It is what you read when you don't have to

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

 that determines what you will be when you can't help it.

Oscar Wilde

I'm mad, simply mad, about books right now. I attribute it to a lack of fiction in my life over the last few years courtesy of a full time college career and a family life to juggle. My nights were spent curled up with study guides, notes and textbooks... I simply couldn't commit to a work of fiction (or even non-academic nonfiction). I started several books then quickly abandoned ship. My nightstand was the island of misfit novels. As a teenager and young adult, I was enveloped in a good book at all times, so this period of my life was quite a departure from the norm.

My girl Patricia Cornwell burned me with one of her much beloved Scarpetta novels (what happened there, Patricia?) and it took my sophomore and junior year to final get through it. I later realized the book was rubbish, not my reading skills, but I didn't pick up another book for a long time. Then, over last Christmas break, I committed to reading Gone Girl and my love was reignited. I read Into the Darkest Corner and Heading Out to Wonderful (historical fiction... totally out of character for me) in record time during summer vacation. Nothing like a few dark but riveting novels back to back to get the juices flowing. 

My favorite corner of our house.
When I say I'm mad about books, it is no exaggeration. I must have read a zillion dust jackets over the last few months, and sheer determination to stick to our budget is the only thing that stands between me and the need for another bookshelf. (I do have blow money for such things, but I value my morning coffee too much to spend it all on literature. Books are a close second, though.) I was such a stranger to my local library that I'm fairly positive my card expired. Time to remedy that. Kiddo, however, devours books at an otherworldly rate. Devours them. His love of literature makes my heart happy.

My days are currently less packed with only one class, though it is a rigorous one and I have also added a research job to my plate. I'm not exactly bursting with free time. So while I keep an impossibly long list of must-reads on my phone, I simply can't get to them all. But I'll sure try. In December my undergrad years will officially be behind me, and I will be able to find a better balance when it comes to work and pleasure.

I can't be sure if my long-term literature fast has altered my taste in books, but there seem to be a million good novels out there right now. Tons. I almost missed my flight trying to pick a book at the Hudson News in the Newark airport this summer. How could I choose just one?

Here's a peek at my list, as it stands now, though it seems to gain an entry with each passing day. I don't tend to stick to one genre, instead judging each book individually. A wide array of interests has left me with a endless quantity of potential reads:

// I discovered the second book in this series, Shadow of Night, which then led me to the first (A Discovery of Witches). I think there may be a third? The reviews are great and I'm intrigued. // I see Tell the Wolves I'm Home everywhere. I have read the synopsis and put it back down several times. I added it to the list because clearly something in the plot line is drawing me in. // The cuteness of this little guy is enough to make me give it a go. But the story captured my heart. // I read This is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper several years ago, then bought a copy for my aunt, an avid reader. It is funny and heartbreaking and real. The way he captures the nuances of a dysfunctional family dynamic is brilliant. When I saw this book, I instantly knew I had to read it. // I bought The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry for my mother-in-law last Christmas. The truth is, I want to borrow it back. // I really enjoy Carl Hiassen novels. When I want something funny, interesting, and light, I go to his section of the bookstore. He's a great go-to author. // I've mentioned that, as a family, we are newly obsessed with the show Castle. While at the bookstore the other day, I noticed the novels written by the character on the show are actual novels. And the character's bio is in the back of the book. I googled it and apparently the ghost writer is the best kept secret in town, as the show's creators stay "in character" when interviewed about the books. They aren't actually on my list, but I was fascinated by how they blurred the lines. (This one's for you, Robin Thicke.) //

// I picked up The Rathbones at Costco during a recent visit. I'd neither seen nor heard of it, but loved the storyline. It sits, waiting to arrive at the top of the queue. // This book is a true story about a woman who was lost and set out about finding herself by hiking the entire Pacific Crest Trail (1000+ miles). This appeals to my need to find a purpose as of late. To drop everything and explore the world in an attempt to find myself. // I read The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao a few years ago. It was a complete departure from my usual reading choices, but I loved it. I feel differently about that book than I have any other... and am still surprised that I liked it so darn much. I can't put my finger on why, exactly, but I thought about it a lot afterward. I'm sure this book will be no less profound. // Beautiful Ruins is everywhere. I can't not put it on the list. I must know what has the literary world a-buzzing. // Neil Gaiman wrote the children's book Coraline and Stardust (which became the movie starring Claire Daines). I just discovered that another of his books, Neverwhere, sits on my bookshelf waiting to be read. Jared has read The Graveyard Book thanks to the amazing class library his teacher has compiled. I can't wait to get to this book, and wish this author appeared on my radar sooner. // JoJo Moyes has a couple books on the best seller list right now. I'd like to read them both, but this book piques my interest the most. //

// Is this one of those life changing reads? All signs point to yes. I have a feeling I would need to be in the right frame of mind to tackle this one... but how will I know when that is? See? It's already worming its way into my psyche. // I've been thinking a lot about my love of marine biology. It's a really tough career field to get into (and make a living doing it), and I'm not sure my dream job exists, but I can still find ways to feed my love of all things ocean. Kiddo and I both want to read this book, so we brought it home. // I first saw this book at the Newark airport. It came down to this and one other book, but The Happiness Project won. Later, I decided to seek out The Mourning Hours but couldn't remember anything but the jar of fireflies on the cover. I looked everywhere and became slightly obsessed with finding it. I finally did, last week. At Target of all places. Now I'm almost afraid to read it. I spent months searching for it and I hope it lives up to my mental hype. // Am I the last living person who has not read Life of Pi (or seen the movie)? I thought it would be a good one to read aloud with Kiddo at bedtime. // This was a random book I stumbled upon at Barnes and Noble and brought home a long time ago. I rediscovered it on the bookshelf this morning. // The Night Circus is yet another book I see here and there and decided I must explore.//

I've noticed a couple things about myself as a result of my recent infatuation with books. First, collecting books that intrigue me is almost as important as reading them. Almost. You see, Mario and I have always envisioned a room in our home with built in bookshelves. The kind that fill walls and go up and over doorways. Shelves full of old favorites and those waiting to be picked up. I always want an array of great books around so that no matter where I am in my life, there is a book waiting for me. We are not there quite yet house-wise, but I still have a strong desire to compile an amazing home library in preparation for the day that particular dream is realized.

The second thing I've noticed is that reading fiction is a skill and I'm a bit rusty. The first time I picked up a book in a while, I had trouble focusing. The book was great, but I'd find myself rereading paragraphs and losing track of characters. I had trouble accessing the ability to let go. To allow myself to get lost in a good book is something I've had to work on. I was surprised by that. 

Is it weird that I'm dedicating an entire post to a reading fetish I just can't shake? Are you still with me? (No judgement if you lost interest... this post was a doozey.) Feel free to offer suggestions (or opinions), my fellow bookworms. There is plenty of storage space left on my phone.


  1. All the JoJo Moyes books are good, but Me Before You is great. Also loved the Discovery of Witches books - the historical and literary references are so interesting.

  2. I desperately need to get back into reading, I miss it.


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  4. I'm so jealous of your books! :-) I know how ti feels to lose the passion in reading and had it revived once more. Now, I just can't stop reading. But I must say, that I read a bit slower now that I used to, maybe 5 years ago. I'm glad I'm back to reading. Happy reading!


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