12 (More) Reasons to Buy More Books

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Last month, I shared my struggle over self-control and book shopping. As it turns out, I am not alone in this dilemma. Bookworms seem to be programmed to buy books. We’re drawn to them like kids to bouncy castles (okay, and also adults to bouncy castles.) No matter how many we have, we can always find room to love another.

Not everyone understands this craving, though, and sometimes we book lovers may feel a little guilty for our book obsessions. With that in mind, I sat down to create a list of 12 Reasons to Buy More Books. I ended up with closer to 30. Since not every excuse, I mean, reason, made the original list it seemed only fair to post the remainder now.
… All right, I’ll confess. I’m also sharing this because my to-be-read shelf is full, I have a shaky stack of books in my room, and I’m waiting for a few new arrivals. Also, I have three titles in my shopping cart right now.

But it’s okay because I can explain! Really! Here are 12 More Reasons to Buy More Books.

  1. Books are inexpensive entertainment. Yes, I probably spend a tad too much on books. Probably. However, compared to the prices of movie tickets, cable, even Netflix or the Internet, books are cheap. Where else can you travel around the world, learn a dozen new things, and meet new friends for about $10, or even less? It’s a bargain, I tell you.
  2. They take us places that travel cannot. Not only do books cost vastly less than vacation, there are some destinations that are unreachable beyond books. Even with enough funds, I couldn’t book a trip to the Shire or Narnia. Thanks to books, though, I’m still familiar with those places. I’ve had tea in Hobbiton and stood beside the Lamppost with Mr. Tumnus. And I can go back any time I want to, without packing a suitcase.
  3. Books turn any room into a home. As Roman philosopher Cicero put it, “A room without books is like a body without a soul.” No matter whose house I’m in, the sight of a brimming bookcase is welcoming. Books make a room feel lived in, while looking splendid as decor. Even better, they serve double duty by being both lovely and useful. You can even use extra books as bookends for your other titles.
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  4. Buying used books is recycling. You can help the environment and your personal library!
  5. A battery may die, but a paper book endures. Don’t worry, I’m not anti-eBooks. I use both a Nook & Kindle app. But downloading eBooks never excites me like opening a box of hard copies. And I always forget to charge my tablet until the moment I want to read. So paper books are an essential for me. Really.
  6. They smell good. Another perk of paper! Whether you like the smell of new books, old ones, or any combination of both, books have the distinct scent of possibilities, invitation and magic.
  7. Carrying books looks, and is, smart. I know we aren’t supposed to worry about impressing others. However, it’s undeniable: if you’re walking around with a book that isn’t rubbish, you will look quite studious. And you might catch the attention of fellow readers and get to have book discussions! Or at the very least, you’ll have your book to occupy you in boring situations. Yet another reason having novels on hand is wise.
  8. Reading books makes us smarter. I truly believe living isn’t complete without learning and for me, books have been the best teachers. Through countless pages, I’ve studied under experts and gained information I never would have accessed otherwise. A bonus is that books are cheaper than tuition. Unless they’re college textbooks. Because why not overcharge the broke student population, right?
  9. Dating websites are overpriced and unreliable. Books are not. Until a real Mr. Darcy (or Knightly, Thornton, etc.) shows up, I shall keep my storybook loves! I even wrote an entire post dedicated to my favorite fictional couple. It’s turned out to be my most popular post to date, which has me somewhat shocked but mostly thrilled. You can check it out here, and get a recommendation for my favorite series as well. 🙂
  10. Books hold both stories and memories. Every so often, I’ll take an old favorite from my shelf and flip through the pages. When I do this, I remember the story I loved but also the girl I was when I read it. Maybe I read it multiple times in one school year, or found comfort in those pages from a broken heart, or read it through laughing with a close friend. The stories dearest to me always have a bit of me preserved in their pages. This is why I’ll often buy a book I loved, even if I may not read it again for a while.
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  11. Reading is therapeutic. True, I’ve suffered emotional trauma from books countless times. In some twisted way, those books usually become my favorites. But there’s a difference between fictional difficulties and real life conflict. When I’ve had a hard day, sometimes all it takes is an hour with a story. Escaping into a book for a little while makes the real world easier to face when I come back to it.
  12. Books make life better by letting us live several. Similar to all the places I couldn’t visit without books (#2), there are so many things I’ll never do or people I’ll never be, beyond novels. I would never trade my own life, but I’ve learned so much from all the fictional ones I have lived. I’ve rebelled against tyrants, rescued innocents, and run for my life alongside those characters. And in living their lives, I’ve come away with tools for mine. It’s doubtful I’ll ever have to bring down the Capitol or walk into Mordor, but if those characters can find the courage and determination, then I can be brave for the smaller tasks I face everyday.

