A Short Story Collection: From the Heart

It is always a special experience to read something written by a friend. It is even more special to follow the fledgling ideas from Facebook chat and email conversations as they spread their wings and soar across the pages of an honest-to-goodness book. In From the Heart, I was, once again, blown away by the way Jamie approaches heavy, serious, and even dark material with an honesty and humor that makes his characters irresistible. It makes me wonder if all authors put this much of themselves into their stories. Jamie’s gentle way of making you think just a little bit differently, to question a little bit more, to experience the weight of every moment shine through in his collection of short stories.

Two of my favorite stories are contained in this collection, Glasses and Hearts. Reading them again, I found they still raised questions for me, still made me think about them long after I was finished reading. I think I am drawn to these two stories because they focus on what it means to be vulnerable and how we truly connect with others. In this wide, messy world it is so easy to lose sight of the fact that we are all in this together and these stories bring that reality back to the forefront of my mind.

Somehow I always seemed to have my back to the sun anyway.

When I re-read Glasses, I found myself wondering: What if we could see each person we encounter, not as flesh and blood, but as the people they truly are? What if our connections and experiences make a lasting mark on us and someone else could see that mark? And what if we’ve carefully kept ourselves from connections and experiences in order to preserve ourselves, only to discover that isn’t really preservation at all? I discovered the answers to these questions right alongside “Jonas” as he experienced the magic of the glasses and watched the colors come to him.

A little bit of grief, a little solitude, and a dash of could-have-been.

A single drop slid down the side of the glass and fell to the counter; like a lone tear, or a leap of faith.

It had been so long since my first reading of Hearts, that I didn’t remember how it can catch you off-guard. It’s one of those stories whose meaning doesn’t dawn until a few pages in and suddenly your mouth is hanging open and you really have to focus on breathing. Imagine if we walked through this world with our hearts, literally, on our sleeves. What if everyone we met knew what we felt about ourselves, our lives, even about them? And what if we couldn’t recognize the significance of our words without the help of a friendly barkeep who knew how to mix us just the right drink, while fighting off demons of his own?

If you want a quick but meaningful read, a collection of lovely and intentional stories, I highly recommend getting yourself a copy of From the Heart. You won’t regret it!





Cover to Cover

On a recent family trip to the public library I was telling my husband how, against the old adage, I do judge books based on their covers, at least the ones I choose for myself. We have a great discussion about it and, on the way out, we passed a display that said “Go ahead, judge these books by their covers!” The more I thought about it, the more I wondered if I was the only one, and if it was only the cover that solidified my choice. What I’ve determined is that the title is the first thing (duh) that snags my attention. I just browse, and when something sounds interesting, I pull it out for a look. If the cover hooks me, I’m sold. I honestly don’t even check to see what the book is about. I just grab it. This has actually only steered me wrong once when I ended up with a paranormal mystery novel featuring two elderly female detectives. Not too shabby for 25+ years of reading! The people who design these covers are geniuses, really, and they have come up with some amazing images to really sell the concept of the books they represent. Without further ado, some of the enticing covers I’ve come across.

A Brief History of Seven Killings

All The Birds Singing

From the Kitchen of Half Truth Real

Leaving the Sea

The Brief History of the Dead

The Girl Who Fell From the Sky

The Orchard of Lost Soulds

The Pretty One

If you need more cover art or a great place to browse titles and covers together, check out The Book Cover Archive. Just try not to spend all day on there! What are some covers that have convinced you to read their stories? Did you like them?