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Mission San José de Tumacácori: I did an onsite sketch of the mission on a painting field trip a while back, then added watercolors when I got back home.

          “The books that help you most are those which make you think the most.” – Pablo Neruda

Morning Thoughts

          I buy books and eBooks from Amazon, I buy books at Barnes and Noble, I buy books from Bookmans (a used book store here in Tucson), I buy audible books, and I go to the library weekly. Just thinking about not having something within arm’s reach to read at any given moment would be cause for a panic attack.

This was the view behind the mission, which is located off Highway 19 south of Tucson. It’s an interesting place to visit if you’re in the area. — Art by Pat Bean

Thus, it was that I found myself standing in front of the “Good Reads” book stand that welcomes visitors to the Dusenberry-River Library, the closest library branch to my apartment in Tucson’s Catalina Foothills. The stand contains mostly current best-sellers, and I usually make my first selection of books to check out here before moving on to look for more esoteric choices.

“So, what do you like reading?” A kindly voice asks. “A little bit of everything except for horror,” I told the tall, slender woman adding books to the stand.

“Maybe you’ll like this,” she asks, pulling a book from the backside of the stand. “It’s well-written and funny,” The book was Maybe You Should Talk to Someone by Lori Gottlieb, and is about a therapist and her therapist.

“Sounds interesting,” I said, and put the book into my bag for later check out. (I’ve already started reading it, and I love it.)

She then brought out a second book, one I knew was a popular book club selection and had gotten rave reviews. She asked if I had read it.

I sort of frowned, then noted that I had started it but found it unoriginal and boring. I felt guilty about saying this, until she smiled and said, “I’m so glad you said that. I tried to finish it twice but couldn’t. But everyone else I’ve talked with absolutely loves it.”

I’m hoping to meet up with this library worker the next time I visit.

Check out Travels with Maggie on Amazon.

Bean Pat: Libraries everywhere. Visit one soon.

Pat Bean is a retired journalist who lives in Tucson with her canine companion, Scamp. She is a wondering-wanderer, avid reader, Lonely Planet Community Pathfinder, Story Circle Network board member, author of Travels with Maggie available on Amazon, enthusiastic birder, and is always searching for life’s silver lining.

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Reading Habits

            “Reading furnishes the mind only with materials of knowledge; it is thinking that makes what we read ours.” – John Locke

I'm currently reading, "We Wanted to be Writers: Life, Love, and Literature at the Iowa Writers' Workshop," -- and loving it. I was fascinated by how many writers also wanted to be artists but chose writing -- which sort of fits me, too. This quick watercolor was part of a sky exercise I did a few years ago.

I’m currently reading, “We Wanted to be Writers: Life, Love, and Literature at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop,” — and loving it. I was fascinated by how many writers also wanted to be artists but chose writing — which sort of fits me, too. This quick watercolor was part of a sky exercise I did a few years ago.

Do Blogs Fit In the Picture?

            When I was young, books were my escape into another world, one far more interesting than the one in which I lived. Since it wasn’t until I was well into my 20s that I knew I wanted to be a writer, I didn’t see books much beyond the fantasy lives they offered me.

I especially loved reading travel books, and it was from them that I started my first bucket list.

Another of my watercolor sky exercises. -- Art by Pat Bean

Another of my watercolor sky exercises. — Art by Pat Bean

Then, as a journalist, books became learning tools that helped take me from a wet-behind-the-ears reporter to star reporter at a small newspaper in just four years. I had dropped out of school at 16, but didn’t let my prospective managing editor know that when he hired me as a darkroom flunky when I was 27.

I then worked doubly hard and wormed my way up to being a reporter (the job I wanted but wasn’t hired for) in just five months. I credit all the reading I did after I dropped out of school as being the magic that propelled me forward in my chosen career, including finally getting me into college without a high school diploma.

But it wasn’t until I retired, and my life was less filled with distractions, that I started looking at books from a writer’s point of view – even though I was a writer. .

I began admiring great metaphors, and was inspired to write better ones. I wondered how one author kept me turning pages, while yet another had me stopped reading before I had read a dozen pages. It added a deeper dimension to my reading, especially when I started reading with a notebook and pen by my side.

The latest additions to my reading habits are blogs. I’ve always loved reading people’s journals – and this is exactly what many personal blogs are, and the ones I’m most likely to read. I’ve made friends with some bloggers, ones who make me feel as if I’m not alone in how I think, and others that make me think about things differently. I feel lucky to have such a cache of reading at my computer fingertips. Life is good!

