Photo credit: me, on my recent writers retreat with a view of the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia

We know we must read–and “read enthusiastically and omnivorously”–to become better writers, and better everything else-ers, really.

Yet, for this reader, it sometimes feels like directionless reading. Oh, I have my reading piles: one to inform this blog, one to inform my completed historical MS; one to inform my new MS; one for pure pleasure, which typically dwarfs the others out of neglect.

And, so, to experience a moment of reading kismet, when one book I love references another book I love, is a thing of beauty: a book-love triangle, if you will. This particular book-love triangle also happens to connect my blog reading with my pleasure reading, making me feel on this cold and dreary “spring” day a little more whole.

Enough lead-up, here it is: In Anthony Doerr’s memoir, Four Seasons In Rome: On Twins, Insomnia, and the Biggest Funeral in the History of the World, he quotes a line from Marilynne Robinson’s novel, Gilead:

There are a thousand thousand reasons to live this life, every one of them sufficient.

There are as many reasons Doerr, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author who has long lived in Idaho, would quote the Pulitzer Prize-winning Robinson, who was born in and has set stories in Idaho. Doerr and Robinson share more than external landscape; they share a sensibility, an exploration of the internal landscape of the spirit, spirits accustomed to the miracle of the everyday.

Any parent of twin infants will tell you (if they’re being honest), one baby at a time would have been sufficient. Because I am a twin parent, myself, Doerr’s memoir was recommended to me, though it didn’t make the tough moments in the memoir easier to read from having gone through similar ones myself. Still, it always seemed, the fog of nursing, holding, walking, changing and bathing sleepless little people would eventually lift, if for only a fleeting moment.

In one such moment of sleep deprived twin-parent frustration, the fog lifts for Doerr by a baby’s “first,” one of those little everyday miracles in the life of a parent: the first finger-squeeze, first smile, first crawl. In this instance, one of Doerr’s boys says “Ciao” to a Roman man passing in the stairwell. His first “Ciao.”

One of “a thousand thousand” reasons… And we could spend time here talking about the meaning behind “sufficiency” and behind “thousand” for Doerr, who quotes Robinson, America’s most famous living religious author–who, no doubt, uses “thousand” as the Bible does, to signify a multitude, a vast abundance. You can read my thoughts on Robinson’s Gilead, which I read for the first time only recently, here. You can read my initial thoughts on Doerr’s memoir, which I tandem read with The Gondola Maker–for a centuries-spanning “trip” to Italy–here.

But here is where I stop, today, to return to reading, for the multitude of little miracles that happen when we make connections across the piles of tomes of words that are waiting for us.

Have you experienced a book-love triangle you’d like to share? A baby’s “first”? A fog lifted? I’d love to hear from you in the comments!

23 thoughts on “Today’s Book-Love Triangle…

  1. I have started a “Wednesday Bookmobile” series a few weeks ago to celebrate books of all kinds: fiction, nonfiction, travel, food – whatever inspires me…I think the need to promote reading is more important than ever, as we have a new generation who in large part is shunning reading for texting…

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      1. I’m trying to highlight some offbeat books as well as fascinating travel stories…I posted about the world’s FIRST Celebrity Chef, which I thought was really interesting

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  2. I generally skip book- related articles (my piles are plenty high enough), but your title intrigued me. You showed how these two writers connected and enhanced your life as well. Inspiring to hear you’re raising twins and the challenges associated with that – as well as joys.

    I have had many serendipitous moments where I read about something I’ve never heard of in two completely random and different (in every way) sources. It always makes me astonished at the universe. Sure, many people may know and write about a thing, but to encounter it twice in a short span of time is a delightful surprise.

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    1. You said it! Those serendipitous reading moments are so wonderful, aren’t they!? It does make it feel as if books and authors and us, as readers, are part of a larger body of work and inspiration.

      And, yes, twins–mine are now 9 and so the memories of them as infants are fading, and it’s mostly joys these days, as they are best friends.

      As always, thank you for stopping by here!

