“Currently Reading” and Other Lies.

If I’m honest, this happened before social media apps. Now I have of a list on Goodreads telling all of my friends I’m still reading a book club book I started sixteen months ago (Ew, that is worse than I expected). Before, back when it was only books and there wasn’t a computer in my house or a smart phone to track my reading, I had a pile by the nightstand. So I guess in that respect it was more personal. Of course when I was ten and my friends came over to play the first thing I did was invite them to see my room. So maybe it wasn’t as private after all.

Confession time. The photo with my post, it does even cover everything on the list. I’d like to come clean about some of them before we begin.

Sometime further back than I can recall (but within three years because I started it after moving to this apartment) I began reading a stripped book called The Diary of a Madman and Other Stories by Nikolai Gogol.

A quick word about “strips” They are bookstore speak for a title that was over ordered and the cost of shipping back to the publisher is too high. Instead the covers are ripped off and returned leaving the books to be recycled or taken by booksellers. Usually they are a mass market size, more often than not they are things you wouldn’t have paid for anyway, but you get a chance to explore an author you didn’t know or something that you can better sell down the line. Booksellers and ex-booksellers usually have shelves full of these and doubt they will ever really read them.

With that established, I enjoyed reading many of the stories. In fact, I can’t remember if I finished or not. I was in grad school, short stories were about all I had time for, so I’d do one every night or the long ones over a week. Now I don’t even know where the book is, lost, given to a friend, hiding under the bed? Any of these may be true.

Next I’d like to account for Moo by Jane Smiley and A Tale of Two Cities/Great Expectations by Charles Dickson. Both of these are book club books. As I understand it, no one finished Moo. There was a lot going on in life about that time. I remember enjoying the Catch-22 atmosphere in a collegiate setting. I think I’d enjoy finishing it. So I left it there, apparently for sixteen months. My copy of A Tale of Two Cities is one of those two for one style books. Yes, it’s an Oprah Book. Yes, I am ashamed of that fact. Yes, it was a dollar in a library book sale. I have yet to finish Great Expectations.  It wasn’t part of the book club. I tell myself one day I will go back. I did, after all, enjoy Dickens. But too much all at once makes me queasy watching politics and think about the French Revolution.

The Paris Review Book of Heartbreak, Madness, Sex, Love, Betrayal, Outsiders, Intoxication, War, Whimsy, Horrors, God, Death, Dinner, Baseball, Travels, The Art of Writing, and Everything Else in the World Since 1953. Wow, what a mouthful. It’s another great collection I can dip my toes in and out of at leisure. I don’t believe it was intended to be read all at once. I confidently say I am reading this true to it’s style. My favorite line so far is found under “Intoxication” titled It’s Six A.M., Do You Know Where You Are? by Jay McInerney. A couple near a dance floor having a conversation during which he feels, “She is scanning the dance floor for a man with a compatible vocabulary.” Ah that scene and everything that goes with it.

Investigating Communications: An Introduction to Research Methods.  As the used book stickers that plaster the lower portion of the binding imply, this is a grad school text book. The class is finished, the degree is completed, I still have not done all of the required reading.

The Bartender’s Tale by Ivan Doig. Just over a year ago Book Club did The Whistling Season by the same author. There is a line in it, “Sunlight grants us substance of life as we know it, moonlight clothes us in our own particular fabrics of quest called dreams.” It resonated and thrilled me. Also, I’m an emotional reader. I like authors and characters that want to drink with me, I was hoping to find one. At the same time I picked up (and did not finish) Under the Influence: The Literature of Addiction by Rebecca Shannonhouse. I think my brain stepped in and suggested I may have a safer perspective at another time. Since then I think I gave away Under the Influence which is why it is not accounted for in my heap.

Runner’s World Run Less Run Faster. I actually finished reading the book. However, upon having completed it I decided I did not want to be a runner. Sports, in fact most hobbies, for me are a dabbling venture. I like to play, so when I want to do kickboxing I don’t want to schedule runs around it. If yoga pops up tonight I want to fall over without concerns about tomorrow’s race. Since I didn’t try the methodology to determine if it works I felt any feedback or rating I may provide would be hypothetical at best. I told myself maybe some day, for a small 5k or something, I’d try it out. You’re counting the lies, right?