Blog pick of the day. Check it out.

Blog pick of the day. Check it out.

Bean Pat: I can’t do this until I do that http://tinyurl.com/kfmfnqt This blog was one that reminded me I was not alone.

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Bookish Wednesday

            “A well-composed book is a magic carpet on which we are wafted to a world that we cannot enter in any other way.” Caroline Gordon

The dark mirror in the book of the same name is a dark lake. -- Photo by Pat Bean

The dark mirror in the book of the same name is a dark lake. — Photo by Pat Bean

The Dark Mirror by Juliet Marillier

Yup! I may be an old broad, but I still haven’t lost my ability to stay awake when I’m in the middle of a good book.

And the woods and rocks of the landscape are integral to the story. -- Photo by Pat Bean

And the woods and rocks of the landscape are integral to the story. — Photo by Pat Bean

But I must admit that it’s been a long time since I stayed awake reading – actually I was listening to an audible book – until 4:53 a.m. That was the time on the clock in my kitchen – I don’t have one in the bedroom – when I finally looked.

I had known it was late, but not that late.

The book was “The Dark Mirror: Bridei Trilogy, Book One,” by Juliet Marillier.

I  knew it was getting late last night, and I kept saying I was going to put the book down as soon as I found out what was happening next, but by the time I did that, there was something else going on that kept me reading. And so it went all through the night.

“The Dark Mirror” was the first Juliet Marillier book I’ve read. I was delighted to know she’s published many more.  This first, published in 2004, is an epic fantasy with tangled plots, characters with depth and good writing.

I just downloaded the second audible book in the trilogy onto my Kindle. It is 23 hours long. Let’s hope it keeps me as intrigued about what’s going to happen next as book one.

I predict many more sleepless nights ahead of me.

“O frabjous  day! Callooh! Callay!” – and who knows what this is from?

The Wondering Wanderer's blog pick of the day.

The Wondering Wanderer’s blog pick of the day.

Bean’s Pat: The Blood-Red Pencil http://tinyurl.com/lbxm4nv The woman, who is proofing and editing by book, “Travels with Maggie,” and I differ over the use of commas, which is probably why I enjoyed this blog so much.   Perhaps my writer-readers will enjoy it, too

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“The gift of fantasy has meant more to me than my talent for absorbing positive knowledge.” – Albert Einstein

I like nonsense, it wakes up the brain cells. Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living.” – Dr. Seuss

Don’t Do That To Me Robin

Look what you did to me Robin. My hair might not last until the fourth Rain Wilds book is published. -- Art by Pat Bean

I’m a big fan of fantasy books, but particular about which ones I read. Actually I’m that way about all the books I read, which includes just about all genres except horror, or books where the dark side dominates the pages.

Along with wanting a good plot that keeps me turning the page, a book’s characters must have both strengths and failings and grow in depth as the story progresses.

Without a character with whom I can connect, a book gets tossed aside at my self-imposed 50-page benchmark — or at the end of the first free chapter that Amazon provides Kindle users.

Poor writing, naturally, will turn me off much sooner.

I have many mystery authors that I follow but far fewer fantasy authors. That’s because an abundance of them seem not to measure up to my 50-page limit. This means when I find an author I enjoy, I usually read everything they write, and eagerly await their new offerings.

I took this photo today at the Sonora Desert Museum in an area that talked about prehistoric Arizona. It's only connection to this blog is that it reminded me of the kind of creatures on finds in fantasy books. -- Photo by Pat Bean

George Martin, whose series, “Game of Thrones,” I started reading when it first came out, taught me a lesson, however. His lengthy sabbatical between books convinced me to wait until a series was completed before beginning it.

With this in mind, it was with great delight that a few years ago I came across the work of Robin Hobb. I read her first book, “Assassin’s Apprentice,” in the Farseer Trilogy and was deeply hooked. In rapid succession, I absorbed the other two books in the trilogy and then continued n with her Liveship, Tawny Man and Soldier Son trilogies.

Soldier Son was weird, but even that I couldn’t put down. Of the other three trilogies, I would be hard-pressed to name a favorite as I loved each and every one of them.

At the time I discovered her, Hobb was still writing her Rain Wilds Chronicles. I patiently waited until the trilogy was finished before I began reading them. Last night, I finished the third in the series, only to be left hanging.

Unbeknownst to me, this series has a fourth book, which isn’t out yet.

AAAAccccchhhhh!!!!

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