There was a time when I was a people pleaser. I think it was because people really seemed to like me and I just became comfortable with being accepted and well-loved. Unfortunately, that didn’t last long.
The thing is that people will approve of you only until you fit into their box, if you dared to leave that box they will start hating/disliking you, no matter how much you think that you have done nothing wrong. And, yes, you never did anything wrong. I also realize that now.
For a while, I was hurt and still wanted to get others to like me but now I know that’s futile. I am who I am and people can either love me like this or leave me. It matters not. There is no reason for me to change for others because let’s be honest, even if I change one thing they will find something else to disapprove of. So, I am happy to announce that I am a reformed people pleaser on my way to full recovery. Thank you!
There are many reasons why I am obsessed with books and reading. Some of the important ones are;
Books are the ultimate escape
Every time life gets hard I pick up a book and just like that forget all the things weighing me down. For me, books are my ultimate escape from reality and all the problems related to it.
Reading is the best way to pass the time
Sometimes when you can’t find anything to do all you need is a book to read. For me, no other activity is as pleasurable as reading fiction. It doesn’t matter what genre I pick up, I enjoy it all.
Reading keeps life interesting
There is nothing boring about books. The worlds, the people, and the feelings that we encounter in our favorite books make our lives interesting. It doesn’t matter how ordinary your own life is you can live dangerously via the lives of your favorite bookish characters.
Between the pages of the books, I get to see places I will never visit in real life
It is the most important part of reading for me. Because I can’t travel as much as I’d like to, so I have found a way to see the world through books. And some might argue that it isn’t the same thing but I will point out that it is so much better. You can have all the fun without actually have to deal with the ‘non-fun’ parts of travel. More than that, books are like doorways to other worlds.
Books are friends who will always be there for you
No matter how much time passes, you can always pick up one of your most favorite books and read it again. You can read it as many times as you like. It is just like having a friend and your disposal. The kind of friend who never fights with you, who isn’t demanding and yet give you the same comfort and warm feelings of love that any friend should. For an introvert like me, it is important. I am not very good at socializing with people and sometimes I wonder if books are the only real friends that I have.
Books assuage my thirst of creativity
Yes, that’s another thing about books. Anything is possible between the pages of a book. You can never guess what you will find there. It might be something dangerous, something fun, something mysterious, or romantic. Books can give you whatever it is that you seek. Whether it’s fiction or non-fiction, books are the best source of entertainment and information. There is nothing in this world more satisfying than reading a good book, a book that you love and enjoy.
Reading is food for your brain and soul
Reading reduces stress. I don’t know if it is scientifically proven or not but it is the truth as far as I am concerned. Whenever I find myself in the clutches of a beast called depression, books always help me out. In fact, if I am honest I must confess that books are the reason why my clinical depression was completely cured and I never relapsed. Those were the darkest times of my life and reading is the only thing that kept me afloat. It was like eight or nine years ago, but the point is that I can vouch for how much books do for your mental health. They are like food for the soul that keeps it at peace.
P.S. Don’t forget to share your thoughts and obsessions with me. I love to hear from my readers. What is your guilty pleasure? How addicted are you to reading?
P.P.S. Recently, a friend said a really beautiful thing and this post reminded me of that. I was wishing her our happy third friend-verasy on Facebook (of all places) and she said, “I know you don’t like people much so think of me as another book in your life.” I just loved that. I do sometimes think of people as books. It makes it easier for me to love them so my friend wasn’t that far off the mark.
It was not easy, but then it wasn’t supposed to be. Nothing worthwhile in life ever came easy, at least not for him. His life was a series of unfortunate incidents, starting at the time of his birth and still, things kept going wrong. No matter how hard he tried to be the best version of himself people just won’t let him be that. Nagging him, always telling him how to live his life, always criticizing, pointing out all the things he didn’t have, all the wrongs he did. Was it his fault that his mother died right after giving him birth or that his father left him to see the world when he was only eleven? No, it wasn’t. He was simply trying to make do of what was handed to him. But no one cared for him, no one ever bothered to ask him how he was doing, people had always mocked him and called him names. Life was hard enough and he was so tired. So, it was time. He had to say no to these toxic people in his life, he had to take control. Yet, things were once again going out of control all thanks to one nosy neighbor.
It all started when Mrs. Shelley moved in next door to him. She was an interfering busy body, as annoying as any sixty something years old woman could possibly be. For some reason, she got an instant disliking of him. First, she had an issue with the odd timings he kept. Every time she saw him she would let him know how unhealthy it was to sleep in. “You should rise with the sun if you want to live a long life,” she would say. He tried to be polite and ignore her as much as possible. But no, her nagging didn’t end there. Then she had an issue with him ordering pizza so often, “eat something other than pizza if you don’t want to end up on a wheelchair later in life.” The woman was relentless when it came to criticizing others. Sometimes she would advise him on how to keep his front garden, sometimes she would tell him to go out more, work more, blah blah… The list just went on and he tried to ignore her until he no longer could.
She was not the first person he had killed, but she gave him the most trouble and now he was on the run. He had planned it well or so he thought, however, he didn’t think that the old lady living alone might know a few things about keeping herself safe. Anyway, that was not the end, he would start over and everything would go back to normal. It’s not like he did something bad. The woman was asking for it, she didn’t deserve to live. These old folks think they knew everything about everything, as if! If you had spent your life well it didn’t mean that you could judge everyone else. She didn’t know him, she had no idea of the things he had faced in life, of the bullies and the illness that festers in his head. Most days staying sane was a struggle, only if people would realize that and mind their own business then he wouldn’t have to kill anyone. Unfortunately, they made him do it, anyone he got close to ended up being murdered. In truth, he didn’t enjoy killing but these annoying people made it impossible for him to let them live. He was not the villain, he was just a tragic hero forced to live a life he didn’t ask for.
