Saturday, October 25, 2008

So Many Books, So Little Time

Yesterday, I had one of those days where I had a list of errands and appointments, and I knew I was going to have gaps of time in between to fill. I usually take whatever I'm currently reading for such times ... I can have an embarrassingly good time just sitting in the car in some pleasantly shady spot, reading quietly. But yesterday, I didn't have anything to take along. I'd finished my pile of library books, and hadn't started anything new.
Before I headed out the door, I grabbed something out of the "haven't read yet" section of my bookshelf. I grabbed "So Many Books, So Little Time" by Sara Nelson, a book reviewer for Publisher's Weekly magazine. Subtitled "A year of passionate reading," the book is Nelson's account of a year where she determined to read a book a week and write about it. It may not sound that fascinating to you, but as a hard-core book lover, this is the sort of thing I love. Reading a book about reading books! Perfect.
I loved Nelson's chatty style, which turned out to the perfect thing for my reading in fits and starts yesterday. And I was so struck by how similar her attitudes toward reading are to my own. She talks about needing to be in the right sort of mood or setting to read a certain book, and how re-reading favorites is, for her, a way of linking back to where she was and who she was with when she read a book for the first time. She talks about the delicate awkwardness of getting book recommendations from friends ("You'll just LOVE 'The Bridges of Madison County,' I promise!!") and how a shared taste in reading can be the basis for a friendship. She talks about the "coming of age" moment when she decided that she didn't have to finish every single book she started (for me it was in law school, when reading time was too precious to waste on a crummy novel), and how the more certain books are hyped, the less she wants to read them.
It was as if she was looking into my head.
As one of my errands was a library visit, I came home with a big stack of books and, based on Nelson's commentary, an even bigger list of things to check out next. My random grab from the bookshelf turned out to be the perfect thing for the day.
In case you're interested, here are the books she talks about that made me want to add them to my "must read" list:
Breakfast at Tiffany's 'by Truman Capote (well, yes, I've seen the movie, but never read the book...)
FLOATERby Calvin Trillin
Slammerkinby Emma Donoghue
Kitchen Confidential Updated Ed: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly (P.S.)by Anthony Bourdain (am I the only one who hasn't read this yet?)
How To Lose Friends And Alienate Peopleby Tony Young
Love Junkieby Robert Plunket
A Child Out of Alcatrazby Tara Ison
Whitegirlby Kate Manning
So now I will go forth and read. (Or stay in and read, I mean.)


  1. Anonymous11:03 AM

    Thanks for this book suggestion. I love books about books! Slammerkin seems really intriguing, I'll have to get that from the library.

    I've only had bad luck re-reading books that were important to me: They always strike a much different chord, probably because I'm at a different point in my life than when I first came across them. For example, I remember laughing through my entire reading of Cat's Cradle by Vonnegut, back in college. But in re-reading it, I found it so depressing -- the end of the world. (Now I've got more people in my life that I wouldn't want to have just disappear...).

    Because of this, I'm afraid to reread some of my personal classics. An Episode of Sparrows by Rumer Godden is one that I don't want to touch. It made me cry as a 14-year-old. I don't want to lose the tenderness it aroused back then.

  2. I just finished "The Book Thief" by Markus Zusak and absolutely loved it. About, what else, a book thief in WWII Germany.