Tag Archives: writing

You’re Reading That Book Again?

I just finished a book, A Dog’s Journey, which means I’m hunting for my next book to read. Honestly, I don’t feel like hunting for a book. Even though I’m always looking for my next favorite book. There are certain books I fell in love with, such as Little Women and the Harry Potter series. I think I’ve read each three times. Is there a rule that a new book must always be read? Why are people puzzled that someone can read a book they’ve already read? I often gain fresh experiences and fall in love with the book all over again when I reread a book. In the past, I’ve often rushed through books to see how many I can read. I’m a fan of the online, Goodreads, that allows you to keep track of books, read reviews, participate in online book clubs, and maintain a reading goal. Should reread books be put into my goal? So before you ask someone, ‘How can you read that book again?’ think to yourself that there must be a reason why this person is reading it again. Also, the individual is reading which truly is all that matters.

 

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A Journal for Book Thoughts?

I read some of my earlier blog posts to gain inspiration about what to write next. It somewhat sadden me, because I discovered that my posts now hardly have any writing.  This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, because my blog has grown to have a focus. However, I also miss sharing my general thoughts. I wrote a post from September, about what I should read next. Sometimes I can’t match my next book to the greatness of my finished book, so I thought of an idea.

I love reading and always want a book to read, but perhaps it’s okay to not be reading a book at all times. ‘Gasp’, I’m not sure that’s actually possible for me. I’ve written in a general journal to share my own thoughts and feelings although it’s never been constant. I got an idea from a reader’s comment. (Yes, I do read each and every comment.) It’s okay to reflect upon the book. What made the book so spectacular that I couldn’t stop reading? Why did I become sad when I finished the book? Why do I have such a difficult time finding my next book to read? I keep a small notebook of books I’ve read, would like to read, and reading quotations. However, I don’t have a notebook to reflect and write about the book. I was asked to write papers and essays about books in school, so why should that change. I think I’ll begin a book thought journal to write both positive and negative things about what I thought about the book. Reading helps us grow, so how did the book change me?

Please give me your thoughts about book reflections. Do you also keep a record of what you’ve read? How do you reflect about books?

 

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Goodbye Christmas

If you visit you’d find no Christmas decorations, cookies, holiday songs in the background, and peppermint scent. (I feel bad for peppermint, since its only time to really shine is December.) If you turn on your radio, you won’t hear Christmas music. After listening for weeks they suddenly cut you off. Personally, I think they should gradually stop the songs. Perhaps just a few Christmas songs every hour.

We spend weeks or maybe months for some individuals preparing for the holidays. We plan meals and return to stores for ingredients we forgot the first time. We hope our best clothes or that ugly Christmas sweater looks presentable. There’s debate about who should get what. Perhaps even family arguments and conflicts occur with those you hardly see. (We secretly wish they’d perhaps leave the gathering sooner.) Christmas decorations are hung and they soon look part of the room. And the actual event takes place for just a few days.

Most people have traditions during the holiday season whether they realize it or not. Perhaps you spend a weekend picking the perfect Christmas tree in the woods. (I’ve never done that. I’m always reminded of the scene in the movie Christmas Vacation.) Maybe you view Christmas lights all over town. Maybe you cook certain foods only during the holiday. Our hearts pour out with goodness as we donate, share, and give.  Traditions and the it’s-Christmas-so-I-must-be-kind feeling makes everything special. The season may be over, but hopefully that cheer and goodness carries throughout the year.

Even though the season may be over, there’s still positive aspects. You can easily get a parking spot and won’t be waiting in long lines at the store. Those annoying Christmas songs vanish. Our schedules are back to normal. There’s no more delicious food to tease us, which we know shouldn’t be eaten.

We may say goodbye to Christmas, but keep that holiday spirit within you throughout the year. If you need a refresher, don’t be afraid to enjoy Christmas music anytime of the year. If you’re lucky maybe you’ve even saved holiday treats in the freezer. It comes just once a year, so hopefully yours was memorable.

I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year.

