Which Literary Love Story Are You?

Hello, dear readers! This girl certainly had a much more eventful day than expected, and all of it led to a lovely Valentine’s Day after all, despite my having bronchitis (my official diagnosis now! At last…). I shall fill you in on my story tomorrow, but for now, to wind down tonight, here are some fun Valentine’s pieces from the literary community. No matter how we try, we readers can’t hide that we love to imagine ourselves in the books we are reading, perhaps most of all in the storybook (fairy-tale, dystopian, etc….) romances.

First, allow me to share a valentine that Harper Impulse (the romance imprint of HarperCollins) created, based on a quote from an author I’m proud to say has been a dear friend for over 10 years! Her book, The Best Thing I Never Had, just came out a few months ago to eBook, and it is coming out in paperback in April. I’ll talk more about it another time, but for now, enjoy her brilliant quote on a lovely valentine:

Valentines-card-FINAL5

Wow. One of life’s great truths that I’ve never thought about in those terms. Erin Lawless has a knack for poignant insight. 🙂 (Check out her blog here, where you can also buy her books, follow her on Twitter, etc.)

Also, some great bookish candy hearts, posted today by Random House, originally posted here.

And lastly, I will leave you with this great chart, developed by Goodreads, where you can find out which love story your life matches best among some popular novels.

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That’s all for tonight, dear readers! I hope you had a great Valentine’s Day and that the spirit of love fills your life beyond just this day into the rest of the year. 🙂

Join me later this weekend for the story of my interesting and lovely Valentine’s Day. 🙂

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Top Ten: Bookish Valentine’s Day Crafts

Hello, dear readers! Tonight’s Valentine’s feature will be of especial interest to people who love books and crafts and love (the perfect trifecta). If the previous two days’ posts of bookish gift ideas and valentines still weren’t quite what you were looking for, you’re in luck. You can put a personal touch on these card and gift creations from BookRiot for your valentine, and you can have a little crafting fun of your own in the process. 🙂

Top Ten: Bookish Valentine’s Day Crafts

5 Valentine’s Day Cards for Your Bookish Love

Posted by: dr b
@mittenstrings
January 29, 2013
Sure, you could go to Hallmark and grab any old random V-day card on this (yeah yeah, manufactured and commercialized, blah blah blah) holiday of love.  But what about finding something truly charming for your Library Lovah?
1. Like, for a start, how about this Flirty Library Card by papertrail over at etsy.com?  The inside says, “I’m checking you out.”  Swoon!
2. Or how about going a little non-traditional by sending a postcard, maybe to a distant love?  This Wuthering Heights postcard from LiteraryEmporium, also at etsy.com, would delight your Bronte baby.
3. The Literary Gift Company suggests poetry instead of a card, with this pamphlet of ten love poems in a perfectly sized envelope with a sweet matching bookmark your love can use everyday.
4. Chris Bishop is an artist you loves you and wants you to be happy. So he made you these Game of Thrones Valentines to print out and distribute as you see fit. You should also visit his website and check out his art. Here’s one of the Valentines.
5. Or, if you want to put some elbow grease into it, tell the story of your love in picture book form with this great DIY project from weddingchicks.com.
♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥

Posted by: Amanda Nelson
@deadwhiteguys
January 31, 2013 

Here are a few Valentine’s Day crafts you can make from old books (think ratty paperbacks with pages already missing, old phonebooks, books your library is about to toss, etc.) or crafts that would make great gifts for bookworms:

bookmarks

1. Valentine’s Day bookmarks for the little bookworm you love (also makes a great craft for young school-age classrooms). Just use a heart-shaped hole punch from the craft store, ribbon/pipe cleaners, and paint swatches from your local big box home improvement store.

 

heart bookmark

2. Martha Stewart’s heart-shaped bookmark. Glue one small paper heart to a larger one made of card stock, then use a utility knife to cut out the bottom half of the small heart. Easy bookmark.

