2021 Reading Challenge

2021 Reading Challenge
Jill Elizabeth has read 3 books toward her goal of 245 books.
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Guest Post: Influential Books by Melanie Gibson, Author of Kicking and Screaming: A Memoir of Madness and Martial Arts

Today I’m pleased to introduce you to Melanie Gibson, whose new memoir Kicking and Screaming describes how she used taekwondo to counter the kicking and screaming inside her head… #kickingandscreaming

About the Book  
Melanie Gibson was an independent woman with a good job, multiple college degrees, and a condo in the trendy part of Fort Worth. She also had a few mental illnesses, a minor substance abuse problem, and rotten relationship skills. She was nearing a total mental breakdown and needed a good kick in the pants, literally and metaphorically.

As a last desperate means to save her sanity, Melanie turned to a nearly forgotten childhood activity: the Korean martial art of taekwondo. To her surprise and delight, she discovered her childhood taekwondo instructors’ Grandmaster operated a taekwondo school a few miles from her home. She restarted her training as a white belt and quickly learned that taekwondo had much more to offer than just learning how to kick and punch.

In taekwondo, Melanie felt like she had a fresh start in more ways than one. She found an inner peace she’d never known before, a sense of community, a newfound confidence, healthy relationship stability, and a positive outlook on life. The kicking and screaming she was doing in class quieted the long-suffering kicking and screaming in her mind. Funny and frank, Kicking and Screaming is the story of Melanie’s life-changing journey from troubled, lost soul to confident taekwondo black belt.

Guest Post: Books That Significantly Influenced My Life/Writing by Melanie Gibson
The best way to learn how to write is to read fervently and write diligently. Here are my top ten books that helped me learn about the joy of reading and the craft of writing:

  • The World According to Garp by John Irving. This was recommended to me by a high school friend. He told me a sign of a good book is that you care about the characters so much you’re worrying about them while you’re doing other things. Ever since, I’ve used that as a barometer for novels I’m reading.
  • The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri. Lahiri has a delicate, detailed way of writing that makes the most mundane activities of normal people seem riveting and heart-wrenching.
  • Intern by Dr. Sandeep Jauhar. When I was a hospital librarian, we purchased this memoir, and I fell in love with the memoir genre.
  • Smashed: Story of a Drunken Girlhood by Koren Zailckas. I read this memoir many years ago, and the way the author pulls you into the depths of her experience has stayed with me.
  • The Boy Kings of Texas by Domingo Martinez. I heard a reading of a chapter from the book (“The Mimis”) on NPR. Of course I liked that Martinez is a fellow Texan, and his writing style made his life story fascinating. Memorable memoirs don’t always have to be about celebrities or an amazing, unique feat. Everyday life can be just as interesting.
  • Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer. In terms of extraordinary experiences and “amazing feats,” Krakauer makes the struggle of climbing Mount Everest feel incredibly real. I’ve suffered through the Everest journey many times in my imagination.
  • Writing & Selling Your Memoir by Paula Balzer. This is essential for someone who wants to write a memoir but has no idea where to start.
  • Greenlight Your Book: How Writers Can Succeed in the New Era of Publishing by Brooke Warner. This book lifted me out of my depression of failing to break into traditional publishing. I went indie and haven’t looked back.
  • Uncovered: How I Left Hasidic Life and Finally Came Home by Leah Lax. I only realized after I’d read this memoir that it, like my memoir, was published by She Writes Press. The quality of the writing, editing, and design gave me confidence that I’d made the right choice to sign my contract with the company.
  • On Writing: a Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King. The tone of this book is calm and casual and feels like a conversation with a friend. King offers a welcoming hand to the world of writing.

About the Author
Melanie Gibson began taekwondo training at age ten. At age twelve she stopped taekwondo to pursue other interests, and resumed training in her early thirties.

Although Melanie had academic and career achievements throughout her life, she struggled with mental illness and low self-esteem. After making some progress through psychiatric treatment and counseling, she knew she needed to do something more substantial to make lasting changes. Returning to taekwondo had always been in the back of her mind, and the timing was right.

Taekwondo proved to be not only an opportunity to re-learn a beloved skill from her childhood, but also a means to build her self-esteem and confidence, and heal from old wounds. It brought a needed excitement and purpose to her life, which she shares in her blog Little Black Belt (http://littleblackbelt.com). While continuing to work at her full-time job, Melanie dedicated herself to taekwondo training and earned her first degree black belt in 2015. In 2017, she earned her second degree black belt. Although a pandemic and knee injury sidelined her training in 2020, Melanie plans to return to taekwondo and test for her third degree black belt.

You can find Melanie across multiple social media platforms:

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