Thank You – For Being a Character in My Story


photo credit: icedsoul photography .:teymur madjderey via photopin cc
photo credit: icedsoul photography .:teymur madjderey via photopin cc

I’m ready to hit reset.

I’m looking for a plan. Some way I can definitively see when to do what and how much of it to do and how to do it and how to quit. I want to do 7,329 things and might only have room for 7,320.

What goes? What stays? A lot of what I want to do has to do with gratitude.

I want to not only visit blogs for those who comment on mine right away, but I also want to check out blogs for those who write compelling comments on other blogs (that’s how I found many of you, incidentally.)

I have a loaded folder on my bookmarks called “READ!” I average about four of these each day, but I add probably five or more. You do the math. It takes a while to get back around, but I promise, when I do, I will try and make it count.

So many of you are so good about visiting, and sharing. I appreciate that more than you’ll ever know, but hopefully, I can show you some of that, too.

Ever read Inion N. Mathiar?

Their blog authors leave the most gracious comments ever. They included me on a blog about a literary challenge, to list your favorite books, then pass on the assignment to other bloggers.

I never do these, not because I don’t appreciate the consideration, but because the days and the topic often don’t jive with the typical Coach Daddy fodder.

I’m doing it this time, though, although I’ll change the rules a bit.

  • I will limit my book selection to three
  • I will not nominate other writers to do their own lists.

I will, however, ask you, my beloved readers, to share one of your go-to favorite books. I’d like to know what props you up as a reader and a writer, because we all know you can’t be a writer if you’re not a reader.

Speaking of which … your blog’s in my folder. Can’t wait to get to you.

1. Call of the Wild

Jack London

JackLondoncallwild

This was the first chapter book I ever read. I still have the Scholastic book order version I first read, with my named scribbled in it. It’s now Elise’s, although I’m not sure she’s read it. This was probably my first exposure to a strong character, Buck, who had to adjust to brutal conditions not of his making.

I also remember the ideas of love and redemption through the trials. Buck, the main character, and, yes, a dog, probably set the tone for what I felt a hero should be.

2. They Call Me Coach

John Wooden

photo credit: afagen via photopin cc
photo credit: afagen via photopin cc

Above all others, John Wooden, the legendary UCLA basketball coach, encapsulated what I want to be in a coach. He was a teacher, a mentor, a role model. His lessons of winning extend way beyond sport. His focus on fundamentals and the power within each player influence me in every game and practice.

Some of Wooden’s maxims resonate with me in life, too. Here are some of my favorites:

I will get ready, and then, perhaps, my time will come.

Make sure the team knows they are working with you, not for you.

Do not let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do.

Don’t let yesterday take up too much of today.

Forget favors given; remember those received.

Be fast but do not hurry.

And my favorite:

Consider the rights of others before your own feelings and the feelings of others before your own rights.

3. Sun Also Rises

Ernest Hemingway

photo credit: roberthuffstutter via photopin cc
photo credit: roberthuffstutter via photopin cc

I first read this book the summer after high school graduation.

I read it every few years, and it means something different to me every time. It at first taught me about finding tranquility among the frenzy of life, but also to live in the moment, either frenzied or tranquil.

Hemingway delivers it in his hard-boiled style that I hope to emulate until all my literary frivolity gets in the way. It’s like too much barbecue sauce on your wings – you don’t know you have too much until it’s already on both sleeves and all over your pants. Each time I read it, I identify in some degree with each of the characters, from Jake Barnes to Robert Cohn, even Romero.

Anyway, the book … every time I read it, I understand better that life plays out among its characters.

Maybe it’s time to read it again … in between posts and comments, of course. Have to make it count!

What is your go-to book?

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112 thoughts on “Thank You – For Being a Character in My Story

  1. I actually picked up Call of the Wild at a used book sale, when I started homeschooling the kids. Sadly though, I have never read it. I will for sure have to remedy that and I will also have to search out The Sun Also Rises. I have always loved Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights, as well as anything by Edgar Allan Poe. Someday I hope to have a library in my home for all of the books that threaten to overrun the place! LOL! Have a great week, Eli!

    1. Nice find Stacey. And the good thing is, there’s no expiration date on reading a book, right? Sun Also Rises surprised me, and it feels like just yesterday (although the years assure me it definitely wasn’t) that the influence took hold with every page and chapter.

      Poe – not only a great read but a study in use of the language to generate curiosity and anticipation. My home library is meager, but the books that make the cut on my shelf are those I’ll open again and again.

      Thanks Stacey – hope your weekend was great!