― Charles Dickens

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2012 Reading & Blog Goals (and my 200th post!)

In 2011, I challenged myself to write a blog post every day. I didn’t start my blog until July, but I somehow still managed to post daily. Sometimes it was a struggle to plan ahead and schedule posts for each day, so I decided to change that for this year. I’m no longer going to attempt a blog post every day. Instead, 2012 is going to focus upon quality vs. quantity. I want to enjoy writing book reviews and not feel rushed. My goal is to write quality posts about four times a week. I wonder if I can get 100 blog subscribers by the end of 2012? Of course, it doesn’t matter how many readers I have. I’m also starting 2012 as my 200th post!! I can hardly believe it.

When I read it’s almost a personal race to see how many books I can read. However, you shouldn’t race and force yourself to read a book quickly. A book should be savored and slowly tasted. I’m not looking for average or good books to read, instead I’m hoping to find great books. Books shouldn’t be read just to check off a list. I think this quotation by Mortimer J. Adler describes how books should be enjoyed:  In the case of good books, the point is not to see how many of them you can get through, but rather how many can get through to you.”  In 2012, I plan to not look how long I’ve been reading a book and just enjoy my time reading. I’m always searching for my next book. What are your book suggestions?

Potential Books for 2012:

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
East of Eden by John Steinbeck
One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez
The Millennium Trilogy by Stieg Larsson
Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
The Dressmaker of Khair Khana by Gayle Tzemach Lemmon
Little Princes: One Man’s Promise to Bring Home the Lost Children of Nepal by Conor Grennan
Chomp by Carl Hiaasen
The Chronicles of Narnia Series by C.S. Lewis
The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick
The BFG by Roald Dahl
 
Read Again:
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott 
A Dog’s Purpose by W. Bruce Cameron
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee 
 

What are your books for 2012?

 

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2011 Book Reflections

Personally, 2011 has been a wonderful book year! I always enjoy keeping track of what I’ve read, rating books, and sharing recommendations. Similar to Word Press’ daily post, goodreads encouraged readers to set a reading goal for 2011. Mine wasn’t as daring as other readers, but I completed and read beyond my goal. I’m now going to share my favorite books from 2011. These aren’t full book reviews, instead just mini highlights.

Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas

True this book was huge, but it’s been on my ‘to-read’ list for a very long time. I’ve always enjoyed the movie and since the book is normally better, I decided to conquer the book. Well, I can’t watch the movie anymore since it doesn’t give the book justice. There’s a little of everything: romance, revenge, suspense, murder, and more. The book took me about a month to read, but it was highly worth it. I also listened to the book, which added to the excitement.

The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón

I would describe The Shadow of the Wind as a book lovers book. Many scenes are within an old bookstore where all the books have a soul. The book is full of suspense and mystery. I don’t want to share too much, but this is a book that I couldn’t put down and I was sad when it was finished.

A Dog’s Purpose by W. Bruce Cameron

Perhaps I was attracted to the book, since the black Labrador on the cover is similar to my own dog. The entire book is from the dog’s perspective how he tries to please his owners with a purpose. The book had me laughing aloud and crying. I enjoyed A Dog’s Purpose so much that I’ve already read it again. If you’re hesitant to read this book, since all dogs in dog books seem to die I’d reconsider this book. It has an interesting twist.

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith

This book is a coming of age story about a girl living in Brooklyn, New York. She experiences struggles and takes comfort in reading. She’s very curious about her world and wants to gain information.

 

 

 Clara and Mr. Tiffany by Susan Vreeland

This book takes place the turn of the twentieth century in New York City. It is the true story of a woman’s relationship with Louis Comfort Tiffany and stained glass.

 

 

 The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind: Creating Currents of Electricity and Hope by William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer

I first read this book, because my library had a community reads together. It is the true story about a young boy living in Malawi, who deals with poverty, famine, and daily struggles to survive. He’s forced to leave school, since his family can’t afford the tuition. He continues to read and learn from the library. He desires to help his family and community and creates a windmill to produce electricity. The story is very inspirational and makes you want to keep trying to reach your goals.

