Saturday, October 9, 2010

The NY Times Hope and Romance Column

I like traditions. I seem to have them for every day of the week. On Saturdays, I read the Weddings and Celebrations page of the New York Times via their website. Every weekend, a different couple's wedding is featured. They may have known each other for a decade or more. They may have dated a year. The bride and groom may be in their twenties or in their seventies. Their families may be well-known or middle class immigrants. But there are commonalities in all the stories.

 These stories speak of love sometimes lost and found. But love is always found in the end. Each feature includes mentions of  fateful events, the input of family and friends, obstacles to love, dark moments, and the event that makes these couples realize they are in love. It took me a while but I figured out why I love reading these stories. They are miniature romance novels with Happily Ever Afters always included.

The Weddings and Celebrations column is a smart bit of marketing in a newspaper filled with bad news. As a voracious news reader, I find myself latching on to hopeful media stories these days.  I seek good news in a sea of sad business. It is not as hard as one might think.  Life has a way of still happening. Couples fall in love. Babies are born. People are kind to each other. Those who are downtrodden triumph over obstacles. Each event is an positive sign people still believe in a happy future in spite of dark days. While I have plenty of scriptural reminders of hope, it is nice to be reminded people all over the world live lives filled with this confidence. For my Saturday helping, HEAs do quite nicely.

What are reminders of hope in your life? Is it a favorite scripture or passage from a book? Do you scan the web for happy tales? Do you look at your children or those around you and feel hopeful? When you are down, look for signs of hope. They are there.    

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Book Karma

I crave books.  Even more than books, I crave winning books.  But more than sticking to a low book-buying budget, my motivation is the thrill of trying new authors, insights or genres. I troll websites, hang out at, make comments on Facebook, and volunteer to review new releases. It is more fun than buying a lottery ticket with a greater likelihood of success.  

I find myself winning books in clumps.  This past weekend, I won four from Friday through Sunday. It's never just one. When that anonymous person said, "good things come in threes," they weren't kidding.  I have named this phenomenon "book karma."

But "book karma" is a funny thing.  A while back, I signed up for a giveaway of A Secret Kept by Tatiana de Rosnay.  I am not sure what interested me in this book except she had written Sarah's Key which got great reviews. But then I read the synopsis.  It involves dark family secrets and other things that make me tense. Now, why I was shocked about the plot I don't know.  The title of the book includes the word "secret."  My heart sank. The book contest ended the day ten other giveaways did. I remember thinking, "I 'll probably win the book I least want to read." Well, you guessed it, I won A Secret Kept.

Now, I could say "rotten luck" but I choose not to do so.  I prefer to think of those times when "book karma" has gifted me in ways I celebrated outright. I will celebrate this dark book as well.  After all,  I just revisited Nicholas Sparks even though Safe Haven is supposedly a bit darker than his other books. I haven't read his novels in a while because they make me cry. But he didn't break my heart this time!  Maybe I am supposed to read A Secret Kept as a way to continue getting over my fear of darker fiction.  I feel a trend starting. That's the way my "book karma" works.    

I don't consider myself luckier than others when it comes to winning books. After all, I work hard at it! But why do things happen the way they do?  I am not sure. However, I tend to look for messages in my daily life, my Bible, and my meditations to guide me along. God has a way of using our lives and livelihoods to reach us.  I read voraciously. Is it any surprise I have received books I needed to read at just the right moment, even if it was just for the pleasure of being distracted from the tough times in my life?  For others, it may be seeing rainbows at the right time or having a stranger say the right thing out of the blue. "Book karma" for me may be "rainbow karma" or "stranger wisdom" for others. Whatever it is, God has a way of communicating with us, knowing what we need even when we do not. So I look forward to A Secret Kept and the lessons I will learn.

Have you noticed things happening in "clumps"? What messages might you be getting? Start paying attention to those Godincidences.

Peace, Julie