I’m Not the Characters in Books That I Hoped To Be

I love to read. A lot.

I used to work at a school where the students had an assignment in their Language Arts class to write a book recommendation letter to another teacher on campus. This helped them learn to be critical of literature and write persuasive pieces.

So one morning, I find a letter in my box from one of my students about a book she really liked that she thought I might enjoy.

I did not know this was an assignment for a class.

I thought she had read a book and something in it made her want to recommend it to me.

So I read the book. And I wrote her back about it.

Apparently, this caused quite a stir. She ran into her English class, waving the letter around, bragging that she had received a letter back.

Soon I received another letter. And another. And another. The English teacher e-mailed me as a head’s up that all of her students wanted to write me since I had written Piper back.

All in all, I received twelve letters.

I read every book they recommended and wrote each of those students a letter back. I never let it take me longer than a week to write them back. Granted, these were books written for 13 and 14 year olds, so not terribly long reads. But a lot of them were books I never would have thought to read on my own.

Like Percy Jackson.

The initial book that was recommended to me was called Shatter Me. I actually really enjoyed this book. It ended up being part of a series and I read the whole thing.

Anyways, the point is that I really love to read and talk about books with people.

I was a part of a book club for awhile. The biggest problem for me was storage. As it is, there are two large bookshelves and one smaller one completely full of books at my house. So I have a rule for myself: I can’t buy a new book unless I have already read it and know that I love it.

(This helps stop me from buying a huge pile of books at Barnes and Noble just because they are marked down to $5 and the synopsis sounds “interesting enough”. Then, when the book is only “meh”, I almost feel guilty getting rid of it since I just bought it.)

Enter, my good friend, the Library.

The problem with using a library as your source of books for a book club is that many other books clubs are probably also reading that new literary hit. Sometimes I would get lucky and get the book in time to be able to read and discuss. Other times, I would be way down on the wait list for a book and never get it in time.

I would still read the book when it was finally my turn, but I missed the discussion entirely.

I believe my initial wait list number for The Girl on the Train was 112?

I ended up leaving the book club.

I have tried finding other ways to talk about books with people. The school I am currently at (well, for 5 more weeks) has an audio visual program that makes a weekly TV show for the campus. Our campus librarian interviews two or three teachers about books they like every other month or so. I have been on that segment at least once a year while at this school. The first book I talked about was Ready Player One. I have also talked about Night Circus, Big Little Lies, my all-time-favorite The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. She also had me (and a few other teachers who she avidly interviewed) write a list of suggestions of YA books that we liked, since that is what most of the students were reading. I think I ended up reading about 15 books over the course of a month, since I didn’t have a ton of books in that genre. My favorites were Warcross and One of Us is Lying. I’d recommend books to my students based on what books I saw them reading.

Mind you, despite the fact that I was reading all this YA, I was still reading plenty of other books, too.

Enter a book that I connected with in a serious way. I had read a mini-review of Confessions of a Domestic Failure by Bunmi Laditan and hopped onto my library’s wait list.

When I finally received notice that it was my turn, I picked the book up on my way home and devoured it.

To sum it up with no spoilers: take a stay-at-home mom who feels like she is messing up in all the worst ways; she goes on a massive journey to fix things and be the mom and wife she knows she can be; it goes terribly wrong; and plenty of shenanigans.

Is it any wonder I connected to this book?

I am definitely on the Hot Mess Express. I may not be the Conductor, but that it mostly because that position requires responsibility. I am probably the lady working the snack cart.

But I am clearly riding that train.

I connected so much with her desire to do better, get better, be better.

I connected so much with her breakdowns.

I connected so much with the feeling of isolation that motherhood somehow magnifies. That intense feeling of being alone despite the fact that you are literally holding another person right this very second.

I absolutely loved this book.

I don’t have a book club to talk about this book to, though. Hence me shouting into the void that is the Internet.

I have noticed something interesting about characters that I end up connecting to. I had always pictured myself to be the put-together person. Smart, clever. Always prepared and never a disappointment. Ha! I am definitely no Hermione Granger. I’m scattered. Unfocused. Skittish.

Turns out that I am Professor Trelawney.



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