  2. I’m more of a non-fiction/self-help reader these days… LOL. The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle has had a significant impact on my life. When you reach 40, it’s tempting to pull the past into the present and worry about the future. This book taught me not to do that, to just live in the Now. Days I can actually do this are pretty good.

    1. I like to do that too – mostly coaching books. I wonder how things will be like for me when I reach 40. Ha! (It was only two years ago).

      The good thing is, the older we get, the worse our memory becomes, so shouldn’t that mean it’ll be harder to live in the past?

  3. I have so many ‘favorite books’ for many different reasons and occasions…… As a teacher, I teach 7th grade English Language Arts, it is The Giver by Lois Lowry a messy book about a perfect world that isn’t. As a reader, it is a difficult choice but I’ll mention two and more will come to mind…. Winds of War by Herman Wouk and The Great Santini by Pat Conroy both very good books for different reasons. The first an epic family tale in a historical setting and the second a coming of age story about the year in a young life. Good Reads.

    1. It’s good to have an arsenal, isn’t it Clay? Pat Conroy’s Beach Music is unread on my shelf at the moment – he’s a great regional writer here.

      I do love a good coming of age story, too. Makes me hopeful for my own someday.

  4. My first thought when reading this post is to respond with three authors who have had a big influence on me. Just choosing a few books feels too restricting to me right now. Even choosing three authors means not naming lots of people who have helped author my life and the way I see things. But here are three authors whose voices I have found undeniably compelling, enriching and illuminating (in order of appearance): Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, and Anne Tyler. I could say much more, of course, but now my priority is to leave your welcoming, wonderful blog and write my own daily piece. I could not do that writing, every day, without all that I’ve learned from the other wonderful writers and characters in my life. Thanks for being one of them, Eli.

    1. It’s tough to edit the list, isn’t it? Charlotte Bronte was always a favorite when i was younger. The fellas never knew that. I remember seeing her picture in a book after I already liked her writing, and thinking, “woah … she’s also cute!”

      Thanks for the sweet comment, Ann. Your blog has become a welcome destination for me, too.

  5. Eli, I know the feeling well and finally started to read a few less blogs and more books again at the end of last year and am seriously so happy I did, because nothing compares to reading a good book!! So, hope you get to read a few good books this year and if you are on Goodreads look for me over there, because seriously great place to share what you and others are reading now 🙂

    1. As long as we’re reading, right? But Jack London isn’t commenting on my blog, so I feel like I want to read the words of those who read mine, more than anything!

      (That, and the backlog of ESPN the Magazine and Sports Illustrated I have piled up).

      Always something good to read … that’s not a bad thing, right?

  6. When I was a kid, I read “Instant Replay”(think “The Block” in the Ice Bowl versus Dallas in 1966?) by Jerry Kramer, a former Guard for the Green Bay Packers. It’s a great book for a guy like you who enjoys sports so much.

  7. I miss reading. I still read but not nearly as many books as I once used to. I spend all day on the computer reading and writing that once I shut down at the end of the day the last thing I want to do is read. Maybe its time to set aside some time for books.

    1. It’s tough to carve out the time. I started reading “Mother of All Meltdowns” recently, and will bring it with me to Mexico next weekend.

      It is especially hard to read after you read all day at work, but usually 17 seconds watching TV suddenly has me back in the mood for some words.

  8. Isn’t it amazing how the characters we meet in the blogosphere quickly become a part of our lives, even if we never meet most of them in person? Thank you for being a central character in my blog’s story. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your thoughtful and often laugh-out-loud comments. More importantly, I appreciate your support!

    As a child, I was a certified book worm and always had my nose in a book. As an adult, I need to carve out more time for reading. I usually catch up on my reading list when I travel for work and have long flights and quiet evenings. Some of my favorite childhood reads were Matilda by Roald Dahl, Bridge to Terabithia, and Where the Red Fern Grows. I read Where the Red Fern Grows every few years, and I bawl my eyes out. Every.Damn.Time.

    1. I can’t..even. I only read it once and I cried so hard, I think I needed therapy after. Then when they showed the movie in class, I excused myself and ran out of the room bawling. The teacher had to follow me out because she thought I was sick or something.
      Not sick. Just..not able to handle it.
      Still have never read it “Where the Red Fern Grows” since.

      1. I would have cried like that if the Chargers had come back and beat my Broncos yesterday. A book has never moved me this way. Elise had a powerful emotional reaction to the first book about the Holocaust.

        Nothing’s more frightening than history.

