That Reading Life, Top Ten Tuesday

10 slightly weird niche books/genres I really like

This post is part of a blog hop for Top Ten Tuesday hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. See how it works here.

When I worked at my public library for about a year, a coworker told me, “I only read nonfiction philosophy.” She was great at recommending books not in her preferred genre to patrons though.

I was thinking about her the other day and ruminating on my own niche tastes, the deep dives I tend to take into some obscure topics. I thought about how many books I own that are kind of peculiarly un-mainstream. I definitely delight in following my curiosity, which is, now that I think about it, one of the chief reasons I read for pleasure.

Anyway, this week’s Top Ten Tuesday theme is a “love freebie,” meaning, I think, that we should create a top ten list of book-related things we love. So, here we go.

Ten slightly weird niche books/genres I really like

1. Ros Byam Shaw

Covers of Perfect English Farmhouse, Perfect English, and English Eccentric by Ros Byam Shaw

I want to live in these books.

I love English interior design so so much. It encompasses both decorating like you live in an English country estate and decorating like you live in a Hobbit Hole. Both are aesthetics to which I aspire.

Ros Bym Shaw is the author of several fantastic coffee table-style decorating books on the topic. She is also my favorite decorating author, though I also adore Justina Blakeney.

2. Needlepoint

Covers of Hoopla and Plain and Fancy

I used to have a blog about needlepoint. A few years ago, I got suuuuper into it and spent a lot of time creating needlepoint and cross-stitch works and, of course, researching and reading about those topics. I don’t do needlepoint anymore because I actually have a hand injury and can’t grip a needle all that well. (It’d be like a dolphin using its flippers to sew.) But I still enjoy books on stitching and the history of “women’s work.” I particularly like Hoopla: The Art of Unexpected Embroidery and the out of print history Plain & Fancy: American Women and Their Needlework, 1650-1850.

3. Unusual job memoirs

Book Covers: Smoke Gets in Your Eyes; It's What I Do; and The Long Haul

To read one of these, I have to actually be interested in the job the writer is doing or has done. Three of my recent faves are:

I also just heard about The Line Becomes a River, a memoir by a former border patrol guard, which I’ll be putting on hold at the library.

4. New Age

Book covers: You Can Heal Your Life; Ghosts Among Us; and Children's Past Lives

I wrote about my somewhat embarrassing affinity for New Age books here. I think it comes from some urge to seek a way of spirituality outside of traditional religion. But I’m not willing to commit to New Age beliefs either. The jury is out, I guess. Anyway, that post mentions a few books I’ve read that are the furthest out from logic.

A few more I’ve enjoyed:

5. Nannies

Covers of: Jane Eyre; This House is Haunted; and Governess

Why do I identify so hard with nannies? I dunno but if the protagonist is a nanny, I’m in.

Some favorites:

  • Jane Eyre (obvi)
  • This House is Haunted
  • Governess: The Lives and Times of the Real Jane Eyres – This is a somewhat academic look at the lives of well-known nannies, including, most interestingly, Mary Wollstonecraft and Claire Clairmont (lover of Lord Byron with whom she had a child). I enjoyed this a lot, but at first I was hoping it’d be a peek into the daily lives of the governesses—it wasn’t. If anyone knows of a book like that, I’d love to read it!

6. Haunted houses

haunted house book covers

I like books that make me afraid to get up and go to the bathroom in the middle of the night.

Books like:

  • The Haunting of Hill House – If that nighttime door-banging doesn’t get to you, you are not human.
  • Rebecca – Asks the classic question: Is the house haunted or is it all in your head?
  • The Doll in the Garden – I read this book as a kid and it stuck with me so long that I re-read it last year. Yep, still freaked me out. Mary Downing Hahn, you wizard.

I’m always looking for more of these, so if you have any suggestions, hit me up in the comments—bonus if there’s a nanny!

7. Foster care


I’m slightly obsessed with books by/about foster mothers and children, both fiction and nonfiction. I wrote a post about my most recent dive into that world here.

