The Thorn Birds


I recently acquired a small library at a wonderful used book store in Qualicum Beach.

Deciding to go big or go home, I dove into The Thorn Birds first.

I’d read it in the late 70’s.  (I was a voracious reader as an adolescent, and my mom provided a steady diet of novels.)  Rereading The Thorn Birds as an adult, I can only assume she hadn’t read it before giving it to me.

The Thorn Birds is one of those massive, sweeping novels I used to love.  (I read Roots and Gone With the Wind around the same time.)  Would a brick-like novel spanning over fifty years be able to keep my attention now I’m used to an intellectual diet of headlines and tiny bites of information online?

You bet!

I couldn’t put it down.  It’s been a long time (too long!) since I got carried away by a novel.

As well as being a compelling story, The Thorn Birds is easy to read.  Unlike so much contemporary lit, it’s told in chronological order with a reliable third person narrator.  This works for me.  I lose interest when books flip around between character and time before I’ve had time to get invested in the story.

I learned something about myself as a reader, and this knowledge should help with future reading choices.

I rate The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough four paws up.




Wanna Hear a True Secret?

Back in the day, I compulsively read books on writing.

“How to write” books had their own section in every book store.  Browsing wasn’t an option.  I always left with one or two treasures.

Last weekend I decided to pick one up.  I want to get back into writing fiction and a little inspiration is in order.

I was shocked to note the Writing section has disappeared.  (Most likely pushed out by the ever-growing area on Minimalism.)  The few remaining writing books are crammed into a generic Reference section (three narrow shelves!) with an odd assortment of How-to books that don’t fit into Self Help or Cooking.

I rifled through tomes explaining how to land a plane and how to write your own will (which I’d need if I ever attempted to land a plane on my own!)  If I ever need to fix a truck get divorced again, I know where to find the book for that.

Although those other books were tempting, I managed to limit myself to just one:  The True Secret of Writing by Natalie Goldberg.  I may have read it before, but who can resist a juicy secret?


Book Sale

I went to the annual community book sale on Saturday.

It’s a fascinating way to track the town’s reading habits.

Bargain hunting readers interested in Bill Clinton or Steve Jobs were in luck.  Those hoping to score Michelle Obama’s book–not so much.

A few years ago, the tables were groaning (and moaning!) under piles of donated novels from the Fifty Shades of Grey series.

What books do you think will feature in next year’s sale?

Pet Sematary


I’ve been worried about my lack of interest in reading lately.  (As a hard core bookworm, not being able to concentrate on text was a huge and unwelcome change.)

D sent me a Chapters gift card for my recent birthday.  Rather than spend it on a scented candle or coffee mug, I chose a novel.  I went for one I’d read before, by an author who never disappoints–Stephen King’s Pet Sematary.

I read it in two days!

Friends, I believe (hope!) my reading funk is officially over.

As for Pet Sematary–like many of King’s books, the horror didn’t fully hit until I was snuggled under the duvet with my Chihuahua, and things started going bump in the night.

Eek!  I give Pet Sematary two shaking thumbs up.

A Great Idea!


SteamPunk Café has an attached reading room.

You’re allowed to bring your coffee in there and spend an afternoon checking out the huge collection of books on the floor to ceiling shelves.

It gets even better–all the books are donated by Literacy Alberni or café customers, so they’re free to take!

How awesome is that?

I found a few treasures last weekend, and I’ve got a stack to drop off on my next visit.

The Four Agreements


The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz was recommended to me.

The four agreements are basically rules to live by.  They’re quite simple, but all encompassing.  I can see how following them will lead to peace and contentment.

Spoiler Alert–These are the four agreements:

  1.  Be impeccable with your word:  use your words to create beauty, love and heaven on earth.
  2. Don’t take anything personally (this is a hard one for me.)
  3. Don’t make assumptions (another hard one for me.)
  4. Always do your best.

There’s more to the book, but this is the meat and potatoes.

I’m trying to let go of my old ways to embrace these four agreements.  I hope, in time, the agreements become second nature and I don’t have to consciously decide to follow them.  In the meantime, just being aware that I’m taking something personally or making an assumption has been helpful.