If I tried hard enough, I could probably think of other reasons to encourage collecting books. I think two lists about covers it, though. (If you didn’t get to read my original 12 Reasons to Buy More Books, here is a link.) I’m in the mood to go read a book now! I need to finish it before the sequel arrives.

What are you currently reading? Which books are you planning to add to your to-be-read shelf? I’m always open to recommendations! And also book discussions. I’ve updated my contact page, so now there are even more places for us to connect and chat about stories.

Happy reading!

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Love & Link-Ups: A Post for Fun, Fiction & Valentine’s Day

Happy (late) Valentine’s Day, dears! I’m never quite sure how to feel about this holiday, as a single girl. Should I buy myself chocolate? Pretend it’s not a holiday? Celebrate “Singles Awareness Day” instead? (No. I hate that term. It makes singleness sound like a disease, which is it not.) Actually, I like to spend Valentine’s Day celebrating… love. Shocking, isn’t it? But just because I’m not in a romance of my own, doesn’t mean I have no one to love. Today, I enjoyed the blessing of my family’s love, the love in my friendships, and the boundless love of the Savior. It’s love that has lasted me for years and years, and has no end in sight.

Of course, I’m not anti-romance by any stretch. I may roll my eyes or grumble about the occasional couple and all the posts with photos of flowers, but I’ve been a hopeless romantic since I first watched Sense & Sensibility at age seven. My favorite love stories tend to be just that: stories. As a writer and a romantic, it often fascinates me reading through a fictional couple’s story. True, there are plenty of romances I don’t care for, but when I find a couple I deeply care about, I must follow their story.

In the world of fans, there’s a special language for this situation. It’s called shipping, which essentially means wanting or supporting two characters in a relationshipBelieving two characters are perfect together means they are your one true pairing. In honor of Valentine’s Day, and the fact that many fans are more interested in fictional relationships, I’m linking up with the Fangirl Initiative on this subject.

It was so fun collaborating on this link-up with my fellow Initiative agents Sky and Jaime. Together, we came up with 14 questions to celebrate February 14 and our favorite fictional pairings. You can read the full link-up post, and find out how to join, here or by clicking the image below. If you’d like to hear about my chosen couple, read on!

It’s a wonder I haven’t mentioned the River of Time Series by Lisa T. Bergren before. They are my favorite young adult books, some of my favorite fantasy novels, and they include the story of one of my favorite make-believe couples.

If you haven’t read them, I recommend two things: 1) You read them and 2) You don’t read the rest of this post until then. I’m going to spoil some of the love story in answering these questions, and I’d hate to ruin the romance for you. And the series is so fantastic, it’s worth experiencing firsthand. Then we can discuss it! (Online book club, anyone?)
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If you have already read these novels, don’t mind spoilers, are too curious to stop reading this post, or you don’t plan to read the books (though I could write a review that would change your mind), I will now come to the link-up questions and my answers.

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My chosen couple is Evangelia (Lia) Bettarrini and Luca Forelli. They start out as secondary characters in the series, but they were instantly stars for me. I loved watching their stories unfold, especially towards the latter half of the series when Lia becomes a main character. I’ll contain myself from writing a book report, and stick to the 14 questions shared on the Fangirl Initiative.

