It’s Monday! What are you reading? is a weekly meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journey. It’s a fun way to keep track of current reads and to find out what other people have been reading. There is a linky thing at the end of the post, so go forth, visit new reading blogs, and add to your to-read list!
Because 2014 has been declared my Thesis Year (aka The-Do-or-Die Year), I’ve been on a kind of self-imposed reading exile. When I open a book, I feel guilty, like my brain is programmed to shut down as soon as I begin to feel any pleasure from reading. It’s self-flagellation – cruel penance for having crammed my thesis writing into the last five months of my extended graduate school life. Unfortunately, I’m compensating for my inability to finish a book by ACQUIRING MORE BOOKS. I mean, what, isn’t that how it works? I know, I know: I’m a damaged human being. ANYWHAT. In recent acquisitions:
Longbourn by Jo Baker has recently been very visible in our local bookstores, so I got curious and picked it up. I’m a sucker for Pride and Prejudice. And Downton Abbey (Come on, I’m sure it’s what everyone is saying). I also found a copy of The Juliette Society by Sasha Grey, which Sasha of Silverfish fame has written nothing but good things about. (Sidebar: I showed it to the boy and he nodded knowingly.) Life After Life by Kate Atkinson is intriguing on its own but is also on the same best-of lists as Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch. I’ve been waiting for a paperback and finally got a copy last weekend. All these great books and my attention span barely able to sit still for tea. It’s a tragedy.
Nevertheless, I’m testing the waters with short stories. I’m making my way slowly through Vampires in the Lemon Grove by Karen Russell. It’s the first time I’m reading her work and, for a minute there, I was worried it was the wrong fit. I’ve known more grounded books to provide ballast for my hollow self. It’s their solid plots and straightfoward resolutions that pull me back to earth, that provide focus for my overthinking brain. But Russell’s stories are dreamy and surreal, defying any kind of classification. Yet I feel the knots in my mind unravelling. Her words crackle: it’s hard not to respond. If it’s a mental jumpstart I wanted, I think I’m getting it. The reading seems to be coming more naturally now – a rhythm I hope will seep into my writing. I like to think that finding my way back to the things I love will also help me think more creatively about my thesis. Or it could just be me really missing my books.
The father promised me a bookshelf, and most of January was spent helping him build it. My room is currently a construction site so my books have taken refuge under tables, behind closets, and inside the littlest sister’s pink abode.
This month’s weather has been perfect for snuggling under a blanket with a cup of hot chocolate and a good book. Dr. Bird’s Advice for Sad Poets by Evan Roskos continues to charm with its wit and Whitmanization. Hollow City, the sequel to the brilliant Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs, taunts me with its gripping mysteries and hauntingly beautiful photographs. Laurie Halse Anderson has proven to be one of the strongest voices in young adult fiction and I’m ecstatic about reading her latest book, The Impossible Knife of Memory. I stumbled upon an article that presented a list of must-read books and was immediately drawn to Chocolates for Breakfast by Pamela Moore. It was written in the 1950s and has gained notoriety for tackling issues such as sexuality and gender roles at a time when talking about them was still considered taboo. Needless to say, I am incredibly intrigued and am excited to read it.
2014 promises to be a good year for reading. I now take my time and restrain myself from inhaling each book as I usually do when I get excited. I welcome pauses to collect my thoughts, sort out my feelings, or relish sentences. I resolve to be a more careful reader, and am now gradually working my way towards achieving that goal.