Not a lot of thinking goes into the titling of my posts. The only real rules I go by are, 1, make it somewhat snappy, and 2, try not to use the “On….” construction (ie, “On Corduroy Pants,” “On Day-Old Pizza,” “On Hipster Nonsense”, etc.) Today, though, the title of my post is a sentence because it is something that I feel quite convicted of and if you don’t want to continue reading, I want you to at least have that one line stuck in your head because I feel it is so true.
Don’t waste your time reading stuff you don’t love. Just DON’T.
I have been left with meh emotions about the last few books I’ve read. I’m not even going to tell you what they are because then the seed of reading them will be in your brain and you’ll want to read them to see if I have bad taste or not, and that’s not a good reason to read a book. So, sorry. I will tell you that they are very popular and I can see why, but they just weren’t a good fit for me. I put them down before I finished them and returned them to the library. Had I read them in years past, I likely would have finished them, but I am now the parent of a baby and my time is at a premium.
More and more these days, I find myself rereading books from my past that I think are wonderful. I know my time won’t be wasted on them. These are the books that challenge me, enthrall me, make me see the beauty in the world, and truly take me to another place. They are not the books for everyone, but they are the books for me. They are the books I am married to. Marriage is something you’re in for the long haul. You will change, but the other person will change with you and always teach you something new about life. Such is it with good, made-for-you books. They will always reveal their splendor anew each time you approach them, and they will meet you where you are.
I am in a polygamous relationship with several books. Here are my lovelies.
What Is the What by Dave Eggers
This is the true story of Achak Deng, a Sudanese refugee living in Atlanta. He recalls his life as one of the “lost boys” of the Sudan. Sure, it’s about survival and hope. Sure, it’s inspirational. Sure, it’s entertaining. But it’s also about how things suck ROYALLY sometimes and things very rarely wrap up neatly. Any other book would fabricate Achak’s life in a pleasant, didactic way. Not this one. His struggles are muddled with his victories. And that’s real life.
The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz
For some reason, each time I read this book I am traveling. This is probably because it goes fast and you can easily polish it off on a three-day weekend. But just because you can read it quickly doesn’t mean it’s not worth its weight in platinum. I read it for the first time after reading two or three contemporary stinkers in a row, and it taught me not to give up on the modern novel. Even my husband – who is basically the Simon Cowell of books – was impressed with it.
Now the Green Blade Rises by Elizabeth Spires
Elizabeth Spires is a poet who I was exposed to in college. Actually, it was in the class where I met B that I first read her poetry. It was her images of circles and cycles and continuity that really inspired me, and they still do now. For our very first Christmas together, B gave me Now the Green Blade Rises and I just love it. Her poetry is delicate and strong, and it made me finally “get” poetry.
The Once and Future King by TH White
I take every single opportunity I can to talk about The Once and Future King, a recent adaptation of the King Arthur myth (and by “recent”, I mean that wasn’t written in medieval times). I’ve hijacked a lot of discussions of perfectly good books so I could go on and on about it. I just freaking love it. This is likely because I wrote my thesis on it in college, so I got in good and cozy with it for a solid six months. Not a day went by that I didn’t think about it. It’s a sprawling story with so many layers that I could read it 100 more times and I’d still find something new to love about it. I have about four copies of it so I can always be lending it out to people.
Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
I was turned off by Lolita the first time I read it, and I didn’t finish it. I don’t know what brought me back to it, but when I attempted it again with an open mind, I found it to be one of the greatest books I’ve ever read. Its melancholy is delicious. The language is beautiful and the prose just meanders. It’s sad and wonderful and disgusting and perfect.
What books are you married to? What inspires you?