So it turns out, deciding to share each book I’m reading on Instagram (complete with a hashtag, #leahreads2014), and then to write about them in groups of three on my blog, is making me inspired to read more. At the beginning of the year when I set my “four simple goals”, I didn’t choose “read more books” as part of it, but sometimes things just come along and make sense, so you keep doing them. I was already an avid reader, but that extra step of sharing the books I’m reading online, and then reporting on them, is making me more committed than I was.
I don’t have an e-reader and although I’ve heard good things from some people about them (mainly, that they’re great for travelling), I’m both too poor to afford one, and also just not that interested in them. I guess I feel like, why fix what’s not broken? Paper books have always been just fine with me. And as so many aspects of my life are increasingly moved online, from banking to schoolwork, to communicating with friends, I relish having something to “interface with” that is just paper and ink. No swiping, no links, no tabs. No possible distractions popping up or tempting me. Plain and simple. Turn each page. Read the words. Repeat.
Although, I’ve never actually tried an e-reader, so maybe I’ll change my mind when I do.
Also, I’ve had some people comment on how fast I’m reading. I am a fast reader, it’s true, but I’ll tell you my secret: I have a boyfriend who doesn’t like to talk. When we are together in the evenings, we sit on the sofa and watch television. We’ll talk a little bit about our day, but mostly we just sit and do our own thing. He plays a video game on his phone or watches TV. I’ll watch TV too, but especially if its sports, I’ll turn so I’m facing away from it, get his feet on my lap so I can rub them, and curl up with my book. At first it was hard to tune out the television, but I’ve gotten better at it. So I get about an hour or more of reading almost every night, this way.
And depending on how much I love the book, I’ll read at breakfast too, or in bed before turning out the light.
So after my last book report, I started in on White Oleander, by Janet Fitch. My friend Jacquie had loaned me this book a year ago, saying she thought I would like the lyrical language used in it. I read the synopsis — a girl in foster care because her mother murdered someone — and thought it would be too dark and depressing for me. So it stayed on my night table-bureau-thingie for a year. I’d look at it and think, “I should probably return that to Jacquie, I’m never going to read it.”
I’m not sure what happened to change my mind. Maybe because I was on a roll with reading, and had just finished “The Interestings” by Meg Wolitzer, which was a book I’d also thought wouldn’t interest me, but did. So I gave White Oleander a try. And because I had shared the photo of it on social media, I felt I didn’t want to give up halfway through. I wanted to finish it.
So, it wasn’t my favourite book. I’ll say that. It describes the difficulties of being a young woman in foster care, moving from home to home, sometimes taken advantage of. Ultimately the main character overcomes the shit in her life and she becomes strong within herself. But some of the scenes were like witnessing a car crash. But, White Oleander was very well written, and had some beautiful images and passages. It made me think about what art is, and entertainment, and why we read books. Do we read them for pure entertainment, or should we brace ourselves for some unpleasantness, and discomfort, so that we can learn through the story? Experience the sensation at a distance, inoculate ourselves in a way, like taking a flu shot?
I borrowed it from a friend but it is also available through the Cape Breton Regional Library.
Let’s Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson. After White Oleander I needed some laughs. I had been wanting to read this book since a while, even though I don’t follow the blog that spawned it. (I’ve checked it out, but I only follow a few blogs on the daily, and the why and wherefore of which ones is a topic for another post!) I love reading books by bloggers (go figure) and memoirs are one of my favourite genres, especially by modern ladies that I can really relate to.
This book was quite funny, as the author is super insightful into herself, her neuroses, her anxieties. It’s about life as a lady in modern times, including her relationship with her husband (mismatched and chaotic, yet loving – I can relate!), the jobs she’s had in HR, her poor rural upbringing with a nutty taxidermist father, her pregnancies and various illnesses including mental ones.
Reading this book in big chunks is a little overwhelming, as it feels a bit like the author is yelling at you, she’s a person who (at least on paper) talks and talks and talks. It’s overwhelming at times. But it’s funny stuff, and really, we all have these running monologues in our heads. So it’s very relatable.
And the endpaper is super cute.
The Sisters Brothers by Patrick DeWitt was loaned to me by my friend Marion. The image at the top of this blog post is the first page of it. It is written in a languorous tongue, and it made me think in such a way as though I were in that time as well. Fire, horses, biscuits, saloons, baths that cost thirty-five cents, new hats and shirts, a travel overland encountering a witch, prospectors, hotel proprietors, and duelling gunmen…the narrator is a wry and sensitive man who wants to find love and maybe quit being an assassin, but he and his brother are hired for a job and he’ll see it through.
I liked the short chapters, the look into a time past, and found it a dusty sort of romance, spare and uncomplicated. Precise. I say romance although there is very little actual man-and-woman lovey-dovey stuff, but more a romance for a time past. Mind you, the story is also graphic and violent at times, but it only made me squirm a little. (And I usually turn away from the screen if a movie or show is showing violence.)
Oh and the book cover design? Probably one of the best I’ve ever seen. (I can’t leave that out!)
More soon, but if you want to see the books I’m reading as I’m reading them, follow me on Instagram.
Now back to my homework, and hopefully I can get outside today too, the sun is beautiful on the snow! And tomorrow of course is Super Bowl Sunday, and I’m looking forward to taking the day “off” schoolwork, sleeping in, and eating lots of bad things like chicken wings and egg rolls. Have a fantastic weekend!