    2. You’ve been a big influence over here too, Nicole. I appreciate it so much. My kids would enact a mutiny at this, but I wouldn’t mind an evening a week when the TV stayed off and the books came out.

      Never read Where the Red Fern Grows – is the movie just as moving? I saw that listed on NetFlix …

  9. I hear you on the blog reading – there are days that I pull up my BlogLovin feed and feel completely overwhelmed!!!
    My favorite book has always been Little Women – it is one of the few books that I will read over and over again!

    1. Having a huge BlogLovin list is like having to eat a whole large pizza by yourself – sounds great in theory, but there’s just no way, really.

      So you savor every slice.

      Does “Little Women” change in its meaning to you each time you read it?

  10. There are many books I’ve loved, but the one that stands out the most to me is ‘A Fine Balance’ by Rohinton Mistry. Heart-breaking but also beautiful. It’s stayed with me ever since reading it years ago.

    I enjoyed seeing your top three. I bet my husband would like the second book you’ve listed. It’s his birthday, and I think that would make a great gift. Thanks for the thought!

    1. Do you still have a copy? This is the kind of book I suspect will say something differently if you read it again today.

      That second book is quite an inspiration, and Coach Wooden’s demeanor and wisdom shape the coach I hope I am someday.

      1. I just ordered it for my husband. And no, I don’t have a copy of ‘A Fine Balance.’ It was my mother’s book. Funny, my favorite book and I don’t own it. 🙂

  11. In no particular order:

    Tuesdays With Morrie – Mitch Albom
    I saw the original interview that Ted Koppel did with Morrie before he died and I was moved beyond words by what an amazing person Morrie Schwartz was. I loved Albom’s book.

    Night – Elie Wiesel
    Mandatory reading in Catholic High School. I think it had the reaction they most certainly WERE NOT looking for, as it changed my beliefs in God forever. Haven’t been a regular church-goer ever since I closed the book after reading the last page.

    The Talisman – Stephen King
    The epic and wonderful story that I have read at least 4 times because I love it so much.

    Great idea Eli! And great selections.

  12. Just yesterday, I was properly destroyed by a book, and that will stay with me for awhile. “Me Before You.” Quirky, crazy, lovelorn, terribly sad, love story. These days, with kids and photography and my bloglovin’ (literally, not just the feed website), books aren’t read as much around here, and when they are, they don’t always stay with me after. So that one was a surprise. I’d like to add “The Time Traveler’s Wife” to that list, and “The Lovely Bones.”
    Only read them once. All I can probably handle.

    1. I used to like to give a book to someone after I read it, unless it was in that inner circle you want to go back to again. I’d even write a note in it, and encourage them to share it when they were finished.

      Bloglovin’s a way of life, isn’t it?

  13. I know how you feel about “making the rounds” and trying to get in all blog love in a day – it’s impossible! I also love The Sun Also Rises but my favorite all time is A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving. I read it every Christmas and it kills me every time.

    1. If I win the lottery, I think I’ll just read and write blogs for all my days. Oh, and run in the morning and play disc golf in the afternoon.

      What kills you about A Prayer for Owen Meany?

  14. Dude. We read totally different stuff!

    My favourite book ever is Til We Have Faces by CS Lewis, and I could probably fill up the other two with his books, but that would be boring, so I won’t. This book uses the Greek myth of Eros and Psyche as a springboard, but it’s way deeper than that and doesn’t end up paralleling it too deeply, I react differently to it every time I read it.

    The Sun Egg (a children’s beautifully illustrated book), by Elsa Beskow, would have to be in the list, because it was during a reading of that by my mother that I decided I wanted to be a writer (at age 4!).

    Finally, My Name Is Asher Lev by Chaim Potok makes a good third. (It’s hard to narrow it down to 3, you know?) I read that during my senior year of high school, and it was the first time I remember being aware of the significance of the crucifixion in art or literature not specifically created by a Christian.

    1. Dudette – I think we keep balance in the universe by reading from opposite ends of the bookshelf!

      A good diversity of choices you made. I think I’d be most interested in reading the CS Lewis work. What was it about Sun Egg that inspired you?

      1. Heh–you’re probably right about the balance. I think I liked the Sun Egg partly because of my grandmother’s translations out of the Swedish, although I didn’t know it at the time. (You can get those books here in English now, but you didn’t used to be able to, and she translated all the Beskow books we had for me and my brother and did a very artful job of it.) I also was really into talking animals at the time, and the illustrations are stunning. Now that I think about it, I may have had a sort of embryonic sense of irony that the story ending appealed to, as well.

