Category Archives: Reading Journal
One thing that I hate about reading is having to skip over some books while selecting others. I love books and I love the idea of books. Even before I read I bought. I dislike having to choose one over the other. And thank you, but I don’t need reassurance: I live under this vain idea that everything has got something to offer. I realize some authors are better writers and some plots are more creative and all of these types of things. But these facts do not alter or lift the guilt I feel for not giving some the attention and time I wish to.
There are stacks and stacks that I have yet to even begin making my way through. There are books in these teetering piles that have been living inside these heaps and on my shelves for months and others still for years. Titles that at one point in time inspired me to bring it home; at one point convinced me that I had a need for it. Books that had aspirations to assimilate into my intellect and my life and I once had an eagerness to let them yet now I keep them guarded by other books who are equally zealous and not about to let some other book jump the line. I have so many books in what some people call a TBR (To be read) mound that my nightstand pile has turned into my actual nightstand. I had to move the furniture piece (the ACTUAL nightstand) out of the way and now have stacks of books on the floor, against the wall holding my bedside lamp. Books are replacing furniture. If you are wondering if this scenario is making me happy wonder no longer: it does. It does.
Being an inquisitive person is constructive to everything but my pocketbook. Even after I picked up a handsome pile of hardbacks on Saturday morning for dirt cheap, I found myself arriving at a book store Sunday evening. In this particular store, biographies live upstairs while essays, criticism and poetry live downstairs. In between my lingering in isles I created my own step class and might have even burned a few calories. I have this innate tendency to completely engulf myself into intellectual searches. I soon found myself sifting through biographies and when I would come across names and titles of works that interest me and I hop downstairs to look at the original works which inevitably introduce yet another author’s name to me and back upstairs I head. This continues for the better part of an hour and I leave with postcards – a completely unforeseen conclusion to my impromptu inquisition. The only disappointment rests in my original goal’s dead end. At the outset, I had intended to pick up a history of Uruguay and found every other South American country represented with one exception – Uruguay.
Nick Hornby once wrote that “reading begets reading.” This thought jumbled in my mind brings me to wonder how my reading begot my reading would trace back through its lineage. What would be the essence or the original text that was responsible for splitting in two, then four, then eight and now a number too large to count and forever in need of reorganizing and dusting. My recent trends of curiosity have prompted me to stockpile essays on the subject of reading as well as works written by A.M. Homes, and an attempt to find more collections of letters. Where did I originally decide to love collections of letters? Where did this desire originate? I cannot remember now.
March was a total bomb. Or maybe it was a bum. A bummer. A bummer bomb. Bomb bummer. It doesn’t matter. Basically I purchased a lot and read practically nothing. A bust month. Oh, March, where did we go wrong? Let’s retrace.
It started out ambitious as ever with a scan over the calendar and a steady, long look at those beautiful and open 31 whole days. Looking over my lists the tallies come to 13 books purchased and a whopping 2 books read. The reading began with Chronic City by Jonathan Lethem. The thing I love about Lethem books is that multiple reads deliver multiple realities. There are so many freakin’ layers to his stories and characters that I am constantly regaining a grasp on what is actually going on. I found this similarity in all of the books I have read by Lethem with the exception of Motherless Brooklyn which I found slightly easier to follow. In Amnesia Moon the lines of reality and dreaming (if I could call it dreaming) were so intangibly blurred I was not sure which characters were real and what to count on. Lethem is famous for invisible foundations that somehow manage to still provide footing. In Chronic City Lethem followed suit to the tee. Chase, the leading complexion, carries on for most of the book carefully tucked inside his little bite of world when suddenly unleashed on the reader is something I can only consider a monster, which tears the walls down of Chase’s own little Truman Show to reveal that his life is made-up. What? Lethem! Made-up? You didn’t! You sly cookie. Again! Lethem always catches me with my pants down, literaturely speaking, of course.
After having my brain dissolved and rearranged by Lethem, I lock away his tentacles between the two hard bound covers and shelve it only to pull down American Rust. I had never been acquainted with any of Philipp Meyer’s writing, but what could go wrong with a Philipp who spells his name with two p’s at the end? Most Phillips go with the normal two l’s, but not Meyer, not Meyer. I thought – what is a rebel like this going to do with a story about five characters out of the back country in Pennsylvania? Come to find out, not much or in the very least, not enough. Two weeks later after the initial christening I found myself avoiding the book like a relationship gone sour. I found myself sneaking around my bedroom quietly hoping the book wouldn’t notice I was choosing to spend my free time without it. I had made it through enough of the chapters to be introduced to all five of the main characters, but had no desire to meet them again. Luckily for me, I get an email from my friend, Drenning, to meet him at a reading. And alas, my first introduction to Melissa Febos commenced. And yeah to Drenning. Three cheers for him because Melissa Febos’ writing style was just what I wanted and needed.
As I wrote about earlier, when I went to her reading I was not intending to buy her book. Not for any desire to be unsupportive, but simply because I had already bought a crap load of books for the month and was the very embodiment of a poor excuse for a reader. I was already feeling defeated in my reading accomplishments for what I previously thought would be 31 beautiful days of reading. Blah. I was down and out and felt buying another book that most likely would not be read would really drop me lower. I didn’t want to feel worse than a shmuck. How did a serious intention of not coming home with another book turn into freshly shaved legs and hiding under the covers at midnight with Whip Smart? Melissa Febos is just that good. The moment she walked on that stage with her striped polo dress and gray knee high boots and I heard what came out of her mouth that so few writers have: a good reading voice, I was sold. Simply sold. It turned out I was not disappointed in the least bit by her wit, but her writing even continued to grow on me.