  1. What is their current relationship status, and how did they meet?
    “Current” depends on which book you’re reading. By the end of the series, they are officially husband and wife. They met when Lia and her sister Gabriella accidentally traveled back in time to Medieval Italy. The sisters were separated, and it was actually Gabi who met Luca first. He and his cousin, Marcello (spoiler: Marcello and Gabriella make a marvelous match as well!) help Gabi find her sister, Lia. Luca and Lia instantly have a connection, and become great friends through the early part of the books.
  2. Why do you want them to be together? What makes them better together? They know how to be a team. Their relationship is romantic, but it’s so much deeper than that. They understand each other and respect their differences, using them as strengths rather than weaknesses. They can survive without the other, but they thrive together. 
  3. What song(s) remind you of them? I would say “I See the Light” from Tangled. (See question #12 for more on that.)
  4. How would they divide household chores (cooking, cleaning, etc.)? Being nobility in Medieval Italy, they have servants, so neither one has many chores. If they did, Lia would likely attend to most of them. Though Luca would do just about anything his lady asked him to. (With some teasing complaints tossed in.)
  5. What would this couple argue most about, and who is most likely to compromise? They tend to argue about their different ways of handling situations. They’re protective of each other, and sometimes overly so, which causes a bit of conflict when one starts to feel smothered. Fortunately, both are good at compromising, so it all evens out. 
  6. What interests do they share? Archery, riding, art, spending time with family, and laughing together.
  7. Are they introverts, extroverts, one of each? Lia is an introvert, and Luca is an extrovert. In some relationships, this could cause friction, but in theirs it lends more balance.
  8. What would their first date be like? (If they’ve already had their first date, describe their ideal date.) I would imagine a picnic in a sunny spot, perhaps by a river. (This IS the River of Time series, after all.)
  9. Do they get along with each other’s families? Yes, completely. Since his cousin marries her sister, they really are all one big, happy family.
  10. In what ways do they drive each other crazy? In what ways do they drive other people crazy together? See answer #5 for one way they drive each other crazy. I think it also drives them crazy that it’s hard to stay mad at one another. They drive other people crazy with their inside jokes, and earlier in the story, their resistance to actually forming a relationship. Or maybe that last one just drove me crazy. 😉
  11. Where would they go for their honeymoon/a romantic getaway? Sienna, or perhaps Normandy.
  12. Do they share any similarities to classic romantic couples? (I.E., Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy, Beauty and the Beast) Maybe it’s too soon to consider them a “classic” couple, but Luca and Lia remind me of Flynn and Rapunzel from Tangled in many ways. Hence the song that I chose for them (#3)
  13. What would their “celebrity couple” name be? (I.E., Brangelina) I really can’t think of anything, considering their names both begin with the letter L. Lucia? Liuca? This is harder than I expected.
  14. Where do you see this couple in 10 years?​ Happily married and with several adorable children, some of whom are outgoing and spontaneous like Luca, some quiet and sweet like Lia. And I imagine this couple will continue to fight for justice as needed.

Who are your favorite fictional couples? Have you read any unforgettable love stories? Did you celebrate this Valentine’s Day?

Lots of love!

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12 Reasons to Buy More Books

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I have a bit of a problem. One of my resolutions for this year was to stick to a budget. Instead, I’ve spent the last month binge-buying books. It appears to be a common problem among bookworms. No matter how many we collect, or how stuffed our “to-be-read” shelves become, we. Must. Buy. Books.

I started to feel a little guilty about this, especially when I considered details like lack of space, the number of unread books I already own, the free books awaiting me at the library, and that aggravating little word, “budget.”

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It’s rather depressing, all the things that could stand in the way of buying books.

So I decided to stop thinking about them, and think instead of all the reasons I SHOULD buy more books. A dozen reasons, to be exact. I have a feeling that I’ll be browsing Amazon again by the end of this list…

  1. Books never go out of style. No matter how trends waver, books stand firm. In a world where technology is outdated in twenty minutes, it’s comforting that books remain constant.
  2. Books are always there for us. No matter what time it is or what’s going on, we can count on our favorite books to be there. Dull lunch break? Book to the rescue! Insomnia? The book is already awake.
  3. Books are low-maintenance. Even if we go a week without reading a single page, we can easily pick up where we left off. It’s never awkward with a book.
  4. Relating to fictional characters can help us relate to real people. I especially find myself comparing individuals to those of Jane Austen’s novels. It’s actually helped me understand situations and personalities better. Books make us journey alongside others, through triumphs and struggles, and I think this makes us more empathetic in reality.
  5. We also learn a great deal about ourselves through reading. So many times I’ll come across a phrase and think, “This is how I feel.” I’ll meet a character and as I get to know her, I discover truths about myself, too.
  6. Books remind us we are not alone. In the same sense of learning about others and ourselves, the common themes in books gently whisper Someone else has been here. You are not going through this life alone. When I read about a character feeling something I cannot explain, or thought no one else could imagine, I take comfort in knowing that I’m normal. If this character can make it, so can I. As C. S. Lewis so wisely explained, “We read to know we are not alone.”
  7. You can share books. Yes, lending them out may cause separation anxiety, but there’s nothing like sharing a favorite with a friend and hearing how much they loved it.
  8. They are excellent conversation starters. I find that when people don’t know what to talk about, they default to talking about other people. This can be a problem, but not when those other people are fictional. Books provide endless opportunities for discussion. I love hearing insights on favorite characters, reactions to plot twists, or predictions for what happens next. I read through the Hunger Games & Divergent series with my best friend, and the Harry Potter books with my brother. The conversations we had about the stories made the experience even better.
  9. Authors are awesome. I’m a bit biased, since my fondest dream is to become a published writer, but it feels good to support storytellers.
  10. Books are a perfect gift. There are so many options, there’s bound to be something for everyone. And if you buy your friend a book, shouldn’t you be able to get one too? (The answer is yes.)
  11. You’re training for a career as a librarian. Honestly, if I don’t get a position in a library soon, I’ll just open my own bookish establishment.
  12. One day, this book will become an antique. You are adding to a collection for future generations.

