Saturday, February 23, 2008

Sometimes I pick my books, and sometimes they pick me

One of the luxuries of vacation is time to read. I always make time to read, but on vacation, I am able to indulge my hobby with less guilt. The dust accumulating isn't mine, the phone doesn't ring, and in this case, there was not even the distraction of my laptop. My devotion to reading always begins in the car where my husband prefers to drive. I finished Midwives shortly before we reached our destination.

Anticipating the expanse of time I was going to fill turning of pages, I brought several books with me--one of Madeleine L'Engle's Crosswicks Journals, The Right to Write, and an advance copy of a novel that I plan to review.

Upon arriving at the house we were renting, I noticed the bookshelf. I could have snatched up Bill Bryson's A Walk in the Woods, or Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier or selected a Maeve Binchy paperback, but a black and red striped spine jumped out at me shouting, "Read me! Read me, now!" I felt that I had to seize the opportunity that this stocked bookshelf offered me to read an acclaimed novel that has been on my master list of books that I would someday like to read. The actual order in which these books get read--or if they get read at all--is due to a number of circumstances. Having a book sitting on a bookshelf in a house that I will leave in four days immediately catapulted it to the top of the list.

Within the first few pages, Water for Elephants had me hooked. Author Sara Gruen impressed me with her insight into human nature. Perhaps this particular observation fell on open ears because I have been struck with exactly the same problem since October when I turned 37 years old:
I am ninety. Or ninety-three. One or the other.

When you're five, you know your age down to the month. Even in your twenties your know how old you are. I'm twenty-three, you say, or maybe twenty-seven. But then in your thirties something strange starts to happen. It's a mere hiccup at first, an instant of hesitation. How old are you? Oh, I'm--you start confidently, but then you stop. You were going to say thirty-three, but you're not. You're thirty-five. And then you're bothered, because you wonder if it is the beginning of the end. It is, of course, but it's decades before you admit it.

People always ask me how I have time to read. I can give a variety of reasons, ranging from "My house isn't very clean," to "I don’t watch as much TV as I used to," or lately since I've undertaken a weekly review column, "It's my job." But I think I have another answer to add to my arsenal: "When a book calls to me, I answer it." You may finish it off in two days as I did on vacation, or it may take two weeks. When you've finished that one, open your ears so that you'll hear the next book that is waiting to be made yours and you'll always have time to read.

11 comments:

Stephanie's Mommy Brain said...

I've started doing that very thing since I turned 30!! I think it's because I don't really "feel" my age, whatever that means. In my head I'm 28 or 29. In reality, I'm 33. I think. = )

Elizabeth said...

I love the way you describe your adoration for reading: "When a book calls me to me, I answer it." I wish I was better at doing the same.

Framed said...

My problem is that when a book calls to me, I buy it and then feel guilty about all the other books that called to me and are now sitting on the shelf patiently waiting. It's pretty noisy in the book room. Glad you enjoyed this book. I did too.

Org Junkie said...

LOL oh my friend we are more alike than you realize. When a basket calls me, I answer it too :)

Sheila said...

Books call to me too! :)

Thanks for that great quote from the book. Water for Elephants is in my "to read" stack.

Lori said...

Water for Elephants was a wonderful surprise to me - I read it for book club thinking that I wasn't going to enjoy it - but really did. A surprise by enjoying a book more than I thought I could always keeps me reading.

We're going on a vacation soon and I plan to do a TON of reading... looking forward to that.

Beth@Sportsmomma said...

Glad you mentioned that book. I've been wanting to read it. I'm going to our library website right now to put it on hold!!

Love your love of reading!!! I too love to read. I can remember many many nights as a child being bundled under my blankets with a flashlight reading away!!

Anonymous said...

I used to be an avid reader also. I am so sorry to admit it that my reading days s have been put on hold. When I turned 30 I had Irish Twins--2 pregnancies in the same year. My hubby was always at work and I was SUPER busy.

I hated it when I would start to read and then something would happen that would call me away and when I was able to get back to my book I re-read the same sentence and suddenly I would be called away again. I would manage to get back to my book and re-read the same exact sentence AGAIN! Now my Toddlers are teenagers and we are the house where all the teens hang out.

After church today there were 7 teens hanging on my car. They ALL hitched a ride and when we arrived back at the house 2 more showed up.

Please don't get me wrong I love being the house where all the teenagers hang out. I must admit I have the cleanest refriderator in town----They all stand in front of the fridge and eat EVERYTHING!

I know in my heart of hearts that I will miss my kiddos when they go to college. I will be saddened when my refridgerator is full because of lack of use----This is all just a stage----the reading will come----not just right now.

Have a great week everyone!!

Kelly said...

I agree that sometimes a book picked me! It comes along at a key point in life that produces a certain insight. Love to hear you "book talk."

heather said...

I'm listening to it on audio tape.

Katrina said...

Yes, I always look at the pile of books available to me, to see which one will call to me... And my books always call to me at night before I go to sleep...

I looked at Water for Elephants at the bookstore a couple weeks ago and knew that someday I would read it. Not sure when that someday is, but it looks good!