When I was through with Whip Smart, which took not as long as I would have hoped, I was still refusing to return to American Rust, so I read Whip Smart a second time. Thus ending the month with 2 books read, 1 twice read and 13 books bought. On one hand a very unproductive reading month. One the flip side, I read a new book by one of my favorite authors, Jonathan Lethem and discovered a new favorite author, Melissa Febos. I believe I described Febos’ writing as expansive and limitless. How could it get any better than that? Even if it was entirely an unproductive month it was a lucky month.
The end of March has come and passed us by.
The giveaway winner is…
Congratulations to Nicole and thank you to everyone who participated in the giveaway comment challenge as it heightened the level of discussion in all areas and paved the way to being the most lively month for our group yet. The April giveaway will be announced sooner than later. Stay tuned.
If you could describe what type of books you prefer to read or read the most, what would it be?
Ok, not literally.
I am talking about books that are realistic. Authors that do actual research. These types of expenditures that issue in a higher level of connectivity and thus heightened reading enjoyment. Otherwise, I feel authors attempting to cozen me with words. I dislike this feeling of deceit.
Let me digress. To state simply, some authors do research prior to writing their books that is intended to illustrate realistic descriptions of personality types and the lay of the land in any particular region they are writing about or culture they are describing. Other authors write in ways that show their lack of research or their utter misunderstanding/inability to translate.
The last book I read, The Here And Now by Robert Cohen, took place mostly in New York City with brief jaunts to Houston, Texas and upstate New York, Woodstock to be correct. I could tell by reading this book that the author had actually been to these places and his descriptions fit like a glove.
In the novel I am now reading, American Rust, by Philipp Meyer, I get a sense that the author attempted to research rural Pennsylvania, but the script he writes for his characters are so damn stereotypical that I feel assaulted and I’m not even from this area of the country. Just to clarify, I didn’t say insulted, I said assaulting, and I meant it. I feel battered by the injustice and lack of attention he pays these characters.
I need to confess that I am only to page 100 of 300 something so perhaps the characters all of a sudden open up and break free from the constraints of this author’s imagination later in the book, but, how could that be? I mean really? That is an impossible scenario – to break free from the author’s immagination. Everyone knows a character cannot be two things:
1. Smarter than the author.
2. More imaginative than the author.
The story is not uninteresting, but the characters show such a striking lack of depth. I find it arduous to read, but I still want to know where the plot is going.
The structure of the book, however, seems to be set up in a format specifically to institute an opportunity for the reader to bond and understand the unique thinking of each character. Each chapter is named by the character that the narrator pays attention to. The narrator does not change, but instead sort of visits the minds of the characters, bouncing back and forth between their heads. I can see, clearly, what the author was attempting to do and I applaud the imagination he showed when glueing together the structure or the bones, but the meat is bland.
In any case, this is me today, continuing on reading American Rust and here are a couple of quotes that I have pulled from this read to keep in my reading journal:
“It was a reasonable thing to ask – a life with a little bit of dignity. She didn’t take up much space otherwise.”
“This is what it means to get old, you don’t look forward to pleasure so much as easing pain.”
One of the things I enjoy immensely when I read is writing down quotes that jump out at me. These can be full sentences or merely a couple words. If I like the way an author words a thought I write it down. I have done this for years. On this note, I decided to add a new page to our site, entitled: My Moleskine. Here you will find all of the snips I have written down from the books I am reading. For whatever reason, be it sentimental, intellectual, inspiring or otherwise, these quotes have caught my attention and I want to keep them near. Perhaps, I want to remember the way something is worded to inspire me to write or maybe I want to incorporate a certain sentiment into my language or life. Everything that I write down is something that I want to be accessible so that I can revisit and revisit as often as I’d like.
I hope that you enjoy my sharing these with you.
Moleskines are Beautiful.
Today is going to be a good reading day. I can feel it in my bones. Speaking of bones, I have updated the Book Raffle page. There are new books from various authors laying claim on places all over the world. Please check them out, read them, become familiar, and make any suggestions of other books that you want added to the list & page. I will leave the Book Raffle page with no poll for voting for a little while and let everyone read the descriptions and have some time to have books added. In about a week or two I will add the poll to the page and open voting up for MAY reads.
Just as a reminder, here are the April winners.
I have been enjoying and loving adding quotes and books to my Moleskine reading journal. Has anyone gone out and bought one of their own? Of course, if you haven’t and are interested in owning one, the March giveaway is still anyone’s challenge to win.
I have tried the new Sharpie Pen out. I heard the word on the street was that this new pen was suppose to be Moleskine safe and guess what? It is! I got one just last night (thank you Frank) and have already been enjoying using it in my reading journal and other Moleskines.
You all know that lately I have been increasingly concerned with my reading time. What you don’t know is that these are my constant worries and thoughts and that I have merely been writing about them more openly. Not being satisfied with the amount of time I have to read is an ongoing existing factor in my day-to-day life. I have been trying out techniques that you all so graciously suggested and I will continue to work on them. I still need a new desk for writing and some reading. I still need to create a good reading space. I have settled on a desk and will be making this one (hopefully, sometime in March):
I am still debating where to create a better reading space, but I wish I could have this space:
With the exception that my shelves would not be white, they would have to be a darker would stain. The floors would not be tiled and so sterile looking, they need to be warmer, the chair would be slightly more luxurious, and the picturing hanging next to the fire place would be a Jacques-Louis David. Either of the two following:
I am feeling terrific about this week and my reading goals. Hopefully, if all goes as planned, by the end of March, I will feel victorious at surmounting at least some of my night stand pile, since it’s huge and only continues to grow. Maybe I’ll feel this good:
I’ll leave you with some questions for you to answer:
1. How has your reading gone this week, so far?
2. What does your perfect reading space include?
3. Who is reading what from the March selections?