Know What I Hate?
I really, really hate that.
I don't go to the library as often as I should. I like books, and I like to own books. Plus, I have this problem, you see, which makes it impossible for me to check out one or two books.
I check out 20.
This puzzles husband. I can't possibly read 20 books in the three weeks allotted. So why in the world would I check out 20 books? It also irritates him because invariably, I do not return them on time, and I end up with a huge fine.
I? Am single handedly financing the new wing with my fines alone. You're welcome.
But here's the thing...see...
I get a panicky feeling if I don't have something to read. Reading is my escape, and it's also how I "turn off" at night. I am a worry wart and a lifelong insomniac. I literally cannot shut off my brain unless I have something to distract me from the day to day woes that all of us experience, and anaesthatize me into blissful somnolence. Well, as blissful as I get, anyway.
I have all my old favorites of course. My tried and true, my read 'em any time, anywhere and they're just as good as the first 20 times I read 'em, books.
They're neither too shallow nor too deep, they're neither too cerebral, nor too frivolous, they're neither to serious nor too silly. They're a just right mixture that can transport me from my everyday world into place where domestic and familial responsibilities don't exist.
I'll list just a few of those for you:
Pillars Of The Earth by Ken Follett
The Stand by Stephen King
Outlander by Dana Gabaldon
Peace Like a River by Leif Enger
A Tree Grows In Brooklyn by Betty Smith
The Descent by Jeff Long
Cabinet of Curiosities by Preston and Child
Fried Green Tomatoes At The Whistle Stop Cafe by Fannie Flagg
Cold Sassy Tree by Olive Anne Burns
The Prince Of Tides by Pat Conroy
The Other Boleyn Girl by Phillippa Gregory
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
They are like old friends, these books.
But it's good to make new friends. The promise of discovery that lies between the pages of a new book never fails to thrill me.
So when I don't have something new to look forward to, I feel somewhat despondant.
So I check out a buncha books, in case those that I have chosen fail to transport, delight, titillate and enterain the way I need them to. I have about a 50% success rate when picking books blindly off library shelves.
Which, by the way, I love to do. It's like a treasure hunt. I can spend hours in the library sniffing out something new and wonderful and undiscovered. The New York Times Bestseller list isn't necessarily the be all and end all of worthwhile literature.
So I usually expect that half the number of books I check out will be tripe. But half will be delicious.
Not so this last trip. Everything I have picked up has been disappointing. I am saving two for last; The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini and Shibumi by Trevanian.
I have steadfastly refused to read The Kite Runner. It's a personal policy of mine to avoid anything that is overhyped. That goes for books, movies and events. Inevitably, I am disappointed, so I have learned to rely on my own insticts rather than public opinion.
Cases in point:
The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold. Everybody loves this book. I found it dull, poorly written and totally predictable. Not to mention depressing.
Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum series.
I wish I had a dollar for every person who has extolled the virtues of this series to me. YAWN. I think there are 14 of these literary snooze fests now. I know she's a cash cow and everything, but I think it's time for ole Steph to retire.
Confessions of a Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella.
It's so funny!!! I was told. It was insipid in the extreme.
Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
Why do people love this book? Heathcliff is a boor and a misanthrope and Catherine is a self-absorbed twit. This isn't a romance, for heaven's sake. It's a book about miserbale people making other people miserable. Pass.
There are tons more, but of course, now that I am behooved to provide examples, I can't think of them.
I'm not really a fan of books about Middle Eastern culture, which is odd, because I really like Middle Eastern culture itself. But I did not enjoy Reading Lolita in Tehran, I did not enjoy Lipstick Jihad, and I did not enjoy The Bookseller of Kabul. I don't know why, really. I can't quite put my finger on the reason those books failed to forge a connection with me, or, I with them. They were...interesting, just not...wholly and completely enagaging, the way I need a book to be.
Maybe it's because I just can't relate to being caught between two cultures, or living in a country ravaged by political, religious, and cultural unrest.
But, because there seems to be a dearth of good reading material of late, I picked it up.
And it's waiting, at the bottom of the stack, taunting me with it's uncertainty. Could it really be as good as everyone says? Do I dare hope? Or will it be another disappointment of Oprah's Book Club proportions?
There are two more books in the stack before I reach Kite Runner. Beneath it is Shibumi.
Surely, one of the two will be worth the wait.
Please tell me what wonderful things you have read lately. My TBR list is woefully short and I need something new to sink my teeth into.