Today I packed up a stack of books that I bought to read over my spring break. It didn’t happen. These seven books, all of which have been on my reading list for some time, have collected dust while perched on my classroom desk. I am only a few short days away from lying on a chaise lounge overlooking still snow-covered mountains and azure waters with one of these seven books in my hand, a glass of wine in the other.
I always manage to purchase books for pleasure and keep them in my classroom, where they are never read. It’s almost become part of my end-of-the-year routine. I round them all up, fill various bags that I bring home for the summer, and quickly devour each and every one. This was usually because my free reading always competed with grad school reading, but hey. No 20 novels looming over my head that need to be completed by June 24th this year.
Although I do miss that drive to complete and read and annotate, there is something so profoundly wonderful about not caring if I fall asleep while reading my book. Or if I really dislike it after too many pages, I can cast it off to someone else who might be interested, and start over with another title. I have had a summer routine for five summers. That’s all of my thirties. It’s time to start a new routine.
I have four books that are sitting on my nightstand, one of which was close to being finished mid-March but I haven’t picked it up since. Shame, I know. I mean, I chose these books. They are not difficult books to read. I want to read them. But why don’t I?
Sometimes I realize my hypocritical tendencies toward my students: I usually say something along the lines of It is imperative that you read as much as you can to become a better writer. I encourage the sports page and National Geographic during silent reading. I even allow manga. Yet do I follow this rule? Do I read with them? Well, let’s be fair for a minute. I counted a year ago the number of novels I read throughout my 5 years and I read around 95 novels, three plays, four collections of short stories, and most of Chaucer. So maybe, I did read a year’s worth of novels each summer. Maybe more. I know I enjoyed at least 3/4 of these.
Perhaps I need to follow my own lead and drop everything and read, just like my students, for 10-15 minutes every day. Talk about a new routine. Since this whole blog catalogs lists of songs, what’s a list of books too? And I will add brief thoughts…
1. The Sense of an Ending–Julian Barnes. I read his novel England, England a decade ago and became enthralled with his writing talent. TSOAE has been recommended to me by numerous friends. It’s short and sweet, and I can’t wait.
2. The Weird Sisters–Eleanor Brown. I don’t remember anything about this book but I read about it in The New Yorker. Sounds kind of fun.
3. Sea of Poppies–Amitav Ghosh. I love Ghosh. This is the first part in a trilogy about the opium trade in the 1800s. Can’t wait.
4. The Night Circus–Erin Morgenstern. One of my students recommended this. I don’t know anything about it.
5. The Privileges–Jonathan Dee. This looks fun and light-hearted but also dark
6. The Art of Fielding–Chad Harbach. Baseball book that looks great and has received a lot of press.
7. A Wedding in Haiti– Julia Alvarez. I saved the best for last. Because Alvarez is a faculty member at Middlebury, she came up the mountain many times to give readings. This memoir was in the works but she hadn’t finished it. She pieced it together in one of the most amazing photoessays presented to a small group of people. I have loved her since How the Garcia Girls Lost their Accents in high school. I bawled my eyes out listening to her. After her talk, I introduced myself and discussed how I used to teach Before we were Free. She was amazing. I am so excited this book has finally been published.
So way to break a routine, huh? If those don’t keep me full, I have 1/4 of Skippy Dies left to read, 3/4 of Super Sad True Love Story and most of The Paris Wife. I need to get on it. And to conclude, I am breaking my routine with this blog and commenting on none of the songs tonight. They’re all good songs, but they too, a little routine.
Come on Eileen–Dexy’s Midnight Runners
You are my Face–Wilco
Wild Horses–The Rolling Stones
Private Eyes–Daryl Hall & John Oates