Wednesday, October 04, 2006

When I get through tearing a lobster apart...I feel like I had a drink from the fountain of youth. - Joseph Mitchell

I picked up Nick Hornby’s new book, Housekeeping vs. the Dirt at lunch today. I’d walked downtown to pick up several books at that branch of the library. I know you want to know: Theft: A Love Story; Myrtle of Willendorf, by Rebecca O’Connell; Summertime, by Rafaela Barker.
I got the Carey because my friend The Rogue Librarian read it and was bemoaning the lack of people with whom to discuss it, and I do aim to please, or at least try to make my friends happy. Plus he just survived a coup d’etat (of the government of the country where he lives, not of him, how odd that would be, although you know, who doesn’t want to depose a mild-mannered librarian?) so I feel he deserves a bone thrown his way.
I got the O’Connell because Rebecca is the mom of one of Primo’s kindy classmates, and I made the embarrassing faux pas upon first meeting of being waaaay more excited that she is a fellow librarian than that she is a published author. Since her other book is a baby’s picture book of very few words - of which I am sure each and every one is clever and well-thought-out - the YA novel seemed more up my alley.
I got the Barker because someone. some blogger, actually - recently reminded me that I had read her funny and delightful novel Hens Dancing and then promptly forgotten her name, the book’s name, and anything remotely helpful in discerning which book it was I’d read other than that “hens” was in the title somewhere.
So after checking these out, and after the helpful man at the desk had renewed my unrenewable books (In the Company of the Courtesan and The Truth about Celia, neither of which, frankly, I have any hope of reading even with the renewal period) I crossed the street to Barnes & Noble.
This B&N holds an important place in my cold dead heart, because it is this very B&N where I spent close to an hour the morning of my wedding (post-haircut, pre-gowning) picking out something to read on the airplane to Italy. I distinctly remember buying a Penguin dictionary of saints, because by golly, if I was going to look at paintings of souls with their own flayed skins gripped in one hand, I was damn well going to know that the poor soul was Saint Jerome. I could not tell you what novel I picked up to read on my honeymoon. Surprising lack of attention to bookish detail, for me, but you have to remember that at that time I had not yet begun this blogging thing, and also had not yet met Gina, so there was really no one with whom to share this scintillating information anyway. Now of course it niggles at me, because I think knowing what I was reading at the time of my marriage could open a window in my psyche that could be very useful for, say, my therapist, and at least amusing to you.
The only other detail of my wedding I remember anywhere near as vividly as buying the dictionary of the saints is that my bridesmaid, while a dear dear friend and a lovely woman, was perfectly and utterly useless as a bridesmaid. I passed out prior to the service (I weighed 110 pounds and hadn’t eaten in several days) and the best man brought me a nice cold bottle of juice, complete with straw thru which to sip so I wouldn’t mess up my lipstick (!!); C drank my juice while I was in the bathroom. And also, she hogged the mirror. Even had I been wearing lipstick, I couldn’t have told you how it looked. Despite this fact of dreadful bridal neglect, she remains to this day one of my dearest friends whom I absolutely adore. Some of said adoration stems from the fact that she is the only other person I know who would, upon eating an entirely disappointing dinner at one restaurant, thinks nothing of proceeding to another, hopefully more exciting restaurant and consuming another complete meal.
Anyway, where was I? Oh yes, I walked across to the B&N on my lunch hour today and bought Housekeeping vs. the Dirt. I love reading about what other people are reading – and I love even more discovering that I am not the only loony who buys books that might sit unread for months or even years or possibly even forever, on my bookshelf just because – oh, someone recommended it, or the subject matter is something that interested me for about five minutes once, ten years ago, or it only cost ten cents so who cares what the book is about, it was ten cents! (In the interest of full disclosure, Gina is also that type of loony which is why we are such good friends and why we write an ostensibly-about-books blog together, but so far not many more of that sort have I met. Wise I am, yes. Yoda I am channeling, hmmm.)
And once in the B&N it suddenly became crystal clear what book I had gone in there for and desperately needed to buy RIGHT. THEN. I ran into a friend from church who is a full-time salesclerk there, and whom it is always a pleasure to see, if only because he likes me and seems happy to see me, probably since the last time I was at his house for dinner, I left him with all the leftover burnt almond torte for breakfast the next day. So he delved into the book bins in the back of the store - because it really is very new, and not even out on display in the store yet - and found the Hornby book for me, and we discussed what we were reading, briefly (he, The Grapes of Wrath; me, the Carey) before he had to go clerk and I had to go reference librarian.
And so tonight, I picked up the Hornby. Just to read one chapter, dabble a wee little in the delights to come. And I lost my head and read all the Lists of Books Bought, and the Lists of Books Read, with which Hornby begins every chapter, and cannot wait to read what he has to say about the books he has read which I also have read, among them: Housekeeping, by Marilynne Robinson, and Case Histories, by Kate Atkinson, and In Cold Blood, by Truman Capote – although in all honesty, I borrowed Gina’s copy of In Cold Blood and only got a third of the way in, and it still is sitting on my shelf, and she is such a kind soul and good friend that she has never mentioned that she might like to have it back so she can read it, in all of the nine months which I have had it in my possession.