      2. No, no. I mean stories about animals who actually talk. I definitely talk to animals all the time. One time I was walking Oscar in the neighbourhood where I work, and chatting to him, and then realised that someone was sitting on their front steps listening to me. It was kind of embarrassing, but I’m not sure why, and it hasn’t made me stop doing so.

      3. There’s a wellspring within me (it helps to have inquisitive kids – Marie actually asked about fish tongues last night, and after I told her the answer, she still tried to see in our goldfishes’ mouths!)

  15. I have read so many books over the years, because I really love to read. Last year I got away from it and spent more time reading blogs. I’d like to start reading more books again. Glass Castles had a huge impact on me though…it’s one book that I have re-read several times.

    1. We should have an hour at work, maybe 2-3 p.m., when everyone just stops and reads something. That way, we can still have our blogs read, but still make time for boks.

      Does Glass Castles tell you something different each time you read it?

  16. mine are ‘go dog go’, because i have never gotten over the surprise ending when i find out where all of the dogs are going, and ‘the book thief’, touched my heart like no other, and ‘ the water is wide,’ by pat conroy about when he was new, young teacher, and idealist trying to make a difference by teaching on a carolina island. )

  17. What a lovely post and a great list of books. I so love that you still have your copy of Call of the Wild (with your name in it and everything. I smile thinking how we used to write our names in everything when we were little). It’s hard for me to choose a go to book, but one that means a lot to me and that I often reread is the book of collected short stories of Flaubert. It awakened in me a special love of language and I remember a wonderful discussion about it with my grandmother who recently passed away so it holds an even greater place in my heart now.

    1. I thought you might appreciate a little book action here, Letizia. I think I read Call of the Wild a couple of times – I don’t think my kids would like it as much as I did!

      You mean, you still don’t write your name on everything you own?

      I love that there are so many billions of books, but one read at just the right time in our lives can make such an impact as your short stories of Flaubert did.

  18. I miss reading real books and getting drawn into a story in that incredible way, like your cocooned from everything else. And oddly right now, I can’t think of a book to include here. I feel like there’s so much out there that I have to read, have to keep up with and that leaves me no time for reading for the sake of reading. Might have to make that a goal for this year.

    1. It’s better than a movie, isn’t it? But it’s easy to get away from books, when you write, too. The reason I did three and not 5 (or 10!) is that I couldn’t think of many other relevant ones to me right now … although “To Kill a Mockingbird” was right there on the fringe.

      Maybe if we read a book at lunch or something in 2014 …

  19. What a great topic to get your readers thinking, and what a wonderful opportunity for us to share our favorites with each other! A few years ago my husband put Adriana Trigiani’s Big Stone Gap in my stocking for Christmas because its setting was in the southwestern Virginia near where I’d grown up, and he thought I’d enjoy it. I started reading it immediately and by early January I’d completed the trilogy. Her books embrace her Italian heritage and she weaves the love story of her grandparents into many of her books. I’ve read them all, except her most recent, which is waiting patiently on my nightstand!

    1. It’s like book club without the wine. And with a dude in the middle. When a trilogy grabs you like Big Stone Gap, it’s tough to put down, cliched or not.

      Elise, my oldest, was that way with the Hunger Games books, and when she finished, there was this hangover effect. What are you going to do if you catch up with everything Adriana Trigiani has written?

      1. I will turn to my second favorite genre, historical novels. I thoroughly enjoy an author taking me back in time by weaving a story around a collection of letters, diaries, logs, etc. A few books that come to mind are Isaac’s Storm, The Last Man On The Mountain, and The White Cascade. Eli, would you be so kind as to pour me another glass of wine so I can curl up with my book? 😉

  20. Island of the Blue Dolphins was my favorite book as a child; it haunted me. I bought it for my daughter but she never picked it up. So I read it again instead. Wally Lamb’s I Know This Much is True. And I second Tamara’s votes of Me Before You and Time Travelers Wife. All of theses books burrow into my soul and my brain, and stay there for years.

    1. Sometimes, our books don’t resonate with our kids. Marie just started “To Kill a Mockingbird,” which I love, and I hope she will, too.

      Of course, she called it “To Kill a Mockingjay” – thanks Katniss!

      You have it right Dana when you say these books burrow in our souls and brains. Can you imagine what it’s like to write something that does that to its readers?