 

Heart Punch V-Day Craft 10

3. Heart-punch wall art. Just use a heart-shaped craft punch on the pages of an old book, stick them to card stock with sticky foam dots in whatever pattern you want, and frame.

 

valentine's craft

4. A variation of above– just cut out a dozen hearts from the pages of an old book, glue them together down the middle fold, and then glue it to the center of a piece of card stock and frame it.

 

valentine's book craft

5. A heart garland– this one requires a bit of ribbon, glue, twine, and folding skills.
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Join me tomorrow for more Valentine’s fun, dear readers!

Literary Valentines

Good evening, dear readers! Next for this week’s Valentine’s theme is a creation from Adam Ellis on Buzzfeed. These literary valentines are perhaps better for a laugh than wooing, but they sure are a good gauge to test the humor and literary repertoire of the object of your affection. 😉

Literary Valentines For The Romantic Reader In All Of Us

 BuzzFeed Staff
Posted on January 29, 2014 at 10:19am EST

J. K. Rowling:

Literary Valentines For The Romantic Reader In All Of Us
Adam Ellis / BuzzFeed

Edgar Allan Poe:

Literary Valentines For The Romantic Reader In All Of Us
Adam Ellis / BuzzFeed

Chinua Achebe:

Literary Valentines For The Romantic Reader In All Of Us
Adam Ellis / BuzzFeed

Haruki Murakami:

Literary Valentines For The Romantic Reader In All Of Us
Adam Ellis / BuzzFeed

J. R. R. Tolkien:

Literary Valentines For The Romantic Reader In All Of Us
Adam Ellis / BuzzFeed

Truman Capote:

Literary Valentines For The Romantic Reader In All Of Us
Adam Ellis / BuzzFeed

H. G. Wells:

Literary Valentines For The Romantic Reader In All Of Us
Adam Ellis / BuzzFeed

Orson Scott Card:

Literary Valentines For The Romantic Reader In All Of Us
Adam Ellis / BuzzFeed

Max Brooks:

Literary Valentines For The Romantic Reader In All Of Us
Adam Ellis / BuzzFeed
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Join me tomorrow for more Valentine’s fun. 🙂

Reflections on Valentine’s Day + Valentine’s Gifts for Book-Lovers

Hello, dear readers! How has your Monday been? I had to check the calendar on that one, because these days of fleece-pajamas-extra-tea-extra-reading hibernation are blurring together for me. Ordinarily, that would sound like Heaven to me, but illness is making everything a bit foggy.

I do so hate to be sick for holidays, but I am going to try my hardest to celebrate nonetheless! Valentine’s Day has always been one of my favorite holidays, because it celebrates the most important thing ever.

Love Heart Cookies

Wilton.com; click for cookie instructions. 🙂

Yes, cookies, but what I meant is love. (And cookies.) As kids, Jennifer and I were always taught that Valentine’s Day is a day to celebrate all different kinds of love. In elementary school, the rule in all of our classrooms was that if you were going to get valentines for one person, you had to give them to the whole class. This was a great rule that helped everyone to feel loved and not left out. 🙂
Jennifer and I always got candy or a small gift from our parents, which was exciting and so sweet of them. As we got older, Jennifer and I also get each other gifts and celebrate with a sister date.

Jennifer crocheted this scarf for me for Valentine’s Day in 2010. It’s all my favorite colors! Such a thoughtful gift. ❤

Jeremiah and I always try to celebrate, too, although we often have the misfortune of one or both of us being sick for the holiday (as it seems it will be this year…*sniffle*), so it doesn’t always end up being on the day. Some of the most romantic gifts are homemade ones, like poems. 🙂

Are YOU still looking for a gift for your valentine this year? If your valentine is the bookish sort (who isn’t?!), there are some fabulous ideas in this list by Rita Meade from Book Riot. Just make sure that for the last three, the materials you’re using are positively unreadable as books, because the answer would otherwise surely be no. 😉

If you’re looking for a last-minute-ish Valentine’s Day gift for your book-loving significant other, have no fear. The internet has got you covered (especially Etsy. My goodness, what would we do without Etsy?) I’ve sifted through hundreds of literary-themed romantic gifts and posted my favorites below. Happy gift-buying!

