Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Something that Remembers the Words.

Joe had his moment, so it's back to books. :)

Well, really, Joe was present when this photo was taken, so I guess he kind of relates.

Over spring break, back in March, Joe and I took a trip with his parents to Copper Mountain, Colorado. It was lovely and a lot of fun, but I say all this to say -- on our last day, before we had to go to the airport, we walked around and had lunch in a lovely little town called Frisco. There was a local bookshop we wandered around in for a while (and I did what I always do in bookstores, which is look around at books I might want to rent from the library. I'm sorry local booksellers!), and when we were done, I realized this was on the outside of the front of the store:

Isn't this wonderful? This is exactly how I feel about stories.

Something that remembers the words all the way through without a single mistake.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Joe, You Made the Blog.

In this post, I commented that my life had changed in two very significant ways since August. I went on to explain one of them, but I never provided details on the other. In fact, things have gotten even more significant since I wrote that.

Let me explain.

The short version is ...


To the most wonderful man in the world.

And we are very private.

But the time has come for a blog post about my husband-to-be.

(Mostly because last weekend, the weekend he asked me to marry him, he said something like this: "Do you think I will make the blog now? I mean, you blog about books a lot. But not me." Touche. But I mean -- it's books. :) )

The thing is, I don't really know what to say. As I wrote in my Facebook post when I announced our engagement, Jane Austen wrote, "If I loved you less, I might be able to talk about it more." 

Mr. Knightley had it right.

When you have a love of this magnitude, simple words won't do.

And I'm a words person.

This is Joe Kraft (and me, duh).

He is my fiance (what?!), and I don't deserve him.

He is loyal. He is honest. He is open. He has a huge heart. He is hard working. He is giving. He does everything for me.

I have no idea why, but exactly a week ago today, in a beautiful spot on a beautiful night, Joe asked me to marry him.

I said, "Of course I will." (Really quickly before he changed his mind.)

And we are getting married.

I could say so much more. I have so much more in my heart. But there just aren't words for it. Or if there are, I don't know them. At least not right now.

I'm sure I will write a longer post in the future. There is more to say about being single, and waiting for God to send you the right person, and trusting God, but those posts will come.

Today, though, on the one week anniversary of our engagement, all I have is this:

"Love, true love, is magic. Not just any magic. The most powerful magic of all." 

(And, Story ... I think the clock started in Huntington again. Finally. It's 8:16.)



Monday, April 3, 2017

You'll Like It. Someone Dies In It.

I teach an afterschool enrichment class on Monday afternoons this quarter. This class is on movie making. I have nine students, and they are split into three groups of three. The students are responsible for writing their own scripts and acting in, filming, and editing their movies. I told them I'd help them with whatever they needed: props, costumes, filming for them if everyone in the group needed to be in the scene.

Today was the first day of filming. The three groups were spread all over the bottom floor of the school, in stairwells, the science lab, and the locker room. At one point, one of my students comes to me and says, "Miss Lafferre, we need you to film the next scene for us since we're all in it."

Of course I agreed.

Then she says, "You'll like it. Someone dies in it."

It's quite a reputation I have going for myself in the middle school. About midway through last year, I think it was, the students informed me that the biggest thing they've learned from me in their years with me is how to kill people and/or get rid of a body.


But then I realized ... YEP.

Between The Cremation of Sam McGee, The Most Dangerous Game, The Outsiders, Tuck Everlasting, And Then There Were None, and, I'm sure, others, I've taught the kids how to poison, hunt, trap, maim, and cremate people.

Which, with my luck, is all they'll remember about Language Arts with me. But I guess it's something.

Knowledge is power.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Another Love Letter to the Library.

I don't know if I've ever mentioned it before, but I love reading.

And I love the library.

Scratch that.

LOVE the library.


I can't remember what I had for dinner last night, but I do have my library card number memorized.

If you've been reading this blog for awhile, then you know I practically lived at the Cabell County Public Library last summer.

In what is perhaps my favorite post I've ever written, I talked about how I don't need self-help books because books are my self-help.

I will be spending the majority of the summer living out of town, and I've done nothing to prepare but see if I'll be able to get a library card in the local area.