New Authors: A new and enjoyable author that I read this year is Lisa See. I read Shanghai GirlsDreams of Joy, and Snow Flower and the Secret Fan. Her books focus upon family relationships, historical fiction, and Chinese influences.

 

 

Another new author I discovered is Carl Hiaasen. I read Scat and Hoot. These books were for middle school age that were mysteries focused upon environmental issues.

In 2011, I purchased a kindle and I never thought I would read from an electric device. I read about twenty books on my kindle, but I still enjoy ‘real’ books.

I also started this blog in the middle of 2011, which encouraged me to read more diverse books and write reviews. It gives me great pleasure to recommend books for others to enjoy. I’m always looking for new books, so please feel free to share your own recommendations. Hopefully, 2012 brings more wonderful books to enjoy!

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Book Smorgasbord

Walk into a buffet restaurant and you’ll  find many choices. Grab a plate and pile on your favorite dishes. We’ll pretend that calories don’t count and you have a bottomless stomach for this meal. Select your meats whether it’s roast beef, spicy sausage, meatballs, or barbeque chicken. Perhaps you’re a vegetarian who doesn’t select a meat choice. Continue through the buffet to find pizza, french fries, fruits, vegetables, and even jello. Of course we need room for delicious desserts, such as cookies, berry cobbler, and ice cream. Finish your selections and head to your table to compare your choices with friends. You may see food on a friend’s plate that you didn’t notice at the buffet. Maybe you make a sour face to a food you dislike on someone’s plate. Perhaps you snitch food from others. Buffets often change weekly, so each visit is new.

Instead of a restaurant, you’re now walking into any library, bookstore, school, or garage sale with discount paperbacks. Maybe you decide to ‘walk’ into your Amazon account from the comfort of your home. Depending on the location, your ‘plate’ today is a library card, wallet, school pass, loose change, and most important an open mind. Everyone has different ‘tastes’ when we select books to read. There are endless ‘dishes’ from mystery, romance, science fiction, biography, contemporary fiction, non-fiction, graphic novels, picture books, reference books, magazines, journals, newspapers, history, foreign language, poetry, best sellers, photography, travel, geography, audio books, religion, how-to books, and much more. There’s even subcategories for each book ‘dish’. You can ‘travel’ to different countries with books about its food, landmarks, transportation, geography, historical aspects, and more to fully ‘explore’ the location. Similar to a buffet, you don’t need to select every book. Also, you don’t need to have the same book ‘taste’ preference  as your friends. However, friends can always share ‘dish’ recommendations about which books to read next time. Of course, new books are stocked so numerous trips need to be taken to satisfy your ‘hunger’ for books to read.

Banned books week is next week, however we need to celebrate book diversity all year. Individuals should have the freedom to read anything they desire without criticism from others. I’m not going to forbid you from picking a book I dislike. Nobody should have the right for books to be removed from classrooms, schools, and libraries. Often individuals don’t even read the material before deciding if it should be banned. You never know, you may learn something new or gain an appreciation for different perspectives. We all have different book tastes, so allow others to enjoy their choices without judgement. Experience the diverse flavors of a book smorgasbord.

Dare to think for yourself.

- Voltaire

Information about banned books week:

banned books week.org

American Library Association (ALA) information about banned books

YouTube Banned Books Channel

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Sour Patch Kid vs. Gummi Bear

I destroyed some of my taste buds while eating sour patch kids. You know the candy that begins tart and sour then changes to sweetness. (Of course, you also can’t forget the annoying commercials with the weird sour patch kids who are ‘sour’ to begin with then their behavior turns ‘sweet’ at the end.) Sure it wasn’t a terrible taste or too unpleasant, but it took awhile before I tasted the sweet taste. Finally, I felt happiness when my taste buds were relieved and I tasted the sweetness. I love gummi bears, so it made me think about how those candies compare to life.

