Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Books to help you overcome or embrace general malaise.


Books. I spent last Monday clearing out about 30% of my parents’ attic. About 90% of what I got rid of was (or is it were?): books. SO many books. 

The beautiful thing about these books is that they were all read. My parents' favorite pastime was reading. They read at dive bars, swimming pools, airplanes, road trips, during my gymnastics classes, piano lessons, play practice. They read everywhere. They couldn’t change a light bulb or hang a frame, but they’d read Ulysses — and discussed it on their first date. 

Hoarding books was something I learned from infancy. Re-homing books is something I’ve embraced as an adult. 


The musty smell of my attic (identical to the Strand Book Store in NYC) brought loads of feelings, but my! was it freeing to load up my friend’s car and pay her to take the books away.

When I go into a depression (and I have been deeply depressed lately — a tear-filled, joyless blob who posts selfies so people will tell me I’m pretty and maybe that will release some dopamine ::shrug emoji::), I lose myself in books. It’s February and I’ve read ten books so far this year.

They have not been particularly cerebral books. I’m drawn to books that don’t make me think, but do make me feel things that are different than oh-my-god-my-dad-has-cancer-TOO-what-the-actual-hell.

What am I reading right now?
This feels like a cheat because it’s a re-read. I chose it for Neighbor Book Club this month. I’ve never had to choose the book, so it was very stressful for me. I wanted a book that others probably hadn't read, but that I thought had staying power. I’ve read something like thirteen of the Maisie Dobbs books, but not in a long time. I’ve actually forgotten the plot of the first one, so I’m enjoying re-reading it. It’s written by a woman and has a brilliant woman as a main character (honestly, I've kinda of sworn off books written by men unless I have good reason to read them. We were assigned books by men 99% of our academic lives, so I feel like I have a lot of catching up to do in the world of women and minorities). It’s set in the 1920s-1930s London, and is a light mystery that’s well-written and charming. 

Quick review of some others I’ve read this year:

The Year of Less: I listened to this on audiobook while i was cleaning out crap. It was fine, but it made me a little annoyed. A woman tries not to buy things for a year. I don’t think I can read Nouveau-Thoreavian books written by twenty-somethings who haven’t suffered real hardships. It just makes me angry in general at the world that the stories being published and told are those of middle-class white people, which then makes me wonder what the hell business I have writing a book when i should be out looking to help other people tell their stories. But I digress...

Dirty Like Me: This was a super dirty book. I’m trying to read more of these because I feel like I’d be very good at writing romance novels, but I am still having trouble figuring out when it's a sweet story versus when it's just pure erotica -- or some combination. I need to come up with a pen name though, so y’all don’t disown me.

The Ten Thousand Doors of January: I really enjoyed this book. It was a book-club pick, and I was so proud of myself for reading it. Of course i didn’t attend the book club, so oops. I have a really good habit of “joining” book clubs and then never going.


The Princess Diarist
: Oh my god, this book made me so embarrassed for Carrie Fisher because she totally printed actual diaries she kept from when she was 19 and aaaaaack, even though she was a perfectly good writer — better than most! — it was still super embarrassing. I’ve got some of my old journals, but I shall reserve any old-publishing for my Patreon community. (Hint hint PRETTY PLEASE sign up over there? Because you know I won’t ever be releasing another album again because no one does that anymore because the music business has changed and it’s just a total money-pit to put out an actual album so PLEASE subscribe to musicians’ patreons instead?)

Murder in an Irish Village: I like Ireland. I love little mysteries like this. It was no Agatha Raisin because the main character isn’t quite as memorable, but it got me out of my own head and into a small Irish Village for a few days. That was nice.

Christmas Shopaholic: Is this the moment when you realize that Brigid Kaelin likes Sophie Kinsella? Can we still be friends? Mindless. Pleasant. Not my favorite of the series, but I read the whole thing terribly quickly.

Cosy: The British Art of Comfort  A perfectly charming read that also makes me wonder why the hell I haven’t written a full-on book yet because I am pretty sure this book is just a really long blog entry. It would be a nice book for the back of the toilet, if you are one of those people who doesn’t scroll through Twitter while you’re pooping. 


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