The Clock Story

When I was a child, my parents labeled different things in the house to teach me to read. In our living room, the lamp on the end table would most likely have had a sign taped to it that said “lamp.” In my bedroom, signs for the bed, desk, window, and door were in my line of sight. Even the clock that looked like a flower in our 70’s kitchen had a sign next to it with the word “clock.”

I spent a good part of my early years reading these signs and learning all kinds of new words. My mom tells me that this habit of reading signs stuck with me, and as I got older, I would point out signs on the train like EXIT and STOP. I guess it was a good thing my parents never took the subway. Can you imagine what new words I would have picked up by reading the graffiti on the wall?!

Anyway, the time came for me to move to another room because my baby sister was on the way. The wallpaper my parents picked out was a pretty floral print of pinks and yellows. I can still see the wallpaper of my childhood bedroom in my mind, and when I googled it, I recognized it immediately (see below).

Upon seeing this wallpaper, I yelled out “clock, clock, clock,” pointing to each flower because they reminded me of the flower clock in the kitchen. It made perfect sense to me at the time. I guess my parents didn’t think to put signs out in the garden for flowers, trees, and bushes.

Of course, if they did, they would have missed out on an adorable story about me as a young reader (which they love to tell people at parties).

Thanks, Mom & Dad for teaching me to read. It was definitely a sign of things to come. 

The Book vs The Movie

I used to be excited about going to the movies. I went all the time as a kid. I loved the big screen and the candy. And it was great to go every year on December 25 because my family celebrated a Jewish Christmas. The movie theater was the only thing open, and my friends were all there. We could hold a minyan if we wanted to because the entire congregation – including the rabbi – filled up the seats.

Now, Christmas is a big movie release day, so it isn’t just for the members of the tribe (MOTs) anymore. But back then, it only cost $4 to see the latest feature film. You could take your entire Hebrew school class and see every movie in the theater for less than $25 plus the cost of popcorn. And then, we would all go out for Chinese food afterward.

As a teenager, I went to the movies almost every weekend. It was a little more expensive, but my dates usually paid. Now, as an adult, the experience is not as fun anymore. The previews are endless. People look at their cell phones instead of watching the movie (not me, of course). And even though I’m fully vaccinated, I don’t want to be in a crowded theater. I have perfected the art of watching films in the comfort of my living room. I can even pop my own popcorn and save a lot of money.

But, the number one reason I’m not interested in going to the movies is this: the book is always better. I mean, thank G-d for the wonderful actors that are cast in these roles – like Octavia Spencer in “Hidden Figures” or Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman in “The Shawshank Redemption.” I admit they bring the characters to life in ways that I enjoy. But even the best film directors can’t possibly capture all the intricate subplots and themes in two hours. I give them plenty of points for costumes and cinematography – but the story almost always suffers, especially the endings. (SPOILERS AHEAD)

In “The Devil Wears Prada,” the assistant Andi gives Miranda Priestly precisely what she deserves in Lauren Weisberger’s book, and it’s AWESOME! But, in the movie, not so much. The ending pales in comparison and neatly tied up in a bow. Disappointing!

Same with “Crazy Rich Asians.” I’ve watched the movie several times because it is a good story, But Astrid and Michael have a great storyline that is never fully realized in the film. And the relationship between Rachel and her potential mother-in-law does not end as well in the novel as on-screen.

And don’t even get me started on the ending to “Gone Girl.” I can’t even… If you’ve read the book AND seen the movie, you know what I mean.

When you think about it, the book costs around $16, which is about the same price as the movie (depending on where you live). Rationally speaking, why would I spend that money twice on the same story? As a side note, I never by the book with the movie poster on the cover. I refuse to feed into the marketing of the film and carry it around like a mini-billboard.

So, perhaps it isn’t the sticky floors or the endless previews that I dread at the theater. More likely, it is that I am often so disappointed. Call me a book nerd, but I can’t help but shake my head and wonder why I wasted my money and my time.

Are there any movies you liked better than the book?


Reading Goals

As a writer, I’m always on the lookout for new blog material. For instance, my son, Andrew, recently asked me what I thought about the latest CDC guidelines for masks and vaccinated people. (I could seriously write an entire blog post about this). We had a good conversation about what to do and where to go from here. It was one of those parenting moments that made me smile. And then I thought, “Wow, this would make a good blog post!”

But then I remembered that I made the conscious decision to write about reading during this month-long blog challenge. I’ll be honest. It hasn’t been easy. However, I set this goal for myself and plan to see it through.

Speaking of goals, I set three reading goals for myself this year.

The Goodreads 2021 Reading Challenge – Since 2014, I have a set number of books I plan to read in a given year. Some years I’ve met my goal, and others not so much. In 2020, thanks to the pandemic, I read 20 books in 2020. To see if I can top that, I set a goal of 21 books in 2021. So far, I am on track, having read seven books to date.

The Unread Shelf Challenge – One of my goals is to curb my prolific book-buying habit and read the books I already own. It has been 18 days since I bought or borrowed a new book, and I’m quite proud of myself. I have read two books from my shelf so far. This week, I am on vacation, and usually, I would plan a visit to a bookstore. But, I plan to read my books instead of shopping for more. I am determined to cross the finish line on this particular goal, but come June 1st – I can’t make any promises.

The third goal is personal to me. Thankfully, it required no logins, memberships, websites, Facebook groups, etc. My third goal is to read books that make me smile. I want a real page-turner that tells me I can’t possibly make dinner until I finish the next chapter.

What goals can you set for your reading life? Here are a few ideas for you.

  • For the non-reader who wants to start reading again, join a book club.
  • For the avid reader, make a list of books you want to dive into this summer.
  • For the person who doesn’t have a lot of free time, pick a short book.
  • For the person who has lots of free time, turn off Netflix and pick up a book.
  • For the person who has a long commute, download Audible, and listen to books while driving to work.
  • For the person in a reading slump, pick a new genre. If you are a romance reader, try a mystery instead.

Okay, your turn. What is your reading goal?

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