“Here is your order. Would you like anything else?”
“No, thank you,” Kevin said, forcing a smile. He had noticed the pretty waitress, whatever her name was. Every time he came to the dinner to eat she hovered around his table more than necessary. It was so obvious that she was interested in him. He had no interest in her or anyone else for that matter. He didn’t date and letting people into his life was dangerous. That’s why he lived alone. Usually, he preferred big cities, it was easier to blend in and be invisible when there are thousands of people around you. Unfortunately, he was stuck in this small town for the moment. Dodging people was not easy when everyone knew everyone and wanted to know everything about them. It was such a mess, only if he had been a little more careful… In any case, he was going to do what he did best; make do.
Anna watched Kevin leave and sighed. She had fallen in love with him at first sight. The moment he walked into her dinner it was like shooting stars and all that romantic mambo jumbo. The point was that she was head over heels in love, but the arrogant man didn’t even know she existed. Or maybe he was just extremely shy. He was definitely charismatic, there was no doubt in that. She had been trying to get his attention for months now but to no avail. She highly doubted that he even knew her name. That tall, dark, and mysterious stranger had been the talk of the whole town since the day he moved here. At first, it was innocent curiosity about the new arrival. He was only in his early twenties, but clearly, he came from money as he had bought the Turner Mansion. That was not the case now though since he never indulged anyone’s curiosity no one knew much about him. These days people liked to concoct stories about his past life and the reason why he suddenly moved to a small town. She didn’t care about any of that. He seemed like an honest man. He was always polite even if he never talked much. True that he kept to himself, but there was no law against it, was there?
“You’ve been mooning over him since the day he moved here. Why don’t you ask him out instead of waiting for him?” Cindy teased her.
“Only if I could muster up the courage I absolutely would,” she sounded wistful.
“Poor you,” her voice was full of mock pity, “I don’t like him though. Not sure what you see in him, he is so weird.”
“Huh? How so?” she said, “I’m sure he is just a reserved kind of person and doesn’t get frank with people so easily. You can call it weird if you like. I still like him.”
“You’re such a romantic,” her friend and colleague laughed, “you think every brooding man is Mr. Darcy. What if he turned out to be Mr. Wickham?”
“I don’t care either way,” Anna believed in the power of love. It didn’t matter what kind of person her Kevin was. She was sure that once she could be with him, her love would change him. Although she was quite certain there wouldn’t be any need for that, he was already so perfect.
“Miss, can I get a refill?” Someone said.
“Well, duty calls,” with that, she moved to appease her customer.
“I’m telling you this is the last clue we have,” one of the men was saying.
“I hope we find him this time. I am not sure how long we can afford to chase this man. He is like a ghost,” the other one said irritably.
“Your refill,” Anna interrupted.
“Thank you!” They said at the same time.
Obviously, the two men were looking for someone she just hoped that trouble didn’t find their small corner of heaven.
Kevin wondered if he had overstayed his welcome in this town. People were getting relentless. He feared one of these days someone would uncover his secret and then where would he be? It’s not like killing another person was any hardship for him but running away was becoming a nuisance. He was good at getting rid of the evidence and disposing off bodies. He had lots of practice after all, but he’d rather not do it anymore. He was more cautious now; one mistake could lead him to a lifetime in jail and that must not happen. Life couldn’t be that cruel to him. He had his share of problems and now he wanted his life to be smooth sailing from here on wards. So far no one seemed to know that he wasn’t the real owner of the mansion. And he wanted to leave this town before people started getting suspicious or the real owner turned up. He was lucky once in coming across the information that had led him to this abandoned mansion in the middle of nowhere. He didn’t believe in getting lucky twice. The only problem was that he was no longer sure about his next step. He hadn’t decided on a destination yet. He would soon though.
The next day whole town was abuzz as the two strangers showed up looking for someone. That couldn’t be good news for him. He wondered if someone had found his scent after all. He had tried his best to leave no mark when he fled but one could never be too sure. He decided not to attract attention to himself and find a way out of here soon.
“Mr. Kevin, your coffee,” it was that waitress again. This time instead of ignoring her he looked up and gave her his brightest smile.
“Thank you, Miss…,” he looked at the name tag, “Anna.” It was like Christmas for Anna, he finally noticed her and even said her name, not to mention he smiled.
“You’re welcome,” she didn’t want this conversation to end.
“You’re too nice to me,” he sounded genuine, “I wondered if I could have a moment of your time?”
“Not if you’re busy, but I could really use some company today,” he said.
“I am not busy,” she rushed to assure him, “just give me a minute and I’d be right with you.”
After grabbing a cup of coffee for herself and signaling Cindy to take care of everything she joined him.
“The truth is that I’ve been trying to muster up courage and ask you out for quite some time now.” He was being coy, as they said desperate times called for desperate measures.
“I’d love to go out with you,” she couldn’t believe her ears. He was actually asking her out, wait, was he asking her out?
“That’s a relief,” he smiled. So, he was indeed asking her out after all.
“I wondered when you would ask,” she said smiling ear to ear, “how about we grab dinner tonight?”
“You don’t waste time,” he chuckled, inwardly he was disgusted at how easily she had agreed to go out with him when she knew next to nothing about him. “Is that how the world worked?” He thought. Anyway, it was all for the best. After inviting her to have dinner at his place he paid for the coffee and left. The silly starry-eyed waitress would provide him with all the information he needed and that was all that mattered.
