Where do we go from here?

Monday, August 09, 2010

Reading Matters

I had a "page" on this blog that I called "Reading," but I consistently forgot to write there about what I was reading; and a few days ago while attempting to catch up on it I somehow managed to completely delete it.  Nobody looks at those Pages anyhow, so, I think I will just write in the blog itself when I feel like discussing what I am reading. Or, not reading. I'm currently having a very hard time settling into anything that really grabs me.  Wonder if others have those strange blank spells.? Nothing you pick up, no matter how great the reviews, or enticing the cover, grabs you and makes you want to turn the pages. It's kind of a Reader's Block, instead of Writer's Block. The book for our neighborhood book club, meeting tomorrow evening, is The Art of Racing in the Rain, by Garth Stein, which I declined to read.  It is narrated by a charming and personable dog, and after Gail (who very seldom cries) finished the book in heaving sobs, I knew I was going to skip it.  Since childhood (remember Old Yeller?) I have avoided dog books - their sole purpose is to break the reader's heart.  Our own crazy little old dog's death is still too recent for me to risk waking up that pain. 

We recently found Sea of Troubles, in a new paperback reprint. It's one of Donna Leon's Venice mysteries that has been, mysteriously, unavailable for far too long, and I devoured it in a couple of nights.  There are two others that seem to be missing, and I'm hoping they're next in line to return.  If you love a good police procedural, captivating protagonists, great food, and exiting locations, Leon's series of books with Commissario Guido Brunetti will be right up your alley.  I have never been to Venice, but from these books I feel I know it, in its contemporary form at least.  It's clear from these novels that Italy has its share of the woes and tribulations of modern life, but the beauty of this ancient city also manages to shine through.  Many of the mysteries have to do with environmental problems, and political corruption, as well as immigration problems.  All things we are familiar with and think of as our own national difficulties.  But, after I finished with Sea of Troubles, I was right back into my lack of enthusiasm for anything I pick up to read.  I have things on hold with the library system, but lack of funding has forced them to seriously cut back on the number of copies they order, and it can take weeks and weeks to get a popular book.

So, while I wait for my holds on the latest titles by Jane Smiley, Anna Quindlen, Scott Turow, James Lee Burke, Sharon McCrumb, and others, I am desultorily picking at one unread volume or another off our shelves.  We are trying not to buy books right now, so it's the long hard wait, unless I lose control completely and find myself at the register at Bookworks with a stack of new books in my arms.   Anyone have any suggestions?


Theresa Williams said...

I'm sorry to hear that you recently lost your dog. That's a heartbreaker for sure. I just managed to get ahold of R. H. Blythe's four volume set on Haiku. Found them on Amazon for a reasonable price (around twenty dollars per book). If you are interested in pursuing haiku as part of your poetry writing practice, I highly recommend these. I've almost made it through Vol. 1, which is the history/influences of haiku, but I've also dipped into Volume 4 (Autumn-Winter). These are the books that people like Kerouac and Ginsberg read when they practiced haiku.

Neil said...

I hesitate to recommend a book to someone as widely and deeply read as yourself; my own reading is quite limited. I did just finish "Ragtime" by E L Doctorow - if you haven't read that one, I would surely recommend it. Probably one you can find in your local library too.

I have borrowed a few ideas from your reading lists over time - if I think of something else I will pass the idea along.


marigolds2 said...

Theresa - the day may come when I look for these books to which you refer me - but I fear you have no idea how shallow I really am.

And Neil - I read Ragtime quite a while ago. I like Doctorow (both E.L. and Cory) and maybe should see if he has written anything recent.

Thanks to both of you for offering your suggestions.