Greater love hath no man, than that he loaneth one of his unread books to a friend.


Gina said...

I'll love you even if you never return the Capote--don't worry.

Maybe this weekend we can take our laptops and matching Hornby books to Starbucks and be TOTAL GEEKS together? :-)

Kathy said...

The Hornby book sounds great -- I'll have to see if my library has it.

I FINALLY finished In Cold Blood after several years of trying.

Jess said...

Why do we love books about books? It's a sickness, a beautiful sickness.

Joke said...

She drank your juice after you'd passed out?


Amy said...

I am resisting the pull of B&N (I want Charles Frazer's new book) because I never get out of there for under $100 and at the moment, $100 is not to be spent at B&N. I love this post. I love how you love books and how you can interject them into your lives in a hundred different ways. I would wonder, too, what I had purchased for my honeymoon travels, if I were you.

And In Cold Blood was good, but best paired with the Truman Capote movie that came out last year.

tut-tut said...

Glad you got the Summertime; can you suggest any other such authors? Helen Simpson writes some interesting short stories, but I don't think they always work.

BabelBabe said...

I can recommend the following authors, who are similar in tone, feeling, and comfort-level : ), although some are in different time periods and deal with different subjects.

Marian Keyes
Rosamunde Pilcher (only her big books - Shell Seekers, september, etc.)
Penny Vicenzi
Katie Fforde
Anna maxted
Elinor Lipman
Lisa Jewell

Not everything by all these authors is great, but they're a good place to start.

Some authors that come up in Books in Print when searching for similar reads, but whom I have not read are:
Rebecca Gregson
Gil McNeil
Mavis Cheek
Marie Desplechin

If they are any good, let me know!

Suse said...

I think I like your bridesmaid.

I also think I'm going to have do a post about the books I am not reading.

Rogue Librarian said...

First off, I don’t consider myself to be “Mild Mannered.”

Second and please don’t hate me for this, but I hadn’t read Theft… I was asking you if you read it to see whether it was worth picking up or not. I am reading it now however, and thus far enjoying it. Of course I’m reading it along side The Great Unraveling by Paul Krughman (I’m trying to read more political nonfiction to increase my geeky factor) so that could be artificially inflating my opinion of the fun fiction book.

Also, I’ve read In Cold Blood and I liked it, but to be honest it’s not a book I reflect back on often. After I finished it, I just let it go.

Bec said...

I've read Theft (and went looking for references to it on The Rogue Librarian's blog a while ago when you first mentioned this and failed to find any any now I know why! Still, it was very nice to lurk around TRL - seeing as how we're almost neighbours).

I liked Theft, but I liked the Secret River (Kate Grenville) more.

lazy cow said...

I love that you went to a bookstore the day of your wedding. I remember taking (and reading) Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen and Sophie's World - Jostein Gaardner on my honeymoon. ANd buying Fran Drescher's Enter Whining (what was I thinking?) at the resort's only store. There wasn't a lot of choice.
Mavis Cheek is an interesting author. British chick lit, but a little smarter.