My love of reading has been a defining characteristic of my life (and, consequently, my home decor) since I was a little girl. I have always been transfixed by the power of a good story. I always want to own the books that I read and love, because just glancing at the spine of a book on a shelf can remind me of the world contained within its pages.
I go through certain times in my life, however, that reading becomes even more to me than a hobby or a mental escape. I find myself reading books urgently, gulping in the words on a page as if they are air and I am coming up out of deep water. Non-readers will probably think that I’m nuts, but it’s as if I am reading because my soul is hungry. The last time this happened to me was my last semester of college. I was overwhelmed with the crossroads that were approaching in my life, and I plunged myself into literature. That semester, I read Wuthering Heights, Jane Eyre, Les Miserables, White Oleander, and poetry by Byron, Keats, Shelley, Burns, and Donne.
I am feeling myself moving into this stage again. I went to a Friends of the Library book sale (book accumulators like myself know that these yearly events are Mecca for book bargains) last week, and since I arrived back at home with my bag of treasures, I have finished two books and begun a third. I take my books with me to work, I listen to them on tape when I drive, and I plop down on the couch with them as soon as I come home from school. I’m indulging in book gluttony.
I am reading through my stack of library sale finds, which means that my reading list is much less classic and more random than that of my previous book binge. Here is my list so far:
–The Sun Also Rises (on tape)- meandering story about bitter Americans in Europe after WWI
–Memoirs of a Geisha (on tape)- very interesting story of a little Japanese girl who is basically sold into slavery, where she is trained for the life of a geisha
–The Kitchen Boy- a fictional account of the last days of Tsar Nicholas and his family as they were kept under house arrest by the Bolsheviks, told from the perspective of the young boy who worked in the kitchen. Very interesting twist at the end.
–High Tide in Tuscon– nonfiction essays (which are not typically my style) by Barbara Kingsolver. We disagree on almost every important issue, but I love her prose style and find her opinions to be thought-provoking.
–Desire of the Everlasting Hills– a discussion of the historical impact of the life of Jesus from basically a secular viewpoint. The author brings a very different perspective to Biblical stories than you get from Sunday School. As with Kingsolver, I don’t always agree…but it’s thoughful reading.
In the queue:
–Atonement by Ian McEwan
–Dispaches from the Front by Anderson Cooper
-The Stranger by Albert Camus
-The DaVinci Code by Dan Brown
–The Virgin Blue by Tracy Chevalier
-A Year in Provence by Peter Mayle
“Literature duplicates the experience of living in a way that nothing else can, drawing you so fully into another life that you temporarily forget you have one of your own. That is why you read it, and might even sit up in bed till early dawn, throwing your whole tomorrow out of whack, simply to find out what happens to some people who, you know perfectly well, are made up.” -Barbara Kingsolver