i was up and awake at 2 a.m., thinking, hm, what shall i talk about this friday?, when i looked to my right (not very far to my right) to the pile of books stacked rather perilously on the corner of my desk -- or, rather, the pile of things stacked rather perilously -- and, because the books in this pile are usually what i've been reading (or intending to read) currently, i think maybe we'll dive right in.
meg wolitzer, the interestings (riverhead, 2013): it's been an extraordinarily shitty few weeks, and i know it's been extraordinarily shitty because i've been having a difficult time reading. when i'm having a difficult time reading, i tend to reread because the familiar is assuring and comforting, none of that nervousness or anxiety that comes with starting something new, so i picked up the interestings again because i loved the interestings for the friendships, the banalities, the exploration of talent and potential, although the last maybe stings a little, given my current crisis in my own writing. (i stepped away from writing fiction last week.)
a mango: because i love mangoes. this needs to ripen a little more, but i cannot wait to eat it. i hope it's good, but, to be honest, fruit isn't as good in new york as it is in california. maybe all that goddamn sunshine's good for something.
jonathan franzen, farther away (FSG, 2012): i pulled this out because i went to see the documentary, emptying the skies, this week. it's based on the essay franzen wrote for the new yorker (published in farther away under the title, "the ugly mediterranean"), so i wanted to give the essay another read after seeing the documentary (on earth day, when it was released). it's a great essay -- one of my favorites of franzen's non-fiction -- and the book is just so pretty and well-designed all the way through.
betty halbreich, i'll drink to that (penguin press, 2014): this was my response to "i need some light, frothy reading," and what a riveting look into privilege this was. i'm fascinated by money, not gonna lie, mostly because i'm rather amused by the indulgence and entitlement and sheer ego that accompany it, all while the privilege and, again, entitlement are off-putting and repellent. halbreich has a measure of self-awareness, though, and acknowledges the unnecessary luxuries of her clients and of clothes, and, in the end, i'll drink to that was exactly what i wanted and needed during the week -- light, frothy reading.
ted hughes, birthday letters (FSG, 1998): i pulled this out to find a poem for my hello monday post and kept it out because this may be my favorite poetry collection. heh, i say that like i read a whole lot of poetry, but does that matter? this collection still means a lot to me and warms my cold, cold heart, and i love having it nearby.
rebecca solnit, a field guide to getting lost (penguin, 2005): like i said, extraordinarily shitty week means i'm stalled on this book, not because it's bad but because i'm stalled. i'd love for my heart to heal so i can read without feeling twinges again.
marilynne robinson, housekeeping (FSG, 1980): i started reading this last friday on my way out to coney island, but, wow, i'm already depressed as fuck, so i set it aside for lighter reading.
timothy keller, prayer (dutton, 2014): sometimes, i read theological books, too.
papers, notepad, etcetera: i'm not undoing my tower of books and crap to see what these papers are. i think there's a printed receipt in there, maybe a story draft, drafts of résumés and cover letters -- not very interesting, eh? moving on!
jonathan franzen, strong motion (FSG, 1992): damn, i have two franzens in the same pile? i started reading this a few weeks ago because i miss having fiction by franzen to read, but, see, i have this habit of reading, like, seven books at any given time, and it's always a gamble to see which book sticks and which one is temporarily set aside for a later day. this one, too, was put aside for something lighter.
flannery o'connor, the complete stories (FSG, 1971): recently, i went on this buying spree of o'connor books -- got the complete stories then the habit of being then mystery and manners -- but o'connor is someone i seem to be able to take only in morsels because she has this intensity that requires digesting. maybe it's just me, but, sometimes, i wonder if i'm "getting" her stories because i'm oftentimes left a little unsure at the end, wondering if i "got it" or if i missed something along the way. this isn't necessarily bad, though, because it makes me slow down -- actually, over the last two years, i've been trying to be a more careful reader instead of simply flying through books. i've always been a fast reader, so it's been a good exercise to slow down a little and rest on the page, in the story, with the characters and absorb more of everything. also, i'm not allowing myself to buy any more books until i find a job ... but i am horribly weak when it comes to books, and the CLMP lit mag fair at housing works is this sunday, in which case, shit, well, lit mags aren't books, right?
and that is the pile! as it goes, though, tonight, i'll be finishing a book that isn't in this stack, kazuo ishiguro's an artist of the floating world (penguin, 2013) (drop caps edition), for book club tomorrow, which also means i get to bake strawberry cream scones because it's book club + brunch because what's a book club meeting without food?
have a great weekend, all! enjoy this battle between winter and spring if you're in nyc!