Whether you are quarantined or staying home to avoid catching the Coronavirus, picking up a good book can help you escape reality for a time and alleviate the social isolation you might feel.
Or you could consider it a good opportunity to expand your horizons.
Reading can expand your perspective and give you insights into other worlds. There is nothing like seeing the world through another's eyes!
Where did this list come from?
The five books on this list came from suggestions from readers and friends. It's not meant to be comprehensive, it's more of a starter list, so if you have a book to suggest, I'd like to hear about it. Just leave the title and author in the comments.
1) The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom (A Toltec Wisdom Book) by Don Miguel Ruiz and Janet Mills . I was introduced to this book quite a few years ago in a book club; it has all types of helpful philosophy while remaining interesting to read. The four agreements include: Be impeccable with your word. Don't take anything personally. Don't make assumptions. Always do your best. It's the how and why one should do these things that make The Four Agreements worth reading and remembering.
2) The Art of Happiness by the Dali Lama.
The Art of Happiness is credited with starting the "happiness books" genre, and it remains the cornerstone of the field of positive psychology. Through conversations, stories, and meditations, the Dalai Lama shows how to defeat day-to-day anxiety, insecurity, anger, and discouragement. He explores many facets of everyday life, including relationships, loss, and the pursuit of wealth, to illustrate how to ride through life's obstacles on a deep and abiding source of inner peace. Based on 2,500 years of Buddhist meditations mixed with a healthy dose of common sense, This book has touched countless lives and uplifted spirits around the world -- you could join them!
3) Plain, Honest Men - by Richard Beeman
We often hear people talking about the Constitution of the United States. This book illuminates the historical background, conflicts and personalities of the men who wrote it and the compromises that were needed to make the United States possible.
4) Becoming - by Michelle Obama.
This is a well written and entertaining book about growing up, striving and being a working mother and political spouse. I wish I had read it earlier in my life, as the way Michelle looks at the world is refreshing. Especially recommend it to smart young women -- of any color or political leaning.
5) A Gentleman from Moscow - by Amor Towles
This is the only fiction book on the list, but belongs here as the writing is so eloquent and the story uplifting. Amid the likeable personalities and historical details,
the main character, Count Alexander Rostov, is sentenced to live in the Metro hotel for his crime of being a aristocrat. How he is able to master his circumstances makes delightful reading.
Gift giving can be joyful, especially during this time of year.
But it can be awkward when a gift is given but the recipient had different expectations.
Check out what Chuck's present to Sophia is, and how that feeling plays out in the scene below from Cinnamon Bourbon and Deception .
The Odd Gift
“And why not?” Chuck asked petulantly as he opened the door to the house, knowing full well what she’d say, but feeling like he had to ask anyway.
“You are too busy!” Sophia began, adamant. “Remember how concerned you were about Tomas becoming distracted by Violet? You’ve already had one chemical leak, you’re gearing up a barely tested process, and gambling with not only investor’s money, but yours, too.”
That gave Chuck an idea. He smiled at his thought — it was an odd segue, but maybe it would work. Not the most romantic, but clever. He turned around, softening and lowering his voice. “And why do you care about my money and health?”
“Are you from Mars?” She put on her incredulous look. “I’m concerned about you. You are the most important person in my life.”
“Then wait here.” Chuck hustled into the bedroom and started throwing socks out of his drawer. He wished he’d gone ahead and bought that opal ring he’d been looking at, but maybe this would work.
“I know it’s here somewhere.” He dug further, finding his Thanksgiving turkey socks. Then he pulled out a small box out from under the Superman socks.
Practically running back into the living room, he held the box behind his back. “So, you’d like to be able to advise me on what I can do?”
Sophia was giving him that “you’re being strange again” look, but she nodded, definitely curious.
“Then wear this.”
She looked at the box, then at Chuck, wide eyed. “This is how you…”
“Open it?” He urged her.
She slowly opened it. “It’s … it’s…”
He’d done it! For once, she was speechless, he thought wryly. Maybe she would say yes if he asked her the right question, the proper way. But after what he’d overheard, he wasn’t sure and didn’t want to chance a rejection.
“It’s an electronic ring — goes with your phone, so you’ll never be out of reach, even if you can’t get your phone out from where it hides in your purse.”
She just stared at him. He could tell Sophia was trying to look nonplused but her jaw was suspended as if she had an invisible giant jawbreaker inside.
“You were expecting something else?” He loved teasing her, but she looked so puzzled, it wasn’t as much fun as he had imagined. One thing that attracted him to Sophia was her honest and forthright character, even though sometimes she could over do it. She was the exact opposite of his ex-wife. From her reaction, she thought he was toying with her. He was, in a way, but felt justified because he’d heard her tell Liza that “I can see how a wedding ring like that could get in the way” in the kitchen.
“Well, maybe … I never know with you.” She shrugged and tried the ring on. “It’s unusual, but I like it.”
“True.” He agreed and turned his focus to the ring. “You won’t see one like it, because it’s in beta testing. You might have to fill out a survey…”
“Survey?” Eyebrows up. “This gift comes with complications?”