Yesterday afternoon I took 10 students from our school's chapter of the National Junior Honor Society (I'm the faculty adviser) to volunteer at the Gallaher Village Public Library, the library closest to our school. This library also happens to be the one where I grew up; the one where Kathy took us all summer long every summer when I was a kid. The librarians at Gallaher Village are attempting to reorganize their nonfiction section, and our task yesterday was to take a list of titles, find them, and pull them off the shelves. It was like a big scavenger hunt! Simple, right?

There we were, tightly squeezed in three aisles looking for our books when, about 10 minutes in, I realized what happens when I take a big group of nerds (self included) to the library.

"Miss Lafferre, look at this!"

"Wow! This book looks cool."

"I think I'm going to check this out." 

And my favorite ...

"Miss Lafferre, how many words do you think are in this library?" 

"I don't think I know the word that means that number, KG. Quadrillions? Quintillions?" 

... and that was only from the kids who WEREN'T sitting on the floor looking through their books.

As I was looking for one of my titles -- a book about Lewis Carroll, I believe -- it just hit me (again): there is nowhere on earth I feel happier or more at home than the library. I just can't explain how I feel when I'm there. I LOVE it.

All those words. All those stories.

All those books that are full of the same 26 letters, arranged, and rearranged, and rearranged again.

It's magic. Words are magic.

Valentines that my little sister from Big Brothers Big Sisters and I made when we spent Valentine's Day at the place I love most, the library! 

Monday, March 6, 2017

The Lord Will Fight For You.

Wow. It's been an awfully long time. Longer than long actually.

I've missed my space and the friends that pop by here and share their thoughts on my thoughts.

A lot has happened since I last posted on August 31. A lot. In fact, my life has changed in two very significant ways since that day, and I'd like to tell you about one of them now. I have been writing and planning this post in my mind for months and months, and this week three different people have told me they miss my blog posts, so I decided it's finally time to tell this tale. I think, if you read it all, you'll understand why I wasn't able to write these past few months.

Those of you who have read this blog or known me for a while probably remember this post when I announced I was answering God's calling to be a teacher, quickly followed by this post where I announced I was answering God's calling to be a teacher RIGHT NOW.

Over the past 2.5 years, I have consistently taught sixth, seventh, and eighth grade Language Arts, as well as fifth and seventh grade religion and seventh grade social studies at various times. There have been some very low times, but there have been many more wonderful moments, and I have never doubted (okay, MAYBE after my very first day!) that being a middle school teacher is God's plan for my life. I can't imagine ever doing anything else.

Do you remember at the end of The Wizard of Oz movie when Oz is talking to the Scarecrow? Oz says,

Back where I come from we have universities, seats of great learning -- where men go to become great thinkers. And when they come out, they think deep thoughts -- and with no more brains than you have.... But!  They have one thing you haven't got!  A diploma! 

Well, for the past 2.5 years, think of me as the Scarecrow.

I was doing the same exact thing every single day as teachers all across the nation, but they all have one thing "I haven't got! A diploma!"

I started the Master of Arts in Teaching program at Marshall University at the exact same time I started my first year of teaching. I was taking a full-time graduate load while also being a teacher. There were many times at Marshall that my Catholic school -- and sometimes me personally -- were seen as lesser than because it wasn't public school.

Nevertheless, I continued with my classes, taking full-time loads in fall of 2014, spring of 2015, summer of 2015, and fall of 2015. I did everything that was requested and required of me: wrote lesson plans, presented projects, went to class, earned Clinical II hours in a local high school. All the while, I'm a first- and then second-year teacher, prepping about 35 lessons per week.

Then came the pivotal moment. Spring of 2016, so last year at this time, I was scheduled to complete my full-time student teaching, followed by earning my degree in May. Teaching students who are working full time in a public school are allowed to use their jobs as their student teaching, and West Virginia state law says that private school teachers can only do so if their university offers a one-credit special topics course, covering things that one might see in public school but not private school. (Which is mostly silly, but I digress.)

At first, Marshall told me I could not use my full-time job as my student teaching. This, of course, was devastating to me, because I loved my job, loved my students, and didn't want to leave them. Then, after having a conversation with my principal and superintendent, Marshall told me I could use my job as my student teaching hours, and I would begin that in January with my classmates. I left for Christmas break, thrilled that I could continue working at my job. I also filled out the required paperwork for a student teaching license from the state (yes, you need a student teaching license to teach at your own job), paid the fee, and also got fingerprinted and paid the fee for that too.


