Happy Thanksgiving! Catching up on reading…

FAADC7DA-F0F6-434F-9DE9-D2E7D97045C4Hello, I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday. I am in Munich, Germany. Before I left, I downloaded some books for the trip. I’m in the HERO mood lately. Actually, I’m in the process of trying to find an athletic challenge for next year. My daughter is going to train for a marathon. I am not a runner, I prefer hiking, so I am investigating those kinds of challenges.

In my research, I came across this GREAT book that I started reading last night, “Natural Born Heroes,” by Christopher McDougall. It’s really good, if you like learning about heroes. The author has a fast paced, high energy, writing style — not boring at all. For sure, you won’t put it down, you’ll feel like you are running right beside him on his quest to find out “what makes a Hero.”

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He says a Hero is not about strength and force, but about compassion, because hero’s are known as the protectors. He’s got all sorts of stories and analogies. I like it!

Oh, he has a chapter on Greek Mythology.  This brought back memories of my Italian mother. While we were eating dinner, she would read to us from this  Greek Myths book. Growing up in Italy, when she was in school, they were taught about Greek Mythology, so she would say it was her “DUTY” to teach us as well. And guess what, this book is a bit “old looking now,” but my Mom pulls it out to read to the grandchildren. YES, they must learn about Greek Mythology too! I smile when I see this book.

Ok, I’m off to explore Munich, one of my favorite cities.

It’s raining… Again, I think of my mother. When there was lightning she would say, “Zeus is mad at us! You see how he is throwing thunder bolts from the sky.”

Summer reading -> new books, put away winter books that failed me…

Books on NightstandI have had three books on my nightstand, none of them held my attention. Every night I picked one up, read a few sentences, closed the book, sighed and turned off the light.

I like variety. I can have a few books going at a time. These were all good choices, the issue with each book was a slow writing style. Right now, my mind is on overload, so if I have 15 minutes to read before I go to sleep, I need a faster paced writing style. A story that keeps my interest.

I felt like Marie Kondo (the Japanese expert on tidying up your house). Talk to each book, wish them well and give them away.

That was very liberating!

With a cup of Tazo – Zen tea in hand, I got comfortable at my desk and began my book search. I logged into Facebook to review the “Historical Fiction Book Lovers” site.

SUCCESS – I found an interesting book by Amy Tan, “Saving Fish from Drowning.” The book had mixed reviews, because it was quite different from her previous books, i.e. The Joy Luck Club and The Kitchen God’s Wife.

For me, I liked it immediately. Tan starts the story with news clippings of 11 Americans who disappeared while traveling the Burma Road from China to Myanmar. It appears to be a true story, so I searched Google to find out what happened to these 11 Americans. Turns out, Tan made this story up, this left me curious.

I found a second book by Carlos Ruiz Zafon, The Shadow of the Wind (The Cemetery of Forgotten Books). His books take place in Barcelona. First time I’ve heard of him. This book seemed very interesting with action, intrigue, rare book dealers – not boring.

Now, I might complain of too much reading and lack of sleep!

What’s on your nightstand?

Book Review: Big Miracles by Joanna Garzilli… jewelry in Florence, Italy

78369de7-95b5-49a6-b8e6-ddbc79271ef3A few days ago I was at the bookstore. It’s my favorite place to be besides browsing jewelry shop windows in Italy. When my children were young, if we were in Florence, of course, I would have to look at the jewelry on the Ponte Vecchio. My younger daughter would tell me, “Mama, promise, no looking in the windows, we are going for gelato.”

This is funny, because if any of you have been to Florence and have walked across the Ponte Vecchio, you KNOW it is IMPOSSIBLE to walk across the bridge and not look at jewelry. All the shops sell jewelry. The bridge is glittering in white, yellow and rose gold!

I would kid her that she was half Italian, jewelry was in her DNA. One day, I might be telling her not to look in the windows. As she gave me a scowl, I would give a grin and say, “I promise, I will do my BEST to walk in the middle of the road.” See photo, I did a zig zagging walk across the bridge. Can you picture it?  Look in one window to the right, have her pull me to the center, then go to the left, look in one window, have her pull me to the center! It was most amusing.

43a807e3-0894-4785-9fce-bc9248d95e75Guess what – NOW, she is at the age where she sends me photos of jewelry she likes. I KNEW this would happen!

Back to the bookstore. As it is a new year, there was a table full of motivational / spiritual types of books. Browsing through them, I found this book about “Big Miracles,” by Joanna Garzilli.

It’s a book about connecting with your Spirit. One thing she brought up, which I had never heard of, was experiencing the “dark night of the soul.” She talks about when she experienced this period and soon after met her husband. She explains that “the dark night of the soul,” is when we are going through a period of hopelessness/despair, it’s not depression, we are low, but somehow we know we must rid ourselves of negativity, so we can move toward happiness. She spoke about uncontrollable crying and illness that wouldn’t go away. She realized later that her soul was releasing the part of her that felt unlovable, because shortly after this she met her future husband.

