meg says read this, Read This

Read This: 99 Days

First of all, let me just say that Katie Cotugno has a genius way of being able to weave a juicy plot, into a story of summer love, lifelong friendship, the meaning of family, and the events in life that make us grow up.

In 99 Days we find out early on that Molly’s mom has done the unthinkable – used the love triangle of her own daughter’s (disastrous?) adventures in love – as the plot for her best-selling novel. Because who isn’t going to read about the sweet girl betraying the boy she grew up with, her first love Patrick, by getting together with his older brother Gabe? Dramatic, I know. So what does Molly do when this story lands itself on the cover of People magazine? Run off to boarding school out of state, of course. Even with a year hiatus from the town holding the secrets of her past, she can’t stay away forever. So, the summer before going off to college in Boston she finds herself back at her mom’s place. Of course, Molly does what any teenager practicing avoidance and any kind of social interaction would do –  lays in bed eating Red Vines and watching Netflix documentaries. Not surprisingly, though that’s a comforting activity, it gets old fast. So, Molly unexpectedly finds herself with a new job to busy her self, (helping with the re-opening of a restaurant at the country club,) and slowly tries to mend the pieces of her broken friendships.

Cotugno tells Molly’s story of learning forgiveness (extending it to others, like her mom and looking for it with her friends by owning up to mistakes she’s made.) We all know I’m a sap, but I felt Molly’s struggle of trying to listen to her heart screaming to her about someone she knew like the back of her hand, and someone new who was fun and present and real, and seemed open. Cotugno also delved into the meaning of family – with Molly’s relationship with her mom but also her relationship with Patrick’s family – she used to be like one of their own.

While yes, this has a great pace for an indulgent read by the pool or at the beach – don’t dismiss it as a fluff read. 99 Days is heartfelt, emotional, funny at times, and it’s true to life. Maybe you see yourself in Molly, or one of her friends. It’s a refreshing take on coming into your own from the throws of teenage-hood, and growing up.

If you haven’t read this one yet, check it out!

meg says read this, Read This

Read This: Everything Everything

I guess you could say I’ve taken a bit of a break from young adult novels in the past few weeks, (well, in terms of usual ratio,) but I saw the movie trailer for Nicola Yoon’s Everything Everything, and thought to myself “why the heck haven’t I read this yet?” Too impatient to wait on the library’s hold list, I picked up a copy at Sam’s Club, and dove right in. Maybe I’m off my game, but I was thrown by the plot twist. And I LOVE that. I genuinely love when I’m surprised by the words on a page, and am so overwhelmed absorbing the information I didn’t expect to see, I have to pause. Everything Everything tells the story of teenager Madeline who has lived her whole life in the same house, breathing filtered air, with only in-person contact with her mom and her nurse (who takes her stats and vitals all day,) and a time or two a visit from a teacher – because she is allergic to everything. Can you imagine? Though, maybe it’s like some things in life – when you haven’t experienced them yet, you don’t know to miss them. You can’t miss the smell of the ocean, if the salty air has never wafted below your nose, and you can’t miss the taste of a steaming hot slice of pizza burning the roof of your mouth, if those ingredients have never touched your tongue. You probably won’t daydream all day about holding hands with a boy, if you haven’t interacted with one in real life. Maddy lives life vicariously through the pages of the books she devours, and is entertained by movie nights, and made-up board games with her mom. Life as Maddy knows it, changes when cute, mysterious, Olly and his family move in next door. How convenient their bedroom windows face one another. What starts with hand gestures, and condensation notes on window panes, leads to e-mails and the ole trusty instant messenger, and then opens to a whole other world of experiences beyond what Maddy could have imagined on her dreamiest days. Armed with a credit card, and a mischievous streak of braveness not to let her life pass her by, Maddy makes some huge decisions – taking her life and all of it’s possibilities into her own hands. Everything, Everything is a story of love and friendship, trust and betrayal, adventure and risk, and listening to your gut. I know I’m late to the game, but this was a fantastic read, and I found it refreshing. If you haven’t yet, check out this great novel. (I have to admit, I’m excited to see what they’ve done with the movie adaptation!)

