the perks of being a wallflower

The novel the perks of being a wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky, was published in 1999. The movie came out in 2012. I remember the book selling very well from the time I started working at Barnes & Noble in 2000. I don’t remember how quickly, but it made its way onto the summer reading lists of several local schools. After seeing the previews for the film adaptation I finally decide to put it on my reading list.

The first clue that I would enjoy it came when I read a blurb on the back cover comparing it to A Separate Peace and Catcher in the Rye, two books also about young men passing from adolescence to adulthood. I have read these two books many times and enjoyed them. “Wallflower” gives a modern treatment to this popular theme, so it is not for everyone. Charlie, the main character, finds himself in many adult situations during the course of his story, so consider yourself forewarned.

Charlie is a high school freshman, and he struggles with all of the familiar teen problems: fitting in while staying true to yourself, finding love, and so forth. One of the most interesting parts of the book for me is Charlie’s friendship with his English teacher, Mr. Anderson. Anderson recognizes that Charlie has a gift for reading and writing, and challenges him with books that he doesn’t ask the rest of the class to read. The books he reads are mostly classics. I had read several, but some that I have not. Mr. Anderson tries in several conversations to build Charlie up. Anderson sees that Charlie is an exceptional writer, which is why he gives Charlie the extra books to read.

Charlie is different from me in that the people he hangs around with are into parties and the social scene. I was not into all that. But I identify with Charlie’s extreme sentimentality. And, like Charlie, I also tend to listen to people and take everything in that goes on around me. I have a tendency to live in my thoughts and have to make myself aware of it in order to “particpate” more. And unrequited love is something I know very well. All of the girls I had a crush on as a teenager were out of reach for me from a dating standpoint. But I have always had lots of female friends.

One of the things I enjoyed most is the way the story is told. Charlie is writing letters to an anonymous reciever who he believes will appreciate his story. This allows for more of a glimpse inside the main character than if he were telling the events of the story as they happen. As I mentioned earlier, Charlie is an astute observer of the world around him.

I will close with two of my favorite quotes from the book:

Sam: “Charlie, we accept the love we think we deserve”.

Patrick: “You see things. You keep quiet about them. And you understand. You’re a wallflower”. (I think this one is from the movie).

The film is a very good adaptation of the book. I am glad that Chobsky decided to write and direct the film himself so it would be faithful to the book. If coming-of-age stories are something that you typically enjoy, I recommend the book and movie to you. For those of you who have read the book and/or seen the movie, what did you think of them?



Tell us about the last book you read (Why did you choose it? Would you recommend it?). To go further, write a post based on its subject matter.

For this Daily Prompt idea I wanted to write about one of the last books I read, Why is the Human on Earth? by Mark Ballabon. A friend recently gifted this book to me after describing how much she has enjoyed it since she first read it several years ago. I am fortunate to have a copy, as I believe it is currently out of print. I love this book for many reasons. One reason is that to get the most out of it, you have to actively read it. In my opinion, the best way to read this book is very slowly- thinking about each contemplation after you finish it. Though, I confess, the temptation to hurry through it was great for me because I wanted to see where the author was going to go next.

The book is designed to appeal to different senses and creative preferences. Each chaper is called a contemplation. Each contemplation uses a combination of pictures, poetry, writing, and exercises to help the reader fully explore all the ideas offered by the author. As of this writing, the contemplation that resonates with me the most is the fourth. This contemplation is about contributing and adding to life, which is a very different message from what our culture tells us should be our focus. I have several friendships for which I am very thankful. These friends (and they know who they are as they read this) have given so much of their lives to me, and have made me a better person as a result.

This is one of the most inspiring books I have ever read, and I recommend it to anyone who regularly examines his/her life. I would love to hear the thoughts of anyone who has read it.

The poem connected to contemplation four:

The light softened

the talk eased

the pain of trying to be something else retreated

We sat and looked at each other- softly, kindly

through the yes of no difference

and a longing for peace of mind

One woman, one man

many worlds to discover

many thoughts to feel

many hurts and wonders

to understand

And suddenly

the stillness shone

a ruby light

upon a jewel of knowing

that we could heal each other’s worry

and preying pain

simply through the gift

we gave each other

of listening


A Fragrant Friendship – Derring-Do – Ineke

My first post for “The Fragrant Man”

The Fragrant Man

Please welcome James Dennard.
This is his first story for The Fragrant Man.

Guest Post by James Dennard
Fragrance has allowed me to meet some wonderful people. It is often said among the members of the fragrance writing community and within the web forums that the fragrance community contains some of the most intelligent, kind, and generous people you will ever find. I believe this to be true. Also, this niche is filled with outstanding writers. For this last reason I have limited myself to commenting on other fragrance websites, and have not written fragrance reviews myself. But through these conversations about our shared interest, combined with social media, I have made and cultivated some close friendships with people all over the world. One such friend is Brie, of The Fragrant Man.

After commenting on one of her posts I ended up winning a giveaway. This began an email…

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“In a gentle way, you can shake the world”- Mahatma Gandhi

I recently read Quiet by Susan Cain after, quite suddenly, becoming interested in the Introversion/Extroversion comaparison. The first step was following a link to a Jungian personality test a friend had posted on one of the social networking sites. The test identified me as an INFP, which I wrote about in an earlier blog post. Then I remembered another friend mentioning the book online after he read it some time ago. The book sounded interesting to me, so I wrote the author and title down for future reference. I am very glad I read it, because I belive this to be an invaluable book for everyone- introvert and extrovert, alike.


