Quote for the Day: March 15th, 2022

At any given moment, you have the power to say: this is not how the story is going to end.

Christine Mason Miller

Thanks as always for being a faithful reader of The Voracious Bibliophile. If you like what you see, please like, comment, follow, and subscribe to my email list to get notified of new posts as soon as they drop. You can also email me at fred.slusher@thevoraciousbibliophile.com or catch me on Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, and Pinterest @voraciousbiblog. Keep reading the world, one page (or pixel) at a time.

Quote for the Day: November 5th, 2021

In the end, we’ll all become stories.

Margaret Atwood

If you’ve read this blog for any length of time whatsoever then you know how much I love Margaret Atwood and her work. So, you can imagine my excitement when I saw that she was releasing a new collection of essays, Burning Questions: Essays and Occasional Pieces 2004-2021, due to be published by Doubleday in March of next year. Until then I’ll be here not-so-patiently waiting.

Thanks as always for being a faithful reader of The Voracious Bibliophile. If you like what you see, please like, comment, follow, and subscribe to my email list to get notified of new posts as soon as they drop. You can also email me at fred.slusher@thevoraciousbibliophile.com or catch me on Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, and Pinterest @voraciousbiblog. Keep reading the world, one page (or pixel) at a time.

Quote for the Day: November 4th, 2021

Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott

You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.

Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life

Thanks as always for being a faithful reader of The Voracious Bibliophile. If you like what you see, please like, comment, follow, and subscribe to my email list to get notified of new posts as soon as they drop. You can also email me at fred.slusher@thevoraciousbibliophile.com or catch me on Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, and Pinterest @voraciousbiblog. Keep reading the world, one page (or pixel) at a time.

Pinworthy: Cheryl Strayed Quote About Fear

I don’t have any tattoos (yet) but if I ever decide to get one, it’ll probably either be a mockingjay in flight or a Cheryl Strayed quote.

Anyone who’s been reading this blog for any amount of time whatsoever can probably tell you how much I love Cheryl Strayed. She is possibly the most quotable woman on the planet at the moment. I don’t have any tattoos (yet) but if I ever decide to get one, it’ll probably either be a mockingjay in flight or a Cheryl Strayed quote.

I saw that it was possible to not only not feel regret, but to be thankful for the mistakes I’ve made because ultimately they’ve shaped me into the person I’ve become.

When I read Wild for the first time, it really opened my eyes to the possibility of living in a state of acceptance. I saw that it was possible to not only not feel regret, but to be thankful for the mistakes I’ve made because ultimately they’ve shaped me into the person I’ve become. And is it even right to call them mistakes? You see, I grew up in an extremely religious household where sin was vile, hell was hot, and you most certainly wanted to do everything you could to avoid ending up there. That legalistic framework conditioned me to feel intense shame and regret every time I behaved outside the bounds of what was considered “acceptable” behavior.

You get treats (eternal life and salvation) for good behavior and punishments (eternal damnation and torment via hellfire) for bad behavior.

No one really talks about the paranoia of living that way. You live every day slobbering like a Pavlov dog. You get treats (eternal life and salvation) for good behavior and punishments (eternal damnation and torment via hellfire) for bad behavior. I can already hear my mom saying, “That’s not how it works. We are saved by grace, not by good behavior.” And I will give her points for that, but the act of living in grace and in a state of constant penitence functions exactly like the kind of conditioning Pavlov used on those pooches.

…the act of living in grace and in a state of constant penitence functions exactly like the kind of conditioning Pavlov used on those pooches.

I’m aware that I’m taking the long way around here, but I want you to try something for me. Think of fear as a border. Imagine it as a literal line of demarcation fencing you in. Fear tells you not only where you can go, but how you must behave there, what your limitations are, and ultimately, when you are allowed to leave. Fear is limiting. Now, don’t misread me. The opposite of fear is not bravery or courage—it is water. It simply flows.

Sometimes you must tell yourself you are safe and you are loved over and over again until it becomes the only story you know and the only sound that reverberates.

And like Cheryl says in the quote I’ve shared above, fear is borne out of the narratives we tell ourselves, the ones we play on a loop. Sometimes you must tell yourself you are safe and you are loved over and over again until it becomes the only story you know and the only sound that reverberates.

What I want for myself and what I want for all of you is for us to learn to tell ourselves a different story. From the time we were born, we’ve had narratives projected onto us. You’re too fat. You’re too thin. You’re too gay. You’re so needy. You’re too loud. You don’t fit in here. You can’t sit with us. You can’t show your skin if it’s not flawless. You can’t bare your midriff if it has stretch marks. The way you eat is disgusting. You must have a thigh gap. You must buy your clothes at Walmart. You must have muscles. Boys can’t wear skirts. That lipstick shade is slutty. Give more. Give less. Be quiet. Speak up. Sit down. Disappear. Become nothing.

What do all of these narratives have in common? They’re all lies. Tell your own story and live in your own truth. I promise you won’t regret it.

Thanks as always for being a faithful reader of The Voracious Bibliophile. If you like what you see, please like, comment, follow, and subscribe to my email list to get notified of new posts as soon as they drop. You can also email me at fred.slusher@thevoraciousbibliophile.com or catch me on Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, and Pinterest @voraciousbiblog. Keep reading the world, one page (or pixel) at a time.

Quote for the Day: September 3rd, 2021

Every recorded story implies a future reader.

Margaret Atwood

Today’s quote by Margaret Atwood has been stuck in my brain ever since I first came across it. If memory serves me correctly, I believe it was in a new introduction by Atwood to her novel The Handmaid’s Tale, which if you haven’t already read, there’s no better time than the present.

The written word is our receptacle for memory. Without documentation, we have no history, no blueprint for the future, and no constancy to purpose in terms of our collective attempt at living what many philosophers have called the good life. Every time we write, we are holding in our psyches the implied future reader Atwood references. Even if we never write with the intention of publishing our work in mind, there is still a knowing behind committing your thoughts to paper, a compact between yourself and those who may stumble across your words in the future.

Without documentation, we have no history, no blueprint for the future, and no constancy to purpose in terms of our collective attempt at living what many philosophers have called the good life.

When I was a library worker, we got book donations all the time, oftentimes daily. Most of the books were, forgive me, ready for the rubbish bin, but every now and again a folded scrap of paper would fall out with someone’s gnarled script on it and I’d have a new treasure. Most of them I didn’t keep because they were things like checklists or grocery lists or other ephemeral scraps, but there’s one I still have in my possession: a decades-old scrap of notebook paper with a poem on it. It is one of my most treasured possessions.

I was the implied future reader. And this is how we are connected, invisibly and irrevocably.

Perhaps one day I’ll share it on here. The point is I have carried that poem in my heart for years and I don’t even know the author. Only a first name and a date are listed but I think about the writer often. In the poem, they are beseeching God for answers because they’ve lost something (or someone, more likely) dear to them. This person may be long gone by now, passed into eternity, but I still pray for them. I wonder how their life turned out. I was the implied future reader. And this is how we are connected, invisibly and irrevocably.

Thanks as always for being a faithful reader of The Voracious Bibliophile. If you like what you see, please like, comment, follow, and subscribe to my email list to get notified of new posts as soon as they drop. You can also email me at fred.slusher@thevoraciousbibliophile.com or catch me on Twitter and Instagram @voraciousbiblog. Keep reading the world, one page (or pixel) at a time.