Thursday, September 20, 2018

How do you make time for serious reading?

So much to do. So much to catch up on. So much to prepare for things to look forward to. So much... and so many books to read. So how do you make time (or find time) for serious reading?

My recent technique has been to read and walk while waiting. While the kettle boils, while the microwave turns, while the timer ticks on the oven... while I wait for the washing to finish, or search for the missing sock (yes, I can read while searching for socks - I pace and my pacing takes me somewhere real or imaginary. If real, find sock. If imaginary, turn the page). I read when I have to go out in five minutes, or when I've got back but haven't quite got the energy yet to put the shopping away. I read while my husband shaves or puts on his shoes. I read when he's not yet ready to leave for work, but I still want to be there to see him leave. (Read, and walk from kitchen to dining room and back, and back, and back.) I read while getting dizzy, but practice has taught me to walk my circles in opposite directions from time to time. (I still read forward though, never looking at the back page of the book until I get there.) And still I read. So... how do you make time (or find time) for serious reading?

Of course, there could always be the problem of forgetting what's happening in the book (or in the real world--that's another story). But I'm talking serious reading here. The sort of reading that carries you away, far into a different time or place, to a different mind. Just a sentence or two sets the bells ringing for magic and flies you "home." I love to read!

And here are some reviews of much-loved books that I've read recently. All highly recommended.

First is The Secret Wisdom of the Earth by Christopher Scotton, a long and beautiful book, with absorbingly detailed descriptions, hauntingly real characters, disturbing and somehow healing situations, and powerful wisdom. Set in the not so distant past, in a coal-mining town where mountains and glorious valleys can be gone in the passing of greed, the novel parallels the destruction of land with the destruction of human lives and values. A coming of age tale for every age, and a beautiful book, it's one to enjoy with some seriously rich, elegant four-star coffee.

Eleanor Oliphant is completely fine by Gail Honeyman reveals its protagonist in its title--a woman who clearly is not completely fine, but who functions well in her own little niche in the workplace, offending by accident and never quite understanding the alien behavior of social human beings. Her voice and her thoughts are perfectly portrayed, made almost completely fine. And her gradual recognition of who she is and how she might change is convincing--haunting too. A pleasing novel, both humorous and serious, it's another one to enjoy with some more elegant four-star coffee.

Can you believe I hadn't read The Shipping News by E. Annie Proulx until recently? Definitely a book that takes you to a different place, deep into the minds of different characters, and deep into your own mind too. Filled with curiously intertwined relationships, memories and hopes, life and death, it's a beautiful novel of many-splendored love. More elegant four-star coffee please.

Stoneheart by Baer Charlton is another novel filled with multiple characters and multiple needs. It's another novel that brings time and place to life - this time the recent past, and the place; that strange America which seems to alien to a soldier returned from war. Most especially, there's a place in Oregon, and a hope in humanity. A novel rich with heart and soul, to be enjoyed with rich four-star coffee.

The protagonist in The Kortelisy Escape by Leonard Rosen also enters a world much changed from the one he knew. Imprisoned, but not necessarily guilty; freed, but not necessarily free; caring for a granddaughter whose coming of age parallels his path to redemption, his escape might be from past of present. But he's a stage magician, and surely magic will find a way. Vividly recreating stage magic (and explaining it), teaching the power of story to hide and to tell, and weaving through webs of betrayal to an exciting, enthralling climax, it's a powerful story to remember and enjoy with four-star powerfully flavored coffee.

Another ex-prisoner is the protagonist of Lowdown by Anthony Schneider,  a novel that explores the mob, the depths of Brooklyn, the heights of Sicily, and the hopes of memory in a world that's changed. Jailed for 25 years, released to uncertainty, and glad just to see the sun, Jimmy Piccini remembers the past, survives the present and dreams to redeem the future. Enjoy this complex and evocative tale with some more complex four-star coffee.

In Deep Breathing by G Davies Jandrey, the reader is transported to borders and a woman who knows many worlds. A wheelchair bound protagonist; a homeless woman seeking custody of her child; a fence that separates peoples and places, giving and denying hope; a bag of karma tea, and a scarily personal threat all come together, vividly and hauntingly depicted in a tale that's both bleak and wonderfully satisfying and hopeful. Enjoy with more four-star complex coffee! (But you might have to wait until it comes out!

And finally, there's A Cat in Time by Christopher McPherson, a beautiful combination of historical novel, animal fiction, parable, and even scifi! Like a linked set of short stories, all centering on a beautiful tail-less cat, the collection forms a jigsaw of cat lives, and a beautiful read to enjoy with more four-star coffee.





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