The doorbell rang and Kevin invited Anna in. She had made quite an effort to dress up. It was evident from her floral knee-length dress and high heeled sandals that she wore. To be honest she was looking quite stunning. However, he had plans that could not be thwarted and her beauty had nothing to do with him.
“Do have a seat,” he led her into the living room, “do you want something to drink? Dinner will be ready soon.”
“Water is fine,” she was quite nervous and happy at the same time. She hoped that this night leads to something special in her life. In her mind Kevin was the one, he was perfect for her and she was going to make sure that he loved her as much as she did him.
After the dinner was served they mostly ate in silence, it was obvious that Anna wasn’t feeling quite at home, while Kevin was in his element. Soon he started talking about the town and people he had come across. He was no longer the shy and reserved stranger she knew. Soon he steered their conversation towards those strangers, everyone seemed to be talking about.
“I overheard them talking about looking for someone,” she said offhandedly, confirming his suspicion, “maybe they’re private investigators or something. I don’t know.”
“That’s interesting, but don’t you know almost everyone in town?” He asked.
“Oh, yes almost but not quite and then there is you,” she gave a nervous giggle.
“But I’m not a stranger now, am I?” he chuckled, “besides who could be looking for me. I have no one.”
Was that sadness in his voice or something else? For the first time since she had met him Anna wasn’t so sure about the person sitting in front of her. She felt as if she was being interrogated. “I’m sorry to hear that,” she said, “it must be very lonely for you.”
“Not at all,” this time he sounded quite cheerful, “actually it’s very liberating when you’ve no one to care for. I can be whoever I want and go where ever I feel like going. I’m used to being on my own. It gives me the freedom to live life in my own way.”
“What do you do?” She wanted to know more about him.
“Well, you know, this and that,” he was being vague on purpose.
“So, why did you move to our fair town, if I may as,” she said curiously.
“I inherited this house so here I am,” he explained.
“You did? I thought you bought it.”
“No, I didn’t buy it. Some distant relative left it to me. I only recently found out about it. And it was the right time to make a change so I moved.”
“Right, so…,” she wasn’t sure what to say next. Kevin wanted to know more about what’s going on in town. He asked a lot of questions which she answered. Soon he had all the information he needed so he thought it’s time to say goodnight.
“Do you mind if I use your washroom?” she said before he could end the night.
“Sure, just go left and follow the hallway, it’s at the end of it.”
The house was quite big. There were so many doors along the hallway. She noticed that there were no photographs hanging anywhere. She wondered about his family and why he had no photos anywhere or anything personal for that matter. He did seem like a loner so maybe he didn’t like putting up photos. She opened the last door and instead of a washroom found herself in some kind of walk-in closet or perhaps a storeroom. She must have taken the wrong turn. She was about to go back when her gaze landed on a large photo frame. It looked like a family photo of four people, presumably parents and kids. As she looked around she could see that there were a lot of other stuff thrown in, haphazardly. There were photos, sports equipment, table games, decoration pieces, and some other random things. She wondered why he would keep them here and not display them. Anyway, maybe he didn’t want the previous owner’s photos and things on display even if they were relatives. Suddenly the door was jerked open and Kevin was glaring at her.
“What are you doing in here?” he asked.
“I must have taken the wrong turn,” she said. However, the answer wasn’t enough for him. He was a suspicious person by nature. Above all he hated nosy people, those who didn’t know how to mind their own business. He wondered what she could’ve found out among all this junk he had thrown into the room when he first moved here. Maybe she knew the original owners of the house. He couldn’t take any risks, especially now that the people were already looking for him. So, he made a decision. Anna would have to go. He couldn’t let her live anymore. She should’ve left when he was done talking to her.
“You shouldn’t have come here,” he said, “now I don’t know what you might have discovered.” He looked at her menacingly.
“I don’t know why you’re so upset. I’ll just leave, I am sorry. I didn’t mean to cause you trouble,” she looked scared and wanted to leave as soon as possible.
There was something in his eyes that told her how dangerous the man standing in front of her actually was. He moved towards her intending to strangle the woman when suddenly the doorbell rang. He froze mid-stride and that was enough time Anna needed to side step and ran out the already opened door. She didn’t stop to pick up her things, instinctively she knew to get as far away from him as possible. She opened the front door and the two strangers from earlier were staring at her. Kevin who was running after her also stopped in his tracks.
“Mr. Brown, we’re here to ask you a few questions about your former neighbor Mrs. Shelley,” one of the man said while also holding up a badge.
Although it had been a few months but Anna still wondered about Kevin sometimes. Who knew the man she fell in love with would turn out to be a serial killer. Just thinking about how close she came to becoming his next victim gave her shudders. Next time she would think twice before accepting an invitation from a stranger because that’s what he was and that’s what he would ever be… a stranger who knew no one and no one ever got to know him.
Have you ever noticed how some literary couples are so well-written that you fell in love with them? They become your ideal and you simply cannot help but admire their exceptionally good chemistry. Most of them are often each other’s opposite but seem to compliment each other. I think it is the author’s ability to write timeless stories and forge characters that will stay with the readers forever. I have come across many such couples and I love them a lot. Yet, some have stayed with me and I don’t even need to think too much before I start gushing about them.
