It’s amazing how much reading you can get done when you’re not online. My internet connection stopped working almost a month ago and I’ve only been online periodically ever since. To be honest, I suspected my connection was going to go on the fritz the week before it did. I had been online most of my waking hours with school, blogging, and twittering. I knew I needed an online vacation but I really didn’t want one. I didn’t think I could do it. So my connection decided it would give me the push that I needed.
At first it was hard being off of Twitter and my Google Reader so I decided to distract myself by reading. Isn’t that the point of being a book blogger anyway? All the great reading you can do in your spare time?
During my break I read so many great and not-so-great books. I abandoned books left and right without feeling guilty. I didn’t feel the need to take notes on the books I read though I did remember to write the titles down. Too bad I can’t find the yellow notebook that lists last month’s read.
Right after my break began, I continued the short story kick I was already on by picking up the special issue of The Atlantic. The special issue is on stands until the middle of October and is filled with great short stories by authors like Paul Theroux and Alexi Zentner. I haven’t finished reading the magazine but my favorite story so far is “PS” by Jill McCorkle, in which a woman writes to her former marriage counselor about all the things she couldn’t talk about when she was in therapy with her ex-husband. It’s funny, smart, and a definite re-read.
I also read a few more stories from The Best American Short Stories 2008 edited by Salman Rushdie. One of my favorite stories featured in the collection is “Man and Wife” by Katie Chase. It’s the story of a young girl whose family is a part of a cult and has to marry an older man. Usually when you think of a young girl marrying a grown man, you feel that it’s uncomfortable and wrong. This story doesn’t let you feel that. It’s hard to explain but the reader doesn’t feel comfortable with the marriage either.
We Never Talk About My Brother by Peter S. Beagle was up next. I love the first two stories in the collection, the title story and “Uncle Chaim and Aunt Rifke and the Angel” so much that I refuse to read the rest of the collection. What if they don’t live up to the brilliance of the first two stories? I even dipped into The Collected Stories by Amy Hempel, which I bought only because Eva at A Striped Armchair recommends the author to any reader who comes within a foot of her blog!
I’ve also been inspired by the recommendations of a lot of fellow bloggers. Becky at Becky’s Book Reviews and Kathy at The Brain Lair both have gushed over Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco X. Stork. I read it in one sitting and loved it. Marcelo is a fifteen-year-old boy who has a mysterious form of autism. His lawyer father insists that nothing is wrong with Marcelo and forces him to work at a law firm for the summer. Once there Marcelo starts to become part of the world around him and learns about the good and evil people are capable of. It’s a great coming-of-age story that deals with autism, family, religion, love, and growing up. It’s definitely on my re-read list.
I discovered David Lozell Marin’s hilarious, brilliant, painfully truthfully, enlightening, uplifting memoir called Losing Everything. Martin chronicles his childhood growing up with a smart but painfully shy father who was prone to fits of rage and a mentally ill mother while living on a rundown farm in the middle of nowhere. He also tells of his marriage to the love of his life, his divorce from her, and the night that he almost killed himself which reminded him of the night his father took his mother out into the woods in an attempt to kill her. It’s amazing that Martin is so aware of the terrors of his childhood and adult life and still is able to go toward the good that life offers. Don’t get me wrong, this is not a dark memoir at all. It’s too funny to be dark. Or really dark. What made me take this book home from the library is this paragraph:
This is going to piss off a lot of people. People who think I should be deeply ashamed about the gin I did drink and specifically apologetic to them for what I said while under its influence, who believe I should be just as sorry as I can possibly be for the way I behaved over the years while drinking gin. And I am. I’m sorry. Really, I am sorry. But let me plead my case for gin. (p. 73)
I refuse to give my copy back to the library until I’ve bought my own copy. I have too many post-its in the book to give it back right now. If I could I would buy a copy of this book to every reader I ever encounter. This is easily one of the best books I’ve read this year.
I have a ton to write about when it comes to my blogging break, but I know that the attention span of bloggers is only so long when it’s not a book they’re reading. (Just joking. Maybe.)
So instead I just want to say how happy I am to be back from my break. I have missed my readers and my friends so much. You guys have no idea how much. While on my break, I wondered about what everyone was reading, how everyone was doing, what was going on in Bookland, what was everyone writing about. . . I wondered if Wordlily had finished packing or what library loot has everyone checked out. I wondered how Beth’s Sookie Challenge and Michelle’s Harry Potter Challenge are going, and what season of Supernatural was Amy on. S.Krishna should’ve returned from Oxford by now, and I know that Kathy and Drea have discovered some great YA fiction. What has Renay ranted about lately? How’s Molly doing after her own blogging break? I also wondered about Carl and Chris, Carrie and Heather, Nymeth and Kailana. I wondered about every single one of you guys.
I haven’t seen my Google Reader yet, but I bet I have at least two or three thousand posts to read. You know what? I don’t care. I’m going to try my best to read as many of your posts as I can. I’m so glad to be back.
So tell me, what books have you read and loved lately?