Important Lessons I’ve Learned from Books & the People Who Write Them

Important Lessons I’ve Learned from Books & the People Who Write Them

 Tonight for my second post in the Miscellaneous section of my blog, I decided to do a list of important lessons I’ve learned from books and the authors who write them. A Stephen King quote says it beautifully; “The primary duty of literature is to tell us the truth about ourselves by telling us lies about people who never existed.”  Some books I am going to mention are true stories while many are fiction.

 “One Italian Summer,” by Rebecca Serle is about a grieving woman named Katy who recently lost her mother Carol. What makes the loss worse is she and her mother were supposed to go on a trip to Positano which is a magical town off of the Amalfi Coast in Italy. Katy’s marriage is also on the fritz as well. Katy takes a journey to Positano alone and surprisingly sees her mother Carol in the flesh only she’s 30 years old the same age as Katy is now. Katy meets a version of her mother who she didn’t know all the answers to life. My favorite quote from the novel is “That the same set of circumstances, beliefs, actions that get you to a moment won’t get you to what comes next. That if you want a different outcome, you have to behave differently. That you have to keep evolving.” That quote is so true because as the wise saying goes, insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. The novel is more than just about grief and the beautiful Italian coast, it’s about life and taking the plunge to change our lives and how we’re supposed to grow and evolve during this journey called life.

 “Bookends,” by Zibby Owens is an autobiography and memoir about life, grief, motherhood and stories and how they impact us. It’s also inspiring because I can relate to Zibby. We are both ambitious women who know the power of storytelling and how books impact us. If Zibby can achieve all that she has with her podcast and writing, I can achieve all I can with my blog, writing and whatever else I decide to do.

 “A Gentlemen in Moscow,” by Amor Towels is a historical fiction novel about Count Alexander Rostov. In 1922 after returning to Russia a few short years after the Romanov’s were ousted from power. Instead of a death sentence for merely being a part of the noble class, Rostov is given a life sentence in The Metropol Hotel. Should he ever leave however he would be shot. During Rostov’s time at the hotel, he becomes a mentor to a little girl named Nina and years later become a guardian to her daughter Sofia. Rostov also befriends the staff and falls in love with actress Anna Urbanova. My favorite quote from the novel is, “If a man does not master his circumstances then he is bound to be mastered by them.” That is a powerful quote. There is suffering in life but there’s also a lot of beauty in it. The book teaches us no matter our circumstances, we can’t let them get to us. We can either choose to see the good in everything and make the best of what we have, or we can let it drive us crazy and wallow in gloom which is why the quote from the novel is so relevant. Rostov also changes the lives of the people in the hotel in a positive way. Rostov is a gentleman I would love to spend time with if he were real.

 “Once Upon a Wardrobe,” by Patti Callahan Henry is about Megs Devenport a college student at Oxford College who loves her younger brother George very much. George has cancer and isn’t expected to live very long. George recently read the story “The Lion The Witch and The Wardrobe,” by C.S. Lewis and wants to know where Narnia comes from. So each week Meg goes to visit C.S. Lewis and his brother Warren to ask that question. Lewis doesn’t give her a straight answer but rather many answers based on his life and the many magical stories he grew up reading. While stories are meant to entertain, stories are also meant to transport us somewhere, some when to tell us some type of truth and to let us know while there is a lot of pain, anguish and ugly things in the world there is also beauty, joy and most importantly hope. There’s hope that at the end of the dark tunnel there is a bright light. Prepare to get some tissues because you will get emotional.

 “This Time Tomorrow,” by Emma Straub was one of the best books I read in the month of May and my first time reading from Straub. It’s about a woman named Alice Stern. Alice has a good life even if it’s not what she expected. Alice has a decent job, a great boyfriend, and her best friend Sam who is like a sister. Alice though felt, that there is something missing in her life. Alice’s father Leonard is sick and isn’t expected to live long. On the eve of Alice’s 40th birthday she gets drunk and falls asleep in the guardhouse. When Alice wakes up the next morning its 1996 and she’s turning 16 and her father is his handsome healthy self again. Alice wants to change certain things about her life and possibly change her father’s fate but Alice also learns important lessons on the way. A lot is to be learned in “This Time Tomorrow.” The novel mentions enjoying the present moments more because  once they come they become memories. It’s important to remember that because we are so glued to our electronics and thinking about what comes next or to document everything on our phones and make sure our selfies look the best. My favorite quote from the novel is absolutely brilliant, it’s from Alice’s guidance counselor, “Our choices in life matter but most are not permanent face tattoos.” While choices matter, it’s also never too late to have a new dream and if plans don’t always work out, that’s not always a bad thing.

 “In Five Years,” by Rebecca Serle is another novel about time travel and learning that while it is good to have plans, we need spontaneity too. Dannie Kohan likes to plan everything minute by minute. Dannie’s best friend Bella is definitely her polar opposite as she likes to live spontaneously. After accepting her boyfriend’s proposal and getting the job promotion she wanted, Dannie wakes up the next morning in a different apartment next to a very different man…. Dannie lives a little bit in this new future and then wakes back up in the present. This book spoke to me a lot. I liked to have a plan too but I’ve learned to enjoy spontaneity. The little book also reminds us that we have limited time on earth and to use that time to make life good for us and those around us. If things don’t work out its not necessarily a bad thing and to be open to new things.  Five years ago, I didn’t know such a thing as blogging existed and what a blog was. I look back on my life a lot and realize a lot of things. I realized I only went to college because it was expected of me to go. I figured I would major in English, be a writer, eventually meet someone and marry and be a mother before or by the time I was 30. Obviously none of that happened. I had a boyfriend but we didn’t work out and we both wanted different things. In 2019 I felt God was calling me to blog when I watched a free online course about it and for those who follow my blogs social media accounts on Instagram and Facebook you know the rest is history. Now my blog is succeeding.

 “Part of My World,” by Jodi Benson is about her life before during and after her voice acting and her devotion to Jesus throughout it all.  One of Jodi’s Broadway shows didn’t work out which then opened a door to something that she never expected, voice acting. One of her biggest voice acting roles to date is Ariel in The Little Mermaid. My favorite passage from her is this:

 “Dreams aren’t supposed to be practical or logical. They might not even make sense. Dreams are our hearts desire. They have to be bigger than what we believe is attainable. That’s what makes them dreams. All we can do is give each one over to God, pray about it, and trust that if it’s part of His plan, it’ll happen. And if it doesn’t, it probably means He’s got something even better in store for us.”

“Look at me. I didn’t set out to do voice-over-work. I just loved singing and wanted to see if I could make a decent living at it. I had my sights set on Broadway, but God took that dream and made it into something even bigger and better than I ever imagined. That’s one of the great things about God: Whatever we want… He always wants more.”  

Again this brings me back to my blog. I never knew that such a thing existed. God opened the door for me. With God’s help, nothing can stop me from achieving my dream.

 “Tokyo Vice An American Reporter on the Police Beat In Japan” by Jake Adelstein I’ve learned a lot from the book and from Jake himself. When I asked him about how he felt about how he deals with people who call him a liar, he used this quote that his friend and mentor Sekiguchi Chiaki told him, “A man without enemies is no man at all. When you do you do your job well, when you stand out, whether you’re a cop or a journalist, there are people who hate you. And that’s fine.” The point of that quote is yes there are people who won’t like us especially when we do, do something well and are succeeding, and/or doing the right thing. We need more wise men like Sekiguchi in this world. My grandmother and I spoke about this and she says the same thing that I need to not care about what some troll comments on the internet and don’t engage. We live in an age where people can type something behind the screen but would they really say it to your face? Nope.