About a week ago, I had a slightly bonkers idea that I wanted to do 100 tarot readings.
In the next two-and-a-half months.
I am nothing if not dedicated when I get something into my head.
This project, of course, was on top of completing my coaching certification, working with my existing clients, and my current day job.
But even so, I can’t tell you what a joy it has been to do the ten readings I have over the past week.
First of all, I am still blown away by the response. I thought I might get a few people liking my post on Facebook and maybe saying “good for you.” I did not at all expect to have Skype chats both with total strangers as well as friends from overseas I hadn’t talked to in ages. It’s honestly as much an excuse to have a love fest with a bunch of cool people as it is a way to share tarot with all of you.
I have learned some things even beyond this… one is that despite my seemingly wide interests, it all comes back to reading. Whether I’m reading tarot or reading books, it’s all about reading over here at the Book Dr. And you can bet my clients get book recommendations. I have to share the reading love.
[Tweet “The fact that tarot is just reading a story in a different format makes me love it all the more. “]
Other tidbits and insights: there is no way I could have gotten the insights I have already had if I were only reading for myself. I do read for myself very regularly- I pull a card daily and usually do something longer about once a week or as the mood and life strike me. But the weird thing about tarot is that when I read for myself, I get a lot of the same cards. I’m still me, with the same issues and the same hangups.
As I’ve been reading for others, I have gotten new cards. I’ve also pulled cards that opened up the meaning of the card in ways I couldn’t have expected. My personal favorite so far? Pulling the Chariot as “something to let go of” in a spread about finances. As I shared about the charging energy of the card, my client and I had the same aha at the same moment- let go of using charge cards! I’m still smiling about that one.
And even beyond all of this, the most beautiful thing is the warm welcome and enthusiasm I have felt from the community as I’ve jumped on Skype and seen a new face- often that of a total stranger- and then, at the end of 30 minutes, I sign off feeling like I’ve made a new friend and that the Book Dr. world has gotten a little bit cozier and a little bit more intimate.
I’m so grateful to everyone who has let me read for them so far… I can’t wait to find out what I learn over the next 90 readings to come.
Sometimes it’s really hard to let go when a book ends.
I should know. I’m the queen of trying to stay inside a book once it ends. Any good story ending is cause for heartbreak – I openly cried at the breakfast table the day after my fiancé and I watched the series finale of Downton Abbey. How dare they end that show!
So what are we to do when we finish a book that we’re not ready to leave?
I have a few techniques to keep the love going and to stay connected. Not all books are as enduring physical objects as the manuscript pictured here, that I thoroughly ogled recently in New York at the Morgan Library, so we have to make our own fun to keep the story going.
Here are 5 ways to keep a book alive after you finish it:
Embody your favorite character. This is for the more theatrical of you out there, but I have been known to whip out the garter belts and hook my tights to them for weeks after a read of Henry and June. Wearing skirts and garter belts and riding around on bicycles and writing in my journal while wearing a kimono keeps me in that world indefinitely. Eventually I am much encouraged to stop complaining of my weak constitution and pining for Paris so I move on, but it’s lovely while it lasts. For any book, try wearing an outfit your main character would love, cooking her go-to recipe, reading her favorite book, or trying a new makeup look- try this youtube channel for those historical fiction lovers our there!
Choose your own soundtrack. I love this one. When I really love a book and can’t let it go I find myself making up what the soundtrack of the movie would be. Make a Spotify playlist and throw on any songs that feel like they belong on the soundtrack. Then listen to it while going about your day. If you’ve done step 1 as well, this will be doubly impactful.
Read the book in its original language or in translation. Some of my very favorite books were written in translation. Since I already know the story, it makes it a little easier to go back and read the original. A great one that’s been translated from English into multitudes of other languages- Harry Potter. If you miss Harry, why not try him in French or Italian or Spanish? I have a copy of The Elegance of the Hedgehog in French and can’t wait until my skills are good enough to read that one the way it was written. That would be such a proud moment.