So there are a dozen reasons to buy more books! I could go on, because I feel very strongly about book shopping. 😉 However, I’ll stop there for now. Amazon is calling to me!

What makes you want to shop for more books? Which titles are currently on your wishlist?

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It’s Truly a Wonderful Life

Merry Christmas, dear friends! I can’t believe that in just a couple of hours, it will all be a memory. I didn’t marathon Christmas movies this year like I usually do, but this was the first year I ever watched the classic It’s a Wonderful Life. 

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Although the list of classic films I’ve viewed is shamefully short, this one is now a favorite. It made me laugh, more than I expected a movie from 1946 to, and it’s kept me thinking since I finished it. If you’re like I was, and aren’t yet familiar with the story, here’s a quick summary:

George Bailey dreams of attending college and traveling around the world, but circumstances continually leave him stuck in his tiny hometown, Bedford Falls. Years pass, and with them, many opportunities George must pass by. One Christmas, everything he’s tried to hold together falls apart. Left with only ruin and the worst luck ever, George wonders if the world and his family would be better off without him. Then Clarence shows up on the scene, sent from Heaven to help George. The angel grants George’s wish of never being born, and in doing so, helps George realize how much his life truly means. 

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Even 68 years after its release, there’s something about the story of George Bailey and Bedford Falls that resonates. I think we all feel like George at times. Desiring to try new things and explore different horizons, we work and plan for those dreams, saving up and counting down. Yet as much as we talk about “dreaming big” and how “dreams don’t work unless you do,” not all dreams actually do work.

I know, Christmas is the season of dreams coming true; of magic in the air and miracles everywhere. I fully believe that dreams can and do come true, but I’ve also realized it isn’t always the case. Like it did with George Bailey, sometimes life happens. There are situations that require us to place down our dreams and pick up responsibilities.

When we want to escape the sameness, but that’s where we are needed, how do make the best of it? When we’re going through the day-to-day, yet everyone else is going off on adventures, how do we keep going? When nothing seems to work out, none of our dreams have come true, and even what we sacrificed them for is failing… what then? For George Bailey, it meant questioning everything- even life, and what good his had really done. It took an angel named Clarence to show him all the people he had impacted. Without George Bailey, everything was darker, emptier, poorer. As Clarence said, “Strange, isn’t it? Each man’s life touches so many other lives. When he isn’t around he leaves an awful hole, doesn’t he?” 

George finally comes to realize that even though he’s been stuck in Bedford Falls and has never toured Europe, attended college or became wildly successful in business, his life has value beyond measure. He wants to live again.

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So he’s given a second chance at life… And it’s a Wonderful Life. 

George’s story made me think about my own. Granted, George Bailey was approximately a couple of decades older than I am, but in some ways I still relate to the feeling of being in “Bedford Falls.” In this season of life, I’m just doing the “day-to-day.” There are people around me getting ready to leave, to chase their dreams somewhere new, but for right now, I’m remaining here in my Bedford Falls. When I’m quiet and honest with myself, I wonder if I’m really making a difference with my life. I question if there’s something else I should be doing, some bigger dream I should be pursuing right now. Have I failed in some way?

I haven’t had a visit from a kindly angel named Clarence, but watching the black-and-white classic was close. Clarence’s parting words stuck with me: “No man is a failure who has friends.” 

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George didn’t fulfill all of his dreams, but his life was still wonderful because of the countless others he touched. Perhaps the greatest impact we have can’t be measured by where we go or what we achieve. Maybe it’s in the lives we touch, some of which we will never know of.

Clarence probably won’t pay you a visit tonight, but maybe I can be Clarence for a moment? If you feel stuck in the same place, your “Bedford Falls”; if you’re thinking of all the unmet dreams, unchecked boxes, all the broken resolutions… Stop. For a moment, look over here instead. Look at the people around you. Every single one, from your elderly neighbors to your tiny cousins.  I can guarantee that you have touched their lives. At the end of the day, you have made a difference. Maybe it wasn’t in the way you expected, but the fact remains that your life is immeasurably valuable. You have touched more people than you will ever know this side of heaven. Perhaps the person you chatted with in the checkout line desperately needed someone to show them kindness that day; maybe the student you shared lunch with wouldn’t have eaten otherwise or the waiter you tipped extra was down to his last dollar. Because of you, someone else may have kept going. God uses people to touch people, and you’ll likely never be aware of the numerous ways He has used you.

We all have dreams we’re chasing, but I think I’m starting to realize something. Even if I don’t catch my dreams… Even if things turn out differently than I expected… it’s a wonderful life. 

I hope you had a wonderful Christmas, and that 2015 is a year of wonder! Thank you for being here, and reading this. In so doing, you have touched my life.

You are wonderful.

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