About A Book
I know I loved books as a teen and was always reading. My memories of reading are sweet ones more of time and place rather than a book title. I don’t remember loving any special book back then, just that I loved to read.
In my late teens my pet capuchin monkey kept me company when I’d curl up with my book. Yes, I had one of those little monkeys that are referred to as organ grinder monkeys. You’ve seen pictures of them in little caps with a tin cup. Mine did not dress up, but was every bit as entertaining. Baby would jump up on my shoulder and we’d pass a peppermint lifesaver back and forth as I read. He’d sit there with his little fingers picking at my neck. I kept reading. You can understand that looking back it is hard to remember what book was in my hand. After all, I had a little monkey on my back.
As an adult I love short, snappy essays. Comments on life with humor are my favorite. I also love to read journals. Not the Hollywood tell-all story, but heartfelt thoughts on life. I have no patience for a long epic novel. I gravitate towards books I can enjoy a chapter at a time then put it down for another day. I do sneak in the occasional mystery if it catches my attention and is more of a light read. I wish I was a heavy hitter, but I am a simple reader.
When I started writing my memoir The Unfaithful Widow my style was definitely defined by the type of books I read. My book is broken down by seasons and each season is full of essays. I call them my fragmented thoughts on my first year alone.
I had a critique of the first twenty pages of my book with a NY Times best selling author through the Atlanta Writer’s Club. “Barbara, you are not a novelist, you are an essayist.” Those were her words to me as she scribbled on my work. I thought on that for a minute and then felt relieved. I had a title. I could give up the notion I would write a great American novel. It was a pivotal moment for me.
The book that inspired me the most when I decided to write my own was Nora Ephron’s I Feel Bad About My Neck. I loved this book. It is full of sparkling essays on women over age sixty. It is an easy read at 160 pages. She does not analyze the subject of aging, but writes from a perspective that does not take itself too seriously about getting older.
I could identify with her essays on age, because my husband died three months before I turned sixty. Age suddenly became an issue for me. I was going into a new decade, my sixties, doing all those things I never thought I’d do again. I also liked the fact her book was short. It made me comfortable with the length of mine.
Another favorite author of mine helped to kick off the dating section of my book. I wrote on my dating profile on Match that I loved May Sarton and her Journal of Solitude. I think I wanted to sound intellectual. Surprisingly enough a man wrote me that he had all her books. We might have something in common he e-mailed me. So we met for dinner. It turned out our love of May Sarton was all we had in common. Our meeting that night starts off my book’s fall season of dating disasters.
I’d like to say that you might find me one day in a plump wing chair reading a thick historical novel. Truth is I doubt you will. While my life now if full of change, some things do stay the same. Journals and essays are my favorite reads. I find inspiration in reading how others think and feel and love to laugh when the writer pokes fun at the everyday things we all have to deal with.
Essayist? Thank you NY Times best selling author for giving me a label. It is a title I will wear with pride. It may be the only thing I feel certain about in a life that is ever changing and reinventing itself.
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Barbara has offered a copy of her book for giveaway today. Just comment on this post to be entered to win. Extra entries can be earned by Tweeting, posting on Facebook, or being a follower on this blog. Make sure you let me know what you've done in the comments and be sure to leave your email address so I can contact you if you win. Entries will be accepted until Tuesday, June 1 at midnight. Spread the word!!