Are you more of a sour patch kid who’s ready for challenges (tartness) to then enjoy pure pleasures (sweetness) in life? Or are you always a gummi bear who doesn’t feel the desire to boldly face challenges and instead are already satisfied with the present circumstances? At times, roles need to be adjusted. Sour patch kids may need to step back to enjoy life now instead of striving forward. Gummi bears may need to taste the tartness and prepare for struggles. Of course, the bag  mixes and we’re both sour patch kids and gummi bears whether we like it or not. So, which do you identify yourself more: someone ready to conquer the tartness or someone who loves the soft sweetness now? Explore the full range of  ‘taste’ in life: sweet, salty, bitter, and sour.

If you’re always a sour patch kid, don’t worry taste buds grow back in about 10 days. It’s a misconception that each taste is in a separate region of the tongue. Ah, perhaps our ‘tastes’ in life mingle together with challenges and pleasures at the same time. Here’s more information about the fascination of taste buds:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taste_bud

http://kidshealth.org/kid/talk/qa/taste_buds.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Quote: A book is somebody’s friend

In the shop we buy and sell them, but in truth books have no owner. Every book you see here has been somebody’s best friend.

- Carlos Ruiz Zafon (The Shadow of the Wind)

Whenever I’m stuck on something to write I look to my quotations for inspiration. I absolutely loved The Shadow of the Wind that I read earlier this year. (There’s a reason it’s the top of my book recommendations.) It’s a book lover’s book with the mysteries inside each book. It almost seems like a crazy idea for a book to be somebody’s best friend, but ponder it for a moment. Walk into any used bookstore, library, or even a garage sale and you’ll find books that they have been loved at sometime in their life. I’m not including books from brand new stores, since they haven’t had time to live. I get excited about those books with the wrinkled edges and slightly worn pages. Where has this book been? Who has been its friend? Perhaps the book’s friend curled up reading in bed, another friend may have had a tissue box nearby, another friend wore out the book stroking its spine, another friend constantly carried it to read at a moment’s notice, or another friend read aloud for all to hear its message. The book changed hands and had a different significance and meaning to others. This is true for all books, since we have various preferences and each book means something new. A well-loved book gains endless friends whenever it is passed onto others.  I know when I finish a good book it feels as though I’ve lost a friend, however perhaps I’ll now examine that for a small moment my life was part of the book’s life. What books have been your good friend?

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You’re doing such a good job!

Everyone loves being praised, mentioned, and recognized. However, I wondered how much praise truly makes us happy and satisfied? How much do we write for ourselves or the pleasure of others? This thought came to me after I examined my comments and what I thought were comments.

Praise is probably the best form of behavior management in the classroom: “I love how Sara is listening and waiting for directions”. Immediately other students want to be recognized and given positive praise. The greatest praise is genuine and specific, instead of “Good job Sara”. People also praise and criticize as an ‘Oreo’: two positives surrounding a negative comment. Although, I doubt many blogger comments are negative.

I won’t lie. I enjoy comments and ‘likes’ as much as anyone, but does it truly matter if others enjoy my posts enough to comment or like? I notice spam comments and get somewhat excited, since it could be actual comments. I take a peak, but of course the chance is very slim that it’s true. Journal writing is probably the only writing format that’s just for yourself.

Overall, individuals should work to please themselves whether there’s any praise. Do you best and you’ll likely get the praise from the most important person: yourself.

(P.S. Don’t feel the need to comment or like from this post.)

Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.

- Dr. Seuss

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Drip, drop, crash, bang – What was that sound?

Words are the foundation of books, so it’s only appropriate to discuss words themselves. My favorite word is onomatopoeia. I actually tried to make my domain onomatopoeia, but sadly it was already taken.

Webster’s Dictionary definition: noun, 1. The naming of a thing or action by a vocal imitation of the sound associated with it (as buzz, hiss). 2. The use of words whose sound suggest the sense (onomatopoeic – adjective, onomatopoetically – adverb)

First I’ll give you a brief review of grammar. A noun is a person, place, thing, or an idea. An adjective describes a noun, example ‘She has a red balloon’. Red is the adjective, since it describes the balloon (noun). An adverb describes a verb. A verb is an action, example ‘She ran’. Ran is the action. Now add, an adverb to describe the verb, example ‘She quickly ran’. Quickly describes how she ran. Hopefully, it’s not too confusing.

