Social Q’s and Wonderstruck, a reading blog

I finished two books this morning, this lovely holiday morning for the Judeo/Christian cultures, this very alone but not lonely spring morning.

Well, maybe a little lonely.

Well, not so much lonely as a missing the hugs, the hearts, the faces, the focus and certainly the family energy of the AZRF season. However, I am cherishing the alone time and recharging my personal battery and back-up battery that both were fully spent.(Proof that regardless of other’s opinion of my visible outsides, my insides are significantly introverted, I charge in solace only.  I love giving; food, hugs, laughter, care, etc. I find inexpressible joy in giving, but slowly I empty to the point my “self” disappears. I love, love, love being alone. In fact, when I was a child my big dream was to grow up, buy and live on an uninhabited island.)

And now for a final digression before returning to my review of the two books I just finished reading. This digression is my observation on living with a cat who just accidentally (Ha!, not likely!) unplugged my computer as I was writing. Cats are not dogs and although I do enjoy petting a purring Esme (the cat), I am a dog person. The cat is now shut in the bedroom while I finish and I express gratitude for WordPress’ automatic draft saves. Now back to the book reviews.

So I just finished reading “Social Q’s” by NYT advice columnist Philip Galanes. The book is just about everything a person familiar with his column would expect, and nothing they wouldn’t. Bits of his column are nicely collected, archived and joined with light narrative for easy reading and reference; sort of a hipster’s Emily Post anthology. Others not familiar with his style, might actually be pleasantly surprised to find a humorous guy  who knows his way around a thank-you card as well as how to manage the quirky and uncomfortable situations unique to the technology age. I can think of a lot of Christmas stockings and birthday baskets I would love to slip this book into, but just having finished Galane’s book, I instead will mind my own business.

Biggest highlight for me with his book is the graphing method of problem solving which Galanes introduces in the  “Beauty Experiments” chapter.  I have been internally devising similar graphs my whole life to assist in a plethora of baffling situations involving other people.  It works.

I am not sure if it is a cause of or a reason for my introversion, but with my augmented intuition, sensitivity to stimula and certainly speaking a different social language than most, I spend a lot of time in public situations internally interpreting. For those of you who studied a second language, being with other people for me is like being in a room full of native French speakers after studying French through high school and college; I think in one language and must speak in another, so sometimes what comes out is inadvertently funny or offensive. Which is why I read Galane’s columns and why I read the book. Maybe I am not the only one who needs this kind of help, maybe polite and kind is a language they should teach in High School, like they taught French?

Thoughts about feeling like one is surviving in an alien culture brings me to the second book I finished this morning, Brian Selznick’s “Wonderstruck.” I read it again all the way from the Gregory Maguire quote to the Maurice Sendack dedication at the back. Do not be dismayed or intimidated by the size or the weight of the book, it will pull you with alacrity through its map of the marvelous. I gulped it all down the first time in one long draught, standing amazed in Changing Hands bookstore. I cannot tell you anything about this book that would not impinge on its own ability to inspire wonder except to  tell you to read it. I can tell you that it does relate well to my need to read books like Galane’s, I, like you and maybe all of us, know what it is to feel isolated and to suffer loss.  I can also tell you that the words tell one story and the pictures  tell another until it all blends  together at the end like butter and cocoa or stars and a night sky, unimaginable without the other. I shall read this book many times again.

So to summarize today’s musings both Philip Galane’s “Social Q’s” and Brian Selznick’s “Wonderstruck”  get a definite “Go Read It” rating, and Wonderstruck also gets a “Buy It” and “Give It” rating, in fact give it in a wooden box you picked up at Hobby Lobby or Goodwill with a shell or rock or flattened coin with a story of how they were found and it will be a never forgotten gift.

Now I must go actually accomplish a few errands on this lazy, lovely, alone day before returning to make my leftovers into casserole, because although I won’t see any friends this week-end, I intend to indulge my love of cooking.

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