Wednesday, October 14, 2009

A book a day...keeps dull thoughts at bay?

I studied journalism and English in college (now my improper use of grammar looks particularly sad, uh?) because I have a love for the English language, and all its delicious quirks. I remember visiting our town's public library weekly as an little eager reading beaver, collecting the next Boxcar Children book or ruminating on whether I liked Claudia or Mary Anne more from the Babysitter's Club series (Mary Ann, all the way). After that I graduated to Michael Crichton - all the really smart kids were reading Jurassic Park in 5th grade - then John Grisham, followed by Robin Cook.

In high school I declared these mass-market paperbacks a sin, and boasted I was only going to read real literature. At the time I had visions of attending an Ivy (I didn't even apply to an Ivy), wearing tweed (this is partially an homage to Monday night's "How I Met Your Mother" - watch it and you'll understand) and holding a work by Proust under my arm (I still have not read anything by Proust, nor do I really intend to). In college, I read for class and little else due to time.

And now? Now I read the news, work emails, and inconsequential blogs (this one leading the way) most of the time. My particular niche is reading an article and then devoting an hour to readers' comments; it's voyeurism into snarkiness at its best. I subscribe to half a dozen magazines and read them faithfully, mainly because glossy images are attractive wastes of time. Fact: I canceled my Vanity Fair subscription because it had TOO many articles and I only read one or two an issue (publicly, I stated that it was "too elitist"). And don't get me started on The New Yorker: if I were a subscriber, I would glance at the fanciful cover, peruse the cartoons (in all their sometimes esoteric glory), and then say, "Yes! A piece on the epic migration of monarch butterflies!" and put the magazine down. Forever. (Not to mention The New Yorker is weekly; sheesh!)

When I get home from work, a job that is fraught with reading dull emails and interacting with people all day, I don't like to read. Or to think, really. I turn the TV on, which is how I got into embarrassing sitcoms, like "The King of Queens". I adore "The King of Queens". I do. I don't think I've ever admitted it publicly. This is the routine: get home from work/gym, fix dinner, watch said dinner with the 7:30 airing of "The King of Queens", laugh. In that order. Matt loves the show too, so don't let him fool you.

When I do read, I'm often caught off-guard on how much I really relish it. This summer I finally read Corelli's Mandolin by Louis de Bernières. I very shamelessly borrowed a passage from the novel (sans reading the work it was from, of course) for our wedding. When I finally read the book, I devoured it in a few days, finishing it in tears at 2:30 am, with Matt and Penny sleeping beside me. In a fit of emotion, I woke Matt up and said, "You HAVE to read this!" He basically ignored me. I felt it was my obligation to tell the world how amazing this novel was...but no one was up. I think I may have emailed my mother-in-law (who gave me the book and read it as well). I then feverishly planned a vacation to the Greek Isles (where the book is centered), and thought about walking the ancient white-washed steps in sandals and swimming in the Ionian Sea. Well, that lasted about two days (at the two day mark, I checked flight prices out on Expedia).

I'm writing this because I'm inspired by a woman profiled in the NY Times a few days ago. She is reading, get this, a novel a day, and has been doing this for the past year. Check out the article here, and her blog here. Wouldn't it be nice?


  1. I was fascinated by that very same article in the Times. I even clipped it to send to my sister Nancy. And I loved the fact that the woman also watches NCIS.

    I, too, am usually drawn to magazines and newspapers, never quite getting to books as often as I should. But you have inspired me to go pick up "Water for Elephants" which I just started last week.

    And you're right about "King of Queens"--so under rated and very funny. Doesn't Doug remind you of my brother Mark?


  2. Ooo..."Water for Elephants" is a goody! So visually rich.

    "King of Queens" is totally under-reated - we're big Spence fans, ourselves. (I never thought of Doug being similiar to Mark, but Matt said he could maybe see it.)