“Yes, remember, like when Tomas tested his coating on your car? That worked out pretty well, so I thought you’d like to be the first on this.”
“Oh gee, thanks, perhaps it will also help save my life.” She sighed. “Actually, it is pretty cool, I’ll be happy to answer surveys. Friend of yours, I presume?”
“You bet. Inventors Club buddy.”
“Ah, then I do like it.” She held her hand out to survey the ring, glancing sideways at him. “Does this mean we’re going steady?”
It was Chuck’s turn to feel at loss for words. “Yes, I wasn’t thinking exactly that, but you’ve captured the feeling exactly.” He put his arms around her. “I think I’ve been going steady ever since that storm blew you back into my life.”
“Well, maybe it was when you and the cat fell asleep in the chair by the fire, and the dog curled up next to you.”
To read more, find the book at your favorite ebook seller.
Happy Holidays! It's just past Thanksgiving and I hope you all had a wonderful one. In case you're recovering from relative overload, here's a little writer humor. Cheers!
Most people think of September as the beginning of Autumn. But did you know that it's also Be Kind to Editors and Writers Month?
Now I'm starting to believe there is a month for everything :)
If you are a reader, you can celebrate by posting kind comments or reviews. Your favorite writer (and their editor) will appreciate it!
About the author: Nancy MacCreery is the author of the Scoops and Schemes series of novels. They feature a mix of action, intrigue, humor and romance. They are available at all ebook retailers, including Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and the Apple books store.
You can start out with an outline for your novel, but the story rarely turns out like you thought it would. Those pesky characters don't like to follow rules, even if we knew what they were. :)
Like to read ebooks?
Then get ready. The Summer/Winter Sale at Smashwords.com starts July 1st!
Why do they call it "Summer/Winter"?
Here in the Northern hemisphere, it's summer. Readers are loading their e-reading devices for summer beach reading, vacations and just relaxing after a hot day. But south of the equator, readers are in the middle of winter. They're ready to curl up in front of the fireplace and enjoy a good read too! So everyone is included.
So check it out! Hundreds of ebooks from Independent Authors are discounted until July 31st. Browse the list, try a free book, explore a new genre or discover a new author!
My books are part of the promotion, so if you haven't read all three books in the series, it's a great time to download them :)
Here are the links:
Cinnamon Bourbon and Deception
Do you ever get writer's block?
I usually suffer more from "life happenings" and procrastination more than writer's block, but occasionally, writer's block rears its ugly head. This usually happens when I'm three quarters finished with a novel and am trying to get it to connect with the ending I have in mind.
If you find yourself facing an empty page or white space on your computer, here's what I do: step away for a set amount of time (it's handy to use the timer on your phone) and go for a walk . Often you'll think of what you need to write when you're not staring at the computer.
The trick then is to write down the idea or dictate to your phone so you don't forget it. Then get back into the chair and write!
Photo credit: Emma Matthews on Unsplash.com
Sophia, the main character in "The Essence" and "Unexpected Impact" has a hard time throwing pretty wrapping paper away in the trash. But recycling isn't always the best option. Here are her tips: ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
1) Most wrapping paper is recycling contamination.⠀
Unfortunately, the shiny, laminated paper is, in fact, not recyclable in most circumstances. Including it in the bin with other paper products can make an entire load unrecyclable.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
If wrapping paper is metallic, has glitter on it, or has a texture to it, it is not recyclable.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
2) But don’t worry, there are eco-friendly alternatives:⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
3) Love those shiny papers? Make a game out of seeing who can unwrap with the least damage to the paper. Then fold it and use it for crafts or for next year! ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Have a fun and happy holiday! ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
I just finished reading My Dear Hamilton by Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie. It's a well written, fictionalized account of the life of Eliza Schuyler Hamilton, Alexander Hamilton's strong, capable and intelligent wife. The book is a veritable who's who of the revolution and early years of the nation. It was delightful to read about the lives that touched hers -- like the Marquis de Lafayette, George and Martha Washington, James and Dolley Madison, Aaron Burr and more.
Reading the book makes that time period come alive, revealing insights into the challenges faced and the character of this extraordinary woman and her family.
I highly recommend reading it!
Have you read it? If so, what did you think about it? Feel free to leave comments.
It's Teacher Appreciation Week! Somehow that got me reminiscing about the handful of teachers that inspired and fueled my love of learning.
Sometimes we don’t like the teachers that challenge you – like the English composition teacher that forced me to fix my backward sentences.
Or the US History Teacher that challenged a quiet introvert to crawl out of her shell and debate historical impacts on current events.
And last but not least, the writing professor who said it wasn’t crazy if your characters followed you around and sometimes took charge of your stories. (Okay, it still sounds a bit crazy, but it's a common writing phenomena .)
Anyway, I wanted to thank them and all the dedicated teachers out there. A good teacher can really make a difference!
A big thank you to you all – wherever you are!
Do you have a favorite teacher that inspired you? Thank them in the comments!
Thanks for reading!
Insights on writing, characters, humor and other tidbits from the author of the "Scoops and Schemes" series of novels.
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Nancy's books are available for Kindle, Nook and other e-readers. Find retailers here.