Friday, April 11, 2014

Reading Confessions

So, back in the blogging saddle again.  I’ve missed writing, but sometimes breaks are good and needed.  And I know at least one person missed my posts (holla Fran!) and sometimes that’s all it takes to get this writer writing again. 

What I have been doing a lot of lately, encouraged in part by my facebook fast during Lent, is reading.  My title, Reading Confessions, unfortunately does not mean I’ve been reading Augustine’s Confessions.  It means that I’ve fallen down a rabbit hole towards reading books that no self-respecting person with a degree in literature should read.  Alas. 

It all started with Wendell Berry.  His book, Hannah Coulter, consumed my life for about two months as I read, reread, journaled, read Berry’s nonfiction essays, and basically angsted away for a simpler life, where people lived and loved in one place for generations, where husband and wife worked together in their family-sized economy for the sustenance and pleasure of their community, where members of a community become a membership, where the land is tied up in the love is tied up in the land.  I highly recommend reading everything he's ever written and then buying a country plot and becoming a one-acre wonder.  Or at least dreaming about it.

And then, after an amazing book club discussion of the above, I was just tired of thinking.  Enter Divergent.  And Insurgent.  And Allegiant.  In like a week.  Compelling plot, strong heroine, interesting discussions of bravery and violence and choice.  All set in post-apocalyptic Chicago, which makes me want to go back and visit the city of my college years and try to jump on a moving train.

After my little foray into “fluff” books, as my mom calls them, I should have theoretically been ready for some real stuff again.  Alas.  I went in the opposite direction.  I really can’t remember how it all started, but I turned next to Nicholas Sparks.  Yep.  I did.  I read two of his books and watched the corresponding movies, and noticed how the movies are much more lighthearted and strip any menace or darkness out of the books.  And that’s about all there is to notice, I think.  Except, all the girls are short blonds, and all the boys are tall muscle men.   

Then I felt dumber.  Or is it more dumb?  Anyway, I decided to move upwards and onwards.  I read The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch, which I found interesting and moving as a memoir/time capsule for Pausch’s kids.  I just finished The Fault in Our Stars by John Green, which tells the story of teens living with cancer, trying to figure out the ending to their story.  I’m currently studying The Well-Trained Mind, a voluminous tome advocating a classical approach to home education.  Just reading it makes me feel smart and well-read. 

I think I’m safely back on the path towards good books again.  The next book club book is Bel Canto by Ann Patchett, which I started reading about six months ago but didn’t finish.  From what I recall, it’s a combination of opera lovers and a high-anxiety hostage situation.  It’s bound to be a good one.  I’ll keep you posted.


Hannah said...

Sometimes you just need some good fluff :-) I've actually been curious about Divergent - looks like it could be interesting, but after a disastrous attempt at reading a random book (Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett...awful, awful stuff), I'm hesitant to read a book without a trusted recommendation. Would you recommend Divergent, albeit with a 'fluff' warning? :-P

Jamie said...

Hey Hannah! Yes, I would recommend the Divergent series for some fun, fluff reading. :) And I'll definitely avoid the Follett book!