Sand wedged between paperback pages

A special treat this week as we get to enjoy the wonderful words of Roxanne Krystalli. I met Roxanne through Uncommon and have been eager to include her thoughts in the dispatch. She is a gender-based violence specialist in conflict and post-conflict zones around the world. A fervent believer in the power of stories, Roxanne chronicles her journeys at Stories of Conflict and Love.

“Well, you were feeling ambitious today!” He was rummaging through my bag to find the sunscreen, which was obstructed by two issues of National Geographic magazine, a copy of Mapheads by Ken Jennings, a Kindle, and an issue of Bicycling magazine’s latest musings on urban riding.

I did not lug all that reading material to the top of a grassy hill on a flawless Sunday afternoon with any illusion of being ‘productive’. Rather, my memories of books are weaved into the site at which I read them. In this way, a second narrative emerges: that of my own attachment to the book, and of my own stories unfolding in parallel to those of the literature.

There have been summer books, most of which are associated with my homeland Greece. Summer books taste like lemonade, sunscreen spots splotched on a Kindle, sand wedged between paperback pages. Even if they pride themselves on a dynamic plot, I take them in slowly. The sun requires droopier eyes. Reading on grass inspires exhaling. Summer reading, for me, is a tribute to letting the eyes wander off the page, to waving away ants and flies, to watching the racing clouds above and remembering how to daydream.

Winter reading feels like cups of chai, like curling up, like pulling the blanket over the wrist that pokes out of it to turn the page. It is not just the seasons that punctuate memories of reading; it is also eras of life and memories of spaces. My balcony in Greece hosted my anxiety over high school biology and the highlighted texts that accompanied it – and that same site was also where I first discovered Joan Didion. It is hard to forget where an essay-loving girl first found Joan Didion. Looking back, while every book’s story is remembered in its own right, it also stirs recollections of the sub-story that was unfolding in my own life at the time, colored by memories of grass blades or sand specks, sunscreen or scarves, balconies or library chairs. — Roxanne


Last week's dispatch was the start of a small community project...

Who do you know who is unsure of a new adventure, someone who doesn't see themselves the way you see them? Seek them out and tell them of your complete, unwavering confidence. Let know know that you believe they are capable of anything. Your words may be exactly what they need to hear at just the right moment.

I know many of you have done just that. It's been inspiring to hear how this has played out in your world. This prompt doesn't have an expiration date! I'm going to continue to chase these moments of opportunity and hope you do, too. Feel free to pass along your story.

Uncommon reads

What I Read That Summer by Walter Isaacson, Joy Williams, Pico Iyer, and other writers:

The rites of summer are, by definition, fleeting: the summer romance, the summer job or vacation. Only the books seem to stick. Twelve writers recall their most memorable experiences of summer reading, proving perhaps that if you’re looking for an enduring summer romance, a good book might be your best bet.

Beach Memories from Judy Blume, Michael Kors and more:

I had my bicycle and I could go anywhere I wanted because there was no traffic. I went for 20 kilometers on the main road on my own. At home in Milan, I led a very controlled life. Everything had to be done at a certain time in a certain way: homework, eating, getting washed. But there at the beach that winter, I had my freedom. — Massimo Vitali

Neil Gaiman prepares for social media 'sabbatical'

He says the problem isn't the amount of time spent using social media; it's how it spreads into every cranny of our existence.<br><br>"People ask me where I get my ideas from," he said, "and the answer is that the best way to come up with new ideas is to get really bored." Watching school plays was ideal, he continued.

Your turn

Which books do you identify with where or when you read them? Do you associate memories of reading with memories of space and place?