On January 5, right after I returned to school after Christmas break, and right before Marshall's semester was slated to begin, I received this email. In fact, it came in right before my eighth grade students were returning to class after lunch.

After quite a bit of conversation between Dean Eagle and the WVDE, it appears that what we were originally told about you being able to do student teaching at your current job was incorrect.  After a phone discussion this morning, it was clarified to us by the WVDE that we cannot do that.  According to Policy 5100, 6.4.b.6 candidates who complete their clinical experience in a nonpublic school must also “complete a course which is a component of the institution’s  WVBE-approved  educator  preparation  program  that  provides  information  sufficient  to prepare  the  prospective  teacher  to  demonstrate  competence  to  teach  in  the  public  schools  of  West Virginia.”  Marshall does not have a course of this nature as part of its approved program.  For this reason, if we did allow you to student teach in a private school, you would not meet the requirements for certification.

At this point, you have two options.  We can place you in a public school so that you can finish your program and certification this semester if you want to go that route.  We already have tentative public school placements lined out.  If you prefer to keep your current position and not student teach at this time, I completely understand and will take you off the student teaching list.  Please let me know what you want to do.

Please imagine you are me. Students are getting ready to come in, the graduate school semester is about to start, and all of a sudden you receive a big JUST KIDDING from your university. (You also have to understand that Marshall had been very difficult to work with, to say the least, from the very beginning. This was just one in a VERY long line of things that had been exhausting. I'm a rule follower, and don't believe I am above the rules, but everything I had done had been by the rules I had been given. Also, please understand I am speaking specifically to the Master of Arts in Teaching program, as my Master's in Journalism is from Marshall, and those people were wonderful.)


My principal talked to Marshall about adding the one-credit course as a special topics option for me, but, to make a long story short, they wouldn't.

In my humble opinion, teachers who leave their students mid-school year without a VERY good reason are highly questionable. I would never do that to my students. They don't deserve it. (And I loved them and wasn't ready to leave them. I'm still not ready to leave them, and they've been gone almost a year. :) )

After I taught the eighth grade that day, I went upstairs to my principal's office and just stood in her doorway. She had received the email too. My principal, who has been AMAZING during this process, just told me it was going to be okay, she had an idea.

So I went back down to my classroom, crushed. And then I did the only thing I could do. I prayed. I told God that I started this job in answer to what I believed He was calling me to do. I understood that He had been covering all my mistakes and shortcomings for me. I told Him I would hand all this over to Him, and I trusted He would show me what to do.

And then I hung this on the wall behind my desk, where it still remains today:

Oh, how many days I've looked at that quotation.

My principal, who is a graduate of Wheeling Jesuit University, a Catholic school in this state, had already reached out to people she knew there to see how they could help. It turned out that Jesuit, while not having a Master's program, did have an Accelerated Certification for Teaching program, which would suit my needs fine, and which would allow me to continue to teach at my school and earn my license.


I bet you think you've reached the end of the story, don't you?

You have not.

It turned out that it was too late for me to begin student teaching at Jesuit last spring, so I would have to wait for the fall. It also turned out that they required a class that Marshall hadn't required, so I had to take (and pay for) yet another course, which I took online last spring.

Still not done.

Because student teaching licenses are only valid for six months, I had to apply for (and pay for) another student teaching license from the state and also pay to get fingerprinted again too. Fine.

So, if you're still awake and not bored to death by this convoluted and incredibly long saga, to recap -- I applied for my student teaching license to work at my job and began a new school year this past fall. I also took the required student teaching and special topics courses at Jesuit to accompany my student teaching experience.

If you think I'm done with this story now, you don't know me in person.

So, there I am, working away at teaching school and also going to school as well. I continued to check the status of my student teaching license online, and it said pending all the time.

Until one fateful day in October. October 21 to be exact.

On October 18, mid-semester, I reached out to the state to inquire about the status of my application and why I had heard NOTHING from them. I received this email in reply on October 21:

I regret to inform you that your application has been denied due to ineligibility. It does not appear that a clinical placement in Our Lady of Fatima Parish School with additional coursework (EDF 374) is authorized for issuance of the Clinical Experience Permit. You may want to communicate with your institution of higher education about opportunities for completing student teaching and qualifying for the clinical experience permit. We have been in communications with Jeremy Vittek in regards to this issue. I apologize for the confusion and appreciate your patience in waiting for a response.

