Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Devouring Books

I've always been a reader.

Heck, I think I was a reader before I could read.

I'd cajole my mother into reading books to me over and over until I had them memorized, including which words were on which pages.

I'd build houses out of my books and sit inside them and read other books.

As an adult, I still read a lot, but of course, it's not as much as I did back then.

There are other demands on my time, and, here in the twenty-first century, I have so many choices for how to spend my limited leisure hours, that I sometimes don't choose books, but play video games, listen to podcasts, or watch TV and movies on a streaming service instead.

All of these feed the part of my brain that wants story, too.

I'm finding that I go through phases where I'm not reading much at all, where I seem to grow persnickety and hard to please and start books only to abandon them, wandering off in a moment of inattention. It's not necessarily that there's anything wrong with those books, either. It's more about where I am in my brain at the time. I do think that loving a book is partly an accident of timing: finding that book at the right time for you to read it.

I hate those times, though. I feel nearly as broken when I can't read as I do when I can't write.

So, I'm delighted to be going through a book devouring phase right now.

I set a yearly goal of 52 books, one per week. A lot of years that's almost too much, especially if I choose any lengthy or challenging books.

But this year, I'm already 8 books ahead.

Part of that is because I've been choosing some shorter, lighter works here lately, craving my escape in a big way. The pressures of the end of the school year and getting my house and heart ready to face my daughter's graduation from high school are intense.

Losing myself in imaginary lives and imaginary problems is my kind of self-medication for high stress times.

Some highlights of my 2018 reading so far (click links to see my full reviews on Goodreads):

The Girl With All the Gifts by M.R. Carey: a tour du force when it comes to voice and pacing. I was intrigued by Melanie from the get-go. Carey meted out strange details at just the right times to keep me from ever getting bored as I figured out the world the story was taking place in.

True Grit by Charles Portis: another fantastic example of what a unique character voice can do for a story. Mattie Ross is one of a kind, for sure. A fiercely independent and determined person with a black and white personal morality that is her north star.

The Woman in Black by Susan Hill. A traditional gothic ghost story in a lot of ways, but turned on its ear by having the victim of the ghost be a young Englishman instead of a wide-eyes young female ingenue.

Broken Monsters by Lauren Beukes. A brutal and beautiful story of a serial killers, his victims, and the police officer who is on his trail.

Hmmmm . . . .looks like voice is key to getting in to my reading good graces this year. All four of those books are amazing character-driven pieces with unusual voices.

Really, I've had great luck with my reading choices this year. Hardly a dud among them. How about you? Read anything good lately? Anything that *really* grabbed and held you? I'd love to hear about it in the comments.

1 comment:

  1. My reading has slowed a bit lately. Not sure why, but maybe I'm going through a picky phase, like you describe. Does seem to go in cycles, so hopefully it'll pick up! Thanks for the tips here!