These are a few I recommend:

8. Animal memoirs


No, not memoirs by animals. Memoirs by people about their time spent with animals.

Some favorites are:

9. Tudor history



Part of my Tudor and Tudor-related collection

I’ve always been interested in British history and literature in general, but honestly, my interest in the Tudors was cemented by the show The Tudors. I fell in love and went through a phase where I read everything I could get my hands on about Henry VIII and his wives. Then, everything I could about any other Tudor.


Here’s a mishmash of books I’ve read on the topic:

I will also confess to reading The Other Boleyn Girl and seeing the movie. DON’T JUDGE ME.

10. Women leaving oppressive religions


I left Catholicism (not because I found it oppressive but because it didn’t make sense for me) so I suppose that’s where this interest comes from. I like books about women leaving long-established religions as well as books about women who’ve left homes where weird made-up religious rules were foisted upon them.

These are a few standouts:

11. And a bonus category: anything about how the French do it better


Sick of these books? I find them condescending at best, but I still love a good book on how the French are doing things better. Cooking better, eating better, raising their children better. I wonder if I’m into this theme because I partially agree with the sentiment?

A few I’ve enjoyed:

To see what other people did with this Top Ten prompt, check out today’s post on That Artsy Reader Girl.

Kids books, That Reading Life

Chapter books we read to our son

Cover of My Big Truck Book

A nouveau classic

As a baby, Jacob had some favorite board books (Sandra Boynton, Is Your Mama a Llama?, Dr. Seuss, anything about trucks, etc.) and we gradually moved up to regular picture books (Berenstain Bears, the Duck on a Bike books, more Dr. Seuss, etc.), which we checked out of the library by the dozen.

Pillow Fort: Chapter books we read to our son

Jacob, when he was still young enough to be read to (and his buddy Bun-bun)

And then we moved on to chapter books, as you do. We read to Jake before bed each night pretty much right up through fifth grade. I remember very clearly the night he asked if we could stop reading at bedtime. I think he already have a girlfriend at that point, a sign of the changing times. Sigh. The days are long but the years are short, yada yada.

But onward!

This post is about chapter books, the ones he remembers listening to and the ones we remember reading. Those two don’t necessarily coincide. Also, my husband and I often read a different book to Jacob as we took turns on bedtime duty, my husband reading one night, me reading the next, one of us reading night after night if a book was getting really good.

Maybe this list will inspire you if you’re a parent of little ones. Or maybe you read the same books to your kids. Meet me in the comments!

The List

Here they are in no particular order and I doubt this is a complete list, sorry.

The Castle in the Attic, My Father's Dragon, Tiger

The Castle in the Attic by Elizabeth Winthrop – A great book if you have a kid that likes knights and castles.

My Father’s Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannett – A classic.

The Five Ancestors books by Jeff Stone – We read all seven of the originals before the Our of the Ashes books came out. Lots of martial arts in these, plus some good storytelling.


A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket – We did a combo of reading these aloud and listening to the audiobooks in the car. They were great and filled, as Lemony Snicket is, with jokes for the grown-ups too.

Henry Huggins by Beverly Cleary – I checked out this audiobook at our library when Jake was about five and we were both riveted. I think we listened to it about four more times throughout his childhood. It’s awesomely narrated by Neil Patrick Harris. Highly recommend.

George’s Marvelous Medicine by Roald Dahl – Another fantastic audiobook we listened to over and over.

And while we’re on Roald Dahl…

The Witches, The Twits

The Witches – This book is legit creepy.

The Twits – Fun gross stuff.

And moving right along…

Watership Down ,The Magic Thief, The Hobbit, The Fellowship of the Ring

Watership Down by Richard Adams

The Magic Thief series by Sarah Prineas – These weren’t my favorite, but Jake liked them.

The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings series by J.R.R. Tolkien – Ben’s father read these to him and his siblings when they were kids and Ben read them all to Jacob. Maybe he’ll keep up the tradition.

Redwall, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, Tarzan of the Apes, Little Women

Redwall by Brian Jacques

Hufflepuff scarf

I’m a proud Hufflepuff. Jake and Ben are Slytherins. We make it work.

Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling – We read each book and then watched the movie. Delightful.

Tarzan of the Apes by Edgar Rice Burroughs – This one was so much fun. I’d never read it before.

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott – We didn’t quite make it through this but we made it far enough, I’d say. It’s a book I adore, but I’d forgotten how condescending Marmee could be. In that vein, I found The Big Trouble with Little Women interesting.

Book of a Thousand Days, Knight's Castle, Treasure Island

Book of a Thousand Days by Shannon Hale – An off-beat one to be reading to Jacob, but we both enjoyed it.

Knight’s Castle (Tales of Magic, #2) by Edward Eager – More knights! More castles!

Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson

Sideways Stories from Wayside School, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Dinosaurs Before Dark

Sideways Stories from Wayside School (Wayside School #1) by Louis Sachar

Diary of a Wimpy Kid series by Jeff Kinney – I think he got too old around book six. He also would read these himself or sometimes pull an old one out and we’d read a few chapters for fun.

The Magic Treehouse books by Mary Pope Osborne – Good ole Jack ‘n Annie.

And that’s honestly all I can remember right now! It’s been fun to look back though and talk about it with Jacob.

That Reading Life, Top Ten Tuesday

Books that have been on my TBR the longest (and that I still haven’t read)

This post is part of a blog hop for Top Ten Tuesday hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. See how it works here.


Shelfie photoI have myriad ways of managing my TBR (or “To Be Read” for the uninitiated) pile, which I have already written about here. So, responding to this prompt has been a combination of shelf-scanning and delving into the bowels of my Amazon wish lists.

In the end, I found the books I’ve been postponing the longest are books I already own. They’ve been sitting on the TBR shelf (pictured), some of them for several years, waiting patiently for me to stop checking out books at the library. And I just don’t feel any urgency because I already own them. They’re not going away unless I purge them, so there’s no rush.

That said, I also discovered that I actually don’t keep TBR books around that long. I do a decent job of reading them or purging. I mean, we’re running out of bookshelf space in my house, so there’s no sense in collecting new books unless I’m purging old ones to even the balance.

Enough preamble. Here’s the list!

Books that have been on my TBR the longest (and that I still haven’t read)

Cover of Lucky Jim1. Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis

I work at a university. Why haven’t I read this yet?? I think I saw it mentioned on a blog, slapped it on the to-read list, and promptly forgot about it. Par for the course, really.



image of booksm on shelf

See? Languishing.

2. The Children’s Book by A.S. Byatt

This one ticks so many boxes for me—the V&A Museum! a rambling country house! England! Europe!—and yet, there you see it, languishing on a shelf.


Cover of We Have Always Lived in the Castle3. We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson

I love Shirley Jackson, like, as a person. I adored The Haunting of Hill House and I’m aiming to read her memoirs at some point so that counts for something, I suppose. I’ve tried reading We Have Always Lived in the Castle. I’ve tried listening to the audiobook. It should be a shoo-in for me, but I can’t get through it. And because I refuse to give up, it remains in the TBR.

Cover of Life's Companion: Journaling as a Spiritual Path

Just looking at it makes me feel guilty…that’s it, I’m donating it!

4. Life’s Companion: Journal Writing as a Spiritual Practice by Christina Baldwin

This has probably been in my TBR the longest. Again, I own it and it’s languishing on a shelf. I keep cracking it open and reading the first few pages. Then, it makes me feel like I should be journaling, a feeling to which I respond with immediate rebellion and close the book. Thus, it remains TBR.

Cover of The Blind Assassin5. The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood

I read my first Atwood book last year, The Handmaid’s Tale, and then I saw her when she came to speak at my alma mater. She’s very dry and witty. If you get a chance to see her speak, definitely go. Anyway, this has been on my TBR since about 2014 and there it remains.

Cover of The Goldfinch

Fool me once, Donna Tartt…

6. The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

I want to read this, but I think I’m too traumatized from hate-reading The Secret History for book club.



Cover of 84, Charing Cross Road7. 84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff

Again, this one checks a lot of boxes. Haven’t cracked it once.



