Books and Dreams

A note to readers – Here, I originally intended to simply tell you about two books: David Sedaris’ Me Talk Pretty One Day, and Jhumpa Lahiri’s In Other Words. They are both really good, entertaining, yet antipodes for personal accounts on learning a foreign language which is something I have tried to do for many years with French. But then I got distracted and went on this completely different tangent. Please excuse the digression and yeah, get your hands on the two books above if you are in the mood for good reading from two of my favorite authors.

I’ve had my nose in a book constantly for the past many months (thanks to the pandemic!). I discovered early on that the best way for me to find the time to read, was to capitalize on the moments when I was stranded doing something else.

Whether it is nursing a baby, or monitoring a virtual class, or cooking in the kitchen, or watching the kids play outside, or even the gas line at Costco – a book is never more than a reach away from me. I’ve strategically littered them everywhere. It’s a very comforting feeling, even if it means that from time to time my memory muscles have to work extra hard from getting the stories mixed up.

While styling the new bookshelves in our living room the other day, I saw all the books I have saved over the last 20-25 years in one place for the first time. There are may be just 70 or 80 of them, so not a lot, but they instantly took me back to all of my various reading phases. I can’t believe I was so heavily into Kurt Vonnegut. Or that for a while I only read V. S. Naipaul and wanted to write just like him. Or how much I struggled through Joan Didion. Or how much I loved Hemingway.

Of course, I have essentially forgotten what’s in most of these books I own or why I loved them in the first place to save them all these years. Still, I feel like I used to be cool and in the know once upon a time (when it came to books, that is) and that’s a good feeling to hold on to ; ).

I haven’t read a lot of new titles in these months with the exception of the books I review for Bookpage and the Obama memoirs. Instead, I am voraciously reading books on how to become a writer, and by default that means reading a lot of classics. For the first time, I am reading with the intent to understand good writing and to dissect the reasons why a book works or doesn’t work. It is completely intimidating and exhilarating, this process of self teaching.

From time to time I get sad as I wonder why in the world I didn’t pursue a degree in literature, French, and creative writing. Three things that I have loved for so long! It was a momentary lapse in judgement that I will pay for for the rest of my life. It’s never too late I suppose but it’s hard not to think of the alternate professional life I could have been living right now.

On that note, tell me, what books are you reading right now, or wish to be reading right now? Do you have a favorite author? Do you wish to be a writer or a storyteller? Do you ever wish you went to college for something different?

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