My Favorite Literary Couples
Elizabeth Benett and Mr. Darcy because when one has pride and the other is prejudiced what could go wrong? We saw how these two hated each other and then fell head over heels in love. Their love story is definitely unique and full of mirth. How the two struggled with their own mistakes, but the best part was that they didn’t hesitate to admit their own faults and make amends. I think it is all that counts because who doesn’t have flaws? As long as you can accept them it is all good. (Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen)
Emma and Mr. Knightley because they are so romantic. I loved how Emma was such a clueless heroine and when love finally hit her, it hits her hard. And let’s admit it, Mr. Knightley was meant for her. The author wrote that character specifically for that purpose, there is no doubt in that. They were most definitely a perfect fit. (Emma by Jane Austen)
Sydney and Adrian because they completed each other. Bloodlines series is one of my the mpst favorite paranormal book series and the reason is Adrian’s character. I also loved Sydney and I think they both were just perfect together. (Bloodlines by Richelle Mead)
Alex and Carter because of the fact that they understand each other well. Their love story is beautiful and heartwarming in all the right ways. (Unbreak This Heart by Betty Shreffler)
Aren’t the unlikeliest couples the best? Alexander and Aideen, a match made in hell. (Let Sleeping Dukes Lie by Emily Windsor)
Literary Couples People Talk About But I did Not Like At All!
Ron and Hermoine: So, I know how so many people thought how cool it was that these two ended up together. Honestly, I did not like it at all. In fact, I didn’t like any of the couples in the Harry Potter series. I think J.K. Rowling should have left the romance side to our imagination and shouldn’t have bothered with that needless epilogue at the end of the last book. It was so disappointing. There was no chemistry between those couples, nothing that would inspire romance. Which is okay because the whole series was a fantasy/adventure. I think romance was an unintended addition. At least, it felt like that. (Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling)
Bella and Edward: The only reason why I didn’t like Bella and Edward is that I didn’t like Bella’s character in any way. She is the reason why I couldn’t get into this series and didn’t enjoy it much. She just isn’t a kind of heroine I can like, that is all. (Twilight by Stephenie Meyer)
Jane and Mr. Rochester: He had a secret wife and she walked out on him, so not a cute couple anyone would prefer. But I suppose that’s to be expected when the book is a ‘gothic’ romance. Still, as a couple, those two were definitely not my favorite. Although, I loved the book and it will always be one of my favorite reads. (Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte)
Claire and Jamie: Honestly, I think Claire was much suited to her present-day husband than her Jamie. But at least, they had chemistry so that was something. (Outlander by Diana Gabaldon)
P.S. Who are you most favorite and least favorite literary couples? And what is the reason behind your opinion? Don’t forget to share!
“I was lost for a long time. I guess that’s how most of us feel when we search for a purpose in this world of chaos and constant disruptions. Sometimes, we simply accept our existence on this planet and everything that it entails as it is. Some of us live well while others struggle every minute of every day, some seek higher meaning of life wanting to be more and to do more, while others just drift through the stream of life without direction. I was among the latter. I did not believe in seeking the purpose of life, in fact, I believed that no one can ever really know what that purpose is, so why bother? I lived one day at a time. There was not much I wanted from life except a peaceful death. I wanted to go to bed one day and never wake up again. At least, that was what I thought until the day my life came unhinged,” he was recollecting his past.
The day started like any other day, there was nothing special about it. Hansel woke up like he always did and went to work as usual. He was a pharmacist whose professional life was as mundane as it could be. He lacked ambition and was content with everything that he had. He had nothing to prove to anyone, least of all to himself. So, he never strived to be better, he was an average person living an average life, doing what most people do. That day, however, was a turning point for him. After work he decided to visit his sister. That was something out of the norm for him because he was not close to her. Also, living in different cities made it difficult to run into each other. He even made a point of avoiding her if he could help it.
Sarah was his only living family, the only person he loved and resented at the same time. She was his opposite, she was everything he was not. She thought being older gave her a right to nag him about everything from his career to his lack of love life. That was probably the reason why he avoided seeing her. She was a doctor come actress. She pursued field of medicine and then decided that was not what she wanted. Good for her, not so much for the patients who were relying on her. Regardless, everything that she did she did it well. She was a brilliant doctor and now her acting skills were unmatched. If Hansel was truthful to himself, he would admit how much he admired his sister. But he was not that honest.
That day Sarah was very happy, which wasn’t so unusual for her. She was a happy person, happier than most. She didn’t tell Hansel why, just said that he’d know when the time’s right. He hated it when she did that. She could be so dramatic at times and she loved creating suspense. He was sure it was nothing special so he didn’t press the point. Even a new dress or a pair of shoes that she liked had the ability to make her happy.
“You finally got the time to visit your sister,” she said in a way of greeting.
“I’ve been busy,” he replied.
“Yeah, as if,” she smiled teasing him, “I’m you sister remember? I know you well and I also know how busy you are not.”
“I can’t argue with that,” he thought it better not to argue with her, “I missed you and wanted to spend some time with you. How have you been?”
“As you can see, never been better,” she gave him her best smile. She was the kind of person who had the ability to brighten up even the darkest corners. “You don’t seem well,” she was also very perceptive even though not many would guess that about her.
“I am fine,” he had no idea how to explain it to her, “I just…”
“You need someone to make you happy,” once again she reminded him that his reclusive lifestyle was no way to live, “you’re not happy and I’m not living in the same city to be able to visit you often. I worry for you. I want you to be happy. You’ve mourned for long enough, don’t you think?”
“That has nothing to do with it, I’m just never happy, but I am not sad either,” he replied, “I’m content with my life, there is nothing wrong with that. You know, I’m not an emotional person. I don’t think that I can ever feel truly happy anyway.” Sometimes he wondered if there was something wrong with him. He would never voice his fears in front of anyone, least of all his sister. His lack of emotions could be very annoying to some people, probably why he didn’t get attached to others. Now to think of it, he didn’t even have any close friends. Most people he knew kept their distance from him. That was wise though. People only complicated things and he needed a simple drama free life.
“Still, I think you need to start living a little,” she persisted.
