Friday, January 27, 2012

When You Are Engulfed in Books

There's a stack of books on my bedside table nearly one foot high. When I look at them, my heart quickens a little. It's been a long time... a long, long time since I tackled a stack of books like that. Two or three books would be a worthy starting point, but I decided to start big.

Three weeks ago, I finished reading my first book since the middle of October. Prior to that, I hadn’t finished a book in over a year.

One. Year. No books.

I can’t explain it. All I can say is that there have been other things on my mind. Even when I did finish a book in the last three years, they were few and far between. Compare that with this time four years ago, when I actually read a whopping 11 books in the month of January alone. There were even reviews that I wrote and posted like an organized, responsible writer! I was on top of my literary growth senior year of college, and then things went downhill. I’ll chock it up to my post-grad aimlessness and “near poverty” status. I just couldn't find the interest or energy to finish anything I started.

And that goes beyond books. 

From Kaitlin

So while finishing something has proved difficult, starting a book is a regular occurrence for me; I feel like I’m always beginning a new one. (Probably because I'm always buying a new one. Chronic Book Buying = actual sickness.) The feeling of diving into a brand new story is unrivaled for me. In a way, it's like starting a new diet: Things go so well at the beginning, and it feels wonderful to be motivated. It's great to feel like I'm doing something healthy for myself. But then something happens that derails me, and there are some days or weeks where I just don't eat healthy anymore. And the longer I stay away from those smart choices, the harder it is to pick it up again.

The Girl Who Played With Fire

Now, though, I am engulfed in books. I have friends who are constantly reading, and it inspires me. I feel good when I read, and I like feeling good. I like learning new things. I like feeling challenged.

And with a dad like mine, with his breadth of literary knowledge and library of enlightening classics and non-fiction masterpieces, I don't have an excuse.

My father's book with Doris Kearns Goodwin's autograph. A gift from my mother.

This is my promise to take advantage of every opportunity to let myself be engulfed, enraptured, and entranced by new stories and histories. I promise to spend less time watching "House Hunters International" and "Property Brothers" and "Diners, Drive-ins & Dives" and instead loose myself in Krakauer or Ishiguro or Larsson.

Variety is key.

Been sitting on my bedside table for far too long.

I think of books the way I think of movies: there are so few atrocious and unbearable ones—relative to the number of enjoyable ones, that is. And even when they are atrocious, they can still be fun and worth the read. There is no "right way" to write a story, which is why I love to read a little bit of everything. Biography, teen fiction, modern award winners, memoirs, classics, trashy romance... It keeps me on my toes. Life is too short to stick to one genre or style of writing, and I'm simply not smart enough to stick exclusively with Dickens, though I'm sure my dad would suggest I try my damnedest. 

Are any of you chronic book buyers like I am? Do you read books often and easily, or do you feel like you're always flaking on your own promise to read more? Oh, and because I think recommendations can't be beat...

What books top your list of favorites? Which ones are "must reads" for fun / enlightenment / knowledge / romance / whatever else you find awesome?

Simply put: I can't get enough right now. Help a girl out. I have an addiction to feed.

* Images property of People Just Float


  1. OH Stacy I support this goal. The thing I'm struggling with right now is a new subscription to the Economist paid for by my work - I find I can't even keep up with the weekly issues let alone make time for fiction reading.

    But anyway, if you haven't read Jonathan Safran Foer yet, do it. Both novels. I haven't read his one about eating animals, but I'm sure it's good. Some other recent reading highlights include Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon and White Teeth by Zadie Smith.

    Happy reading!

    1. I've totally had Kavalier and Clay sitting on my bookshelf - untouched - for the last 7 years. That's an atrocity! I'm glad to hear that it comes so highly recommended. I think it's time I gave it a shot. =)

    2. Oh goodness - my roommate, Jessie, in college got a subscription to the Economist, and I remember those issues piling up all over the apartment! It's a tough one to keep up with. Too bad it's not a *monthly* publication, then it might be manageable.

      I've heard wonderful things about all of those books, and I actually own both of Zadie Smith's novels (not her non-fiction one yet, though). They're in boxes, but I need to put those at the top of my to-read list!

  2. This made me want to go home and read IMMEDIATELY. I used to be such a speed-reader, and now... It takes me so long to finish even the simplest literature. I vow, alongside you, to take advantage of all that extra time I don't actually have. But instead of watching "Hoarders," or repeat episodes of "Happy Endings," I will pick up a new book. Or finish an old one. Or both.

    Yeah, I'll try both.

    *Raises actual glass* TO BOOKS!

  3. Stacy, I try to read like I exercise: every day and as part of my routine. At least that's what I try to do. Whether I’m successful at it is another story. haha. I got a Kindle for Christmas, so I've started really focusing on classics because they're free and I actually HATE spending a lot of money on buying books (I always end up leaving the library or the used book store with stacks and stacks of books!). Some of my recent good reads have been: Tender at the Bone by Ruth Reichl and The Time Machine by H.G. Wells. I also LOVED Pride and Prejudice last year as well as Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain. My Life in France by Julia Child is heartwarming and charming as well. TO BOOKS! :)