The Chihuahua verdict:  four paws up!

The Suspect

001I picked up The Suspect by L.R. Wright at the Salvation Army Thrift Shop.  I was excited to read it because it’s set on Canada’s Sunshine Coast.

Unfortunately, the best part of the novel was all the familiar place names–Gibsons, Sechelt, Davis Bay…even my beloved Powell River gets a mention!

Now for the not so good.

The Suspect is a murder mystery without the mystery.  The murder takes place on the first page and the murderer is revealed immediately.  I read and watch lots of mysteries, and this technique isn’t something I’ve seen before.  It doesn’t work for me.  Knowing who dun it takes the fun out of reading a murder mystery.

The protagonist is RCMP Staff Sergeant Karl Alberg.  He remains calm and collected through the murder investigation, but panics when he discovers the stray cat he’s been feeding is pregnant.  Obviously, police training doesn’t cover unplanned feline pregnancies.

I had high hopes for The Suspect, but only give it meh out of five stars.

Why Not?

009I’m not going to lie.  I’ve been a bit down lately.

It’s hard to meet people in this new town.  The cottage has lost its appeal.  The new job is both busier and newer than I expected.  (Don’t get me started on the technology challenges!)

And the divorce…

It’s like a threatening shadow looming over me, hiding the sun.  It’s making me wilt, and I worry that I’ll never bloom again.

What’s a sad and lonely bookworm to do when things get to be too much?  Scour the self-help shelf of the nearest book shop, of course.

I ordered a Brene Brown book.

The lady at Talewind Books recommended Why Not? by Cathy Code while I wait for it to arrive.

Why Not? is an easy read.  I finished it in one afternoon.

Cathy Code, who went through her own divorce (along with a catastrophic fire, traumatic childhood experiences, sudden death of a beloved partner…) is relentlessly optimistic.  She shares her personal experiences and includes “think positive/it could be worse” exercises at the end of every chapter.

I like the message.  I just don’t know if it’s really me.

I’m not as optimistic as Cathy Code, so a gentler approach would probably resonate more with me.  (Think:  “Your life might not be a total disaster” rather than “Everything’s going to be wonderful and you will survive and thrive!!!”)

When I reached the part about Code’s fabulous post-divorce social life and the two amazing men with whom she had deep and satisfying relationships, I felt like a loser–not the outcome I was hoping for when I went the self-help route.

Sigh–back to the drawing board.

Your Story

I’m reading “Your Story:  How to Write it so Others Will Want to Read it” by Joanne Fedler.

I love the way it’s written in short (often very short) chapters, each containing a nugget of advice.  I’ve had a hard time getting into books lately because my attention span has shrunk–alarmingly.  Another sign of divorce-related stress?  I hope so.  I don’t want to consider this new development may be permanent!

I was drawn to this book because The Grey Divorcee, like my previous blog, is my story.  For someone who lives a remarkably unremarkable life, I spend a great deal of time writing about myself.  Hopefully the tips I get from Joanne Fedler will make my blog a little more interesting for my reader(s).

Maybe down the road, I’ll attempt a memoir.  I actually started one once about the only period in my life that was interesting.  (Did I tell you about that time I lived on the largest ammo depot in Western Europe?)

Possible titles for my future memoir:

My 15-Year Divorce (Yes, that’s really how long this doomed marriage has been on life-support, and there’s still no end date in sight!  How do people manage multiple marriages???  I’ll be an Old Age Pensioner before I complete my first divorce!)

Don’t Marry the First Person Who Asks You! (Disclaimer:  this line is from Corner Gas, but it sums up my feelings toward the Sailor and our rotten to the core marriage so well, I had to borrow it.)

Marriage:  It’s Not a Fairy Tale (I got so caught up in the “happily ever after” myth that I ignored the stinking mess of lies and deception my marriage became.  Toss in a dose of guilt over making Darling Son a child of divorce, and it’s easy to see how I became a tired and downtrodden 50-something struggling to get through a divorce.)

What would you title your memoir?