“People die so why get attached to someone only to mourn their absence later.” So, that is how he felt.
“You don’t love because you fear loss?” She sounded shocked. It was probably the most revealing conversation she had had with him. He himself didn’t know why he said that. It wasn’t unusual for her to criticize his lifestyle. He had never tried to explain it to her before. She wouldn’t understand and he wasn’t the type to give explanations. He admired his sister’s strength, she dealt with loss so well. She knew how precious life was and she also knew how fragile it was. She had somehow found her balance. While he was still lost, more now than ever.
“That’s when it happened. On my way back home, my car was hit by a truck. They say I lost consciousness on the impact. I don’t remember feeling any pain. One minute I was thinking about my sister’s blissful life and the next minute it was all dark and silent. I remember the silence. That’s all I remember. It was profound,” he continued with his story, “don’t worry I didn’t die that day as you can see. I just went to hell. At least, I was not lost any more, I finally knew where I was, but I still didn’t know why I ended up there.”
Hansel woke up deaf. he couldn’t hear a single sound, not that there was any sound there. At least, none that he could hear. The silence reined supreme. All was quiet, he couldn’t even hear his own voice. It was a very strange place. As far as he could see there were poppy fields, nothing else. He didn’t see any roads or trails so he walked around, without direction, without purpose. He had no idea how long he wandered in those endless fields. It could be an hour, one day, or one month. He wasn’t tired though nor was he hungry or thirsty, however, he was frustrated and so very lonely. He wanted to go home. He wanted to talk to his sister some more, maybe even move somewhere closer to her so that he would see her more often. Most of all, he wanted to hear a sound. He wanted to listen to some music. Any sound. In that moment, he realized how scared he was, and how absolutely terrifying the silence was. No wind blew, no birds chirped, sun didn’t set, and that one day stretched to infinity, never ending. That’s how he knew he was in hell, because where else could it be but hell? In the silent poppy fields he was all alone and there was nothing for him to do except think.
“Ultimately, I accepted my fate. I sat down and I contemplated. I thought about my life. I thought about all the things I never got to do. I never fell in love. I didn’t travel to anywhere exciting. I never dreamed any dreams. Mostly, I never really lived, I merely existed. I never did anything for anyone, never went out of my way to help another soul. It’s true that I also never intentionally harmed anyone, but that’s not the point. The point is that I was self-engrossed, no one else mattered, nothing else mattered. That was my life. Was it a good one? I think it was better than many, but it’s also true that it could’ve been so much more. Then I remembered…” Now he was pensive.
There was a time when things were different. Before their parents died in a senseless shooting incident, Hansel and Sarah were quite close, as close as any two siblings could ever be. They shared everything, they talked too much, they laughed too hard. They were a perfect picture of happy family. Their parents had made sure that two teenagers knew nothing of life’s worries. In those days Hansel also had dreams. He wanted to see the world. He wanted to find a cure for cancer. He wanted to do so many things. He was as enthusiastic about life as his sister. He loved life. He loved all the people around him. He had no idea how he forgot that time of his life, when the sun shone just a little bit brighter, when the stars glared with a little bit more dazzle, when the wind blew more strongly, and when he smiled more happily. he was happy. He was!
He had no idea it was even a possibility for him. But at that moment, he remembered his smile, his eyes so full of merriment. “So, there was more to life after all,” he thought to himself. Among the poppies and the silence, he finally heard his heart’s cries. He realized all that he was missing. His hell became his heaven. As deafening as the silence was, it made him listen to what his sister had been trying to say for a very long time now. Finally, he decided that he wanted more. He wanted to be happy once again.
“Unfortunately, it was not meant to be. I was in hell and there was no way out of it. That’s the last thing I thought about before I woke up from death. This time in a hospital bed. My sister was asleep in a chair beside my bed. Seeing her face made me genuinely happy this time. I was back in the world of the living. I got a second chance at life and I promised to do better this time. I promised myself that this time around I’ll live for others,” now he had smile on his face. “Oh well, I almost forgot the most important part,” he said looking at the curious faces of his audience.
“What’s that?” Someone asked.
“That’s also how I met the love of my life,” he continued, “that woman stole my heart, it was love at first sight.”
“I want to hear more about her,” someone else said.
“So, there is more to the story?” Another voice quipped.
“Oh yes, and that’s the most important part of the story my dear,” Hansel chuckled, “even though I almost died, which changed the course of my life, but sometimes I wonder how much of it was because of my near-death experience and how much was because of her love. You see, my Torri was a great woman, who had devoted her entire life to serve humanity. She was a doctor that truly cared about her patients. She brought me back to life both literally and figuratively.”
“Where is she now?” he could see how curious his audience was.
“That’s a story for another day,” he smiled sadly. It was amazing how many emotions he could feel at the same time. He was happy that he met Torri, he was sad that he lost her so soon afterwards, and he was hopeful that life had more in store for him.
“How you live your life will determines where you end up after you die. I just hope no one ends up in a silent poppy field, and if they do they are lucky enough to find their way back the way I did. I was in a limbo for a long time and then suddenly I was in hell. I did end up getting another chance at life. This life, for me, this is heaven and now I’ve no regrets. Also this time around I won’t end up anywhere bad, I know that in my heart. My Torri awaits me on the other side, not those dreadful poppies nor that deafening silence.”
Life can be quite uncertain at times, but I feel that this uncertainty is the real beauty of it. Imagine if you always knew what’s going to happen next then how would you feel? There won’t be any surprises, good or bad, how boring things would get. So, the unpredictability of our lives is what keeps things interesting. Yet, this is not the way most people feel, especially those who suffer from an anxiety disorder or worry too much. On the surface, they feel that the unknown is haunting them. That’s just a feeling, it’s not true. Life would lose all the charm, even for them, if they knew with certainty exactly what’s going to happen next.