The email came in at 12:12 p.m. If you're keeping score at home, I had paid my tuition to Jesuit, had completed my coursework, and had paid for fingerprinting and another license application. I had done my 90-page teaching portfolio. AND THE SEMESTER WAS ALMOST OVER.

To say I LOST MY EVER-LOVING MIND would be an understatement.

I called the director of my program and was more unprofessional than I've ever been because I was basically crying and at a total loss. Luckily he was nice. He explained what happened. And I just sat in my car, in my pink raincoat, listening to his explanation in shock.

You might recall that I mentioned that I needed a special topics course per state law because I was student teaching at a Catholic school. Jesuit offered that course, I HAD BEEN TAKING IT, and it was a course they had offered for years. Apparently, however, Jesuit had not filed the proper paperwork with the state to, I don't know, re-register the course? Renew it? At any rate, the state said the course was invalid. The plan was, according to the director, they would hopefully get the course approved, and then the state would retroactively approve my student teaching application in time for me to graduate in December.

Once again, please put yourself in my shoes. As Atticus Finch would say, climb into my skin and walk around in it.

I'm not sure how I continued to teach classes after lunch that day, but I'm a teacher and that's what we do. We teach. No matter what is going on in our personal lives.

No matter who is trying to tell us that we aren't really teachers.

I kept going back to that sign on my wall. Over and over. I prayed. I asked others to join me in my prayers.

Then, right before Thanksgiving, (that's right, a month later), I received this from the program director:

I just heard from the WVDE and the course was approved! I will get in touch with the certification officer to see what the next step is. 

And then right before Christmas, this arrived at my house:

After all of this. ALL OF THIS. 2.5 years OF THIS. I had gotten that certification.

The next step was to apply for my teaching license, which I did as soon as my transcripts were official. I applied for my license on January 10. I was notified by the state I was missing Form 7, then told my transcripts from my undergraduate institution, Shepherd, weren't on file, blah, blah. I checked my application online every single day.

One afternoon after school, February 27 to be exact, I logged online yet again, in hopes I would see that my Shepherd transcripts had arrived. Instead I saw this

My friends. There are no words. Absolutely no words. I am a words person, I LOVE WORDS, and I have none. No words, no font size, no anything could convey to you how I felt in that moment.

To say it was the greatest day of my life might be an understatement.

I had done it. God and I had done it.

Providentially, the person I first told, the person standing in my classroom when I saw it, was none other than last year's class clown, the trash can kid, back for a visit. His first reaction? "MISS LAFFERRE THAT IS SO AWESOME!" His second reaction? "Are you crying AGAIN?"

I am a person with many shortcomings. I fail multiple times a day. I make mistakes as a teacher every single day. I am a sinner.

But if I can say anything for myself, it is this: I earned every inch -- every centimeter -- of that teaching license. I fought for it daily for 2.5 years. I encountered roadblock after roadblock after roadblock. I fought for that license on days when my students were killing me. I fought for that license on days when parents weren't nice to me. I endured these trials because God saw it fit for me to, and He knows best.

Upon reflection (teachers love that, right?), I realized why God asked me to go through so much for this teaching license. I believe it is because He wants to make sure that I never, ever take that piece of paper for granted. He wants to be sure that I never take the blessing of being a teacher for granted.

Even as I write this now, I am crying. I will never, ever be able to express what is in my heart about this license.

If you are a teacher, I hope this story reminds you why you are one and makes you proud to have that license.

If you are not a teacher but are a parent, I hope this reminds you that your children's teachers, for the most part, are human beings who love your kids and are doing the best that they can.

If you are neither a teacher nor a parent, then I hope the one thing you get from what I wrote is this:

The Lord will fight for you. You need only to be still. 

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

2016 Reading Challenge - August!

It's no secret that all I did this summer was read, so I've read a lot of books this month. However, the book I chose specifically with the 2016 Reading Challenge in mind was

Death Wears a Beauty Mask and Other Stories by Mary Higgins Clark

for the theme

A book you've been meaning to read

I've written about my love of MHC before, but, in a nutshell, my grandmother reads all her books, my mom reads all her books, and I read all her books. I was pretty sure I'd read every book she's ever written, but I found out recently that she had this book of short stories I had never read. What?! Could it be?!

It was true. I found it at the library.

When I realized I had missed this book, I knew I had to read it for "A book you've been meaning to read" since I've pretty much been meaning to read all of MHC's books forever.

