51a-llhg2xlEvery now and then I read a book that speaks directly to my soul.  It’s happened twice this year, first with My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout and more recently with Upstream by Mary Oliver.  I’m immensely grateful to Ms. Oliver for writing such a truthful book and to Penguin Books for allowing me to read it prior to publication.

Attention is the beginning of devotion.

Upstream blurs the line between poetry and essay in its collection of 19 impeccable essays exploring creativity, nature, and the relationship between the two.

Do you think there is anything not attached by its unbreakable cord to everything else?

The book starts out describing childhood and how one grows up to be a writer. Mary Oliver shares a story about cutting class as a teenager only to go into the woods with a knapsack of books.  Books brought her comfort as did nature.  She found herself in both and built her life through books, writing, and nature.  Moving forward in time toward the present Oliver says towards the end of the book, “I don’t think I am old yet, or done with growing.”

This perspective on seeking out constant growth, the immense passion for books and writing, as well as the strong connection to nature made me feel understood by someone I have never met.  I had someone ask me the other day, “If you don’t watch TV and you rarely listen to music, what do you do?”  I answered that I read, but my answer did not quench her curiosity.  Some people do not seem to understand the fullness that can come from reading.

I read my books with diligence, and mounting skill, and gathering certainty. I read the way a person might swim, to save his or her life. I wrote that way too.

This book is one that must be read with a pen!  There were so many beautiful quotes in it; I added four of them to the quote book I keep on my coffee table and countless more are highlighted on my Kindle.  This is the perfect book to bring with you on a hike!  If i could recommend this book to anyone, it would be to my cousin, Cathy LaPointe Blundy because I feel she may connect with this book too.  She also is a talented poet so check out her blog!

Upstream will be released October 11th so go pre-order it from your local bookstore or library today!!!