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Give a book-scented candle from the Frostbeard shop for setting the mood (…to read. The mood to read. What did you think I meant?)
vdaybookcandle

Flowers for V-Day may be played out, but these book-page creations from the Hobgoblin shop are cute and original (and they’ll last longer, too!):

vdaybookflowers

Perfume/cologne is also a pretty standard gift, but Demeter offers a bookish twist:

vdayperfume

What’s better than chocolate for Valentine’s Day? BOOK-THEMED-CHOCOLATE for Valentine’s Day. This “Book Lover’s Chocolate Three Box Gift Set” from the Bridge Brands is bound to satisfy your love’s every craving. (Photo via the Book Hunters Holiday blog.)

vdaybook-lovers-chocolate1

Or there’s the “Jane Austen Mr. Darcy Quotable Chocolate Bar” from the Literary Gift Company (which looks to be a fine site for book-themed gifts in general):

vdayjane-austen-mr-darcy-quotable-chocolate-bar-13881-p[ekm]249x249[ekm]

Actual books are the obvious choice to give a book-lover, but you can take this gift idea one (romantic) step further by giving some lovey-dovey book art. Check out this one from the LucianaFrigerio shop (which can also double as a 1-year “paper anniversary” gift):

vdaypaperanniversary

If your sweetheart is into fashion, this scarf from the ModLux shop will keep her/him warm in the cold of February AND remind her/him of your affection with a quote from a Keats love poem:

keatsscarf

And if you’re going to go all traditional and propose to your honey on Valentine’s Day, here’s some help. Courtesy of the Suziscribbles shop, offer some romance novel pages printed with a special message:

vdayromancenovelproposal

Or use these adorable proposal hearts from the Emerald Cut shop to pop the question:

vdaytinyproposal

Finally, here’s a ring from the EpickCreations shop to go along with that literary-themed proposal. (Who needs diamonds when you can have WORDS on your finger?)

vdaybookring3

Happy Valentine’s Day, book lovers!

About Rita Meade

Rita Meade is a public librarian in Brooklyn, NY. She blogs about the more interesting parts of her job at ScrewyDecimal.com, and she can be found on Twitter @ScrewyDecimal.

All posts by Rita Meade  Twitter

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Have a great night, dear readers! Join me tomorrow for more Valentine’s fun. 🙂

Christmas Snow Globe: A Reflection on Christmas Blessings

Good morning, dear readers! I hope you had a wonderful Christmas. I will share the details of my fabulous holiday soon (thank you loved ones for making it so), but today’s post is a reflection on my Christmas eight years ago.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, Marianjoy held its annual Patient Christmas Party two weeks ago. It was lots of fun, including skits and carols. A coworker-friend of mine wrote a parody of the “Wassailing” song that we all performed; it was hilarious and went over really well. 🙂

We got to wear costumes if we wanted to, which of course means I did:

I dressed as an angel! My mom sewed the dress for me in high school, and my dad made the halo. I’ve worn the wings so many times they’re a little droopy. 😉

But the most special part of the event, for me, was the opening reflection. I asked our Spiritual Director if I could write a piece to share at the party, and she invited me to open the event.

As soon as we arranged it, I was intimidated. My mission was pure enough: I wanted to share some inspirational insights about hope at this time of year. No one *wants* to spend Christmas in a hospital–but if you look at it in a different way, it may be the most special Christmas you’ll ever have.

When I spent Christmas as an inpatient at Marianjoy eight years ago, it was such a unique experience. (I was discharged just a few days later.) I hadn’t planned it, of course, but it wasn’t cold or clinical–it was warm, friendly, encouraging, and full of love–all the things Christmas should be.