I really enjoyed it! The first short story, the titular Death Wears a Beauty Mask, is a traditional MHC murder mystery. However, not all the stories are. This book contains Stowaway, MHC's first published story, about a political prisoner attempting to escape his country, and When the Bough Breaks, a story about a family tragedy, among others.

This post is short but sweet -- I love MHC, and I enjoyed diving in to her short stories.

Now, to choose a theme for September. I'm kind of leaning toward "A book that was banned at some point" because that sounds so fun! We'll see!

Monday, August 8, 2016

Self-Help ... Books

As I mentioned before, all I've done this summer is read. (And take care of a sick rabbit.) I went to the library about once a week, got my stack of books, took them home, read them, rinse, and repeat.

It was wonderful.

I have always loved books. I love getting lost in a story, feeling that bittersweet anticipation as I get close to the final couple of pages, wanting to know how the story resolves itself, but also dreading it being over.

As I read, I folded down the corners of pages of the books that held quotes or passages that really spoke to me. (I am sorry fellow library patrons.) I was good about transferring them to my quote book at the beginning of the summer, but after awhile I just took pictures of the pages on my phone, intending to write them all down later. I recently realized I have well over 50 photos to go through, organize, and transcribe.

Late in the spring, I was reading a blog that mentioned a book (nonfiction) that I thought I might like to read. It wasn't available at the library at the time, so I put it on hold. I was anxious about waiting because I felt like I needed the wisdom that book would provide that minute. However, when I got off the hold list about three weeks later, a couple weeks into summer, I realized I wasn't as excited as I originally had been. The book lasted on my desk through two more trips to the library before I finally took it back, unread.

I couldn't understand it. Why would this book (which I'm sure is really good) have excited me so much one minute and then failed to even inspire me to crack the cover the next?

And then it hit me. I don't really have much of a need for self-help books, because I have self-help ... books.

Novels are my self-help.

Even novels that I end up not liking that much (of which there were only five, I think, this summer, and, no I won't post which are the ones), I end up turning down the corners of at least once. The words I find in novels, the inspiration and hope and wonder I find there, are what helps me. I find myself reading some sentences over and over. Maybe I'll go back to this particular nonfiction book at some point in the future, but I didn't need it this summer like I thought I did.

As an English teacher, words are my business. And I'm so glad of that because I find so much beauty in words. Have you ever thought about how books -- at least those written in English -- are the same 26 letters rearranged over and over again? How can just 26 letters impact our lives so much?

I decided I wanted to share the beauty I found this summer by compiling in a blog post some of the things I found and was inspired by. I hope you find something beautiful here as well. (And, yes, some of these are books I didn't actually like.)


I told myself to carry this moment as a talisman of a time in my life when I was both truly content and lucky enough to realize it. 

- The Royal We by Jessica Cocks and Heather Morgan

When I'm choosing something new, though, something just for myself, my favorite kind of character is a woman in a faraway place. India. Or Bangkok. Sometimes she leaves her husband. Sometimes she never had a husband because she knew, wisely, that married life would not be for her. I like when she has multiple lovers. I like when she wears hats to block her fair skin from the sun. I like when she travels and has adventures. I like descriptions of hotels and suitcases with stickers on them. I like descriptions of food and clothes and jewelry. A little romance but not too much. The story is period.  No cell phones. No social networking. No Internet at all. Ideally, it's set in the 1920s or 1940s. Maybe there's a war going on, but it's just a backdrop. No bloodshed. Some sex but nothing too graphic. No children. Children often ruin a story for me. ... I don't mind them in real life. I just don't want to read about them. Endings can be happy or sad, I don't care anymore as long as it's earned. She can settle down, maybe open a little business, or she can drown herself in the ocean. Finally, a nice-looking jacket is important. I don't care how good the insides are. I don't want to spend any length of time with an ugly object. I'm shallow, I guess. 

As she steps off the ferry, her phone rings. She doesn't recognize the number -- none of her friends use their phones as phones anymore. Still, she is glad for the diversion and she doesn't want to become the kind of person who thinks that good news can only come from calls one was already expecting and callers one already knows. 

Maybe she didn't have a plan of where she was going. Maybe she just took the first train and then the first bus and then the first boat and this is where she ended up. 

