What Did You Read Last Month?

Written By Donna Marie Leonard Feb. 1, 2023

Reading. It’s something about reading a book that is so whimsical. Books provide adventure, information about life, breath taking moments, laughable moments, and melancholy ones, too. They are the theme park ride that you questioned getting on but hate to get off when it is over.

I have always been of a fan of reading, it provided the necessary escape that I needed from my own world. There are just as many diverse book subjects as there are people. It really used to bother me when my students would say they didn’t like to read, but quickly did I learn that many people don’t read. Ask pretty much anyone, what’s the last book you read? Too often I have heard the Bible or a book by Dr. Seuss.

This is not because reading is SO BORING as many children say, rather it has to do with interest. When I started introducing my young readers to mysterious, comedic, tears rolling down your cheek, passion driven books, they were buying more books than me to read during DEAR (drop everything and read) time in class. I was so touched. This applies to adults too. We must find books that interest us. I know ELA teachers that will not read the books that we assign to our students, but they enjoy romance books during their down time. You have to find what peaks your interest, and that is what you read.

Now someone like me, I am all over the place. I will pretty much give any book a chance if it has great reviews or referred by friends. I’m not a fan of romance though. Give me a thriller anytime. However, one romance book stole my heart, I read it in 2 days. It is quite the page turner. I picked it up because everyone said it was a great movie. I’m like, well let me read the book first, then decide if the movie is worth watching. We all know the book is always better. And it still holds true. The book was so good! I didn’t even look for the movie right away, I just needed another book to read because I was devastated this book was over. It is this book that lead to me buy more books by this author which brings me to this months book, Turtles All the Way Down by John Green.

The book he wrote that I still adore to this day is The Fault in Our Stars. Oh my goodness, for my Shakespeare fans, isn’t the title alone captivating? So, with many fans giving this book praise, and the title reminded me of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, I had to give it a shot. And I am so happy I did. The movie doesn’t disappoint either.

It wasn’t until years later, headed into Half Price Book Store for a book I can’t even remember now, that I saw the release of John Green’s new book, Turtles All the Way Down. The sales associate saw me starring at it and suggested if I am a fan, it’s a must buy, for the first several books are signed copies. I was like ok, I’ll get it.

That was a few years ago. I had never really picked the book up to read until now. This is the book I chose to read for the month of January. The plot shares a story of a young lady, Aza, in high school struggling with matters of life. The way John Green characterized her was unlike any other character I have read in a book, and while at first it may seem strange, I was able to make a connection with Aza. That is what makes reading books inviting. The connection you’re able to make with the characters you are reading about. You experience the journey with them, you’re cheering for them, you cry with them, and sometimes it even means wanting revenge for them. While The Fault in Our Stars will always be my favorite John Green book, this one is a great runner up. His writing is impeccable. He paints a vivid picture for you of what the characters are going through, and you truly feel for them and their experiences (good and bad).

I will not give the story away, but it is a great read. Turtles All the Way Down is a fantastic reminder that you can’t always judge people from the outside and that life will always go on.

Reading is all about finding your lane and moving at a pace you’re comfortable with, kind of like at the gym. I’m not into heavy weight lifting, but I enjoy the cardio machines and kettle bells. But one day, I may have the courage to lift the heavy weights. That’s how it is with reading. You don’t have to start with a six-hundred page book like Echo. You can start where you feel comfortable and confident you’ll complete. Then, work towards reading longer books if you like.

This year, I hope you find a genre that suits your taste. I promise, reading is not boring, in fact it is very social because books are meant to be read and discussed. I can recall being at the airport terminal, waiting for the plane to arrive and a lady approached me about the book I was reading and wanted to know what I thought of it. We ended up chatting the entire time as we waited for our flight. It wasn’t all about the book, but the topics and themes that derived from the book became our conversation. Reading is social. It sparks conversation, and it attracts new friends.

Happy Reading, Jewels!

Share what books you are currently reading or have already wrapped up within this first month of the year, in the comments. Also, let me know if you are a fan of the work of John Green and have read The Fault in Our Stars, Turtles All the Way Down, or both.

References

Photos.Burst.Shopify.com

Written By Donna Marie Leonard

Donna Marie Leonard has been blogging for ten years. She is the published author of children’s book That’s Me. Additionally, Donna Marie is a magazine columnist and freelance writer. She is a script writer, actor, and producer in the Houston film community, as well.

You Matter

By Donna Marie Leonard Jan. 2, 2023

After I became a mom, it seems like little by little I began to stop doing the things that made me feel good about myself. It’s like the time we have in a day is never enough. It’s not even just enough to get by. I don’t know about you, but everything quickly became rush rush for me. Rushing in the morning to get dressed and ready for work, rushing after work to pick up my little, rushing home to make dinner, rushing to do a few house chores, take care of the little one, and then bed.

So let’s just say, nail and hair appointments, massages those all became a thing of the past. But I am here to say that this year, I am here to claim it all back and then some. It’s a lot being a parent. And if you’re anything like I am, you want the absolute best for your child. But it is all at the expense of ourselves. I’m not complaining about giving my child the world, because she deserves it. However, it takes a toll on you. It’s like my economic professor taught us, opportunity cost. You can’t have it all. Well, maybe. But for majority of us, the energy you put into one thing, is going to cost losing time with whatever else you would like to do. Yet, there is hope. You just have to squeeze it in your time.

And this is not to say that only parents get caught up and never have downtime. This applies to just about anybody who is trying to build their best life.

This is all to say two words. Self. Care. Yes, self-care. You forgot about it, too. I know I have for a long time. I have been daydreaming of a pedicure for two months now. It’s never enough time. We have to know how to slow down and take care of ourselves.

In 2023, I am ensuring self-care is a part of my weekly plans. I will fit her in my schedule some magical way. We need it. We’re only human. And all this rushing and going about each day draining ourselves until our heads hit the pillow is not ok. A part of self-care is time management. Time is truly a gift, and it matters what we do with each second of our day.

I dare you this year, each week, all 52 of them to find time for yourself. Maybe spend 10 extra minutes doing a facial mask, or go for a mani and pedi, or my favorite sit alone at the local coffee shop and read or write for 20-30 minutes. Do whatever it is that makes you happy, that you see fit as quality “me time” just to fuel yourself back up. You are totally worth it. I know for one of my friends, it doesn’t even have to be as long as the ones I listed above. One of my friends finds so much joy in having an ice cold can of coca cola. It’s that simple. She refuses to have them everyday, but there are moments she has that, and she claims she’s brand new.

Share with me in the comments Jewels, how you are going to spend time with you this year. I’ll go first, tonight I am going to spend ten minutes reading a book before bed.

Below is a list of ideas for self-care:

Take Care!

References

Photos. Burst.shopify.com

Written By Donna Marie Leonard

Donna Marie Leonard has written blogs for thecurvychateau.com since 2013. She is the published author of children’s book That’s Me. Additionally, Donna Marie is a magazine columnist and freelance writer. She is a script writer, actor, and producer in the Houston film community, as well.