She has some interesting insights. I think with each book we read, we gain a little more knowledge that helps us in self discovery, focusing on our vision and destiny in life. Some years we are right on target, other years it is slow moving and then suddenly it seems our hard work pays off and we are catapulted into the happiness and success we have been focusing on.

Life, it’s not easy, but if we focus on the goal — WE GET THERE!

Books: Do you have one that really made you “think?”

9F251DD9-289A-465B-912A-71DCC1758A83Someone asked me if I read a book that really made me “think” about life and moved me. I said, “YES,” immediately, because I came across Anita Moorjani’s book, “Dying to Be Me,” a few years ago and I still think about different parts of her book.

One day, I was watching Dr. Wayne W. Dyer on television, he was giving one of his inspirational talks. In the middle of the show, he said he wanted to introduce us to a woman he had met who had an interesting story. In walked, Anita Moorjani.

Moorjani began to share her story of having cancer and how she was in the hospital, went out of her body, was able to see her very sick self and reflect on “how” she could have ended up that way. As she says on the cover of the book, she decided that she wanted to live and once she re-entered her body in the hospital, she knew she was going to be CANCER FREE.

After watching Dyer’s show, I was curious to read Moorjani’s book. What I liked about her book is that she starts from her childhood to tell the story of her life and how she feels she got cancer. It’s a very interesting book.

If you are pressed for reading time, you can view her TEDx Bay Area.

Sometimes a book like this crosses our path, which makes us “think” about life.

Bologna Children’s Book Fair

20F7A794-B126-42B9-8F49-3A441FBF6155Today was the first day of the Bologna Children’s Book Fair. I got there by fast train from Florence. Then it was an easy 10 minute bus ride from train station to the conference center.

Upon entering the hall, it was exciting to see all the books as you can imagine. I was amazed at how International this Fair was. Countries from all over the world had booths. Some booths were big, some small, it didn’t matter, they were ALL showing off their best selling books.

This fair is mainly used for the buying and selling of rights to books. So, in ALL the booths you could see “major” meetings going on and orders being taken.

China was the Guest of Honor. They gave different speeches with the Mayor of Bologna. Their booth showcased their Chinese authors and illustrators. They also had a specific booth displaying the work of their BEST illustrators.

I went to check out the Literary Agents Center. There was a strong buzz in the air. This is where authors and illustrators, who have set up appointments, meet with agents to pitch their books!

8A26E60E-A794-41C9-8FDB-2F554A80CB9AThis is what the board looked like, I don’t know what those numbers next to their names were. It was too busy for me to ask someone, people didn’t want to miss their appointments by answering my questions.

I finally made it to the Bologna Children’s Book Fair! So glad I went.

Oh, I could tell I was a book fair beginner, because I forgot to bring a BIG bag to put all the pamphlets that I would gather in. The book show veterans had roller bags!

Free Library is back! Expats in Hong Kong, finding prayer…

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You never know what you are going to find on a walk. A friend of mine sent me a picture of this Little FREE Library she found. I continue to be amazed at how creative these neighborhood libraries can be. Normally, I see them as big bird houses, but this was indeed different. I asked her to see what books they had inside.

Take a look, one book called, “The Expatriates” by Janice Y.K. Lee about three female expats in Hong Kong. Then a second book called, “The Water Will Hold You / A Skeptic Learns to Pray,” by Lindsey Crittenden.

Two books, so different. I looked them up online, click on the links. I downloaded and started reading the second book by Crittenden. It’s a bit sad, it deals with family issues. At the same time, the author learns to find prayer and how she does that is interesting.

So, if you walk by a library, stop and take a peek, who knows what you’ll find!

Walk 5 miles… listen to NPR’s TED Radio Hour: The Hero’s Journey

Man on mountainThis weekend I wanted to get back into my weekly walking routine. I realized I hadn’t done much exercise in September. So, I dusted off my gym shoes and headed out.

My goal was a 5 mile walk. I scanned my NPR TED Radio Hour podcasts and found one called, “A Hero’s Journey.” This was an outstanding podcast, where I forgot I was exercising. The show started out talking about “Star Wars.” They were discussing how “a hero’s journey” is written. They said there was a 3 ACT formula for writing hero books. First, the hero has a departure (leaves home), then there is an initiation (hero goes on a quest), and then the hero returns (comes back home). Sounds like my life! (grin)

After “Star Wars,” the podcast continued with other stories focused on “a hero’s journey” theme. A woman who wanted to sail around the world and how she did it, a man who became an author/illustrator (his mother was a drug addict, he talks about this), and George Takia from “Star Trek,” talks about his childhood imprisonment in an internment camp during WWII, because he was Japanese.

This leads me to “How To Addict,” a fellow Blogger who writes motivational posts. This week his post, “Shift your focus – fulfillment through work,” was a good one. Like my “hero’s journey” podcast, Doc was sending the message that we should challenge ourselves, not be lazy, instead persevere and feel fulfilled in our work – have a goal.

So, this week is about being on “a hero’s journey!”

Remember: a hero departs, initiates (starts and fulfills his quest) and then returns home.

What QUEST are you on this week?