Friday, March 11, 2011

Diary Days

I wanted to return every so often to reflection on my old diary writing days, since that's where the title of my blog came from. In one of my journals, I found a reading list from my early teen years. Through the wonders of amazon.com, I wanted to  look back on some of the books I read then.

I mainly used the public library as my source, and frequently the bookmobile. Maybe lack of variety can explain some of the selections:


  • I was heavily into Nancy Drew books and a series called Sweet Dreams, which I'm guessing correlates to something like Harlequin Teen these days. They must have been true easy reads because I was burning through a couple books a day at some points (according to the helpful chart in my diary. I was years ahead of Goodreads!) Other series I read were Babysitters Club and some Sweet Valley High, which I distinctly remember reading due to lack of options and never really cared for them.
  • Sunset Island by Cherie Bennett  - OK, looking at this cover, I REMEMBER it. I recall zero details about the book, but I think the cover says it all anyway: bright colors, seashells, hot dogs, shirtless guys. Classic literary work, here. It looks like I read several in the series.
  • Spellbound by Christopher Pike - A bit formulaic, but edgy for me at the time. I read several of his other books, including Remember Me.
  • A series called River Heights - This cover looks vaguely familiar, and painfully dated. It's the same author as Nancy Drew, so you can see my loyalty.
  • The Babysitter by R.L. Stine - Lighter than Christopher Pike, but the same horror/mystery deal. 
  • Jilly's Ghost by Dian Regan - I remember loving this book despite knowing it was not that great. Considering my taste in books at the time, credit for branching off into supernatural subjects.
  • Call of the Wild by Jack London - at least school was making me read something worthwhile. I also read Ann of Green Gables and Little Women around this time. 
  • Jacob Have I Loved by Katherine Patterson - also for school (thank you, school!)
  • House of Dies Drear by Virginia Hamilton - I definitely don't recognize the cover art, it's a later edition, but I remember liking the story and being fascinated by the underground railroad.
What were some of your favorite series and books from pre-teen to early teen years? One thing is certain from looking over my list, kids have better options in fiction these days. So much better that even adults are reading YA books. I can't imagine any childless adult reading the Sunset series unless they were dared to.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Book: Journal Revolution

This is a clever and creative take on the idea of journaling, combining collage art and crafting methods. Cool ideas if you want to preserve memories being the typical diary approach.


Journal Revolution: Rise Up & Create

This is really more of a crafting book, but how it ties into journaling is it encourages you to take your own photos, mementos and miscellaneous stuff and create a "journal" out of it. There's everything from calendars to shadow boxes and even a bra (??). Fun ideas. 

A Reading Vacation

Not a vacation from reading, but a vacation in which all I do is read.

I am thinking this may be a requirement in my life since my To-Read list is so long. I just added at least 4 books to my list today, all of which I'm excited about. Pretty much all are YA fiction since I'm immersing myself in the genre lately.

What's funny is, recently my husband said he wanted to take a week off from work and completely write and record an album. Now, you would think this would be ideal; we both take a week off, he records and I read. Except that the music project he wants to do involves me (eep! I'm a Guitar Hero vocalist at best; I have admitted numerous times that I have a "choir voice," you know, the kind that sounds good when it's drowned out by other voices). I had my heart set on a real vacation, one involving a beach and all-inclusive drinks, but I have to say, a week at home doing everything I'm trying to squeeze in now sounds nice, too.

Since it's the season of Lent, I had it in the back of my mind to forgo playing any video games (Dragon Age 2 will have to wait) which would help me out with taking on that pile of books. As a side note, it's interesting to me that such a self-denying spiritual discipline is still so active in our culture. People I know who haven't been to church in years give up things like chocolate or sugar for Lent. You may think giving up video games seems a bit cheap for a full-time working adult, but let me tell you, there are therapeutic effects to mowing down evil spirits as a noble warrior princess (first Dragon Age game). I have not stated outloud whether I am participating in giving up gaming for Lent, because if I do that, then I have to actually give up gaming for Lent.

I suppose it's a timely thought, though. There is only so much time. What I allot time for in each day is something to consider. I have a stack of books waiting to be read, and novel that needs an ending before I can send it off to my beta-readers. Giving up a game that requires major time-suckage is probably a smart move. And not to understate the spiritual aspects of Lent, the whole self-denying thing can be great for actually doing what Lent is intended for; spending more time on spiritual things.

"I would have given anything to be like..."

The writing and book blog YA Highway has a cool little thing going on. For the promotion of one of the contributing author's books, they posted the question "I would have given anything to be like..." asking readers to fill in what they wished they were like as a teenager. The book, called Like Mandarin, is about a 14-year-old who looks up to an older girl named Mandarin, who seems to be the very essence of cool.

Thinking about this question for myself, I don't remember necessarily wanting to be a specific person. One fleeting thought I had was admiring a group of girls I met at summer church camp. They were beautiful, dated beautiful (older) guys, and they were homeschooled. All of it was so foreign from my own life, I guess it seemed exciting. In those days, we wrote actual letters to each other (I know, right?) and later, some emails, although we lost touch.

But, what I remember daydreaming about the most, was moving to New York City. I wanted to be an artist or a designer in some capacity, living an exciting life in NYC. Everything about big city life seemed alluring; all of the culture so close by, like museums and concert venues, all of the different restaurants and shopping, taking the subway to different neighborhoods. I have always been into maps and feel the need to know where a place is situated in relation to everything else, so I would literally study the Manhattan page of our atlas, marveling at how large Central Park was, and how many little teeny streets branched off from each other.

I never ended up moving to New York, although I've visited, and nothing can quite compare to the view of the city from the observation deck of the Empire State Building. I did, however, move to Chicago and had a little run at city life in my trendy little neighborhood. I commuted daily to my job downtown just off of Michigan Ave. In the end, it was not for me, but it could have been more due to living alone, which I hated, and the terrible, demeaning company I worked for. But for a short time, I made that city girl dream a reality, and I'm proud of that.