Please note: My “Reading Reflections” are not reviews. They are simply my thoughts in response to certain passages.

Back in the day, I used to think of books as sacred. Not to be creased, dog-eared, underlined, highlighted, nada. Then again, I also used to buy beautiful pens — fountain, feather, etc. — just to have and admire. Now that I’m older, I believe even the most beautiful things are meant to be used. I still treat my books well, but I’m not afraid to underline favorite lines (or mark them with Post-it flags). If the book is borrowed, I will type the best bits into an email to myself.

Now that I’m older, I believe our imprints on our things are what make them sacred.

Anyhoot, this is all a roundabout way of saying that I mark/save my favorite lines, and sometimes I want to share them — along with the thoughts, feelings, or memories they stir up. So I’m going to start doing that here, and maybe it will become a regular feature. (Maybe not. You never know.)

Something BorrowedFirst up is SOMETHING BORROWED by Emily Giffin. (Who, btw, I am not at all jealous of, noooo. Just because she’s a NYT bestseller, has a great figure and gorgeous hair, famous friends, and an adorable family. I mean, pssh, who cares, right?) My friend Grace recommended BORROWED, and its sequel SOMETHING BLUE, and since the movie drops in like 2 weeks, I figured I better get on it.

(PS: I’m totally not doing an intro for every Reading Reflections post. Normally it’ll just be quotes and accompanying thoughts. In other words, normally these will be brief.)

“Well, be patient with her. You’ll never regret being a good friend.”

I consider this gemstone from my mother. One would be hard-pressed to disagree with it. In fact, it is the way I have lived my entire life. Avoiding regret at any cost. Being good no matter what. Good student. Good daughter. Good friend. And yet I am struck by the sudden realization that regret cuts two ways. I might also regret sacrificing myself, my own desires, for Darcy’s sake, in the name of friendship, in the name of being a good person. Why should I be the martyr here? (163)

It’s true. There’s such a thing as being too good. Not in a moral sense, but in a self-sacrificing way. Always putting others before yourself isn’t noble; it’s destructive.

Learning to say “no” has been one of the most difficult but also most beneficial and empowering lessons in my life.

“Maybe if you quit your job, you’d figure it out more quickly,” Julian says in his calm voice. “Poverty, hunger — these things help you think more clearly.” (197)

HAH. Yes and no. Quitting my job was the right move, and it’s certainly pushing me to up my game. But there’s a healthy dose of panic mixed in here as well, and panic isn’t exactly helpful for clear thinking.

In short, I have no real faith in my own happiness. And then there is Darcy. She is a woman who believes that things should fall into her lap, and consequently, they do. They always have. She wins because she expects to win. I do not expect to get what I want, so I don’t. And I don’t even try. (247)

The last bit isn’t completely true for me — I have faith in myself, I do “expect to win.” (Eventually.) But there’s a bigger attitudinal implication here: some people are bold, some people are not.

I have a friend who got a job offer from a good company where she wanted to work, but she wanted more money. She had no leverage, but her gut said, “You’re worth more.” When she asked my advice, I said she should just be grateful for the job and work hard to earn a big raise at the end of the first year. Lucky for her, she didn’t listen to me. She asked for more money, and she got it.

She was bold. I am not.

Dinner will not be perfect, but I am learning that perfection isn’t what matters. In fact, it’s the very thing that can destroy you if you let it. (317)

Another difficult but liberating lesson. More applicable to my writing than anything else. In the past couple years, I’ve come to see that the forest is more important than any individual tree. And conversely, one scraggly pine won’t ruin the whole woods. Crafting a perfect sentence is pointless if it’s not part of a larger, well-told story.

To be perfectly honest, that revelation is what led me away from literary fiction and toward the world of commercial/genre. Now I hope to combine the best of both.

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My humble contribution to Japan


Writerly Wednesday


  1. Hmm, not just writing advice here but life advice! Very thought-provoking (and it’s Monday morning here, just the right time for such thoughts!).

  2. It’s nice when passages from books make you stop and think. It doesn’t happen that often to me. Maybe I’m not reading the right books!

  3. I think this is a cool way to reflect on a book (rather than doing a book review). I’ve never tried putting those thoughts into writing, but maybe I should.

  4. RenaissanceTrophyWife

    Love this new feature– please do more! Great thought-provoking excerpts and also pretty relevant to what I’m going through right now.

  5. Oh, I hope you decide to make this a regular feature. I’m constantly making notes of my favorite lines and passages in different books, and it’s always so interesting to hear what others love.

