Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Bedside Books

Bedsidebks_2 I'm in a reading dry-spell. I haven't read a good novel since summer, and the stack by my bed is growing taller and dustier. Of the books sitting there, four are books I've already read, but want to reread. Three have been there for at least six months and may never be finished. Several are from the library, and, therefore, the only ones ensured of being read. Since having children, I read more nonfiction than fiction, because it doesn't demand that I abandon my family the way a good novel does. For that very reason though, a library deadline is a good thing.

History of Love was my favorite novel of '06, and I've been amazed at the mixed reactions of others. When I mentioned it to DB, she told me she gave copies of it to everyone for Xmas, while another friend didn't like Leo at all. Personally, I am in love with this old Jewish man, and can't wait to revisit him...eventually. Personal Strength-Spiritual Joy is written by my good friend Jan and her husband. So much wisdom in it, I'll always be rereading it. Finally, The Hiding Place is a holocaust memoir I read in high school and had completely forgotten until I was reminded by WS's list on Goodreads.

Two of the long term residents are Understanding Exposure,  on photography, and Joan Didion's collected essays, We Tell Ourselves Stories In Order To Live. Both are brilliant, and well worth their price, but they are the kind of books I enjoy a little at a time. I've been reluctant to find them proper homes because once a book goes on a shelf without having been finished, its fate seems sealed.

The library check-outs are mainly Harold Kushner, another old Jewish man with whom I'm in love. Best known for his classic When Bad Things Happen to Good People, Kushner takes scripture seriously without taking it literally. Definitely my favorite rabbi.

Please email some novel recommendations. I need some good fiction for the winter. This summer I read Jude the Obscure (yes, for the first time...I naively thought I knew what to expect); The Time Traveler's Wife and The Center of Everything. None of those, not even Hardy, compared to the highlight of my spring reading, Crossing to Safety. Maybe it was the modesty of its intentions, but it was oh so good.

I also read nonfiction this summer, but they were all library check outs. Deadlines work for me. Otherwise Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle would still be sitting on my bookshelf, unfinished, and making me feel guilty.

Instead, it's back on the library bookshelf, finished, and still making me feel guilty.

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