49364578. The Time Traveller’s Guide to Medieval England: A Handbook for Visitors to the Fourteenth Century by Ian Mortimer

I have started this book. It’s just so dense. I know, a nonfiction medieval history is dense—big surprise, right? Still, I had hopes because of the fun illustration and the cheerful tone of the author. It’ll happen…eventually.


The jury’s still out, tbh.

9. If You Want to Write: A Book about Art, Independence and Spirit by Brenda Ueland

I’ve been “currently reading” this book on Goodreads for about two months now. It really calls into question whether I actually do want to write. The truth is, writing creatively comes and goes these days. I don’t have any discernible writing practice. I can barely convince myself to journal in a notebook (see #4). My writing outside of work hours (where I write and edit and proof all day) is, at best, sporadic. At the same time, writing creatively has always been my thing. I suppose I’ll get back to it eventually.


In the time it’s taken me to decide whether I want to read her first memoir, Derderer has written a whole other memoir.

10. Poser: My Life in Twenty-three Yoga Poses by Claire Derderer

I picked up this one because I like a good yoga memoir (my favorite so far is Yoga Bitch). I’ve started it a couple of times, though, and it just hasn’t held my attention. I’m on the fence about whether to try again or just DNF it.


If you’ve had enough of me and you’re interested in seeing the books other people aren’t reading, pop over to today’s post on That Artsy Reader Girl.

That Reading Life, Top Ten Tuesday

Top ten books I can’t believe I read

It’s Top Ten Tuesday! I didn’t know this was a thing until I came across That Artsy Reader Girl, who assigns a new topic each Tuesday and invites others to play along.

This week’s topic is “ten books I can’t believe I read.” I’ve already written about my guilty pleasure reading of 2017, but I thought this would be a fun way to encapsulate a bunch of other books that aren’t about terrible things that happen to children. So, without further ado…

Ten Books I Can’t Believe I Read

Angels 101

Stop judging me!

1. Angels 101: An Introduction to Connecting, Working, and Healing with the Angels by Doreen Virtue 

I have a weird attraction to New Age books. This was one of my deeper dives into this genre. Doreen is generally harmless if you don’t believe in this sort of thing. And if you do, well, enjoy! I am decidedly on the fence.

The Desire Map by Danielle LaPorte2. The Desire Map by Danielle LaPorte

This book is a steaming pile of nonsense. Here’s how I reviewed it on Goodreads. Utter. Tripe.



Soul Lessons and Soul Purpose book

Don’t make me get out my crystals! J/k, I don’t have any crystals…

3. Soul Lessons and Soul Purpose: A Channeled Guide to Why You Are Here by Sonia Choquette

As I said: DEEP DIVES.




Cover of Bogeyman by Steve Jackson4. Bogeyman: He Was Every Parent’s Nightmare by Steve Jackson

Lol. Oh, the melodrama. I know I said nothing bad about kids, but this one crept into the list, sorry.



55. The Grownup by Gillian Flynn

I’m sure word of this seedy novella has reached your ears by now. I actually enjoyed this one but found the ending unsatisfying.



Cover of The Secret History


6. The Secret History by Donna Tartt

This is a divisive book, as in, you either love it or hate it. Guess which side I’m on? I barely made it through this nonsense and only finished it so I could talk about how much I disliked it at book club. And come on, we all knew those twins were sleeping together.


Cover of Cesar's Way

Can a dog trainer be a quack? This guy is a quack.

7. Cesar’s Way: The Natural, Everyday Guide to Understanding and Correcting Common Dog Problems by Cesar Millan

Allow me to summarize this for you: Act like you are the boss of your dog and she will fall into line. If she doesn’t, pretend you’re a mama dog and “nip” her on the nose with your clawed hand. ??!!


Cover of Fuck It: The Ultimate Spiritual Way8. F**k It: The Ultimate Spiritual Way by John C. Parkin

Everything you need to know about this entire philosophy is in the title. The rest is a sophomoric trip down Fuck It Lane.