Someday, you do not know when, you will be driving down a road. And someday, you do not know when, he, or indeed she, will be there. You will be loved because for the first time in your life, you will truly not be alone. You will have chosen to not be alone. 

- The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin (thanks for the recommendation, Cindy)

You have to grow about eight hundred grapes to get just one bottle of wine. If that isn't an argument to finish the bottle, I don't know what is. 

- Eight Hundred Grapes by Laura Dave

She was firmly in Austenland now, she reminded herself, where hoping was allowed. Did Austen herself feel this way? Was she hopeful? Jane wondered if the unmarried writer had lived inside Austenland with close to Jane's own sensibility -- amused, horrified, but in very real danger of being swept away. 

- Austenland by Shannon Hale

Once numbness shuts down a damaged heart, a miracle is required to restart it. Things would prove rough for our heroine. Her only hope was Jane Austen. 

Midnight in Austenland by Shannon Hale

"I can't wait--," my mother begins, then stops to think. "You know what, if you're my only child who remains single until old age, I will proudly stand with you all the days of your life. If that's what you want." 

- Very Valentine by Adriana Trigiani (thanks for the recommendation, Story)

"I mean, I'm always being told that I'm-- that I have-- that Jane Austen has given me--"
"A horribly warped view of the world?" Adam suggested. 
"A wonderfully warped view of the world," Kay corrected him.
"Oh, you know-- the usual stuff about happy endings and expecting to fall in love with the perfect hero."

- Dreaming of Mr. Darcy by Victoria Connelly

... both of them in a quiet state of chaos ... 

   "I am not an expert on love, Georgiana, but you are mistaken. If you held Mr. Wickham in regard, you would have felt foolish at your loss, but the romance would have been gone within six months. If you felt affection for him, you would again be foolish, but a year would resolve your loss. If I am correct, you felt one of these emotions rather than love. Am I not correct?"
   "Elizabeth, I can see one of these definitions fitting my situation, but then what is love?"
   "Real love, Georgiana, changes your life; your own needs no longer exist. If rejected, you never forget the person; as Fitzwilliam did, you might try to run away -- you try to find solace someplace else, but it cannot be. You might even choose another with whom to spend your life, but there is no love for it died and was replaced with regard or affection. I could not think of loving anyone but your brother; can you say the same thing about Mr. Wickham?"
   "I cannot, Elizabeth. I feel nothing for the man. I only feel my own shame at being taken in by him."
   "Then may we move on? You are not the person you were then ..."

- Darcy's Passions by Regina Jeffers

I still knew Charlotte, Emily, and Anne like no one should ever know anyone. I knew their shoe sizes and their height; I knew their stupid little secrets; I knew what they fought about and what they laughed about; I knew about the mole on Emily's right foot. Love always comes with scars, and this was mine: the knowledge that the friends I knew best were those I had never actually met. 

There was a painful silence, in which it occurred to me that I might never have a normal life. 

As I watched the two of them together, I imagined what it would be like if I were with him instead -- perhaps at a cocktail party in a black-and-white movie, telling women with long cigarette holders what a fine bridge player he was.

We entered a vast, bottomless silence. I scrambled for better conversation topics. This all would have been far less stressful in the movie version of our lives. The long silences would have been edited out. 

My lips twitched but no sound emerged. Somewhere in my mind, Samantha Whipple [character who is speaking's name] was being terribly witty. It was a shame no one could hear her. 

The purpose of literature is to teach you how to think, not how to be practical.

In the dark, I learned, silence has a way of killing you. 

"Are there any leading men in your life?"
"Several, but they're all fictional."

"Isn't there some truth in all fiction?"
"There's some fiction in all truth too."

Reading teaches you courage. The author is trying to convince you something fake is real. It's a ridiculous request, and it questions the sanity of the reader. The extent to which you believe the author depends on how willing you are to jump in headfirst. 

I find my therapy in math, just as you seem to have found yours in literature -- two disciplines that help make sense of the world. [Reminds me of Sarah and me.]

We seemed to be in Act V of a Shakespearian play that could either end in marriage or premature death.

- The Madwoman Upstairs by Catherine Lowell (arguably the best book I read this summer, if the sheer amount of quotes didn't already show that to you)

I wanted to believe in happy endings again. I want to believe that I could trust a man. I wanted to believe there was a hero out there for me, worthy of the title of Darcy or Knightley, Wentworth or Tilney. 