In Western culture, the Extrovert has become the ideal personality. But, as Quiet sites, at least one third of the people you know are Introverts. I believe this number to be significantly higher among my family and friends. So, in catering to the extroverted majority, Western society relegates introverts to the sidelines. One of my favorite sections of the book identifies the contributions of Introverts to the world. Among those are: Rosa Parks, Chrles Schultz, Steven Spielberg, Theodore Geisel, Isaac Newton, and J.K. Rowling. And Cain also discusses the fact that the Extrovert Ideal does not exist in Eastern Culture.


Another section of the book deals with the idea that a quiet, introverted child needs to be “fixed”. The implication being that a child who is not an Extrovert needs to be changed, because being an Introvert is not good enough. I see this often in my daily experience. Also, it is a popular message from the media. The reality is that Introverts need to be appreciated more for our own personalities and our own way of contributing to society.


As I said at the beginning of this review, I believe Quiet to be a book that benefits everyone. Introverts can discover ourselves in its pages. And Extroverts can get some help in understanding how our minds and personalities work. Have you read the book? I welcome your ideas and thoughts about anything in the book, whether I’ve written about it here or not.




Everyday Beauty

Inspired by my friend, Birgit’s occasonal posts on this subject here are a few examples of hidden beauty I have captured.

Something about this pine cone caught my attention and I like the way this picture turned out.


I almost left this picture out because it’s out of focus. But the rose is too pretty not to share.


I walked outside one morning to get the newspaper and glanced up at the sky. This is what I saw and though it was really pretty.


I hope you’ve enjoyed these as much as I have. As always, I welcome any comments/feedback.


You’ve inherited $5 million, with instructions that you must give it all away — but you can choose any organizations you like to be the beneficiaries. Where does the money go?

This was an easy Daily Prompt for me. There are several different causes that are important to me. One such cause is literacy. I have had a lifelong love of books and reading. It saddens me to read statistics on how many people cannot read. But the main cause that comes to mind is the Spina Bifida Association ( I’m sure this is no surprise to a lot of you who know/have read about my physical disability. I want to be the best ambassador/spokesman I can be for Spina Bifida.


Turn, Turn, Turn

For many of us, winter is blooming into spring, or fall hardening into winter. Which season do you most look forward to?

I can find things I like about every season. I am hot-natured, so the winter is a nice break from the warm weather we have for most of the year. Summer is good for the break from school. Spring is very pretty here as the Cherry Blossoms bloom. But my favorite season is definitely fall.

The excitement of a new school term. Football season beginning (in Europe and America). The air starting to turn cool after the long, hot summer. And all the trees changing colors. Especially the trees changing colors. What season do you most look forward to?


The Social Networks

Do you feel like you “get” social media, or do you just use it because that’s where your friends and family are?

This is the question posed in the latest WordPress writing prompt blog. I have pages on most of the popular social networking sites: Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn. I find that they are useful for sharing blog posts and sharing and keeping up with life events of family and friends. I would say that I “get” social media. I understand that it’s an easy way to share things online. But I prefer more traditional forms of communication.

I would much rather keep up with family and friends in person, by phone, or mail. Email is also something I enjoy using. But I don’t enjoy sharing the minutia of my daily life online. It seems that so many websites and companies are all too willing to take advantage of all this sharing at the expense of our privacy. If anyone who reads this wants to keep in touch by more traditional means, let me know and I’ll be happy to share my contact information. Also, if you’re not subscribed to my blog, I would love for you to do that 🙂

As somewhat private person (to people I don’t know), I can get overwhelmed from time to time with reading all the things my family and friends are sharing online. As long as I stay on these sites, it is useful for me to take occasional breaks from them. What about you? Are the social networks a useful tool for you?



Do parties and crowds fill you with energy, or send you scurrying for peace and quiet?

This was the introductory question for the latest Daily Prompt from WordPress. I have benefited from these prompts, turning several of them into posts. This is another one that I enjoyed. The introspective side of me can’t keep from a little self-reflection from time to time.

My answer is a bit of a convoluted one. I have developed pretty good people skills, I think. But I also require lots of time for reflection. Activities that are enjoyed alone, such as reading, writing, and listening to music, are the things I enjoy most. In social situations, I can usually be found talking to one or two people in the corner of the room.

I found a website with a personality questionaire and filled it out today. I think the results are right on the mark for me. I would be interested  to hear if those who know me best agree. And I would also be interested to hear your results from the test.

Here is the page for the INFP personality.

And here is the page to take the quiz.




Third Person Perspective

This is a WordPress writing prompt idea. The challenge is to list at least six things that are unique, exciting, odd, etcetra. A few of these are things I’ve written or talked about on this blog. Feel free to ask or comment about anything that piques your interest, or you want to hear more about. I’ll probably add/take away from the list as I think of more interesting ideas. Here goes.

1) I am a published author.

2) I have Spina Bifida.

3) I am named after my father and grandfather.

4) A few of my closest friends have given me the nickname “Niles” because of my resemblance to David Hyde Pierce from “Fraser”.

5) Several of the students at the school where I work as a substitute call me Spiderman because of a resemblance to Tobey Maguire.

6) I am the only person in my immediate family who can grow a beard. My dad wore a mustache for a long time, though.