Cover of Landline

Hard no on this one

9. Landline by Rainbow Rowell

I love Rainbow Rowell. She has written several other worthy and wonderful books. I even liked this one. But Landline is a foray into magical realism that does not work at all for me. I kept reading it, hoping the end would explain what happened in the middle…it didn’t.


Cover of Across Time and Death10. Across Time And Death: A Mother’s Search For Her Past Life Children by Jenny Cockell

No, you didn’t read the title wrong. I’m telling you, I am really pulling for reincarnation here, guys.



And now you know some embarrassing things about me…

Also, this post may be titled “Ten Books I Can’t Believe I Read,” but really, I can believe every one. I picked these up because I was curious about the topic, I knew of the author, or it fell into one of my niche interests. So, maybe a better title would be “Ten Books It’s No Surprise that I Read Because That is Some Nonsense I Can Get Behind.”

Thanks for reading!

That Reading Life

How do you organize your TBR?

I have several methods for organizing the To Be Read list/pile. The fact that I say “list/pile” should give you a hint about where I’m going with this.

My TBR Shelf

Shelfie photo

But first I’ll take a shelfie

My most basic method for keeping track of my TBR is this shelf. It’s in my bedroom. It contains a collection of books I’ve received as gifts or of which I have otherwise obtained physical copies. It looks very organized here, but that’s only because I gussied it up for this photo. It’s usually in some state of disarray as is the rest of my life.

The TBR Pile

Some of those books have migrated to the pile below. Some are in other piles. I am a fan of piles.

The Wish Lists

The Amazon Wish Lists are my life. That is where I keep track of every book I’ve heard of that I want to read. The wish lists are all private and are divided as follows:


What I’m going to read next? Maybe?

Shannon’s to-read list (fiction, memoir, children’s)
Nonfiction to read
YA to read
Series to try

Clearly, I like keeping track of shit.

The Library List

If I see a book I must absolutely read no matter what, I add it to a google doc titled “Libes.” That means that I will either put those books on hold or pick them up next time I’m at the library.

I do buy books, but not with the fervor of Past Shannon. I have a stocked home library, plus the aforementioned shelves and piles, so I am not necessarily in the business of amassing books at the moment. (Trust me, it won’t last long.)

Plus, I’m a diehard library patron. DID YOU KNOW THEY HAVE FREE BOOKS?

In Conclusion…

Essentially, I like to be surrounded by books at all times and my hobbies include, but are not limited to: talking about books, reading about new books, making lists of books, sorting books into piles, openly admiring a library shelf for the many varied volumes it contains, and, you know, actually reading books. Luckily, I’ve found other people on the internet who have the same issues hobbies, so I don’t feel like a kook.

So, how do you keep track of the books you want to read? Or do you rely entirely on serendipity?*

*I’ve found some of my favorite books by browsing the library shelves with no agenda.

Pillow Fort blog: 2018 Back to the Classics Challenge
2018 Classics Challenge, That Reading Life

Getting back to the classics

I usually pepper classics throughout  my regular reading, but in the past few years I haven’t read very many.

I re-read Jane Eyre last year. In 2016, I re-read The Color Purple. In 2015, I read Sons and Lovers and The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass (I think it was free on Kindle).

That’s it, folks. Kind of shabby for a former proud English major.

Anyway, when I stumbled upon Books and Chocolate and Karen’s Back to the Classics challenge, I thought this is for me. I know I said I would read whatever I wanted this year with no pressure, but the English major inside of me won’t let go of the idea of reading the classics I’ve missed.

So, here’s the plan.

I’m going to participate in Karen’s challenge and see if I complete it. If not, no biggie. If so, yay literature!

These are the categories and, next to them, the book(s) I’m thinking of reading for each one…


I’ve barely read any Dickens.

1.  A 19th-century classic – any book published between 1800 and 1899.

Anna Karenina or some Dickens, I think.

2.  A 20th-century classic – any book published between 1900 and 1968. Just like last year, all books MUST have been published at least 50 years ago to qualify. The only exception is books written at least 50 years ago, but published later, such as posthumous publications.