Books I started for papers: What Video Games Have to Teach Us about Learning and Literacy by James Paul Gee. Unfortunately, I don’t remember much about this. It came as part of an extravagant splurge on Better World Books (which is an awesome site if you haven’t checked it out). Orders poured in for over a week, packages of books on literacy. Many of them I read and enjoyed, some got lost in the shuffle and are now missing. Bowling Alone by Robert D. Putman and The Great Good Place: Cafes, Coffee Ships, Bookstores, Bars, Hair Salons, and Other Hangouts at the Heart of a Community by Ray Oldenburg. I actually loved what I read (and it was a sizable chunk) of both of these titles. One source is not enough in grad school however, so off to the journals and articles I went in search for more (and more recent) support of the author’s theories and work. It was a great project for me.

How to Weep in Public by Jacqueline Novak. The book is a humor title written on depression. As I’ve already stated, I’m an emotional reader. You should know this from the start. Books, the authors, the characters, the themes, they saturate my mind and I look for ones that meet me where I am. I read the introduction in the bookstore and thought it would do just that. The part that sold me:

Life can feel like a never-ending game of tag. To that I say: Let this book be your base. Catch your breath here, friend. Take a moment. You can pretend to read if you like. Or just hug it like a teddy bear. Hugging a book looks collegiate, not childish, so you will be safe from prying eyes and maybe even attract the attention of a roaming professor looking to take advantage.

As I continued through the chapters (I left off in chapter 23) I found that perhaps I am not depressed enough to fully embrace the humor. There is still too much fight in me to just lay on the floor for days straight. Also, ice cream in the shower sounds like a melted mess. So, good news there is hope for me. Bad news, it may take a while before I swing back around to finish.

Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott. Some books are too good to finish. Take a great piece of chocolate as an example. When I eat it, I do not bite down. My teeth do not touch the chocolate for fear it will remove the object of pleasure too soon. I hold it in my mouth until it disappears of it’s own accord. That is what reading Bird by Bird has been for me. I love it, the style, the way of living, her posts on Facebook, all of it. So I’m trying to savor it, by not finishing. I’m sure you’ll get the logic sooner or later.

Nowhere Men by Stephenson/Bellearde/Bellaire/Fonografiks. It’s a graphic novel. There is more reading to it than you’d think. I’m a little more than halfway in but there isn’t anything that really drags me into the story. The medium isn’t the problem, I like graphic novels. It’s put out by Image, it isn’t your average fight scene comic book super heroes, which contributed to my expectation I’d love it. I’m a character reader though and so far we just aren’t clicking.

Whores and Thieves of the Worst Kind: A Study of Women, Crime, and Prisons, 1835-2000 by L. Mara Dodge. I’m actually really digging this book. I’ve been reading it pretty consistently prior to Roadmap. What is the purpose of prison? What role does the local community play in criminalizing actions, pursuing punishment, and sentencing? What changes are there in the role of prisons with the surrounding communities? All kinds of crazy questions that seem so obvious but I had never thought to investigate further. Still, during all of the crying and stress in the last few weeks even an interesting non-fiction got put on hold for fiction.

Trigger Warning by Neil Gaimen. The truth comes out at last. I just want some magical story-telling right now. This is the title you’ll be covering with me moving forward for the next chunk of posts. Gaimen has been comfort food for me since college. As much as I look forward to sharing the journey with you, I only thought it was fair to tell you a bit about what kind of reader I am (and clearly am not).

So there you have it. Most of what I am not reading. There are other things I didn’t include, the cook books (I’m mostly eating raw these days), the knitting book (and my fella’s half knit pair of socks), the art books, the computer how-to’s. I think you have a better understanding of what to expect on this ride now. What I’ll read, what may or may not be finished. We’ll have variety at least!


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