On the merits of books

Books are places of comfort. Not because they are not capable of bringing out your worst fears and anxieties but precisely because they do just that. They bring out your worst fears, your biggest dreams and wildest of hopes, and they stay with you through it all. Books can never leave you, see. They will never leave you. You can bare your soul to a book and it will hold you tighter. You read each word and each word turns into a sentence which turns into a paragraph which turns into a page. As you read each word you create a story. The author creates the bones of it, but really and truly, you create the story (Neil Gaiman explored this idea in a talk entitled “The Pornography of Genre, or the Genre of Pornography”), so as you read a book you can rest assured that it is your own. The words in the story as they’re written don’t belong to you but the journey the story takes you on does, because you created that. You used your imagination to take yourself on a journey with the book through a blacked out hotel in Baghdad, escaping death from car bomb solely because you bent down to pet a cat, or across the windy Brighton Pier during Planet Con, frantically searching for your missing daughter. You went on a journey with the book and the book went on a journey with you. You learned from it and I wonder…. What did it learn from you?

***

You get to the last page and you start at the beginning, all over again, with the promise that the words will always be there. They won’t run off the page when the going gets tough. In fact they may appear to hang on all the harder. But you also keep the words, stories, and ideas with you in more important ways. In your heart and in your brain words and stories never die.  As a certain character named “V” said in an 80’s comic: “There’s no flesh and blood within this cloak to kill. There’s only an idea. Ideas are bulletproof.”

Ideas never leave you. Stories never die.

Books are the most loyal of friends.

***

A transcription of Neil Gaiman’s “The Pornography of Genre,  or the Genre of Pornography” talk can be found in his new book The View From the Cheap Seats.
If Baghdad or the Brighton Pier sound intriguing to you,  I recommend you read The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell,  which is the inspiration for this post. 

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What I’m all about

Scrolling through all my blog posts thus far, I realized I haven’t actually said anything about myself. So, here’s Andrea 101:

  • I am not a small town girl but I am from a small town (though I wouldn’t say I’m a big city type, either)
  • I moved to the valley almost two weeks ago. If you’re not familiar with what “the valley” is, my brain mushes together Phoenix, Scottsdale, Tempe, Mesa, Gilbert, etc. all together into one idea and two words: “the valley” (which has made getting around pretty problematic).
  • But I’ve been applying to jobs (two today) and getting kinda bummed out about it. I mean I’ve been looking for a job since I graduated in May (with a Bachelors in Business Administration in Marketing).
  • So if the job thing works out and I get my foot in the door, eventually I want to advance my career into international business. Immersing myself in new cultures and having the means to help people out a lil’ along the way seems super duper.
  • I would also love to be a writer; I suppose in a way I already am a writer because I’m writing, but to write something really great that resonates with people and puts my name out there would be dream.
  • All of this post is more-or-less personal meta, so please don’t judge my writing skills from it.
  • I love to travel, but I suppose that’s obvious from my last blog posts so I won’t go off on that right now
  • International marketing is really cool though; in that class at NAU I got to pretend like I was creating a marketing plan for Odwalla (Coke brand of NAKED juices basically) to expand into Russia. It was awesome. It made me excited about life, and also more excited than I already was about Russia.
  • I like books. Right now I’m reading The View From the Cheap Seats by Neil Gaiman and The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell.
  • I have a habit of reading two or more books at once and getting distracted and not finishing one or more of them.
  • Neil Gaiman is my favorite author. My favorite novels are Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand and The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom, because they changed me. Every book I read changes me, but those more than others. My favorite series are Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien and the Daughter of Smoke & Bone trilogy by Laini Taylor.
  • I like reading weird fantasy and sci-fi, but I’m also really into nonfiction, mostly of the historical sort.
  • I have a lot of books about Russia, most of which I haven’t read yet, but that could be said about a lot of my books. I’m a slow reader.
  • I like music, too. Currently on repeat is Bon Iver’s new song, 22
  • I dig folk,  indie, post-rock (I guess that’s what the Sigur-Ros-type-music I like is called; I’m not a genre guru), singer/songwriter, instrumental, classical, atmospheric, etc. I’ll also listen to punk and a little pop and electronica and veeery little rap.
  • My favorite singers are Ben Howard (finger-picking legend with a voice that transports me to England) and Alexi Murdoch. Favorite band is Sigur Ros. Keaton Henson also deserves a mention (and check out his instrumental album – probably my second favorite album in the world (second to Ben Howard’s debut album)).
  • But don’t think I only listen to sad  music.
  • What else can I tell you? Oh yeah…
  • In 2014 I was diagnosed with anxiety and depression and while it’s currently flaring up again, it’s gotten so much better than it was, which is mostly due to the lifestyle change my doctor advised
  • I’ve cut out grains (for the most part; I’ve added back steel cut oats and sprouted grains like Ezekial 4:9 bread, but I don’t eat any other kind of bread), dairy, refined sugar, processed meat, preservatives and artificial ingredients….I’ve also severely limited my intake of starches like corn… I don’t drink alcohol or caffeine…if you want an easy way to think of it, I’m basically paleo.
  • It might be easier if I told you what I CAN eat – coconuts in all shapes and forms – like seriously, coconuts. Coconut flour, coconut milk (which is amazing because pretty much all Thai curries are made with coconut milk so I can actually EAT them), coconut sugar (I should probably do more research on that one, honestly), palm shortening, coconut OIL of course, coconut AMINOS (that stuff is like tasty soy sauce it’s the bomb; ah yes, soy, another thing I don’t eat)…  But enough about coconuts. I can also eat fruits, vegetables, nuts (although I don’t eat them much because I think peanuts may affect me and I don’t much like any other kind of nut by itself, plus they’re expensive), potatoes (sweet potatoes are much healthier than white potatoes, but white potatoes are totally fine under moderation), eggs, and unprocessed meat (lean meats like chicken and fish are the most ideal, but I also eat beef, lamb, and very little pork; bacon is actually okay as long as it’s uncured and no sugar added – there’s actually a paleo brand of it you can find at Sprouts). I guess that’s pretty much it, really, besides everything that I’ve forgotten.
  • For the first few months I was on the diet it was much worse. I couldn’t even eat tomatoes or eggs or white potatoes or high-sugar fruits like bananas or melons. And also bell peppers, eggplants, and other things I didn’t like. According to my doctor those foods (including peanuts) are more likely to cause inflammation, and as inflammation was part of my problem they were no-go’s for a while. I’m happy to report I’m eating bananas in excess now, and my eczema is still gone so no inflammation I guess?
  • Anyway, I’m kind of miserable every time I think about pizza or french fries, but I’ve survived.
  • And I’ve lost 60 pounds so that’s encouragement enough.
  • Did I mention that Neil Gaiman is my favorite author?
  • I did… but I didn’t mention that I LOVE Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter!
  • Seriously, LOTR is my life. Neil Gaiman said it’s probably the best book ever written.
  • I’ve just remembered another of my favorite books – Jonathon Strange & Mr Norell by Susanna Clarke. Bloody brilliant.
  • If you can’t tell, most of the stuff I read and listen to originates from the UK, mostly unintentionally.