Brave New World, which I somehow escaped reading in high school, Mrs. Dalloway, Animal Farm, or an outlier: Cold Comfort Farm

3.  A classic by a woman author.

The House of Mirth, Middlemarch, My Antonia, so many options…

4.  A classic in translation.  Any book originally written published in a language other than your native language. Feel free to read the book in your language or the original language. (You can also read books in translation for any of the other categories). Modern translations are acceptable as long as the original work fits the guidelines for publications as explained in the challenge rules.

This would be the perfect place to insert some more Russians: Dostoyevsky, Turgenev, Gogol; or maybe The Three Musketeers, which I’ve always meant to read.

Phantom Tollbooth5. A children’s classic. Indulge your inner child and read that classic that you somehow missed years ago. Short stories are fine, but it must be a complete volume. Young adult and picture books don’t count!

This category is dear to my heart. I once set out to read all the Newbery winners and nominations and I think I read about 30 maybe? Of course, the Newbery is a modern invention and some of my contenders pre-date it. I’m just saying, I heart children’s books.

The Phantom Tollbooth
Black Beauty
Peter Pan
Robinson Crusoe

In Cold Blood6.  A classic crime story, fiction or non-fiction. This can be a true crime story, mystery, detective novel, spy novel, etc., as long as a crime is an integral part of the story and it was published at least 50 years ago. Examples include The 39 Steps, Strangers on a Train, In Cold Blood, The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, etc.  The Haycraft-Queen Cornerstones list is an excellent source for suggestions. 

In Cold Blood or The Moonstone maybe? Agatha Christie? Sherlock Holmes?

7. A classic travel or journey narrative, fiction or non-fiction. The journey itself must be the major plot point — not just the destination. Good examples include The Hobbit, Around the World in 80 Days, Unbeaten Tracks in Japan, Kon-Tiki, Travels with Charley, etc. 

I’m already re-reading the Lord of the Rings series. So, maybe I’ll count that or branch out. Top contenders would be On the Road, Grapes of Wrath, and Journey to the Center of the Earth.


My literary fate?

8. A classic with a single-word title. No articles please! Proper names are fine — Emma, Germinal, Middlemarch, Kidnapped, etc.

So many good categories for Middlemarch. Is it destiny?

9. A classic with a color in the title. The Woman in White; Anne of Green Gables; The Red and the Black, and so on. (Silver, gold, etc. are acceptable. Basically, if it’s a color in a Crayola box of crayons, it’s fine!)

The Scarlet Pimpernel maybe. Or The Black Stallion. In researching titles for this category, I have to say I’ve already done a decent job of reading the important “color name” books (The Scarlet Letter, The Color Purple, The Woman in White, to name a few).

10. A classic by an author that’s new to you. Choose an author you’ve never read before.

I’m thinking of just going and standing in front of the classics section in the library for this one. I’m sure I’ll find a hundred authors I haven’t read.

War and Peace and Moby Dick

Where to begin?

11. A classic that scares you. Is there a classic you’ve been putting off forever? A really long book which intimidates you because of its sheer length? Now’s the time to read it, and hopefully you’ll be pleasantly surprised!

Is everyone reading War and Peace for this? I will have to do some digging to figure out anything else for myself.

12. Re-read a favorite classic. Like me, you probably have a lot of favorites — choose one and read it again, then tell us why you love it so much. 

As I mentioned, in the past couple of years I re-read The Color Purple and Jane Eyre. Both would make my top ten list for sure. The Secret Garden might be a contender. Or The Turn of the Screw, which I loved but haven’t read since high school.

On your mark, get set, eek!

Nonfiction, That Reading Life

Do you get the feeling that Rumi was kind of a bad husband?

I spent the bulk of my college years studying and writing poetry. I know, not the most marketable skills I could have cultivated*, but I was in love with poetry. And college was the first time/place I could explore poetry with the kind of fervor I felt it required. I mean, there was a whole class on Romantic literature (and a whole section of it on the poets!). While my small liberal arts college didn’t offer courses exclusively on particular types of poetry or specific poets, I still got my fair share. And I loved it.

