Tuesday, February 05, 2013

On reading.

Near the end of the year, last year, the year of our Lord 2012, I found myself not reading. Well, I was reading, of course: reading student portfolios and posts on the internet. By the score. Finding recipes, reading those. A magazine or so to leaf through.

But no books, nothing to lose myself in, no big stories. It was disturbing. I would say to myself, I've got to find a book to read. And then I would go on, not finding a book to read, thus reading posts on the internet and recipes and a magazine or so. It was a very sad state of affairs.

In the year of our Lord 2013, however, I have found myself reading again. This happened, largely, as I wrestled with myself over Lidia Yuknavitch's Dora: A Head Case. Which I was reading for my book group. As is the case so often, when I'm reading something that I need to read for some external purpose, such as a book group which I myself chose to belong to, I resist the book, which is obviously trying to be the boss of me. I put in my request to the library's robot, which obliged me almost immediately with the book, and also a Norwegian police procedural. In an absolute miracle of self-discipline, I required myself to finish Dora before I started the Norwegian treat.

I found the character of Dora to be excessively mean and I found her voice to be only intermittently in the author's firm control. Yet I found, as I resisted and persisted, that the book moved me and gave me things to think about, and I am still, in a sense, in the grip of Dora, a little.

I began the Norwegian procedural with great happiness, since I knew and liked the main character very much. About five-eighths of the way through the novel, when there were too many characters in an excess of jeopardy, I skipped to the final pages to find out who made it and who didn't. Then, I went back and read the remainder of the book slowly and carefully. It was excellent.

Next, I read the long-awaited third installment in a young adult series. Very gratifying.

In the meanwhile, I have assembled most if not all of the books I have bought but I have not yet read. That's how I came to pick up Joshua Ferris's The Unnamed, which I found to be devastating and beautiful. There were no apparent felicity conditions for my reading of it: it isn't part of a series, it's not a piece of genre fiction, and I did not read it for my book group. Instead, I picked it up because now, apparently, I am reading again. It is pure joy.

I KNOW!
Happily, I got an e-mail from the library's robot today, informing me that three of the books on which I had placed a hold were awaiting me on a shelf in the "Holds" section. I drove to the library after work and found not three but five books, each with a slip of paper in it with my name on it. I am reading, I am reading. I have books on deck. Life is good.

6 comments:

glennjo67 said...

If everyone gathered and read all of the books they've purchased and never opened or finished, book sales would drop for awhile. Like unused gift card, the industry survives on unread books. :)

Renaissance Girl said...

" I skipped to the final pages to find out who made it and who didn't." Argh! My mother does this! Argh!

That is all.

MJ said...

Love ! I'm reading Pam Houston's Contents May Have Shifted and my library robot tells me The Holy and the Broken is waiting for me. I am reading too! And it feels fine!

Amelia said...

Internet robots are amazing. It is official.

Ann said...

I am grateful for this list of good things to read. Thank you, HTMS!

Counterintuitive said...

good for you--books are salvation, therapy, LIFE. I too often stack unread purchased books, generally in a place that they will accost me daily and beg to be read. Sometimes works, sometimes said books find themselves unread again shelved in their appropriate genre.

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