Wednesday, March 16, 2011

On Obsessions and Books

For the past several weeks, I have been expanding my horizons.  Normally, this shows up as me wanting to learn how to do something or doing research for something that I need to be up on for one reason or another.  At some point in time, this innocent diversion morphs into a full scale obsession...with me reading every book I can get my hands on about the subject or trying to put my hand to something that I delude myself into thinking I can do.  Sometimes, I find that these obsessions to be fairly fun or at least educational.  Other times, I get so tied up with something that everything else pretty much gets put on a back burner until it runs its course. 

To put it in perspective...I go into "stalker mode" on a subject or activity instead of a person.  Which is obviously the lesser of the two evils.

Big Dave has gotten fairly used to this phenomenon and rarely says a whole lot about it unless it is clear that an intervention is not only might be downright necessary.  A few years ago, I got interested in growing African violets.  An innocent diversion, you might say.  I joined the local African violet club so that I could learn the proper care and maintenance of violets, bought books, and of course...bought violets.

I bought 48 of them to be exact.  We were living in a 1,600 square foot house at the time. 

And just so you is virtually impossible to maintain 48 violets when you are working full time, raising children aged 6 and 8, have a husband, a dog, two part time jobs, and wish to retain your sanity. 

I'd rescue the sad little plants from the clearance bins in grocery stores, and I'd buy the gorgeous ones that my violet club members grew.  These ladies had plenty of time and experience to handle growing multiple violets.  Average age of the membership before I joined?  About 65.  Funny thing was...Jill enjoyed going with me to the meetings because they made over her because they were pretty awed to see the little thing just sitting there being good.  Frankly, so was I.  I eventually had to drop out because life intervened, but I do actually know how to take care of violets...a dozen or so, that is.

Another obsession was weight lifting.  I read every conceivable book on exercises I could find and a couple of biographies...including Arnold Schwarzenegger's.  I have no idea why.  It just seemed like a good idea at the time.  I kept a little book outlining my program, owned a weightlifting belt and gloves, and I was definitely making progress.  Actually...this is one obsession that I kind of wish had stuck.  Oh well.

I've been hung up on the bands "Collective Soul" and "Foo Fighters" for the past several years.  I'm still pretty enamored with both...especially the Foo.  I got disappointed in Collective Soul's last album...and hope that history won't repeat itself with the new one from Foo Fighters.  The first two cuts are like - ah - this may be following suit.  Hope not. 

Lately, it has been books.  Actually, I've been a huge fan of reading since I was a kid.  Not that I was a steady reader...I was always more of the kid who just took it in fits and starts.  I blew off all of the books that I was required to read in high school because I apparently had better things to watch Dallas or Magnum P.I.  I did go back and read all of them in my twenties - including "The House of the Seven Gables" - when WalMart had a sale on classic books for something like two for a dollar. 

I needed closure.  The teachers really did try to get us fired up about the books.  To this day, I don't know why I was so determined to avoid this.

However, in the process of reading those WalMart books...I fell in love with Jane Austen's books.  I now reread "Pride and Prejudice" about once a year (and watch the Keira Knightly version of the movie about a dozen times).  I am currently in the middle of "Emma" on my Nook. 

I went through a John Grisham phase and then moved on to C.S. Lewis, Charles Spurgeon, and Max Lucado.  I quit reading fiction and started reading every Christian living book I could find.  It was as if I was trying to figure out how to fix myself through all of this searching until I finally realized that some things are just what they are.  So, to take a break from the self-improvement...I've been back to reading fiction.

I found Jen Lancaster's books through a friend several years ago.  She's hilarious.  She doesn't censor what she if you can't deal with may want to move along...but I just crack up reading what she writes.  She has a blog called "Jennsylvania" that I check every week or so and am never disappointed.  How can you not like someone who owns pit bulls and a plethora of other animals, finds the humor in everything, and is just naturally hysterical?  I also like Celia Rivenbark for the same reason.

Lately, Jen has taken to referring other websites that she likes...which led me to "Young House Love" - a blog about two young marrieds with a baby who are big-time do-it-yourselfers.  Love the way they name their furniture and how their wedding with 75 guests cost $5,000.  They rock...and they post fairly frequently.  They also have giveaways all of the time...which I love.

Another site Jen recommended was "Manic Mommy" who does a book-a-day-giveaway during "March madness."  I keep hoping I'll win...and I enter religiously every day...but I have to get off of being one of the first entries of the day to have a chance on the random number generator.  Ah, I just check out the book she's reviewing in the morning and hope for the best.  So far, I'm thoroughly pumped about the variety of the books she has posted.  It's like a giant "cheat sheet" of great books/authors for me to check out.

I have a feeling this "book" obsession is going to be around awhile.  After all, Charlaine Harris (who writes the Sookie Stackhouse books that the HBO serial "True Blood" is based on) and Jen Lancaster both have books coming out in May.  I'm sure it is time for Max Lucado to come out with another offering...and I'm enjoying learning about the books and authors on Manic Mommy's site.  I've also looked at "Chick Lit Is Not Dead" - a website that I heard about from Manic Mommy's site (and from which I won a book last week - rock on).  It also has a lot of great book reviews.

I have also checked out the Facebook page "I Bet We Can Make These Books Best Sellers" and had a lovely e-mail conversation with one of the authors, Kate Ledger, who just wrote a book called "Passages."  She has offered me a copy of the book and I am SO excited to know that it is in the mail!  It is lovely to be able to actually interact with people who are "living the dream" so to speak.

Obsessions that I've had have always appeared for a reason.  The violets were because my grandmother always had them in her home.  The weightlifting was because I loved the way I could see changes in my body that made me feel good about myself.  The scrapbooking I do was for fellowship and to invest my time into something that would be special to my children someday. 

The books are because I know in my heart that I want to eventually write a book of my own.  Here's hoping I do...

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