Jo Ann Alo

writer – rhymer – Jesus junky

What’s not to love about it?

When my kids were little we visited the library weekly. In fact my oldest daughter says, “That’s one of my best memories as a child.” (Hallelujah, she has one.)

Their little eyes roaming for titles, Nancy Drew, The Baby-Sitters Club, The Berenstain Bears, Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs. My youngest remembers none of this because by the time she was old enough to remember we were no longer borrowing books ~ we were buying them from Barnes and Noble.

Little minds melding into the characters’ experience. Imaginations sinking into settings. Hopes rising with the plot. Hearts bracing for the conflict ~ relief resting in resolution.

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I’m running there myself lately. After a long day of writing, reading someone else’s story is a great way to relax. Step out of my story, and sit with a friends’.

When I was a kid, I only read for school, so for me, reading was a turn off. As an adult, I started reading recommended books, but rarely finished. Its title on a coffee table for weeks with a sad bookmark stuck in the same spot until shelved, serving as a constant cut down ~ I don’t like to read.

My daughter, Amanda, bought me a memoir 8 years ago: One Thousand Gifts, by Ann Voscamp. Read it 3 times. Until I realized; these memoir’s are all over the place! Where have I been? These are my books! I LOVE reading you! Learning the stories of others who lost some part of themselves in a messed up world only to find Grace and Redemption waiting for them. Your stories are like balm to my brain.

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My enthusiasm got the best of me and I’ve held some rough stories in my hands. Though I found my niche for reading, not every memoir is for my mind. Some stories hit to close to home, some to heavy to follow, others to dark to imagine. As a recovering people-pleaser I found it a strange phenomenon any time I brought an author back to the library without finishing what they had to say. Sliding their personal words across the desk, or worse, ditching them down the drop box, like we couldn’t make it as confidants.

This is all a part of getting to know myself. Opening and protecting my mind all at once. Allowing the unknown a chance but relinquishing what paralyzes my heart. The truth is, I’m sensitive ~ something I have incessantly told myself I am not. There, I said it. I’m sensitive. And I don’t care who knows it. Funny thing is…everyone who knows me…knows this. I had to go to the library to read it for myself.

Reading (like television, video, and music) goes deeper than I once thought. By the time I was a teenager, I’d built a wall around myself. Nothing and no one could hurt me. The problem was the wall only went over my face. Every other part of me was open fire. Now I have the wounds of anxiety to prove it. It’s not all terrible. I am reading myself much more positively. What my mind couldn’t have understood, didn’t know, refused to hear is now coming in loud and clear.

What do you enjoy reading or listening to? What sort of stories or songs relax, open, and reveal something about you? No, really…I want to know. Send them to me!

Maybe you would like a library card?

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