Which is why my current reaction to the thought of reading poetry kind of puzzles me.

Rumi Probably Never Did the Dishes

Pillow Fort blog: Rumi

Right in the feels, Rumi

A few weeks ago I finally dipped into The Essential Rumi by respected translator Coleman Barks, which my husband had given me for Christmas last year. It’s a beautiful paperback volume that includes a good introduction and brief history of Rumi’s life. 

I was reading about how, “at the time of his father’s death, Rumi took over the position of sheikh in the dervish learning community in Konya. His life seems to have been a fairly normal one for a religious scholar—teaching, meditating, helping the poor—until tin the late fall of 1244 when he met a stranger who put a question to him.”

Read the book if you want to know more, but the point is that this was the beginning of Rumi’s mystical experiences and his dedication to/obsession with poetry, prayer, whirling (as you do when you’re a dervish), and two men, one after the other, with whom he had a “mystical friendship” or something. Then, I read this line, “Rumi sent his son Sultan Velad to Syria to bring his friend back to Konya.”

And all I could think about as I turned to the first pages of Rumi’s enchanting poetry, words that have in the past left me in actual tears, was “Where is his wife while he’s doing all this mystical whirling poetry bullshit?” He clearly has one who is, because it’s the 13th century, raising his kids and making his meals and whatnot while he’s off having “mystical” friendships. Utter nonsense.

Rumi an ‘architect’ of peace in Anatolia

Fly turban tho

I know it was the 13th century and the woman’s place was decidedly in the home. I’m totally judging him by today’s standards. And I know I don’t have all the facts. Maybe Mrs. Rumi loved supporting her whirling husband and his mystical experiences. Maybe they were greatly respected as a family because of Rumi’s position in the community. Maybe they had servants to do the washing up.**

I also know that I’m projecting in a big way, but I kid you not, this kind of thinking is making reading poetry hard these days. Could it be because I’m all grown up now?

Who’s Got the Time?

Related imageAs a functional adult in this society, I don’t always have immediate access to my emotions. They flare up and then get pushed aside as I tend to more urgent needs like grocery shopping and freelance assignments. It takes work to get to them and when I do it’s often not pretty.

I guess that’s why I read poetry in the first place. Poetry inches into all those crevices into which my built-up emotions get squished out of necessity. It forces them out into the light where I can see them.

I need Rumi and other poets who can shed light on the human experience so that I can see myself reflected in their words, so I can know more about who I am.

The problem is that I’m not always willing to go down that dark alley. And besides, who has the time?

Lately, I struggle every time a poet tries to remind me of the wonder of the natural world, or highlights the beauty and turmoil of deep, meaningful relationships. My reaction tends to be somewhere along the lines of, “Oh you’re in awe? How nice for you.”

Call me jaded. I just don’t have much patience for awe and wonder these days. Thanks to poetry and the people I love and nature (despite the low-key snowmageddon outside rn), awe and wonder do manage to creep in enough to remind me that life isn’t always about the grocery shopping. So that’s good.

"I put the lit in literature" mug

Always washing this because I’m always drinking tea from it.

I don’t know that I have a conclusion to these thoughts other than to say that I’m grateful that other people (like Rumi) are or have been able to dedicate their lives to poetry (or any other art form) that makes us feel something. It helps when I’ve had enough of the dishes. On the other hand, the dishes don’t require an emotional investment and at the end, there’s a satisfying job well done.***

In the end, who’s to say whether it’s better to be Rumi or Mrs. Rumi? (Yeah, I know. I’m still projecting…)

*I made a late decision to include a minor in education, which I finished except for the student teaching because I realized after two weeks that I didn’t want to spend my days with teenagers. Teenagers are the worst. (Except for mine. He’s awesome.)

**If you know more about Rumi than I do and feel compelled to defend him, please do. This isn’t really a criticism of Rumi the man anyway. It’s really just a device for talking about how poetry affects me in general. Thanks for understanding.

***I say this as if the dishes are ever actually done…hahahahahahaha