Why I Read – With Carrie @ Reading Is My Superpower

Why do I read? (Answer in a moment, but first my babbling.) 

Anyone who has read Reading Is My Super Power or had the privilege of meeting Carrie in person (benefits of CFRR!) knows that she has a joyous positive spirit. What you may not know is that Carrie and I share a common thread besides books: chronic illness. This is a book blog, why are you talking about diseases? You might be asking at this moment, but bear with me.

reading quote 1You, see there are a handful of things that define me and my life right now. Of course, being a Christian is the default and number one answer, but beyond the obvious statements, really two things stick out: books and multiple sclerosis. I’ve found a great friend in Carrie as we’ve bonded over books, blogs, and our health and so it was only natural in one of our 1,853,244 conversations that I’d ask her to guest post on the blog and I suggested the topic of why do we read? More specifically how, or why, do we read so much?

If you follow any of the Christian Fiction groups online, you’ve probably seen a version of this question come up, especially as it relates to how much time we spend reading the Bible. I’ll admit that I should spend more time doing this and that the answer I have for that question is quite complex. But, mulling it over with Carrie, we both realized we could summarize why we read in a list of TWO.

#1 – I love it.

Carrie: I mean… there’s not much more to say about that, is there? We love reading. We love the adventures we get to participate in vicariously. We love the new friends we meet on the pages. We love the swoony book boyfriends. (Carrie’s boys and Kat’s boys) We even just love the way the words are all put together.

The proof that God loves story is that His Story is the root of all other stories. It begins with the very first ‘once upon a time’  and ends with the ultimate ‘happily ever after.

For me, that love of reading started young. My parents read to me from birth, I’m pretty sure. My first word was ‘book’ (seriously). And I actually never really learned to read, formally. I just started reading one day from my Dick and Jane primer… and then read the 2nd chapter of Philippians to my dad while he was shaving LOL. So, reading is really part of my DNA. It’s part of what makes me ‘me’. Even if I was svelte and healthy and could leap anything in a single bound, I would still read.

Kat: I agree with all of that. My mom made me practice the alphabet at home in preschool from the giant letter poster we had. I thought it was pure torture. Until I started to grasp the concept. In kindergarten, my teacher had a poem for every letter to help us remember it and I LOVED my little book of poems, slowly collected over the year. Then, my parents got me the whole set of Dick and Jane books and I was mesmerized as I tackled each level and practically memorized them. I still went back and read them into my pre-teen years. Some of my first comfort reads.

bookmark#2 – I can’t move.

 

Kat: You probably didn’t expect that second one, hence the babbling. While understanding of the chronic “invisible” illness has greatly increased over the past decade, there’s still a lot of stigma around it. “You don’t look sick” is a common response, and while people may not always say it, you can see it in their mannerisms and the look on their face. For those of you who meet me at CFRR, running around like a crazy lady, this might seem especially foreign. What you didn’t see was me crashing for the next week and a half. I had to go back to work once I got home, but I basically worked, ate, and slept. I didn’t even read much because my energy was so low.

Carrie: It took me at least that long to recover from CFRR lol! It’s such a wonderful time, and God really does give this burst of energy that I need for that moment. But when it’s done? I’m back to not moving … and when I do, I shuffle like a 90-year-old haha! Which some of you might have seen if you hung out with me the next day 😛

Kat: I shuffle like a 90 year old every two weeks when I’m due for massage therapy. While many see it as a luxury, it keeps me mobile. We have so much in common!

Chronic disease is extremely complex and varies person to person, but for the most part we share fatigue and pain as the top symptoms. Both of these combine to making an active lifestyle difficult and at times depressing, which is why we read. Reading opens a world to us that our circumstances don’t often allow us to experience; we travel, go snowboarding, don’t lay on the couch an obscene amount of hours a week, be normal. Books also allow us to escape from life for just a little while; the pain and fatigue, the medical bills, the longing for living like others. Carrie and I both know that longing will never ever be fulfilled in a story, only God can do that, but stories make it just a bit easier.

