Thursday, September 14, 2006

...all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well. - Julian of Norwich

Alrighty then.

I finished Water for Elephants. And I take back all my hemming and hawing and hesitation and procrastination. It is a GOOD book. Even if it is on the best seller lists and every Tom, Dick, and Harry is requesting it from the library (240 holds on 60 copies at last check). I will buy it when it comes out in paperback, because it’s a strange little book that most definitely bears rereading. It was SATISFYING, in a way many, many books fail to be. It’s going to be a hard act to follow. I feel very at sea regarding my next to-be-read book right now.

Of course, when I returned it to the library, I checked out more books. I checked out Perishable: A Memoir, because you can never read too many books about slacker parents who support their families by dumpster-diving (two this month, yee-haw!). And I checked out Sarah Dunant’s latest, In the Company of the Courtesan, because 1) I liked her first book very much, and 2) you can never read too many books with dwarves as main characters (three this month, yee-haw!) Dwarves must be the new illiterate-abused-Southern-gal-with-spineless-mama-and-abusive-stepfather of the literary world.

I also, as usual, perused the sale section of the library. And I picked up some real winners. Which I would tell you about, but I won’t since they are soon to be winging – or dogpaddling across the Pacific, judging by the non-speediness of the last package I sent - their way Down Under, along with a few of the best chocolate bars on earth and some Teddy Grahams and some other little treats, and I would like them to be a pleasant surprise, and so I leave it to Suse to reveal all when the time is right.

I returned most of the books I checked out of my work library, but I am hanging onto Broken for You because a friend recommended it, and she has proven herself to have excellent taste in books. And I like the way it starts. Usually, if the first few paragraphs of a book do not grab me, I find it hard to slog thru to get to the part that does. That may be shallow, but it’s only one of a few methods I use to determine if a book is going to be something I want to spend the time to get into.

The first few paragraphs have to grab me and not let go.
If someone I respect or whose taste I most always agree with recommends a book, I’ll stick with it longer than I normally might.
It’s by an author I normally adore but maybe this book, not so much…I’ll hang in there.

BUT…life is too short to keep plugging away at a book that’s just not doing it for me.

Because every once in a while it strikes me how very many books are out there, and I am thirty-six years old, and not getting any younger, dangnabbit! and just every once in a while, I am panicked because I KNOW I am never going to read everything I want to read, and that makes me very sad, and melancholy, and morose, and all sorts of other synonyms for “damned depressed.” Not sad enough to, you know, put my head in the oven or anything – and not just because that would seriously affect my ability to read - although in some of my darker hours I admit freely that the only thing that held me back from perhaps doing myself some bodily harm was the thought that I haven’t read nearly everything I want to…and sometimes I think how pleasant it would be to absolve myself of all responsibility and lie on the couch and read ALL. DAY. LONG and why did I think having a spouse and children was such a good idea ANYWAY…?

It’s a sickness, I tell you, and no one has yet come up with the literary equivalent of methadone. THANK GOD. Because my family would slap me into a rehab clinic faster than you can spend a Barnes and Noble gift card. The first time I heard Primo say, “Will someone PLEASE put down their book and PLAY with me?” I was indeed overwhelmed with guilt – but I still made him wait till I finished the chapter.


Sarah Louise said...

The way I deal with so many books so little time is the Borges quote: I always imagined paradise would be a library.

I'm enjoying the Adriana Trigiliani Big Stone Gap trilogy--Persuasion wasn't doing it for me. And then I need to start thinking about books for 4th&5th grade girls for my book group.

**maybe** eventually I'll read like water for elephants--but it's not on my must read right now. My apartment is full of overdue books...

Sarah Louise said...

oh, and that Julian of Norwich quote is one of my absolute favorites!!

Jess said...

Odd, I paraphrased the same quote today in my 'grad school panic' blog entry. Or perhaps not odd after all.

I was secretly hoping you'd say WFE wasn't good. Because I have a really hard time with books where the first things that jump out from the description are "circus" and "dwarves." I shall attempt to overcome my prejudice. "Dwarves must be the new illiterate-abused-Southern-gal-with-spineless-mama-and-abusive-stepfather of the literary world" had me howling. Or rather, I would be howling if it weren't almost 1 am and my roommate weren't trying to sleep.

lazy cow said...

When I'm in Borders (which is probably the largest bookstore in Melb) I almost tear up with the thought that I've read only a few of the books in the store.AND I have four years on you, and you've read so many more books than I have, I'm sure of it. Of course, it wouldn't hurt to read a few more of my OWN books too, instead of trawling the internet for hours reading about other peoples' book experiences. Just spent a satisfying hour deleting heaps of blogs that I mean to get around to reading, but feel guilty for not doing so.

lazy cow said...

Just asked the library to order W4E. Love, love, love on-line catalogues.
WV: owfark

Joke said...

I discipline myself by only reading (with a very few, notable exceptions) books that are particularly funny.


Gina said...

I used to worry that I was going to turn the boy against books, because he'd resent how much time I spent with them. It was a chance I was willing to take, though--I couldn't help it.

Turns out that he likes reading just fine, and is currently enjoying "Hoot". Whew!

Suse said...

I love that your blog includes quotes from Julian of Norwich and Ovid and musings on breastfeeding.

And I am so excited that a parcel of surprise books and chocolate is on its way to me! Weehee!

When I booked my plane ticket to come here to attend this funeral, my secret evil self thought "far out, two whole hours of uninterrupted reading time on a plane!"

Am reading Possession on your recommendation and LOVING it.

yt said...

Just the other day my Starbucks cup said that, if you are under 50, you should read the first 100 pages of a book before deciding to cut bait. If you are over 50, then you only need to read the difference between your age and 100. Because life is to short (and if you are over 50, getting shorter) to waste time reading something you don't like.

lisa said...

I told you you'd love Water for Elephants!!!!!