book and her current knitting project. Never one to sit still, she would only stay put to read a book. So what is one to do, when their favorite reader is depressed not only about losing their eyesight and therefore independence (a whole other conversation to have), but one of their favorite hobbies?

We looked briefly into helping Moppy learn braille, but at 86, did she really want to go through that? She decided she’d rather not. We’ve looked at large print, but they are cumbersome to travel with and more expensive than her favorite paperbacks, particularly ARCs from me, which are free (the joys of being the adult book buyer for an indie store). We’ve tried audiobooks, my new favorites, with her library Overdrive/Libby app on her iPhone, but even those she has to wait for someone else to load for her (she is incredibly tech-savvy, but the app layout can be a challenge), not the greatest position for a fiercely independent woman.

It’ll be at least a week until she’ll be able to embrace reading, or listening to, books again, so I ask you, my dear fellow readers, any suggestions?

Non-Fiction, Psychology, Sociology

Peace is Every Step by Thich Nhat Hanh

My coworker Jennifer picked this book as her staff pick a few weeks ago and I was curious. When it popped up as an available audiobook on my library app, I figured I would give it a try.

Synopsis

In the rush of modern life, we tend to lose touch with the peace that is available in each moment. World-renowned Zen master, spiritual leader, and author Thich Nhat Hanh shows us how to make positive use of the very situations that usually pressure and antagonize us. For him, a ringing telephone can be a signal to call us back to our true selves. Dirty dishes, red lights, and traffic jams are spiritual friends on the path to “mindfulness” – the process of keeping our consciousness alive to our present experience and reality. The most profound satisfactions, the deepest feelings of joy and completeness lie close at hand as our next aware breath and the smile we can form right now.

Review

Working in a bookstore, I frequently am asked for books about mindfulness these days. It seems anyone with a brain is trying to get theirs to settle down and not get too riled up by the state of the world. As a general skeptic to all things that one could even remotely label as “new age,” I’ve stopped short of picking a mindfulness book up myself, despite my anxiety which I’ve seemed to quell it on my own in the last few months. But as Jennifer swore it was helpful, I figured, Why not?

When I first started listening to Peace is Every Step, I forgot that it is over 25 years old, written in an age before the internet and various electronic devices ran most of our lives. Most of the points made still resonate today. Whole Peace is Every Step lacks what some might consider concrete and specific steps, it focuses more on changing your perspective and thought process. I’ve come to know understand that this is what mindfulness really is, it’s about thinking through how behaviors and actions affect not only yourself, but other people and the world as a whole. Love and kindness will get you further than anger and hateful rhetoric, and similar sentiments make up the bulk of the book.

I recently had an interaction with a family friend that left me hurt, upset, and confused. And I realized that my reactions, and actions, in response to this encounter, allow me the opportunity to put what I’ve recently read into practice. I could yell, scream, and burn a bridge, or I can sit back, reflect, and try to empathize and put myself in this person’s shoes. Choosing the latter, is choosing the mindfulness approach. And if this settles my anxiety in regards to the matter, then I think, just maybe, Jennifer was right.

Rating: 7 out of 10 stars

Edition: Paperback • $15.00 • 9780553351392 • 160 pages • published March 1992 by Bantam • average Goodreads rating 4.34 out of 5 • stars read in August 2018

Peace is Every Step on Goodreads

Get a Copy of Peace is Every Step

Peace is Every Step2