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Read This: 14 Famous Love Letters

Today’s post isn’t a book, or a poem, but rather an article I saw this morning from Harper’s Bazaar 14 Famous Love Letters from Celebrities and Historical Figures. Love letters are my weakness, naturally, but oh my this is quite a collection. Some of them you may be familiar with (F. Scott Fitzgerald and Zelda’s exchanges are frequently featured in these types of articles.) A few years ago on a weekend trip to Montgomery Alabama (random weekend spot, I know but it was a good meeting point between Tennessee and Florida,) I was dead set on visiting the Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald home (which is now a museum) downtown. Some of their writings were even on display there. Despite my fascination with this celebrity literary couple, in this article it was Orson Welles words to Rita Hayworth that most deeply struck me. If you enjoy this one, be sure to check out the rest of these in the linked article above.

Dearest Angel Girl:

…I suppose most of us are lonely in this big world, but we must fall tremendously in love to find it out. The cure is the discovery of our need for company — I mean company in the very special sense we’ve come to understand since we happened to each other — you and I. The pleasures of human experience are emptied away without that companionship — now that I’ve known it; without it joy is just an unendurable as sorrow. You are my life — my very life. Never imagine your hope approximates what you are to me. Beautiful, precious little baby — hurry up the sun! — make the days shorter till we meet. I love you, that’s all there is to it.

Your boy,

Orson

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Read This: mouthful of forever

Tuesday was World Poetry Day, and since it’s still the week that celebrated this day I thought I’d share one of my favorite poems with you. Clementine Von Radics “mouthful of forever.” The moment I found the line, “i will love you when you are a still day. i will love you when you are a hurricane.” a few years ago, it found a spot in my heart and mind and has been there ever since. The poem reads almost like a vow, and I just think that’s beautiful. Plus, “I know sometimes it’s still hard to let me see you in all your cracked perfection” it just strikes a chord…every time. You know when you read something, and it feels like you’re reading your own thoughts back to yourself? That’s “mouthful of forever” for me. I hope you enjoy it, and dig into some poetry this week – Mary Oliver, Shel Silverstein, Walt Whitman, Robert Frost, Pablo Neruda, Emily Dickinson, Maya Angelou, Nayyirah Waheed, Atticus, Tyler Nott Gregson, Nick Miller, Andrea Gibson, Derek Walcott – I could go on and on, whatever your fancy…just read some. And without further adieu mouthful of forever:

I am not the first person you loved.
You are not the first person I looked at
with a mouthful of forevers. We
have both known loss like the sharp edges
of a knife. We have both lived with lips
more scar tissue than skin. Our love came
unannounced in the middle of the night.
Our love came when we’d given up
on asking love to come. I think
that has to be part
of its miracle.

This is how we heal.
I will kiss you like forgiveness. You
will hold me like I’m hope. Our arms
will bandage and we will press promises
between us like flowers in a book.
I will write sonnets to the salt of sweat
on your skin. I will write novels to the scar
of your nose. I will write a dictionary
of all the words I have used trying
to describe the way it feels to have finally,
finally found you.

And I will not be afraid
of your scars.

I know sometimes
it’s still hard to let me see you
in all your cracked perfection,
but please know:
whether it’s the days you burn
more brilliant than the sun
or the nights you collapse into my lap
your body broken into a thousand questions,
you are the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen.
I will love you when you are a still day.
I will love you when you are a hurricane.