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  3. I enjoyed your blog, especially the book connections. Here’s one a bit similar that happened to me a few months ago: Tim Ferriss (in his book, Tools of Titans) recommended I read The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman and I really enjoyed its super offbeat, noir atmosphere. So I decided to read more of his books. While on my third (and longest) of his novels, American Gods, I thought to myself there were an awful lot of Norse references. My wife and kids were traveling back to the US from Europe at the same time, and they had a layover in Iceland (yes, in the heart of Viking-land, of all places!). That same day I finished the book, realizing that Gaiman had come up with the title of American Gods while on a layover in Iceland…coincidence?!

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    1. Very cool! Those kinds of coincidences/connections are what make reading so incredibly fun, I think. The Norse infusion is very intriguing–I haven’t read AMERICAN GODS…yet. Sounds like a should! I’m currently reading for my new WIP, part of which takes place in Finland. So, I found an illustrated translation of the Kalevala, that country’s most famous epic poem. Loving all the Nordic folk tales–and hoping I can infuse my work with some of that flavor. Might be a good excuse to travel to that part of the world for research, anyway! I appreciate you stopping by the blog here!

      I’m enjoying–and following–your blog. Keep us the whiskey reviews especially! I’m always on the lookout for something new to share with my Tullamore Dew-loving husband.


  4. That view of the Blue Ridge Mountains is lovely! All I can say about my reading is that: 1. I have too many un-read books, 2. My reading is spontaneous and therefore erratic, 3. I need to fall into a good “reading habit” if I’m to get any of my books read, 4. I buy too many books (further adding to my reading problems), and 5. I agree about “book-love triangles,” though at the moment I can’t think of any examples from my experience, yet I know that when it happens it’s magical! Loved this post, Rebecca!


  5. Thanks, Deb! Ah, those magical moments in reading are too few and far between–maybe because we’re all trying to read so many books. You and I definitely have similar “reading problems,” though if we’re going to have problems, that’s a pretty good kind. Speaking of books, I’m dipping in and out of your BINARY HEART–and loving it! Weird word nerd question, is a “grass verge” (from “Some Numbers”) the same as a “tree lawn” the same as a “devil strip?” I adore learning new terms from new places! Thank you, thank you.


    1. Sorry I’m just seeing your comment here, Rebecca — and if I have any typos in my answer it’s because my dog is draped across my lap! LOL

      Hey, thanks for reading some stories in BH, and thanks too for your sweet words! A “grass verge” is actually (I think) the British term for that strip of grass between the curb and the sidewalk. I had to look it up, because when I started to write I thought, “What the heck is that strip of property called?” The City owns the property, I knew that much. 🙂 I love those terms “devil strip” and “tree lawn,” and so now I’m going to have to look them up! I love learning new terms as well.

      Say, I’ll pass this along because you and I both love the Midwest: I’m in Michigan for a few weeks and have to tell you about my 2 favorite bookstores here. I think I’ve already mentioned Literati, in Ann Arbor, but there’s another good, independent one in Traverse City called Brilliant Books. I’m hoping to get there later today. If you’re ever in the northern tip of the mitten, try to stop there — it’s really good!



      1. I knew I found a fellow word nerd, when I met you, Deb! I hope you (and your doggie) are enjoying your time in MI. I will definitely have to check out both those bookstores one day. How about a bookstore crawl instead of (or maybe at the same time as) a beer crawl?! I’ve not spent much time at all in the state–and never in the upper–but I need to go. Speaking of MI, I got exciting news the other day that a story of mine will appear in Barren Magazine (out of MI) later this month. I’ll provide info on the blog, when I know more! Have a wonderful time–and buy a lot of wonderful books!


    1. Thank you! And send your s-i-l my best! Mothering twins isn’t easy at the start. It’s kind of rough to hear from strangers, “Oh, wow, a double blessing,” etc., when the stranger isn’t around to do the double everything and endure the less than halved sleeping. Twins moms have to look out for one another. I didn’t get out much until the boys were toddlers, but I wish I had!

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