Plan an adventure. Bonus points if you can take an actual trip related to a book you’ve recently read, but leaving your city probably isn’t even necessary. Was the character in your book fascinated with art? Then try going to see paintings from a similar period in history at a local museum. Loved a book that featured food as a major character? Try a restaurant you’ve never been to before and imagine the characters from the book joining you. Another surefire way to get into the spirit of a book outside its cover is to search for buildings or architectural tours in your city that feature details from the period when your book occurred. See what those times and spaces might have been like and check out new buildings to boot. Whenever I’ve read Jane Austen or something featuring grand old houses, I don’t despair that I’m not in England (well I do, let’s be honest) because I can go to the Huntington Library, which basically looks like Pemberly or at least the Bingley’s house. Sitting out on that lawn, I feel like I’m right inside her novels. Look for something that relates to your book in your area, and you’ll likely find a favorite new hangout. And for the truly dedicated, plan a trip to visit the locations of your book. There may even be enough people who loved it that there’s a dedicated tour waiting for you.
Learn a new skill. Whether you love detective novels, romance novels, classic literature, or any other sort of book, the one you loved dearly probably featured a character with skills you don’t currently have. My love of crime fiction has lead me to attend forensics seminars given in Los Angeles and I was absolutely fascinated. Is your character a knitter? Try your hand at making a scarf. The weirder or more obscure the hobby the better- it will give you that much more visceral an experience of the book. What about snowshoeing? Block printing? Smoking fish? Think about how your character spent his or her time and then find a friend or class who can help you try it yourself.
I hope this inspires you to hold onto the world of the books you’ve loved. I know I have been heartbroken to put one back on the shelf and haven’t wanted to give up that world. Now you can keep it going for a bit longer.
Have you ever figured out ways to stay in a book’s world longer than when you were reading it? I’d love to hear about it! Please share your adventures in the comments below… Let’s all stay in love with our reading together.
Once, a friend and I broke up with boyfriends the same week. We had actually met through these same boyfriends. It was rough.
However, we were both readers so we grabbed at the first solution we thought of. “Let’s go get breakup books,” we said, and headed out the Grove, that gigantic outdoor mall in the center of Los Angeles, about 5 minutes away from my apartment at the time.
We did not hold back. An hour or so later, we emerged from the enormous Barnes & Noble, plastic bags stretched taut with bright-colored paperbacks promising to turn us into happy single ladies on the prowl in no time.
And then we ran into her boss.
Thankfully we did have bags, but even so -after a few minutes of chatting with the boss chat, her boss went rogue.
“What did you get?” she asked, starting to reach for one of our bags. We cowered and backed away.
“You know, nothing much,” my friend said. “Nice to see you!”
This was not the first time that I craved reading privacy.
In graduate school, I often read books that were a bit, shall we say, awkward to carry around in public.
Books with titles like Never Good Enough. These titles, meant to help people plagued with shame and perfectionism, seemed to think nothing of shaming and poking at their readers’ wounds with insane covers.
I submit exhibit A:
Honestly, this version is better than the one I read. I remember the title being all caps, bright red. This looks a bit softer, more playful even.
There are many reasons you might not want to walk around with books on display. Anyone reading self help probably wants some privacy. Whenever I’ve been nursing a broken heart or dealing with grief over the death of a job, a pet, a dream, or a loved one, I’ve been raw, to say the least. I don’t want to chat about what I’m reading. I want to hide what I’m reading and keep myself together by applying the words like balm on my ragged self. And sometimes only books will do. We can regulate the pace of the conversation, you can put a book down when it’s getting to intense, and just breathe.
This is ok. In fact, sometimes it’s the very best thing you can do.
Which leads me to this…
[Tweet “What happens if you want to read a book out in public and you don’t want anyone to know about it?”]
Let’s cover the obvious first: Kindle or iPad (or whichever device you choose.)
It’s true. There were no Kindles when my friend and I got sideswiped by her boss. And there definitely weren’t back around the turn of the millennium when I was getting my masters. So, in the past ten years, e-readers have changed the way we consume self-help. No more must you parade your inner self around out in public.
Sure, it’s fantastic to read novels in restaurants and hope some debonair thing offers a glass of wine to discuss your reading. But that is unlikely to happen while reading Never Good Enough, When Things Fall Apart (how many times has that book been my best friend?), or if you want to read Escape From Cubicle Nation in the office cafeteria during your lunch hour.
