Sunday, March 6, 2016

Book Balm

I don't know how I've managed to read all the books I've read in my lifetime and never read Anna Quindlen! How is this possible? Well, thank goodness, I found her just when I needed her. (Isn't it amazing when that happens?)

It had been a rough couple of weeks for me. Work had been especially demanding, and I've had many things to deal with. I've been reading some books I've enjoyed, but I had not read anything that helped quiet my mind from all the turmoil going on around me. I had been feeling impatient, short-tempered, and agitated. I needed something, I just didn't know what. When I finished my last book, I couldn't find anything that seemed to fit my mood or one that would help me out of it.

A few things happened, within a couple of days, that led me down a literary path and brought me to the book I needed...

First, I saw a post from Erica Bauermeister (an author I enjoy) on Facebook about Anna Quindlen. It wasn't about any of Quindlen's books, it was actually about how they both live in the same area. I thought I remembered seeing Quindlen's name before (a quote of hers on Goodreads, perhaps?) and made a mental note to look her up when I had the chance.

Second, my daughter and son-in-law gave me a gift card to Barnes and Noble as a thank you, which was really sweet and unnecessary but really thoughtful of them. There isn't a store near us, but my daughter knows I order online. I hate Texas traffic, so I seldom make the drive to the nearest Barnes and Noble unless it's for something extra special.

Third, a student of mine needed the second book in a series I'd been trying to get her to read (The Ranger's Apprentice). She gobbled up the first one much faster than I thought she would (which made me SO proud). When she went to our school library to get the second book, it was already checked out to someone for the next two weeks. I just couldn't let her wait that long. As soon as school was over, I called around to find the second and third book. And, as I'm sure you guessed, only Barnes and Noble had what I needed. They pulled the two books and put them on hold for me to pick-up.

And, finally, when I arrived at Barnes and Noble, my plan had been to just run in and get the books at the service counter. I had a lot of work to do that evening and didn't have time to wander around a bookstore. When I walked in, though, the books beckoned to me and convinced me to look around just a bit. I'm sure some of them whispered, "You will have money left over on that gift card after the two books, don't you want to take me home?" I ignored the whispers of the full price books, as I usually do, and decided to just browse the bargain aisle.

And there she was.

She was lovely. Truly lovely. She was a hardback with a beautifully simplistic cover and a title that spoke to me: Still Life with Bread Crumbs. And I could just tell when I took her off the shelf and held her in my hand, this was the book my soul needed.

And I was right.

I have relaxed and relished every moment of Quindlen's novel. Her writing was balm to my tortured mind, and it helped heal a few bruises on my heart. She's a wonderful storyteller, very descriptive, with characters you really like that have real world problems. Within her story, she provides a great deal of wisdom about how to live life to the fullest and how to treasure moments that are gone too quickly. Just...lovely.

I'll leave you with 'the hook' from the inside cover:

"Still Life with Bread Crumbs begins with an imagined gunshot and ends with a new tin roof. Between the two is a wry and knowing portrait of Rebecca Winter, a photographer whose work made her an unlikely heroine for many women. Her career is now descendent, her bank balance shaky, and she has fled the city for the middle of nowhere. There she discovers, in a tree stand with a roofer named Jim Bates, that what she sees through a camera lens is not all there is to life."

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