Bullied By Books

Reading. I’m having a hard time of it lately. I have a stack, a trove if you will, of books bought both new and used. The authors are writers I want to read. The titles are books I want to read. I’m spoiled for choice. Besides all that fiction I have numerous non-fiction books of interest to read. if I did nothing else, all day, all night, didn’t work, didn’t cook, just slept and read, I don’t doubt it would take months of dedication to get through them all.

So what’s the first thing I did today while I was at the library?

I borrowed two more books.

They are, to be fair, outside my normal range. One is a british chic lit, Getting Rid of Matthew by Jane Fallon. I’ll admit to really enjoying Bridget Jones’ Diary. I’m not a fan of chic lit in general but there is a strong, witty streak to the British stuff that makes the women less vacuous and more human. So far it’s mostly what I suspected, though I’m mentally adding a slapstick “taped in front of a live (but British) studio audience” vibe and casting the main character as the actress from The IT Crowd to keep myself entertained. I’m at page 63. I thought about stopping, but considering I’ve only been reading it for an hour I can probably finish it in a day or two. A whim, but a brief one.

The other book, The Monsters of Templeton by Lauren Groff, is one I’ve heard of somewhere but can’t place. The setting spans generations and the story involves ghosts. Well-blurbed on the back cover.

I’m still reading The Years of Rice and Salt by Kim Stanley Robinson, which is somewhat embarrassing since I’ve been reading it on and off for nearly a month now. It’s a big book, some 750-odd pages (which does not normally discourage me – I like the “big fat fantasies” that have some bite, like George R. R. Martin), with a really fantastic what-if premise – how would the world look if the plague killed all of Europe and left the Muslim, Hindi and Asian nations behind? He follows this earth-sized story through the eyes of two protagonists who are reincarnated over and over. But because we only get glimpses. because we must cover so much ground, I feel more often than not very removed from the characters. In the end I find it very interesting, but at times dry only because I prefer that close-up view, that window of experience, that I’m not getting here. It’s doubly killing me because I loved his Red Mars, Green Mars, Blue Mars trilogy years ago. Loved it. I was hoping to recapture that love with this book. I’m not giving up on it just yet, though.

And I’ve finished Tamora Pierce’s Wild Magic, Book One of the Immortals. (The link does not, annoyingly so, go to the version of the book I bought while at Ad Astra. For some reason they do not have the newest release’s cover available.) Very quick read, meant for somewhere between middle graders and young adult, though perhaps a little young for the sensibilities of the new YA markets. At times it did feel overly-rosy in outlook but then there were dark elements dealt with quickly and cleanly, with little commentary or explanation. It made the world feel a more honest place than it might have been in the hands of someone with less faith in children’s ability to handle to truth. It did also feel like I’d stepped in to the middle of a much larger tale in two ways – the book could have easily been the first act of a bigger novel and there are stories that come before and come after the time period of the books so if I go back to those original works I’ll already be spoiled on some of the happy endings.

Again, where were these kinds of books when I was a child? The more I try to think about how and where I found books as a young reader, the more I realize I was left on my own to find books, either at the book store, the school library or the public library.

So that’s where the book situation sits. It’s one of those things, I think, that when you have too much choice you run the risk of choosing nothing. In the last few weeks, that’s the way my mind has run lately, choosing nothing over something. Once all the tests are over and I’m back to something approaching normal, hopefully that mental funk will (should, had better!) fade.

Though I’m sure an office tear down and rebuild won’t hurt either.

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