I love the word onomatopoeia, because just saying the word is fun. And then the word itself means giving something a sound. The bees buzz near the flowers. The river splashes and gushes downhill. The big balloon pops. I hear the fire crackle. Drip, drop, drip down the rain falls upon the window. The wolf howls in the distance. The mouse squeaked under the floorboard. Aka-Seltzer’s slogan: ‘Plop, plop, fizz, fizz, oh what a relief it is’. We hear how Rice Krispies sound: ‘snap, crackle, pop’.  Would you hear a dog buzz? We can’t exactly hear what we read, so words describe it. Everything has a sound from animals, doorbells, people, cars, weather, alarms, music, and much more. Compare these sentences: I awoke to thump, thump, thumping of feet from the floor above. I awoke to the pitter patter of soft feet. Which sounds would be more pleasant to wake up to?

Check out these websites for more fun sound words. I wasn’t able to insert the actual sound of ‘onomatopoeia’, so that alone is worth clicking the first link.

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/onomatopoeia

http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/429308/onomatopoeia

http://www.writtensound.com/index.php

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Doesn’t everyone wish to have Hermione’s time turner?

What we need, ” said Dumbledore slowly, and his light blue eyes moved from Harry to Hermione, “is more time.

- J. K. Rowling (Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, page 393)

I apologize if you haven’t read this yet. This is my third Harry Potter reference, which is understandable since the series holds so much. The conversation between Dumbledore and Hermione described what occurred after Sirius was captured and held under false pretenses. Dumbledore mentioned that three turns should be enough which translated into three hours in the past. Of course, Dumbledore let the two decide what needed to be done with the transfer back into time. Those who’ve read the book remember the changes that occurred in those three hours. That’s the key word: change. What do you wish you could change if given a time turner?

So, many times we think to ourselves ‘If I only knew what I know now’ or ‘I didn’t enjoy it while it lasted.’ or ‘What was I thinking about getting the (fill in the blank)?’. However much we wish, hope, dream, pray, and think upon we can’t change what occurred in the past. We can alter certain aspects, such as manage a terrible hair cut, refinance a poor money choice, repaint the olive walls, or sell extreme purchases. There are certain things that can’t be changed, such as a heated argument created difficult relationships or reckless behavior that caused physical bodily damage. True, people grow and learn from their past and develop skills through life. Stop and think about the choices that you make right now before you regret later or wish you could change.

Now, there’s also the opposite of turning into the past. Would you use the time turner to see your future? Of course, nobody wishes to suddenly age, but perhaps just a glimpse to quickly turn forward 3 weeks, 6 months, or decades then turn back. (Exception is if you’re turning 16 to drive or 21 to legally drink.) All of us have ‘count downs’ whether it’s a movie opening, exam, presentation, interview, graduation, wedding, celebration, competition, and endless tasks and deadlines.  We cross off calendar dates, cut off Christmas paper link chains, ask others to remind us, or program reminders onto phones. I even put a Harry Potter movie countdown on my phone. Countdowns into the future create suspense, anticipation, excitement, dread, and even fear.

Unless, you have a magical time turner you don’t have the power to switch to the past and future. Enjoy the present and try not to change the past or wonder about the future. You can’t control your past, but you can prepare for your future even if you can’t see it.

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What’s the message inside your fortune cookie?

I got this idea from a prompt after I published a post and I thought it was fun idea. Everybody looks forward to the end of a Chinese meal at a restaurant when the fortune cookies arrive at the table. It’s silly, but there’s a hidden mystery when we hope to read something good with luck, success, love, or money. However, did you know that fortune cookies have nothing to do with being Chinese. I know from personally being there and never once given a fortune cookie after my meal. Instead, it supposedly originated in California. Read more about its history from the links below. So, what does your fortune say? I’m not even sure what it means if you receive an empty cookie with no fortune.

