Thursday, August 18, 2011

Journal 52 Reading

I guess this is an 'in-between' post.
I've been journalling again, with my new journal, pen touching paper, and I'm loving it.
All the things I don't post on this blog (I know it doesn't seem possible there is more) are going into this journal. My writing style changes with the passing years, and I'm excited to write like this again, alone in bed, late at night, charting my dreams and desires, without worrying about whose reading them.
So I'm going to do, for lack of a better word, some summer book reviews. I mean, I've been reading like a crazy person. A typical week, despite a packed work-and-social-schedule, involves, lately, two to three reads. Sometimes simultaneously.
At night, after dinner and clean-up, which is usually around 9 pm, I'm on the couch with my book for at least an hour of deep reading. I don't even turn on the tv lately (there's nothing on).


I've got alot of books to talk about. And I'm not going to get all literary on you. I've gone down the literature path, I still flirt with it now and then, I've read the prize-winners, but, for the same reason I am a bookclub drop out...I need to find my own way with books.
Bookclub was yet another added scheduled event in my frenzied life, and whenever I went, our discussion rarely got around to the book, picked by the group, which was rarely ever to my liking.
It also interfered with my reading (I know...most people join bookclubs to add to it). I mean, it interfered with the pace at which I read, which I devour books. And the way I choose them.
Which is, completely at random. Yes, I love memoir/biography/life-non-fiction of all kinds, and I do read novels, but on my time, on my schedule, and on my terms.

Books Read so far this Summer (again, in no particular order. my time management skills are shot--I look to last week when I was out of MILK for four days; any random item in my apartment that I "put away" goes into a black hole...I'm sorry. I can't put ANYTHING in order right now..)

Blackbird (memoir 1) and then, Still Waters (memoir 2) by Jennifer Lauck.
I did not know that this was an Oprah's book list book, years ago (2002 I believe). I plucked the two off the shelf, out of obscurity, so I thought, at the library, and ended up barely moving from a sunchair one entire weekend out of my obsession to finish them, especially Still Waters, which I preferred to Blackbird. However, you have to read Blackbird for the background, Lauck's childhood, which is about as harrowing as you can get when both your parents are absent for most of it.
But I identified more with Still Waters, her adolescent/young adult search for herself, for the person she wanted to become, and how she set about doing just that. The scenes in the book where she visits a monastery, the latter portion, for a slim chapter, are the most vivid for me.
Where not to lose your soul. An old friend always reminded me to hold on to mine. How right he was about how hard that can be sometimes.

I moved from difficult memoir reading (not the writing, just the subject matter) to searing fiction by the very prolific Alice Hoffman, who loves to throw that element of mystery in her often-saga-like novels, with generations of women interconnecting, mothers and daughters, and grandmothers and sisters, and all of their inter-woven lives. I've read a large percentage of Hoffman's fiction, and I like the element of mystery/spirit she threads in her stories.
This latest find, oddly enough called The Story Sisters, is particulary clever; curious about the role fate plays in our lives; how all of our decisions, and the decisions of those around us, affect the outcome of our lives. How sometimes we are just puppets on the stage, players, playing the role we've been cast, and never going against type.
The three sisters in this novel have, in various portions of the book, close, then wrenching, relationships with each other. You name the neuroses, this book has it. Death, divorce, addiction, missing persons, escape through geography, the catastrophic set my heart racing, and yet again, I stayed up late at night, knowing full well I had to be up for work at seven the next morning, but it didn't matter. I had to find out what was going to happen in the next frame of these girls' lives. It was that plot-driven. A feat, to me, when a writer can create generations of family, not involve too many extra characters in the plot, and still keep it feeling real, even if that reality is on the edge of ethereal. Loved loved loved this book. Pulitzer prize? No. Page-turner? Yes. Yes Yes.

Okay that's three books right there, just to get started.
I also read, on the recommendation of my boss, a lovely little handwritten book by Kim McMillen, called "When I Loved Myself Enough" and this is a good phrase to keep in mind when you feel like denying yourself something important.
The Prophet remains on my coffee table, day in, day out, and I pick it up occasionally to remind myself that there are real, true, thinkers who have roamed this earth, long before I got here, and there will be more real, true, thinkers (who don't hide behind the mask of self-help, of religion, of the guise of your well-being) who will arrive here while I dwell on this planet, and after I am gone. They can't be kept away. And they serve a higher purpose than about 90% of the crap on Blogher right now. (What is the Mormon/Christian/Mommy thing they've got going on over there? It freaks me RIGHT OUT. One of the blogs I stumbled on by mistake this week was not entitled "Throwback" but something very "Little House" like, "Old Fashioned Values in this World" I'm paraphrasing, but it was just fucked up. I know the whole U.S. is not remotely like that, and I understand the freedom to give up graduate school to breed, but Jesus Christ. To blog about it. WHY?)
Back to the books.
I will do a couple of more reviews in the next little while.
Just want to do a pre-vacation kind of 'wind-down' as I am approaching weariness in a way I never have before.
It's not been an easy year, by any stretch of the imagination, and all I have to do now is get through five more work-days and one thirty-eighth birthday to get to Vacationland.
(Yes, Maine. And New York. And Boston. And Cape Cod. And a little bit of my own country thrown in there at the end).
Keep reading. Even if it seems pointless.

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