Pause: It’s National Book Lover’s Day!

Inspired by my friend (and longtime Slice of Life participant), Erika Victor, I have been following along with Kim Haynes Johnson’s Dictionary for a Better World Word Plan.

The Plan is a series of prompts for the months of August and September which — each day — takes a word from the book to look at, as well as a day of national significance.  Most of these days are fun things to commemorate.  I am bummed that I missed National Ice Cream Sandwich Day, but that’s what I get for only checking in with the Plan now and again.

Today is National Book Lover’s Day, and the word for the day is “Pause” (on pages 70 and 71 of the book).


National Book Lover’s Day

first edition of Walden by Thoreau

I love that National Book Lover’s Day is on August 9th each year, because that is also the day (in 1854) that my favourite book of all time — Walden, by Henry David Thoreau — was published for the first time.  (The first edition is pictured at left).  Walden literally saved my life and continues to enrich it, through the friends and Thoreauvian family I have met as a result.

Never read it? Pro tip: Read the first chapter (“Economy”) last. The first chapter was mostly meant to be delivered as a lecture, and without the human delivery can be a bit of a hard slog. Go straight to “Where I Lived, and What I Lived For.”

My favourite edition? Hands-down, it’s Walden: A Fully Annotated Edition, by Jeffrey S. Cramer.  And if you order it from the link above, you will not only support the work of the Walden Woods Project — including their annual professional development week for teachers, Approaching Walden — but you can ask Jeff Cramer to personalize/autograph it for you!  What’s not to love?


Pause

As I sit here at my writing desk with the window open, I cannot help but smile at the sound of the rain.  The rowan and birch trees just beyond the glass seem grateful for the water pouring down.

The last few weeks have been unbearably hot and humid, and we are all pausing to breathe a sigh of relief at the long-awaited break in the weather.  Even Gracie, our rescue German Shepherd from an arid corner of northwestern Texas, was doing a bit of a happy dance as she went out to do her business a few minutes ago.

It’s good to have this reminder to pause and reflect at the workings of the natural world around us.  I’m sure Henry David Thoreau would approve.


This post was created as part of Two Writing Teachers’ Slice of Life Challenge

You can view other writers’ contributions via the comments here.

Book Response: “Alice, Collapsing,” in RUN TOWARDS THE DANGER, by Sarah Polley

This past Monday, my friend sent me a link to a CBC Radio interview with actor, writer, director, and Order of Canada recipient, Sarah Polley.

First of all, I’m not sure where I’ve been the past two decades, but I had no idea Sarah Polley was 43 already.  Okay, so yeah — this past decade has been a little fuzzy since I sustained a serious brain injury.  And, incidentally, it was that brain injury, a wound Sarah Polley and I have in common, that caused my friend to send along the interview.

I don’t think I have ever seen Road to Avonlea, the CBC television show that made her a famous child actor.  The show came along well after I left behind my taste for “wholesome” TV.  But I had seen Sarah Polley in Atom Egoyan’s The Sweet Hereafter, then in his film Exotica, and just a week or so ago, I watched a film she had written and directed, Take This Waltz.  So I guess I could have done some math. 🙂

As I listened to the interview, I realized Sarah (yes, I’m now claiming first-name-basis) and I had a lot more than shaken brains in common.  And that — like me — her shaken brain stirred up a lot of stuff she had packed away.

The stories aren’t done with you … [T[hey’re still these living, breathing organisms that we carry around with us…” — Sarah Polley

The interview was part of the media rounds for her new book of essays/short memoirs, called Run Towards the Danger: Confrontations with a Body of Memory.

Since, after hearing that interview, I wished I could meet Sarah for tea, and sit down and chat with her myself, I did the next best thing: the book was delivered to my e-reader the moment it was released on Tuesday morning.  Then I saved it for today, to keep me company during a medical treatment.

The first piece in the book is called “Alice, Collapsing”, and centres around the point in Sarah Polley’s life when she was starring in Alice Through the Looking Glass at the Stratford Festival.

I am firmly in the “no spoilers” camp, so I hesitate to say too much, beyond it being heartbreaking to read.  Looking at this photograph (that I “borrowed” from Facebook), I am proud of that fifteen-year-old.  I expect to stay up late, reading the other essays/memoirs in the collection, for glimpses into the life that came afterwards.

If the rest of the book is told as honestly and as artfully as the first piece was, I feel as if I will know Sarah Polley as she is: a human being who is so much more than a kid with an expressive face, in a costume that makes her someone else.


Day 4 of the March SOLSC 2022

This post was created as part of Two Writing Teachers’ Slice of Life Challenge

You can view other writers’ contributions via the comments here.