*You shall live a long and fulfilling life. *

*Look and you shall find love.*

*Your meal containing MSG will haunt you later.*

*Look no further, your life at its present state is where it will be.*

*Examine a mirror, there may be something in your teeth.*

*Be careful not to initiate a disagreement with a loved one.*

*Leave a generous tip and you will be great.*

*Love  your enemy as your friend.*

*Be careful, danger is ahead.*

*The thing you are dreading is fast approaching.*

*Take a trip and escape your life’s demands.*

*Look to the stars for guidance.*

*Try take out Chinese next time.*

*Smile more, it may make lines but it improves your mood.*

*Remember to say please and thank you.*

I’ve never made fortune cookies, but here’s a recipe I found that could be fun to try.

Ingredients

  • 3 egg whites
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted and cooled
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons water
Prep Time:
15 Min
Cook Time:
10 Min
Ready In:
25 Min

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Grease cookie sheets, or line with parchment paper. Have fortunes ready to go on small strips of paper.
  2. In a large glass or metal bowl, whip egg whites and sugar on high speed of an electric mixer until frothy, about 2 minutes. Reduce speed to low, and stir in melted butter, vanilla, almond extract, water and flour one at a time, mixing well after each. Consistency should resemble pancake batter. Spoon the batter into 3 inch circles on the prepared baking sheets. Leave room between for spreading.
  3. Bake for 5 to 7 minutes in the preheated oven, or until the edges begin to brown slightly. Quickly remove one at a time, place a message in the center, and fold in half. Fold the ends of the half together into a horse shoe shape. If they spring open, place them in a muffin tin to cool until set.

Now you can find fortune cookies at parties, fundraisers, weddings, holidays, or even as creative invitations. Here are some pics with jazzed up fortune cookies for different occasions. Check out the website for even more unique fortune cookies.

http://www.ladyfortunes.com

Brief history of the fortune cookie:

http://www.fancyfortunecookies.com/Articles.asp?ID=148

http://www.chinese-fortune-cookie.com/fortune-cookie-history.html

 

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How did the book attract your eye?

‘Don’t judge a book by its cover’. We’ve all heard this expression numerous times in different situations. The phrase often goes beyond referring to books even if we don’t want to admit. We judge an individual’s personality with their outward appearance,  an appliance or object if it can accomplish a task, whether an animal appears gentle or aggressive, a new food’s taste, and many other situations where we must look beyond only appearances. In this case, I examine only books. What made you stop and pick up the book?

I love bookstores and libraries as I gaze upon rows of bookcases and displays. As I tilt my head along the bookcase and examine the books’ spine there are only a few things I have at first glance: book title, general appearance, and size. Let’s be honest, those bright, flashy, and colorful books scream: ‘Look at me, look at me’. Whereas the monotone and subdued books perhaps state: ‘Ignore the flashy adolescent, instead I’m a book with substance’. Of course, this isn’t the case since a book’s ‘substance’ and ‘worth’ is not measured by its cover. A book’s size doesn’t affect me too much, since I’ve read great short and long books. Sometimes a creative and interesting title pulls my attention. I’m even guilty of doing this on Amazon.com looking quickly at a book’s cover if it has flowers, swirls, dark shadows, bold print, a damsel in distress, a knife with blood, ocean waves, young children, symbols, city background, or nothing but the title.

Where do you ‘classify’ those books with a worn spine, faded paper, creases, stains, and no dusk jacket? I think those books are mysterious and hold secrets. This book states to the world: ‘Look past what I don’t have and my faded appeal, because my wear shows I’ve been loved and enjoyed by many’. A book doesn’t need to be flashy for greatness.

Even if we claim otherwise, a book’s outward look often describes its genre. For example, you’re not likely to discover romance inside a book with a bloody knife on the cover, well perhaps deep heartache. The title and appearance are a ‘sneak peak’ at the treasure deep inside. However, take a chance and pick up that book that turns you off or is nondescript for you may be in for a surprise.

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