I think that we should all just take deep breaths, step back, and enjoy little surprises that life throws at us. Although, many times things will end up messy, but remember… time will pass, good or bad, either way, it will pass. Nothing in life is ever permanent. We may achieve what we want and we may lose what we already have. It is okay, it is also okay to feel anxious from time to time, as long as you don’t stay focused on your anxieties and forget to enjoy life. Take charge, assess, change what you can, and accept what you cannot change. This is life and it’s the only one you’ve got, so live it! Be happy and find pleasure in little things, as much as you can.
“If you want to conquer the anxiety of life, live in the moment, live in the breath.”
― Amit Ray, Om Chanting and Meditation
I enjoy reading classics. It is hard to say what makes a book “classic” but these are the books which have the ability to stay alive generation after generation. I have enjoyed reading some of the best works of Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, George Eliot, the Bronte sisters, Frances Hodgson Burnett, Agatha Christie and J. R. R. Tolkien. As a kid my all time favourite author was Enid Blyton.
In my personal opinion, if you enjoy reading but you have never read a classic book then you don’t know what you are missing. Don’t judge these books just because they are on the reading lists of universities/colleges. Give them a chance and you might find your next favourite book. The best part is that classics ebooks are easily available for free downloads.
These books are far far away from the reality, beyond your wildest, sometimes darkest imagination, where anything can happen. Who wouldn’t like that? You can meet vampires, wizards, zombies, ogres, fairies, and what not?! You pick up a book and it is a whole new world waiting for you. You can explore it and get lost in it forever…
Some of my favourite series include, Wicked Lovely series by Melissa Marr, Gemma Doyle trilogy by Libba Bray, The Immortals by Alison Noel, and House of Night series by P.C. Cast, Kristin Cast. I have also loved The Vampire Diaries series by L.J. Smith but the last two books of the series were so bad that it kind of spoiled the whole thing for me.
Some stand alone novels that I have enjoyed reading over the years are Allusive Aftershock by Susan Griscom, Vampire Stalker by Alison Van Diepen, and The Beauty, The hunter and The hunted by Yanna Lee. These are some of the amazing books available which can make your life interesting and reading more the fun.
Some links that might help you select your next paranormal book to read;
The Contemporary Romance includes books which are set in post World War II era. these are my favourite kind of romance novels, usually focused on social aspects of life in the time they are written. It is a broad genre and have many sub genres like medical romance, romantic suspense, humorous and so on. The ones I like always have a happy ending because like Jane Austen, I too, do not believe in tragedies. I think love should end happily, at least, in fiction if not in reality. Most times when I am reading a romance novel I can get a pretty good idea how it will end but that doesn’t in any away influence my liking of these books. I think these are the most read books and many good authors are writing amazing contemporary romances (fortunately for the readers like me).
My personal favourite authors are Julie James, Lisa Kleypas, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Susan Mallery, Kristen Ashley, Bella Andre, Jennifer Probst, Denielle Steel, Nora Roberts, Maya Banks, Robyn Carr, Lucy Monroe, Julie Garwood, Abbi Glines, Carly Phillips, Jill Shalvis, Jamie McGuire and Kristan Higgins. This is a very short list of the best authors out there.
Historical fiction, as the name suggests, are stories set in the past. Mostly, the books set in pre-World War II eras are included in this genre. There are books about ancient times, medieval era, Renaissance, English Civil war, French revolution, American history and so on. Although stories are fiction but the time in which they are set is based on facts. These kinds of books are not only entertaining but can be very informative about the historical facts.
I am a personal fan of books written in early medieval era. It is interesting to know how people survived without all the gadgets of modern world available to them. I especially enjoy it when the book involves time travel. Sometimes I wonder how it would be to go back in history and experience it but then I realise that it might not be fun for us as we are used to comforts of life which were alien in those times.
My favourite historical romance authors are Julia Quinn, Eloisa James, Anna Campbell, Lynsay Sands, and Medellin Hunter. Of course, there are many other authors as well who write exceptional historical fictions. I avoid books which are based on wars or in any way related to pre or post war situations. They always make me sad but for those people who do not share my feelings on the subject may find this link helpful,
Fairy tales have always been popular genre among children and teenagers but adults enjoy these books just as much. In recent years there have been a vast array of books based on or inspired by famous fairy tales.
Fairy tales are short stories which have magical happenings or magical creatures in them but the books which are extremely happy are also put into this genre i.e. books which have “fairy tale ending” or “fairy tale romance”. Books which are about magical beings such as fairies, genomes, ogres, giants, mermaids, witches, trolls, elves etc. are also included in fairy tales.
Fairy tales are not like legends or epics because they don’t usually have references to religions, actual places or actual people. They are farfetched stories which can never be true. Their history shows that these stories have existed since thousands of years and it is very difficult to trace their origin. Different cultures have their own set of fairy tales based on their values and cultural preferences. In present era though dark fairy tales have also become all the rage.
There are a lot of movies being made as well which are based on fairy tales or re-telling of them. Nonetheless, these are the books which everyone can enjoy regardless of their age. They show us how evil never wins and truth always prevails. Many novels and long stories based on fairy tales are also worth reading.
You can check out some of the wonderful stories based on fairy tales using the below links:
Not my most favourite genre to be sure, but I do enjoy a little mystery and some thrill now and then. Crime fiction is all about crimes, criminals and it fictionalises the motives behind these crimes and their outcomes. The sub-genres include detective fiction, spy fiction, court room drama, legal thrillers, psychological suspense etc. Detective fiction used to be my favourite at one time. I still remember reading Nancy Grew and Hardy Boys series with gusto.