So I, the writer, the girl who is always talking, sat frozen at my keyboard for weeks, trying to think of how to put this into words. It was so important to me to get it right. Not only would my whole audience be experts on the subject, but the gift I wanted to give them was abstract and elusive, a long-shot: hope.

I must have gotten it at least a little right, because I had a lot of applause and people coming up to me afterwards thanking me for sharing it–patients, coworkers, the CEO, former therapists, nurses, and doctors. It was a terrific experience; better than I’d hoped for. 🙂

My writer’s block finally disappeared when I thought of the central image, which you can find in the title below. I hope you enjoy my speech. 🙂

“Christmas Snow Globe”
By: Amanda K. Fowler

Christmas in a hospital is kind of like a snow globe:

Frozen Snowglobe

(then I shook this snow globe, a Christmas present to Jennifer and me)

Your whole world is turned upside-down. You feel as if you’re suspended in a schedule of personal flurry, too busy with the rituals of therapy to notice that time is passing outside of your dome. And suddenly—it’s Christmas.

And—when you pause for a moment to catch your breath—you feel it. You’re not alone. You are surrounded by love and hope.

You might expect to hear something like this out of someone from the Marketing Department. But the way I really know this is I was a patient here myself eight years ago, due to a severe Traumatic Brain Injury that gave me only a 5% chance at survival.

When I came to Marianjoy, I was out of the danger zone, but I wasn’t back to myself, or back to my life. It was a transition, between nearly dying and nearly living. And I certainly hadn’t anticipated spending Christmas here.

For me, Christmas has always been about being home with family. But while I was here, I discovered a new family. I saw it in the compassionate faces of the therapists. I felt it in the healing touch of the doctors. I even tasted it, in the peppermint bark another patient had made for me, surprisingly—candy she guarded so closely that she gave my father strict instructions not to eat it before giving it to me. I guess she had a sixth sense about my father’s sweet tooth.

And I realized—I was spending Christmas here with my family, with this place that has become a home to me. It’s a family I have been blessed with, a gift I did not anticipate receiving that Christmas along with my life. Yes, Marianjoy is like a family to me—and, much like the in-laws who suggest staying after Christmas into New Year’s—they can’t get rid of me.

And so—I know this may not be how you planned to celebrate Christmas. But take it from someone who has been on this journey before: there is beauty all around you. In this snow globe—you are loved. There is hope here. We even asked for some fresh snow today. This transition is a special time in your life—and in a funny way, it is a gift. I will never forget the Christmas I spent here, and I hope yours is just as special. Merry Christmas.

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I hope you liked it, dear readers. Good luck on your New Year’s Eve preparations! If you’re not back here before then, I wish you a happy New Year full of peace, love, good health, and prosperity. ❤

Miracle Day: Eight Years After My Traumatic Brain Injury

I’ve put off writing this post until this moment, because I wanted to make sure I enjoyed every. Single. Second. of Miracle Day.

“Miracle Day” is what I’ve decided to call November 21, 2005. It was the day I almost died–but I didn’t. Last summer, Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare asked me to tell my story for their annual report. Please watch this short video to learn about my journey (mobile users, click here):

I feel bad for the video editors, who had to cut down 2+ hours of my speaking about my experience into two minutes. 😉 I think they did a great job, though. There’s so much I have to say about all of this; as you may recall, I’m working on my memoir of this experience now.

Words are my gift, my tool, and I had to fight hard to get them back. Initially, I couldn’t speak, except through the American Sign Language alphabet that Jennifer and I had taught each other (half-correctly) at ages 5 and 7. Even after I was no longer intubated, my throat was damaged and my words were sludgy in my mind. With the help of some amazing therapists and the encouragement of my family and friends, along with a lot of hard (rewarding) work, I was able to make a tremendous recovery. It was this experience that taught me just how crucial communication is, and that my gift with words might be a gift indeed. It gave me the courage to be a writer, because I finally saw a way to make a difference through my writing. And I’ve never stopped.