    Also – even though we’ve talked about this on Goodreads, I feel the need to say again that I’m SO glad you loved the books. Emily’s one of my very favorite authors – she has been for years – and I always get so excited when people are introduced to her novels! :)

  6. It’s interesting to see how you relate to Emily Giffin’s lines. I’m a fan of hers as well.

  7. Les

    “In short, I have no real faith in my own happiness.”
    Argh. So. True. And those that do get everything. Why do I have to be such a cynic? I will add this book to my list.

  8. Loved these, Kristan! I hope this becomes a regular feature.

  9. I totally have the friend who asks for more money and gets it. And I never have done that. Yes, I think there is something good about being all out there as long as you aren’t shy about rejection or people saying “she has a lot of nerve.”

  10. Oh yay, I’m glad people are liking this. I wasn’t too sure about it, but I figured, why not?

    Yes, exactly! There’s only so much I can write about writing, lol. And believe it or not (sometimes I don’t) there’s more to my life than writing!

    Eh, plenty of books don’t do it for me either. And surprisingly, some books I don’t even enjoy all that much do (but that’s less common).

    Well i’m convinced now. EG is the real deal! (And I kind of want her life, lol.)

  11. Christa-
    Yeah, bold people (women especially) can get a bad rep. But I don’t think that’s necessarily fair. Of course there’s a fine line between being bold and being entitled… (that’s explored more in BLUE, hehe)

  12. “one scraggly pine won’t ruin the whole woods.” Love this analogy. So should I read Something Borrowed before I see the movie?

  13. Trisha

    You’re ahead of the game. It took me until 30 do give up on the quest for perfection. Perfection is an over-rated, unachievable lie. Strive for good, good enough and I’m happy with it.

  14. Love this new feature and getting insight into those brilliant lines that inspire you to ponder and relate to your life. LOVE it. There’s so much to comment on in this post, but mostly I just want to say that your interaction with words is one of many reasons why I follow you around! I think I get “jealous” because you’re figuring everything out so much earlier than me!! You say, “I do expect to win (eventually)” and I have complete faith in that. Much more than even some already published novelists.

  15. “…but I am learning that perfection isn’t what matters. In fact, it’s the very thing that can destroy you if you let it.”

    ooooh, i like that. very applicable to my own life. :/

    i hope this is a regular feature!

    (also, i have to say i have always been one of those people who love a well-used book…several of my friends STILL won’t lend me their books after seeing some of my own!)

  16. I love that you have taken a book that most would dismiss as frivolous or “chick-lit” and gleaned the deeper meaning and intent behind it. Adding it to my to read list now.

  17. Joelle-
    Probably? It’s a quick read. (Took me a few hours?) And I already know they have combined several characters into one for simplicity’s sake, so who knows what else they’ve changed.

    {nods} I still have standards, but they’re more realistic now.

    Thanks, girl! I have faith in you too. :)

    LOL. Now I want to see some of your books… I admit, I still like mine to look *nice* — I just don’t need them to be pristine.

    Yes! Some chick lit can be frivolous — which is fine — but Emily Giffin writes quite thoughtfully. BORROWED, BLUE, and LOVE THE ONE YOU’RE WITH are all excellent. Fun, but not fluff.

  18. I love this feature. I have books with dog-ears or lines highlighted, because every once in a while I like to peek in on them even if I’m not reading the whole book. These are lines that remind me of something important, like the ones you included above.

    I haven’t read any of Emily Giffin’s novels, but have heard great things about them. Guess I’ll be adding them to my list ;)

  19. Exactly. Sometimes I want to reread a book, but it’s easier (and almost as enjoyable) to re-skim, hehe.

  20. These are great quotes! I haven’t read this book but I’ve looked at it several times.

    I’m still quite reverential with my books. I even get annoyed when people use the end flap for a bookmark. But then I have a friend who rips a paperback in half so her husband can read the first half while she finishes the back half. Seriously. My heart stopped when she told me this!

  21. SERIOUSLY! Okay, yeah, that’s a bit much… Guess they’re not getting a Kindle anytime soon.

  22. I too read and loved both these books! Awesome quotes!

    So keen for the movie!!!

  23. I clicked over here from another blogger’s site when I saw that you were reviewing this book- I LOVE this book- I’m glad you enjoyed it too, thanks for putting up the quotes! A good reminder I need to go back and re-read this :)

  24. Bronnie-
    Me too! I wish I could round up all my girlfriends from around the world and all go see it together, yanno?

    Glad you enjoyed it!

  25. I was raised by librarians, so it was also a struggle for me to ever write in a book, highlight a line, or dog-ear a page. But I got over it. As for pens, I love good fountain pens, but I write with them every day. I agree that things are meant to be used. When I stopped playing music, I didn’t keep any musical instruments. Instruments are made to be played, and if I wasn’t going to play them there are a lot of other musicians who are in need.

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