Lots and lots of books. A refuge. A solace. Each one offering the possibility of a new beginning. 

Heartbreak is more common than happiness. No one wants to say that, but it's true. We're taught to believe not only that everyone deserves a happy ending, btu also that if we try hard enough, we will get one. That's simply not the case. Happy endings, lifelong loves, are the products of both effort and luck. We can control them, to some extent, and though our feelings always seem to have a life of their own, we can at least be open to love. But luck, the other component, well, there's nothing we can do about that one. Call it God's plan or predestination or divine intervention, but we're all at its mercy. And sometimes God doesn't seem very merciful. Jane taught me that. 

- Jane Austen Ruined My Life by Beth Pattillo

I would self-medicate with fat, carbohydrates, and Jane Austen, my number one drug of choice, my constant companion through every breakup, every disappointment, every crisis. Men might come and go, but Jane Austen was always there. In sickness and health, for richer, for poorer, till death do us part.

Too much thinking never solved anything.

... I understand, as I have long understood through my own insatiable appetite for readings and rereadings of Jane Austen's six novels, why children want the same stories read to them a thousand times. There is comfort in the familiarity of it all, the knowledge that all will turn out well, that Elizabeth and Darcy will end up together in Pemberley, that Anne Elliot will pierce Captain Wentworth's soul, and that Mr. Elton will be stuck with his caro sposa for the rest of his life.

Just be where you are. That's the only way to get where you're supposed to go. 

- Confession of a Jane Austen Addict by Laurie Viera Rigler

Partial truth is falsehood's fiercest bodyguard. 

As the reader has perhaps noticed, great care has been taken with the punctuation used in this account. For me, as regards to literature, punctuation is what separates true greatness from the merely good -- and certainly from the false. 

- Love and Friendship by Whit Stillman

... hoping that all the magic in the world was somewhat connected. 

As humans we often let our egos rule our decisions. We let fear stop us from reaching our true potential. We forget about love. But the heart? It never forgets. No matter what happens, no matter how hard things get, it always remembers. 

- The Year We Turned Forty by Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke

Watching her, I thought about secrets. One can grow accustomed to carrying unseeable scars, as if the tattoo one wears is inked in flesh tone over flesh tone; but nevertheless one is still covered in secret, painted with secret, stained by it. 

I hope that the epitaph of the human race when the world ends will be: Here perished a species which lived to tell stories. (Editorial comment: I feel like this might be the motto of my life.)

- Jane Steele by Lyndsay Faye

I never thought Marianne's devotion to Willoughby was prudent, and it wasn't, but I bet it was fun. 

For months I convinced myself that Josh's paltry version of love was all I could expect -- I wasn't worth something better. But I know there's more. I want the real thing. I can have that, can't I? Because I know it exists -- in books and in real life. 

My childhood wasn't easy. I buried myself in books. I guess I'm a recovering book addict.

- Dear Mr. Knightley by Katherine Reay

You could really feel physically wounded if someone hurt your feelings badly enough. 

- Vinegar Girl by Anne Tyler (thanks for the recommendation, Phoebe)

When she was done, she regarded her dim reflection in the mirror, raising one pale hand to touch the silvery-looking glass with her fingertips. "Only one of us is real," she said quietly to that other Jane who sat gazing at her from the glass, "the other is but an illusion. The question is, which am I?"

I of all women would gladly trade a single moment of love for a lifetime of wondering what such a moment might have been.

- The Man Who Loved Jane Austen by Sally Smith O'Rourke

I loved the anonymity of all it. Of a sidewalk full of strangers and endless possibilities. 

Only a sane person would realize how close he or she was to the edge. Not like my dad, who didn't know when he was teetering too close to that chasm, didn't seem to notice the change in velocity as he went tumbling into the abyss. But I knew. I knew how close we all were to that edge. And if I knew, then I was fine. Those were the basic rules of holding one's shit together, according to Tyler.

- All The Missing Girls by Megan Miranda

Remember you're on our side now. You know: the grown-ups. 

It turned out that the only difference between children and adults was that children were prepared to put twice the energy into the project of not being sad. 

But before we sing slow for you, let's all take a moment to think of our true loves. It could be you're lucky enough to be sitting next to them right now. Or maybe they're far away, posted overseas. Maybe the two of you haven't even met yet, and you're holding the idea of each other. 

- Everyone Brave is Forgiven by Chris Cleve