Last week I wrote about my Top 5 favorite pieces of escapist literature, and this week I’m here to talk books again. Specifically, I’m thinking about how reading is just as crucial as writing for mental well-being (I’m not saying that it always works, but it does help). Books don’t always need to be escapist in nature to give us something, do they? Different genres elicit different feelings, all of which are necessary for surviving the cruel, cruel world, no?
This is a list of all of the books I am reading currently (and by currently, I mean I can tell you where I am in all of them and have read from them at some point in the last two weeks):
- The Blackstone Chronicles – John Saul (Fiction). I’ve been a Saul fan since 8th grade. Seeking something beyond Stephen King (I have no problem with King, but wanted something slightly less mainstream), I found myself inheriting a pile of my cousin’s used paperback novels before she left for college. Among them were a handful of Saul’s novels. While the writing sometimes makes me cringe, I find the books generally compelling for my tastes. They’re thrillers with the appropriate amount of scary for me. The first one I read was Second Child and still remember the opening line: “When Polly McAllister awoke that morning, she had not the slightest premonition that she was about to die.” This is my tradition summer read.
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – J.K. Rowling (Fiction). I’m finishing my re-reading of the last book of the Harry Potter series so that I can get around to watching the movies (and maybe even see this one in the theatre. I’ve never seen a Potter movie in the theatre). I tend to lose details on books if I’ve not read them more than once, so this refresher was greatly needed. While I was at the hospital with my dad today, this is what I read (and mostly for the escapist purposes that I mentioned in the last post).
- Knock ‘Em Dead Cover Letters – Martin Yate (Nonfiction). I have literally hundreds of cover letters on my computer. I’ve tried so many styles that I can’t even tell you. I’ve become incredibly superstitious about my job search and figured that it couldn’t hurt to study some new, proven techniques. You can never assume that you know everything, and I am learning much. Hopefully it pays off, because I’ve abandoned my cover letter-writing temporarily in order to read this.
- What Color Is Your Parachute? – Richard Nelson Bolles (Nonfiction). Again, sharpening up my career search tactics can only serve to help me. I’ve nothing to lose and everything to gain, and this is one of the most well-respected books in the field. While I’m only a few chapters into it and (as one of the unemployed English teachers that he mentions in his disclaimer) have a very hard time with his self-created comma rules, I have found it generally informative thus far and look forward to finding out what color my parachute really is.
- Content Rules – Ann Handley & C.C. Chapman (Nonfiction). I just purchased this one this past Friday night, so haven’t gotten very far in it yet. I’ve been looking forward to reading it for a while because I feel like it will help with my writing, my use of social media (and taking a business approach to it), and because I’m generally interested in content creation and expanding my repertoire.
So because I’ve been reading five books, writing (I’ve published at least one blog post somewhere every day this week so far), engaging on social media channels (including learning how Google+ can be an effective networking tool), and reading articles and blogs of interest on the Interwebz, I’ve felt a little bit like I’m employed. I’ve been busy, but in a good, productive way.
While this current book list I’ve got going might seem a little dorky, I’ve realized that in addition to the escapist books, I sometimes need to read these manuals and how-to nonfiction guides. At the very least, they don’t work and so I’ve lost some time, but I’ve never found that to be true. With every book I’ve read in the nonfiction genre, I’ve always gained something.
And with that, I retain some little glimmer of hope. I look at example letters and think to myself, “Wow. That’s a good technique. I’m going to try that.” And then I mark it so that I can come back to it later (hopefully the library won’t care that I’ve made some light pencil marks in their book. At least the Post-It notes are easily removed). These different approaches and different techniques remind me that I haven’t tried everything and that I can’t give up yet. They encourage me to push harder and not lose my momentum, no matter what’s going on in the rest of my life. I have to keep going with this. I have to assume that in the next couple of months, I will be employed and that it will be because I’ve gotten some glimmer of inspiration from something that I’ve read.
If you asked any of my friends about my optimism, they would laugh you out of town. I’m not well-known for my positive thinking or optimism, but there’s a secret.
I’m the most optimistic pessimist you’ll ever meet. I don’t always verbalize my hope because I’m afraid of jinxing myself (I grow steadily more and more superstitious the longer this phase of my life continues), but I have a hard time letting it die. I don’t let go of things very easily in general, but for all of the negative connotations that might have, there are some positive ones, as well. Outwardly, I might appear as though I’m completely broken down and tired of this. And I am. But on the inside, there’s still a little flicker. There are a few little voices telling me that I can’t give up yet. There’s the drive and determination to do things, sometimes impulsively, that, subconsciously or not, I know will help me keep hope alive.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go determine the color of my parachute.