Yep- if you haven’t bought the book yet, getting it on Kindle is an excellent call.
But what if you don’t have an eReader? What if you’re just not into them?
How can you hide what you’re reading if it’s a physical book?
I’m glad you asked. Just because you prefer a physical book doesn’t mean you have to be exposed to the world. Your best bet is…
Buy the book in hardback.
Yes, you heard me right. Look it up used on Amazon and buy an old hardback copy.
Why might you do that? Because you can take the jacket off. You can even throw it away. Do you think anyone can tell what book this is?
Ok yes, if you’re super sneaky and get up close to read the spine, you can. But from across the room? Nope.
**Bonus- removing the color scheme of the jacket removes the context of the book. This book presents as a novel. Maybe something like Henry James. There are no pastels or wavy lines or pictures of people looking downcast on the cover. This will go right under the radar. I tested it… no discussions were initiated, no questions, nada during my lunch.
It was lovely- I felt safe to read and enjoy without feeling worried about the perceptions of others in the room. Maybe they wouldn’t have noticed at all, but I felt safer, and I enjoyed the book much more.
But, you may ask, what if I already own the book? I don’t want to buy another copy in hardcover!!
Of course not.
So for you, option 3…
Remember the old school brown paper bag textbook covers made out of shopping bags?
I do, too. That is definitely an option, excellent if you’d like to doodle all over the cover.
However, I was so charmed by this young man’s tutorial about how to make a fabric book cover in less than 5 minutes, I just had to share:
If you, like me, have a lot of fabric laying around from unfinished projects, perhaps your mind will be blown on this one like mine was. I see myself covering books left and right… This looks so tactile and satisfying.
And I love the idea of treating a book well that is taking care of me.
Our selves can get pretty beat up from time to time in life. The act of wrapping a book in some beautiful fabric feels like a ritual to wrap up the part of me that is needing support and love.
Let’s all take good care of ourselves, and do what we need to do out in the world to make it a comfortable place to be, even when we might be having a hard time.
I hope this helps you read wherever you m ay want to… bus stops, doctor’s offices, restaurants, bars, airplanes… anywhere you need some gentle care.
What books do you prefer to keep private? Do let me know in the comments, or drop me a line at info [at] carolinedonahue [dot] com
I’m so honored to be this month’s featured blogger over at ParchmentGirl.com Her blog is fantastic- lots of other great bloggers to check out as well as reviews, book suggestions and so much I think all of you will love.
I’ve got a number of books that I’m dying to review over the weekend and an exciting new thing to share on Monday. Can’t wait!
Have a beautiful Friday, everyone. I’ll have a bunch of posts coming at you next week… get ready, ok?
Because, honestly, there wasn’t much I could say other than “woah” for that first bit after putting it down.
The woman can write, that is certain. Images in this book are beautiful, often enough to make you gasp. She takes the visual right to its sharp edge and then pushes it just a little bit further. It’s breathtaking.
Now, this is not to say this is all an easy and joyful response. There are taboos and then there are TABOOS. And Esmé isn’t afraid of any of them. This is the sort of book that will tell you where your line is. If you like to be pushed a bit and to learn a little more about who you are and what you believe, this is the book for you.
But there are other ways than just how we deal with the unexpected and shocking that make this an important book. Yes she chooses the unconventional, yes she puts her characters through a lot more than most writers would dare to. (And I am saying this having recently read A Little Life, so you know this must be intense)
This is really a book about what it means to be human under circumstances we can’t control. Whether this is because of our family, our culture, our health- mental and physical, or just the things that life has thrown at us, more people in this world than not get very little say. And as we watch the people in this book cope with their lives and hopes and disappointments, we are seeing a dramatized narrative of our inner fears and failings and how people try to keep things together as best they can.
I wouldn’t wish these lives on anyone, but I know I am a better person for having read about them. I can still see rooms from this book in my head, and I still wonder where the characters are, out wandering around in the collective literary unconscious.
Thank you, Esmé, for putting The Border of Paradise out in the world. You have made me think in ways I rarely have to, and I am grateful for that challenge.