Friday, October 17, 2008

Books in a Life

This is the typical scene I greet each morning, after Trevor has gotten up with Marta around 5:30/6 a.m. (wonderful husband that he is) and spent about an hour hanging with her before bringing her in to me pretending she's ready to go back to sleep... but really he's just had enough of books. As a big, big fan of books, I never thought I'd want to ban books from my children. But Marta's obsession with them has led Trevor and me to actually move as fast as we can in a panic -- not in a funny, "Can you believe we're doing this?" way, but in an "OhmygoshmovemoveMOVE!" way -- to hide books before she sees them, lest we end up reading the $*&^#@ dog book four hundred times in one sitting. Honestly, if we stop reading books, she screams as if there's an emergency room-level injury plaguing her. It's so far past the "Oh, but that's so cute and smart!" stage. If the book has real pictures of dogs or babies, we're toast. If I bring a book into the car for her and God forbid she drops it, I had better pull over and fish it out and sit and read a few pages with her before continuing our journey or else I fear her shrieks will bring the fuzz to my bumper. When it started I was loving it -- my kids don't look like me, but they love books like I do! But now, oh, if only she'd start throwing her body towards the television instead I'd be pleased as punch. 

I don't have much room to talk. I'm also a book addict, but since having two kids I've sadly been more of a book collector. About a year-and-a-half ago Trevor took down our bookshelves and made a wall of built-ins to house my treasures, and it's my favorite thing about our house. I've already outgrown it, and I don't intend to slow down. I still have stacks and stacks of books I've started and haven't been able to get into because of one thing or another, and still more that I haven't touched but desperately want to. Every now and then I walk over to the shelves and just look at all the books waiting for me to read them. I love the way they smell. 

It stands to reason I suppose that I harbor secret fantasies of owning my own bookstore someday. Now that I write that, I'm realizing that it's not really a secret, and in fact the people at my fabulous local bookstore, McLean and Eakin, are probably so sick of seeing my face loitering and asking for recommendations when I'm not actively reading much that they might just hire me to make it all legit. (What a great plan!)

My friend Sarah recently started a book club, and I can barely describe how excited I was about it. I mean, I was literally giddy and couldn't wait to gather and chat with fellow readers. I didn't technically read the book, but it sounded really good from what my friends said. It was a self-help kind of book, and I just couldn't get into it. But before I left for book club, I perused my own shelves for ideas for our next book. I didn't want to arrive and have my friends decide that this was our first and last meeting -- I needed to be prepared. 

Here's what I considered: 
The Time Traveler's Wife, Audrey Niffenegger (complex, crazy interesting love story)
Blessed are the Cheesemakers, Sarah-Kate Lynch (super easy, fast and fun read)
Midwives, Chris Bohjalian (we're all moms, and it's about delivering babies -- but possibly dead babies, so not good for this stage in our lives)
The Poisonwood Bible, Barbara Kingsolver (another crazy interesting story but also involves a dead child and I just can't handle that right now)
The Twentieth Wife, Indu Sundaresan (an empress who changes her empire and arranged marriages)
Bel Canto, Ann Patchett (hostages, love interests, foreign languages, compatriots -- still one of the books I plan to recommend)
Middlesex, Jeffrey Eugenides (the story of a hermaphrodite over eight decades -- the top of my list of recommendations)
The Red Tent, Anita Diamant (motherhood, Biblical times/tales, womanhood)
One Thousand White Women, Jim Fergus (a little hard to remember, but women who were commissioned by the government to marry Native Americans to help civilize them)

And a couple that I haven't read yet that I'd like to:
Interred With Their Bones, Jennifer Lee Carrell
Doctor Olaf Van Schuler's Brain, Kirsten Menger-Anderson
The Saving Graces, Patricia Gaffney
Fortune's Rocks, Anita Shreve
Twilight, Stephenie Meyer

I'm sure this is all riveting for you. Anyway, I was so happy that at the end of a really cool, productive discussion about the book, motherhood, homemaking and other relevant topics a couple of girls threw out suggestions they had, and everyone had high hopes that the book club would go on indefinitely. 

I got in the car and called home: Marta was awake and Trevor was kind of in a pickle about putting her back down. I don't care!!!! I had fun! And talked about books! Which, clearly, needed to happen. 

And by the way, I was so impressed with the conversation we were having. First we talked about the struggles we have in our every day lives and how they relate to the book. And that led into how we feel about certain situations and feelings (my dad is just groaning right now, I know) regarding motherhood and homemaking, and we were all kind of down on ourselves. And then suddenly we were talking about all these great, positive things about ourselves and our kids and husbands and homes... like maybe we just needed to hear that others are going through what we are. I know this is fairly basic in terms of moms getting together -- shared experiences and all. But it was still good and much-needed for some of us. 

And so, book club is good. I'm excited to add another paperback to my stacks. And perhaps, if I'm lucky, even read it this time.

1 comment:

Liza said...

Wow you tire me out! I love to read, but like going the bathroom by myself, it just doesn't happen these days. Ok...recommend one great book for me to get to that isn't self help or parenting and maybe I can get to before the spring. I'll be awaiting your recommendation.