  21. Eli – as always, I enjoy reading your posts. I wish it were that easy to name three books. I have read so many these last five years, mostly non-fiction. The fiction titles I find inspiring as well. In addition to two that I seem to carry the essence of with me always, I will offer one that I just received as a gift, which is intriguing and likely right in line with what feeds my soul. This first one was life changing for me – “When Everything Changes, Change Everything,” by Neale Donald Walsch. The second book, a lovely inspiring fiction, “The Art of Racing in the Rain,” by Garth Stein. If you’ve ever wondered what your dog might say about that he/she sees, you will love this sweet story. The one I am going to read (as soon as I finish Sue Monk Kidd’s newest book) is this one, “An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth: what going to space taught me about ingenuity, determination, and being prepared for anything,” by Col. Chris Hadfield.

    Finally, I wish to express my gratitude to you and all who post and take the time to read each other’s posts. There is something quite delicious about relaxing into the lovely inspiring posts – poetry and prose – that bring comfort, validation of our thoughts and feelings, challenges to our thinking or beliefs, and beauty in photos and accompanying stories. I cannot get to all that I wish to read, yet I know that I cannot be alone in this, for we all have other aspects of our living that we also enjoy.

    Blessings to you dear Eli, and all who read, comment and keep on creating, in 2014!

    1. Next time, I’m going to ask everyone to bring a snack with their books, too. Reading makes me hungry. I believe there is an essence to an inspirational book that sticks with us, and even evolves with us.

      Every day is different with the posts and photos on these pages we love to visit, isn’t it? It’s the buffet the never runs out. I’m grateful our paths crossed!

  22. Man, this post and these comments are really making me miss books. I can’t sit on the couch to read for five minutes without falling asleep, though. Maybe this weekend when my parents have 2/3 or the kids! Oh, except I’m supposed to get a lot of cleaning done then! Argh! I would take an extra day to just read books if I could. Don’t tell my middle school English teachers, but a lot of the required reading those years are some good stuff! I guess that’s why they made the curriculum. I am currently reading all the Narnia chronicles to my kids. It’s hard not sneaking in to their room after lights out to read a few chapters ahead!

    1. Keep it up, and we’re going to drive all our blog traffic right to the library! haha. I’m definitely a sleep reader, too. Just the process. I’ve sleep blogged, too, and luckily, the worst that happened was repeated images.

      could have been FAR worse.

      Middle school reading is the best. I was much cooler back then, too. I’d go back.

  23. Well, I my BA is with a concentration in English Literature – so you can imagine the number of books I read in a 4 year university stint. So.Many.Books. In two languages no less. 3 if you count Old English – and I do, because good lawd Beowulf!
    My literary influences don’t just range from authors and genres – they cover Mediums as well.
    Old English Epics like “Paradise Lost” by John Milton – one of the greatest things ever written IMHO; to Shakespeares’ “A Midsummer’s Night Dream”, to Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice” (one of my hands down faves); to the wondrous words of Wordsworth while I am in my garden with a spot of tea, and the modern mystery perfection that is Harlan Coben. And anything ever written by Stephen King, because even though I don’t necessarily like the genre — the man writes perfection.

    But, the few works given to me as a child by my mother, that started this love affair with the written word:
    1. A Child’s Garden of Verses – Robert Louis Stevenson
    2. Treasure Island – Robert Louis Stevenson
    3. Huck Finn/Tom Saywer – Mark Twain
    4. Call of the Wild – Jack London — yes really. Not kidding. I also had White Fang too.

    To prove my well rounded love of writing, I’ll even recommend a sports book:
    “The Game” – by Ken Dryden, former NHL goalie for The Montreal Canadiens, who led the team to 6 straight Stanley Cup wins. Unparalled.
    It’s probably the best hockey book I’ve ever read. There really isn’t anything to even compare it to.

    1. Did I tell you Stephen King’s a great tipper, too? He keeps notebooks full of handwritten stuff, and a load of pens in his front jeans pocket. I wanted just 20 minutes with one of those notebooks …

      I think your selections should be packaged up and given to kids coast to coast. Your coasts too, even. What a great introduction to reading.

      I want to put “The Game” on my birthday list.

  24. Hi there! I found you from the post on Snarkfest on this topic. I am going to use it as a blog post as well but wanted to come back to the source and let you know my favorites.

    19 minutes and The Pact by Jodi Picolt

    The Weight of Silence by Heather Gudenkauf

    The Enclave trilogy by Ann Aguirre

    Carrie, The Just Mildly Medicated gal

    1. Hey Carrie. Yeah, Teri’s got something like this brewing over there on her Snarkfest. Glad you’re playing along.

      That last one … wonder if I could get an autographed copy.

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