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.)
First 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.