Thank goodness. You know when there’s something you care about but you keep on forgetting to be enthusiastic about it because you’re so damn tired from being enthusiastic about 50 other things? I learned, this morning, that for me that thing was reading. Not reading like “Oh, here’s a book by my pillow, I’ll read that as a substitute tranquilizer,” but reading like “Why are my hands glued to this book? I can’t put it down! I love to read its pages!!” That kind. Fabulous Allie from Broke207 wrote this post about LibraryThing based in Portland, Maine. Wahoo! I read her post, clicked the link, half-heartedly signed up and then saw what the website had to offer. All of a sudden, I remembered how much I like to read, learn about new authors, new lifestyles, cry irrationally at bad romance novels and laugh (and snort) obnoxiously at short stories while boyfriend is trying to cook dinner, play video games, write a song, etc.
In addition to offering conversation forums on any and everything book-y, LibraryThing lists local events and has a library feature where you can list ‘your books’ which at this point I’m just starting with January and tracking my bookwormy progress through the apple of literary selections throughout the year. Some genius obsessive compulsive candidates on there have fantastic numerical goals for this year: “75 books in 2011!” “13 books this month!” “I’m going to read 5 books today!” You… inspiring… asses. Let’s just say I’m going to read a MILLIONTY books this year and if I don’t make it then at least I will have read very close to a millionty books. LibraryThing (in addition to all its other offerings) will be the visual progress to this end. Let’s bring it full circle and say I’ll even try to write a little about them here on my L.E.D. blog so that you all know I don’t just hide in my attic like Bart’s Twin Brother hunched over a workbench and bottle caps all the time.
Outside Lies Magic, by John Stilgoe.
Wow. I’ve literally been reading this book for 5 years. And it’s not even that long, page-wise. Here’s the scoop: John Stilgoe is a Harvard professor who teaches ‘wandering.’ Which is a pretty ding dong damn hard subject for a bunch of 18-year-old over-achieving pencil pushers to wrap their steel-trap minds around. (Settle down, I love Harvard AND her crazy students who don’t know how to look both ways in while jaywalking). Hard for them mostly because it involves unlocking the door on the steel trap. Stilgoe explores the methods of observation while wandering and elaborates on histories as they relate to infrastructure: railroads, the interstate, fences, power lines ad infinitum. Or so it seems – this book is seriously less than 150 pages but every time I finish a few pages I have to think for a long time about the implications of its content. I’ve fully digested most of this and am about 10 pages away from finishing (and probably starting again).
How did I come to know about this book? My sophomore or junior year in college our teacher assigned it as required reading for the class as the subject matter really speaks true to photographers and artists, if no one else. I spent the entire four years of secondary education as a Wandering Major. I remember a keen sense of time/space as I walked Huntington Avenue my first weeks in Boston – to look up and catch a woman shaking a white blouse out of her window (wrinkled? freshening up?) against a dark gray rain-wet roof and pale gray sky. Trains intersecting as a stranger in a red coat walks towards me. Photographer on a walk without a camera: sad. This is what Stilgoe starts to get at but he approaches it in a much more Harvard-y history way. Can’t blame the guy for playing to his audience!
You may have seen me drooling uncontrollably about this book before. Thank you, Kate Sullivan-Jones‘ Dad, for writing a book that combines all the things I love about serious, thoughtful novels that contemplate overarching lifelong concepts AND soap operas a la Twin Peaks. The book starts off by piquing the intellectual’s interests in very compelling ways (suicide, lust, longing) and finishes with some serious “Oh yes! I love romance and cute things!” without going Danielle Steele on me. It turns out, Kate says, that his Dad is secretly a teenage girl. Awright! Once when I went over to my father’s house and saw the really fantastic mess he’d created he said he was regressing to age 9 for awhile (awright!) but nothing as juicy as regressing to a 17 year old girl. That is unique, and that person should be a writer.
In addition to being well-written and introducing characters that you become really invested in, Slow Eddie takes place on the Cape and in my book that’s local, so I love it.
That’s it for now. Kate lent me The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson. It’s a murder mystery that takes place in Sweden and that’s really all you need to know for now. I’m excited because this book is huge, or huge-ish so it will make me look smart when I read it in public places, which I plan to, because that is what being a Booky McGee is all about.