Legal thrillers usually include situations where lawyers get involved in proving their cases and hence major characters are lawyers and their employs. There are a number of films as well which are based on legal thrillers. The suspense and the thrill of chasing the criminals can very well be addictive.
I have a love-hate relationship with psychological suspense. The mystery surrounding the characters always intrigue me and with these kinds of books each chapter is a surprise, you can never gauge the actions and reactions of the main characters, and I absolutely love that but the unstable emotional and mental state of the characters makes it difficult to like them completely and most of the time endings leave something to be desired, which I kind of hate.
Thrillers, mysteries and crime fiction are very much inter-related. It is hard to distinguish between them and hence I have put them under the same heading. There is always some mystery in crime novels as well as thrillers. Similarly mysteries are often based on situations where some crime has been or being committed. Same goes for thrillers which may include crimes, mystery or both. In fact, I like the books which have all these ingredients because that just makes them more enjoyable.
Sometimes being scared can be fun. Horror Fiction has the capacity to frighten people or at least it is intended to do so. As for me, truthfully? I have never been scared by a book but still enjoy reading horror novels now and then. They can be very entertaining especially when certain amount of suspense and intrigue is involved but they are not meant for the faint of heart.
Just like any other genre it can be divided in many sub-genres like fantasy horror, supernatural or paranormal horror books, gothic horror and so on. There are also science fiction/horror books available but personally I don’t like them much. I think that if you can explain everything via scientific postulations then what is the point of it being horror, therefore, supernatural horror is my preferred genre. I believe that it is more frightening and creates an atmosphere of fear if you cannot explain rationally the things happening around you. One of my all time favourite authors is R. L. Stine. His books never fails to make me crave for more. Fear Street Saga series is still my favourite horror books’ series. Stephen King is another famous horror fiction writer.
Check out these links you might find some good horror book to read here.
Science Fiction is not something I enjoy much. These books are my least favourite and its very rare for me to read any science fiction. These are the books which are based on imaginative scientific technology, space travel etc. Some might confuse it with fantasy but this genre differs from fantasy on the basis that here the possibilities of the existence of parallel universes, space travel or paranormal abilities etc are rationalized according to scientific rules either known to us or postulated by the author.
There are various sub-genres included within the heading of sci-fi. Time travel is one example, where with the help of “time machines” or some other scientifically explained method traveling back or forth in time is shown to be possible. Similarly, alternative historic books are also included in science fiction. Superhuman, military, science fiction and space opera are some other examples. These books can also be horror or mystery and so on.
Some popular authors of science fiction are A.G. Riddle, Jasper T. Scott, Hugh Howey, Orson Scott Card and Margaret Atwood.
It was one of those lazy days that could transport you to your past. Lately, I had been spending more time thinking about that one past encounter. There were certain things weighing on my mind. Some answers I had received and some I was still looking for.
It was a Sunday morning and I had nowhere to be. No one to see and nothing important to do. So, I decided to go out, visit my favorite café and read for a while. That was when it all happened. In a single moment, my perception of life changed drastically. I felt the need to be more than who I was, more than an ordinary person living a very conventional and mundane life. I hated change, I feared it even, I was scared of leaving my comfort zone. Cocooned in my neatly organized principled life, I was not ready to admit that basically, I was a coward. Reading was my escape, it was something that made me feel brave, between the pages of a book I could almost pretend to be an adventurer. It felt right somehow. There was no need for me to be a risk taker. Why would I want to when I could keep on living a peaceful, albeit a boring life? Then that day everything changed when I received a note from a stranger.
To this day, I am uncertain why I responded to that one question the way I did. I was not that person. I was never the one to listen to her heart. My brain had always been the dominant organ… Until that one fine day. Perhaps it was someone else who took over my consciousness, at least that was the only plausible explanation I could find. But then words have undeniable power. We all know this, those of us who read as we breathe.
Back to that day, so, there I was minding my own business and reading one of my all-time favorite books when someone passed me a note. I opened it, “Are you happy?” That was all it said, no names, nothing else. It was a simple question someone who cared for you would ask. Was I happy? I thought I were until that very moment. All at once, I wasn’t so sure. What was happiness anyway? Do we even know that? I was living a quiet life, I had a job, a house, and something to read at any given time. I always thought that was enough. But was it?
I looked around searching for the author of that cryptic note. It was not a question you would ask a stranger so I wondered who wrote it and why would they be interested in my happiness? That was when our eyes met. It was the first time I noticed how mesmerizingly warm brown color could be. Little did I know that those eyes would haunt me for the rest of my life.
The woman stood up and walked towards me, “may I sit here?” She whispered or maybe she had one of those husky voices that sounded like a whisper.
“Yes, sure. Do I know you?” I replied posing a question of my own.
“I doubt it, but I know you. I’ve known you for as long as I’ve known myself.” That sounded bizarre but I stayed quiet. I waited for her to elaborate and was not disappointed when she continued. “This may come as a surprise but we are soul twins.”
“Okay?” I was not sure how to respond to that statement. What was soul twins anyway? At that point in time, I was starting to fear that I had made a big mistake in talking to a stranger. She was starting to look creepy stalker-ish. I was never a big conversationalist. It was not a norm for me to talk to strangers. I sometimes wonder why I welcomed the woman’s company, but I still do not have an answer to that question. All I can say is that something about her felt … right. I did not know her but at the same time, I believed it when she said that she knew me. She most definitely did.