I feel like God gave me back my life for a reason, and I have a huge sense of destiny and duty to give back and help other people. I never feel like I can do enough, and sometimes I worry I’m not working hard enough or being good enough. I know that my memoir is part of that destiny, and that’s part of what intimidates me–but also excites me–about it.

Although I only had <5% chance of surviving that injury, and even less chance of recovering to any great extent, I did. I am incredibly grateful to God and every person who helped me to come back. Each day since then has been a gift, even the bad ones, because they are days I almost didn’t have. I don’t feel like I’m living on borrowed time, but rather gifted time. My loved ones are a huge part of that gift, and I’m going to love them as hard as I can (and tell them so) to thank them for making my life so worthwhile and for all they do to keep me alive–not just when I was in the hospital bed, but also in the way they nourish my spirit and give my life purpose.

Today, Jennifer voted to wrap me in a comforter and hold me in a rocking chair by the fireplace. While I appreciated the loving thought, we deemed this too sweaty and bulky an option. Kidding aside, I feel overwhelmed by the love, congratulations, and protectiveness that surge forth on this day from loved ones. I was surprised I actually managed to convince my dad to go shopping with me today–not the shopping itself (he has always gone shopping with us and has personally found many of our best pieces), but the leaving the house on the day. But, we did have a miracle to celebrate, after all.

In retrospect, a day that might have seemed mundane was actually quite symbolic–almost eerily so. This morning, my dad picked up a collared shirt for me from Wal-Mart for my country-themed birthday celebration coming up. Eight years ago, he also picked up a couple of collared shirts for me from Wal-Mart to wear during therapy at Marianjoy. When he got back today, we left to buy a ball gown I’ve been pining over for two years, which I plan to wear (spoiler alert!) to the next Marianjoy gala. It was a far cry from the hospital gowns I was wearing as a Marianjoy patient eight years ago. To go with those hospital gowns, eight years ago, my dad had to buy me high-top gym shoes to wear in the hospital so my feet stayed upright while I slept/the muscles didn’t pronate. Today, we went shopping for shoes for my job at that hospital. We even took a picture today in our nearby downtown area, with all the Christmas lights in the background wrapped around trees and poles–pretty different than pole lights and X-rays in my hospital room. Then we ended the night with pizza, which was my #1 requested food item at Marianjoy, which they were so sweet to accommodate. So maybe I’m just reading too much YA literature, or maybe I’m just trying to justify making my dad go shopping with me, but I thought the day was awesomely symbolic.

I never feel more grateful, blessed, or awe-struck than this day, each year. It’s a nice feeling to have–it makes me feel simultaneously small in the universe and hugely impactful, predestined but powerful, loved and loving. Thank you to my family, friends, doctors, nurses, therapists, and firemen who rescued me not just from death, but from a darkness I might have entered, too. And thank you to you, my dear readers, for following my journey. ❤

Top Ten: Signs You Are Reading Too Much Young-Adult Literature

This week’s Top Ten will focus on” Signs You’re Reading Too Much YA Literature.” Have you ever noticed common themes in your reading repertoire…and then applied them to your life? Today’s list will be a combination of my own ideas, preceded by this “Top Five” posted by Book Riot in 2011 (with memes added in by me). It was so funny and so relevant to my blog that I had to share. (I will note where the shift takes place.)

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Posted by dr b
Originally Posted on Book Riot on October 11, 2011 
MORE BY THIS AUTHOR
 I read a lot of young adult literature, as previous posts at Book Riot might suggest. But this semester, I’m also teaching Children’s Literature in addition to reading YA for pleasure. It’s starting to feel like I have a YA novel in hand every waking moment, and I think it’s starting to skew my perceptions of reality. If you’re like me, you may hear echoes of yourself in this list.

Here are my top five signs you’re reading too much young adult literature.