Carrie: Stories DO make it easier. Because frankly sometimes life in general – not to mention life with a chronic illness – isn’t all that cheery. But when we can pick up a book, dive into a different world, make new friends in the characters, and get caught up in the author’s stellar talent? We find our spirits lifted a little bit. Like Kat said, only God can truly lift our spirits and give us unexplainable joy in the midst of ‘yuck’… but because He is such a personal God He uses what He created us to love. For some people, that’s music (and He uses that with me a lot too, even though I can’t carry a tune in a bucket). For others, that’s socializing with friends and family. And for some of us, it’s through story.

Of course, nothing replaces what He does in us through spending time with Him through His Word, the Bible. But that meets a different need, doesn’t it? He didn’t give us the Bible to entertain us, but to teach us. To equip us for life. To show His plan of redemption. And there is no way that Kat and I could muster up any semblance of joy without Him pouring it into our hearts as an overflow of spending time with Him. And yet… the proof that He loves story is that His Story is the root of all other stories. It begins with the very first ‘once upon a time’ (Gen 1:1) and ends with the ultimate ‘happily ever after’ (Rev 21). So, it’s really no surprise that He uses story to encourage and teach us even as it entertains us.

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Kat: Carrie, thank you so much for sharing a piece of you today! Your friendship is a treasure as we help spread the book love and support each other through ups and downs of chronic illness.

Baby BlessingGiveaway

Today’s giveaway will be a copy of The Cowboy’s Baby Blessing by Deb Kastner!  The giveaway will be open for one week. As always, please read my terms and conditions for giveaways and it’s open to US residents only. Click on the link here to enter a Rafflecopter giveaway.

Remember to enter the other giveaways this week!

Book Boyfriends 2017

Blogiversary Extravaganza! Things I wish I Knew When I Started a Blog

Throwback Thursday – Giveaway

First Line Fridays – Love In Three Quarter Time

Strains of Silence – Giveaway – Celebrate Lit

Strains of Silence FB Banner copy

About the Book

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Author: Bethany Kaczmarek

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Release Date: August 1, 2017

Music was her driving passion and the truest expression of her faith, but three months before her wedding, twenty-year-old Kasia Bernolak can’t even pick up her guitar. Feeling like a fraud who will ruin her dad’s pastoral reputation, she can barely meet his eyes. When Kasia finds the strength to break off her engagement, she still doesn’t realize the dangerous truth: Blake Hamilton isn’t ready to say goodbye. And he’ll do whatever it takes to keep her.

Alexander “Zan” Maddox has seen what a domineering man can do to an unsuspecting woman, and Zan is sick of injustice. He gave up a college baseball scholarship so he could protect his sister from her abusive husband. When he rescues Kasia from her ex-fiancé, he instinctively appoints himself her personal bodyguard. Now, all he has to do is keep from falling for her himself.

Kasia and Zan become fast friends, but true healing and justice might cost more than either of them is willing to pay.

Click here to purchase your copy.

My Review

I feel very differently about the first half and the second half of this book. Bethany’s writing is solid, the characters well developed, but the beginning is very slow. The first half of the book takes places over several months, and while this is necessary for the story (I don’t think the reader would believe it if it went too fast) and you see a good amount of character development, I found myself skipping pages. A lot.

But, then I got around half way through and it took off like a shot. Without giving anything away, events escalated, the romance started to develop and the story pulled me in. The second half of the book takes place over maybe a monthish.

Overall, I think it’s a good story, and would recommend it to others, with letting them know that the beginning is slow; the second half is definitely worth the read, even if you find yourself skipping over part of the first. I think Bethany did a fantastic job handling a tough subject (domestic abuse) giving it the weight it needed while balancing it with faith aspects to keep it from getting overwhelming.

I received a complimentary copy of this book through the Celebrate Lit tour. All opinions are honest and my own!

About the Author

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Bethany loves a home filled with family and friends. Word gets around that—at the Kaczmarek house—food is abundant, conversations are real, and anything is up for discussion. She and her clan are fans of laughter, indie music, sonic screwdrivers, and superheroes. Home is wherever in the world they’re all together.

Guest Post from Bethany Kaczmarek

Strains of Silence: A Novel for Anyone Who Can Say #MeToo

We’re everywhere. After years of silence, many survivors of sexual assault are raising our voices. You’ve seen the hashtag. You know someone who suffered like this—a friend, a sister, a daughter.