“I can see your skepticism. I assure you I am no looney. I know what I am talking about. We were meant to meet like this. I have waited a long time for this very moment. There is so much I need to tell you and so much you need to understand before we start our journey together.” She was looking at me as if I were the most precious thing in the world. It should have been weird and yet it was not. I was listening to her as if my very existence depended on it. Yet, I wasn’t someone to throw caution away completely.
“Look, lady, I have no idea who you are and what you are talking about. Either explain yourself in a way I can comprehend or kindly leave me to my reading.” Annoyance was evident from my tone. The woman was undeterred though.
“All in good time, Sarah.” She smiled and she called me by my name. I was now sure that she was a stalker. It was possible that she frequented the same café. It wasn’t like I noticed people or my surroundings much.
“You do know me.” I stated, “how? What do you want from me?”
“Nothing more than your time.” She said in a calm monotone. “First, answer my question. Are you happy?”
“Yes and no. I am not sure. I am content, at least.”
“No, that’s not what I meant dear or rather that’s not what I want to hear from you. You cannot live life like this. It is not living, you exist and nothing more. You need to be happy. I wish to see you laugh out loud. I wish you to feel exhilarated by something you are passionate about. What are you passionate about?”
This conversation was spiraling out of control. Who was she and how did she know about my life? True that I had never thought of my life as boring, but she had a point. She was right I was living a half-hearted life. It sounded depressing coming from someone else’s mouth. I was at peace, wasn’t I? I didn’t need passion or laughter. I preferred my quiet existence. Once again, I was lost for words. My confusion was palpable. That woman had the wheels of my thoughts churning. But first thing was first.
“I am not sure why you are asking me this. Why are you interested in my life?”
“Did I not tell you that I am your soul twin. Of course, I am interested in your life, in you.” She replied in her calm manner, which I was beginning to associate with her. She had an air of tranquility which was hard to decipher, however, it was very soothing. I wanted her to keep talking. “If you are happy then I will keep on living the way I always have. Your unhappiness will lead to turbulence in my life.” Now she sounded sad.
I laughed at that, you might not understand the importance of it but I laughed! I never laughed… I smiled, but full on laughter? That was so unlike me. I could not help it though. I was beginning to think that she was indeed a looney. Also, wondered why I was listening to her aptly. She had me intrigued I would give her that. I was curious to know more, but was there more?
“So, let me get this straight. You think that our souls are twins and that my happiness is related to yours. Is that right?” I asked.
“Yes, that is correct except I don’t think, I happen to know it for a fact,” she smiled.
“That is absurd. Besides I have told you that I am quite content with my life. Thank you!” I was getting impatient as the conversation was now in unchartered territory and that was making me uncomfortable. Who talked about souls and happiness? Those things did not mean anything in this paper world. She was making me think about things that I would rather not think about.
“Please, listen to me! You cannot live like this forever. You must find your passion and pursue it. You need to be happy, it is of utmost importance.”
“Okay, tell me more,” I said it even though I did not want to listen to her anymore. Yet, I also wanted to see where she was going with her unusual demands.
“Every soul is created in twos, like ours. Two souls come into existence together, one is destined to be born into this world while the other remains unbound and free to roam the universe. It exists without actually existing. When its twin dies both souls return to their origin and that is when they become one. Our souls have existed for over a hundred years and then you were born as Sarah, while I remained unbound. It was a happy existence for me until you started to wither away. I cannot stand by and watch you waste this life. You must take full advantage of what has been given to you so that when we return to our origin as one there are no regrets, no unfulfilled dreams, and no desire to get another chance because this is it, we will not get another chance ever again.” She was trying to explain things in a way she thought I would understand. She was wrong though because nothing she had said made any sense to me. It was all so farfetched that it sounded like a plot of a science fiction novel.
“You are here, right in front of me and you want me to believe that you are a soul without a body? Are you serious?” I pointed out the most obvious flaw in her theory.
“I can explain that.” She kept smiling and now her smile was starting to creep me out. Her eyes remained the same; warm and inviting. “I am not here, nor are we having this conversation. At least, not in a way that humans do. It is our souls conversing with each other.”
“That is ridiculous! I am here, in my favorite café, reading what I love the most. You wrote me a note, a note! That is as human as you can get.” I was a little more forceful, with my statement, than I needed to be, but it was the last straw. Now she wanted me to believe that I was hallucinating. Had my life become so pointless that I was having conversations with my soul twin? It was a very disturbing thought indeed. Immediately, I started to think about the last time I had a real conversation with someone who was not a character from one of my favorite books. I was indeed turning into a pitiful creature, no wonder my so-called soul twin was worried about my very existence. Huh, I was starting to believe her, my very logical and rational mind was telling me to trust her beautiful brown eyes. They said eyes did not lie, hers seemed honest for sure. But how could I believe in things like soul twins? No, I could not, no matter how honest her eyes were, her words were fiction. Or so I thought until someone was shaking me awake.
I had fallen asleep while reading and when I woke up there was no woman with warm brown eyes anywhere in the café. There was no note inquiring about my happiness. It was me and my book, as usual, just us. But I was left with a nagging feeling in my gut, those hauntingly pretty eyes in my mind, and that soothing husky voice in my ears… urging me to be happy… to be passionate… to live my life to the fullest… because this is the only one I have got. I knew then that it was no mere dream. I had finally found the courage to seek my adventure and that altered the course of my life forever, all thanks to my soul twin.
Where ever she is right now I am quite sure she is still smiling at me.
“I don’t believe everything happens for a reason. But I still search for reasons anyway. It’s like I don’t want to admit that maybe everything really is totally random…that people are just molecules in the air, bumping into each other and floating away again.”
― Avery Sawyer, Notes to Self