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Read This: Talking As Fast As I Can

A few weekends ago, I finally got my hands on a copy of Lauren Graham’s Talking As Fast As I Can. I was really excited to read this one. Of course, I loved her as Lorelai Gilmore on Gilmore Girls and Sarah Braverman on Parenthood, and in anything else I’ve been able to watch her in. When I’ve read interviews, she seems so personable and real. I don’t think it’s a stretch to imagine parts of her own personality come shining through her characters in certain moments. Since middle school (yeah, I named characters in my short stories for English class Lorelai,) I’ve admired her. We know she’s an incredible actress but she’s also a phenomenal writer. I thought about this a lot while trying to figure out how to put into words the way reading her book made me feel. Lauren Graham’s writing is like sitting on your best friend’s bed in one of those just absolute down in the dumps moments, and knowing there’s not another single place you could be that would provide that level of comfort. (You know, the ultimate look of understanding your pain even if there aren’t any words for it? And how there’s a spot just for your head on their shoulder while they listen to you cry, or tell an angry story, or whatever it might be, and the way their pillows seem so much fluffier and better than yours in that second because you’re just not alone?) Lauren Graham being real about her own struggles is so refreshing to read. But the thing is – she’s not complaining, it’s just life, and she’s just putting it out there. She worked her ass off for any piece of success that has come her way, but the cool thing is – she didn’t do it for the success per say – it sounds like she carefully picked projects where she felt connected to the characters and wanted to invest in something beautiful with the cast. How wonderful is that? I firmly believe this book found me very specifically at the time that it did (or I found it, and I’m not just saying that because I was cooped up in the house for the weekend feeling gross not being able to shower for almost 60 hours) because when I reached the hundredth page, there’s a passage that spoke to me so loudly it brought tears to my eyes and I re-read it a few times. I wouldn’t normally include an excerpt, but I am sure there are others out there that may need to read this right now:

Because here’s the thing: I was fine on my own, and so are you. But it can be hard when you feel ready for Happy Couplehood and you seem to have missed the train. As my friend Oliver Platt used to say to me about hopes and dreams I’d share with him: “It’s coming, just not on your time frame.” I find this a helpful reminder in any number of ways: not only when you’re hoping to meet someone, but also when you’re waiting for a better job or some relief during a bleak time. When Peter and I held hands that night all those years ago, I had no idea we’d end up shopping at REI together one day. It might have been nice if he could have turned to me and said: “Look, tonight isn’t the right time, but we’re going to leave here and learn a bunch of things that are going to make this work approximately five years from now – see you then!” But life doesn’t often spell things out for you or give you what you want exactly when you want it, otherwise it wouldn’t be called life, it would be called vending machine.

It’s hard to say exactly when it will happen, and it’s true that whatever you’re after may not drop down the moment you spend all your quarters, but someday soon a train is coming. In fact, it may already be on the way. You just don’t know it yet.

I’m not going to lie, I desperately needed to read that. The last six months have tried my sanity and strength so hard, and that was the most appropriate reminder. Reading can be a portal to escape, but it can also be a bridge of understanding between author and reader and that quiet whisper of, “I know.” Don’t get me wrong though, you don’t have to be in the throws of a life crisis to appreciate this book. Aside from Graham’s words of wisdom on timing in life, she also has great anecdotes of friendship, and quirky stories that will make you laugh out loud. Plus, I think she gives good advice about acknowledging the time we have with people we hold dear, and not taking it for granted. She shares parts of her own journey, which I think is important because she didn’t wake up one day as the star of a TV series that ran for seven years, without putting in work to get there. (And she had her own series of disappointments and speed bumps on the way.) Beyond that, she’s like your cool older sister reminding you not to waste time on people who treat you like crap. Obviously, easier said than done but it never hurts to remind people of having positive self-worth, and not to settle. Somehow she conveys all this with a gentle subtlety, and firmness. One of those where if it were in person, you know you’d be disappointed in yourself if you didn’t heed the advice. Plus, any Gilmore Girls fan will love the insight into the re-boot. I’m telling you, if you’re looking for a book that will make you laugh, make you think, and make you appreciate the little things – read this.