1. Utopia vs. Dystopia

    1. You keep a spreadsheet to try to determine whether you exist in a utopia or a dystopia. (Corporate ownership of media? Dystopia. New Muppet movie on the horizon? Utopia.) You secretly hope it turns out to be a dystopia so you can demonstrate your awesomeness in some world-liberating way.

    2. The Love Triangle


      You wonder how your relationship triangle is going to shake out. Will it be the moody, wild rebel who taught you about passion, or the sweet, gentle artist who taught you about love? (If you’re still waiting for the candidates to show themselves, you may be spending entirely too much time eyeing up your colleagues.)

    3. Life is a Metaphor

      Symbolism, Symbolism Everywhere | X, X Everywhere
      You take to expressing yourself metaphorically through objects. You position a dying plant, a talisman, and a notebook of doodles on the corner of your desk. When people ask how you are doing, you gesture knowingly at the objects and keep silent. They’ll figure it out.

    4. Expecting Parental Conflict via Telephone

      https://i1.wp.com/funnyasduck.net/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/funny-house-phone-rage-comic-meme.png
      You phone your parents hoping for either any angry blow-out of epic proportions or a disinterested silence that will reaffirm your worldly malaise. Disappointingly, they just want to tell you they love you and chat about your day.

    5. Saying “No” to Games


      Between Hunger and Ender, you’ve become quite suspicious of the concept of games. When a colleague suggests a round of charades before the end of a dinner party, you arm yourself with a steak knife and take refuge behind the largest armchair. You’re developing a reputation at baby showers.

This marks the end of Book Riot’s list–the next five are my own.

6. Too Many Grown-Ups

Young-adult novels can make it seem like the world is populated with nothing but teenagers. So when you look up from your book and notice you’re surrounded by adults, you feel a sense of foreboding and worry for their safety. They may be unwritten at any moment.

7. Destiny Past 16

Sixteen is the unofficial coming-of-age moment for heroes and heroines of young-adult literature to fulfill their destiny. I’m guilty of this myself, as an author.  I think it does make sense, psychologically, that 16 is often an approximate turning point for people to define themselves. But besides being a little redundant, it gives us non-teenagers some anxiety about doing anything meaningful with our lives now that we’re not 16 anymore. Maybe we won’t single-handedly prevent a civil war in our nation, but we can put out one hell of a press release. That makes a difference in its own way, right? Right?

8. Your Significant Other Has a Pulse

This one comes courtesy of my friend Lindsey, who is sort of the expert on supernatural love stories. If you’re surprised your significant other has a pulse, it may be time to take a breather from the genre–pun intended. Young-adult literature has been supersaturated with love stories about vampires, werewolves, zombies, angels, ghosts, fairies, and other otherworldly beings lately. It makes for an exciting read, sure, but it puts us mortals in a less interesting light when it comes to your love choices.

9. The Near-Kiss

Another friend, Alex, mentioned this one. He’s right: any good young-adult romance is filled with near-kisses, almost-romantic gestures that take until the last page to conclude–or never do. If your significant other has expressed confusion that you never quite kiss him/her goodbye before work–that instead it’s a lip brush and a breath–you may be applying this trope to your real life.

10. Love at First Sight

This is a couple of dangerous stereotypes rolled into one. This is a popular idea in young-adult literature, and it makes sense. When learning about first loves, teenagers, sometimes, can pay too much attention to the superficial, i.e., what we can see/physical perfection. Personally, it annoys me when books perpetuate the idea that love interests are all physically perfect and instantly fall in love. I think that’s encouraging too much focus on what isn’t important–it’s what’s inside that really counts, even if we’re still working on making a difference after the age of 16. 😉

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What do you think, readers? Have you been reading too much young-adult literature? Personally, I don’t think it’s possible, but I will try to cut myself a little slack with destiny, and I’ll allow myself to enjoy games with less paranoia. No promises on being less metaphorical, though. Hey, I’m a writer; I can’t help it. 😉