Maybe you know personally what it’s like to be used.

I’m thankful for the conversations the #MeToo campaign has started, proud of the brave women who are speaking out. But I know some are still quiet, nursing wounds.

I could list loads of valid reasons a victim chooses to suffer in silence.

  • People won’t believe her.
  • If she doesn’t say it out loud, it’s easier to pretend it was a nightmare.
  • He’s got authority over her—at work, at church, in the family—and it’ll cost her too much. He’s done enough damage already.
  • He’s threatened to destroy her reputation, and she believes him. One, because he’ll do it without flinching. Two, because she’s already convinced that she’s living a lie.
  • Because at church, she’s supposed to be fine, smiling, rejoicing in her suffering and pressing on. Besides, people don’t want to sit with her in her pain and listen. They’d rather offer bumper-sticker theology and trite spiritual bandages.
  • The few times she’s tried to speak up, her used-to-be friend basically made her feel like it was her fault.

The list could go on, but it’s fair to say that being honest about what happened to us makes us vulnerable all over again. The idea is understandably stressful.

But you know what? Pretending we’re fine is exhausting too. We bear a great strain when we hide our hurts, for whatever reason.

Kasia Bernolak, the heroine of my novel Strains of Silence, gets it. She’s got reasons for keeping it quiet too. But when God brings some new people into her life, she realizes she doesn’t have to be alone.

And speaking up offers a freedom, a lightness, she wants.

It’s a freedom I want for my readers.

I know. Strains of Silence sounds like a heavy book right now. The themes are heavy, no doubt. There’s no glossing over and prettying up sexual assault or domestic violence. But—just like in real life—it’s how well we surround and support the suffering that can set the tone. Kasia’s friends are real, they’re funny, they’re quirky, and they believe in her.

Besides, it’s not all dark and brooding. There’s travel—an entire summer in the mountains of Peru. There’s a lot of music—Kasia’s a singer/song-writer who loves indie artists (I’ve got a playlist on my website). There’s heritage and culture—meet her immigrant family and you’ll get a delicious taste of Poland. There’s humor—enough to keep the story light when you need it to be.

And there’s hope. Kasia’s life is absolutely full of possibility.

So are the lives of everyone who can say #MeToo.

Sometimes, it just helps to see someone else fight the battle on our own horizon. And if you can do it with a fantastic new playlist and some laughs, why not?

My hope is that Strains of Silence will lead to real discussions with reader-friends, book-club gatherings that become turning points, and the true pursuit of freedom. It’s time to throw off the burdens we wear and stand up. Raise your voice, link arms with others, and fight for hope.

Healing is within our reach.

Blog Stops

Quiet Quilter, January 6

proud to be an autism mom, January 6

Inklings and Notions, January 7

Bibliophile Reviews, January 7

Fiction Aficionado, January 8

Genesis 5020, January 8

The Fizzy Pop Collection, January 9

Bigreadersite, January 9

Red Headed Book Lady, January 10

Mommynificent, January 10

Texas Book-aholic, January 11

allofakindmom, January 11

Blogging With Carol, January 12 (Interview)

The Power of Words, January 12

Pursuing Stacie, January 12

Reading Is My SuperPower, January 13

A Greater Yes, January 13

Christian Author, J.E.Grace Blog, January 14

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, January 14

Mindy Houg Guest Review on Artistic Nobody, January 15

Janices book reviews, January 15

Faithfully Bookish, January 16

Kat’s Corner Books, January 16

Margaret Kazmierczak, January 17

Jeanette’s Thoughts, January 17

The Important Things in Life: God, Books, & Chocolate, January 18

Carpe Diem, January 18

Remebrancy, January 19

A Baker’s Perspective, January 19


Giveaway

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To celebrate her tour, Bethany is giving away a grand prize of a signed book, a Polish pottery mug with two of the main character’s favorite kinds of teas, 4 of her favorite albums (Josh Garrels, Waterdeep, The Gray Havens, and Andrew Greer), a box of chocolate butter cookies, and a $50 Amazon gift card.!!

Click below to enter. Be sure to comment on this post before you enter to claim 9 extra entries! https://promosimple.com/ps/c5dc