The Stories That Stay With Us: The Sacred, Central Myths

sacred myths

I was flipping through some papers and articles I had saved, and I came across an article about the movie “Mirror, Mirror” that came out a few years ago. I had saved it because of a quote from the film’s director, Mike Nicholas.

“Very often when a story really holds us, it gets pushed away because it’s too close for comfort. Over and over, this story keeps getting told—older woman, younger guy. Who does that remind us of? And you tell the story, then it gets pushed away, then it comes back again in another form. You keep telling the same stories. I made Cinderella twice, with Working Girl and Annie.The sacred, the central myths are always going to hold us.”

This is fascinating to me, because I find myself revisiting the same themes over and over. In reading, I like to hear about big families–and the complications that come along with them. In my writing.I’m especially fond of the return of the proverbial small-town girl. I am thinking of two stories in particular that I have written that are different versions of the same tale. Neither of them are finished because I can’t make either of them work quite right–even though they are essentially the same thing.

Then there are writers like Nicholas Sparks and Mary Higgins Clark, who clearly have their own central myth. Some people can’t stand formula writers, but I have to say in the case of the two I just mentioned, I have to respect them. Sparks and Clark clearly have their audiences figured out.

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What stories are your “sacred myths”? Do you like retelling of the same stories in your reading or writing or do you prefer varied themes?

Spring Books: Mini Reviews

I fell behind on my monthly book mini reviews, so today I’m playing catch up! The past couple of months I’ve binge-read a handful of authors I love, and I also got in my first couple of nonfiction books. Here’s the list!

The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart: Ever bought a book because of its cover? That’s how this one ended up in my hands. It’s an older kid book about a group of brilliant orphans who team up to stop a maniacal scientist from taking over the world via hidden messages in TV. It’s the first of four books–I don’t think I’ll continue on with the series but the story was clever.

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Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll: My favorite bookstore posted this book on Instagram with a caption that said, “if you liked Gone Girl and Girl on the Train, this book is for you.” Sold! This book was very dark, but the main character was fascinating–and unlike both of the above-mentioned books, you got a lot of history on her and what caused her to be so…off kilter.

Off the Page by Jodi Picoult & Samantha Van Leer: The companion book to the mother-daughter team’s Between the Lines, this story brings you what happens after the happily ever after. It gets complicated and sad–but it wraps up nicely and will leave you satisfied.

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Yoga Girl by Rachel Brathen: Part yoga-guide, part autobiography, this book was full of step-by-step poses for beginner yogis. My favorite parts were the “Loving Insights” in each chapter: ideas that were great for meditation or starting points for free-writing or just deep thinking.

The Honest Life by Jessica Alba: I enjoyed reading Yoga Girl so much that I picked up Alba’s book next, as it is laid out in a similar manner. It follows the journey Alba took while founding her natural home company The Honest Company, and it has a lot of tips for going green in all corners of your life.

Paris in Love by Eloisa James: This book, told in short bursts pulled from her social media updates, follows college professor James when she took a sabbatical and moved to Paris for a year with her husband and two young children. It was very insightful and an easy book to pick and put down whenever I had a few moments to read. I that while it included a fair amount of what it was like to live in Paris, it was her thoughts on parenting and family that I really enjoyed.

The Secret Life of Cee Cee Wilkes by Diane Chamberlain: This book was all over the board.Chamberlain often writes wacky story lines, and this one about a young waitress who gets involved in kidnapping a pregnant woman and then runs away with her baby, assuming a new name and life was a little on the far-fetched side. But since I’m not really looking for much out of these books other than escapist fiction, I was okay with that. It did lack some character development, and I find that the story included a little too many twists, turns and side stories–something I find common with this writer.

Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult: This is my FAVORITE Jodi Picoult book. I’ve never “read” it, but I have it on audio book and enjoyed reading it this time around. It’s an amazing, in-depth story about a school shooting and everyone involved. You get to hear the story from everyone’s point of view–the victims and their families as well as the shooter and his family. It’s a wonderful statement about what makes people tick and the little things that push them over the edge.

Keeper of the Light by Diane Chamberlain: When I picked up this book, I realized it was the first in a trilogy–and I had read the last one. Oops! I still enjoyed it. The story is about a woman who was shot and the questionable, secretive second life no one knew she was living. This book centered around her family and the doctor who tried to save her in the ER. The final book of the trilogy centers around her daughter as an adult. I’m looking forward to reading the second one, even if I’ve done it wildly out-of-order.

Change of Heart by Jodi Picoult: This book is about a young girl who is dying and in desperate need of a heart transplant–and the only one available is the heart of the man who is sitting on death row for the murder of her sister and father years ago.  The research that goes into her books is so well done that it makes any situation feel plausible and relatable. This one brought up lots of questions about religion and miracles–and no matter what religion you practice or what you believe, it gave ample room for thought.

Necessary Lies by Diane Chamberlain: a unique story about feminism and who has the right to make choices for “the good of the public”. When a young, newly married woman in the 1960’s takes on a job as a social worker, she realizes that some of the clients in her caseload are being sterilized without their knowledge. It takes Chamberlain awhile to get to the point in this book, but when she does, she does it well.

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Wha have you read recently?