There’s a little known place in my area, not far from where I live, that is a boon to any avid reader or book lover in the area. It’s a place where I can get books for free! Nice books in good condition too! It’s the local book exchange and it is a wonderful thing for me. Since there’s no established flame in my life at the moment taking up my waking moments, since I’m not exactly one who can stand watching TV all the time, since I’ve definitely decided to stay away from the online dating thing and since my daily life (other than trips to the grocery store) don’t provide much opportunity to meet qualified candidates for a suitable significant other, I’m going to be doing a bunch of reading over the holiday break. The existence of a book exchange only minutes away from my home while wonderful can be a downer in some respects, especially if you live in a very small home. Generally, I like to keep my books, but lately I’ve picked up and read a few, I don’t think I’ll be hanging on to.
The first of these is The Story of Edgar Sawtelle, by David Wroblewski. It is beautifully written, very moving and I found myself in tears throughout much of it. It is a story of a boy, his dog and a relationship. It is a beautifully crafted and moving story. If descriptive and figurative language is the key to an excellent book, this author definitely has his game on. It is an excellent book and it even made Oprah’s Book Club in 2008. (Yes, I know, I’m late to that game too!)
So, if the book is so great, why am I not keeping it on my shelves? First off, have you seen the size of the book? The hardbound edition, which is the one I have, takes up nearly three inches of space on my very limited shelf space. When I was dating the Beau, he told me I needed to get rid of some books. His perfectly minimalist home inspired much of the cleaning out, painting and re-decorating projects I conducted throughout this year. Even so, these words come from a man who, I think, has a sum total of 8 books in his house. (That’s not a bad thing, it’s just not me.) Words which were said to a woman, who if she could, would have an entire room filled floor to ceiling with bookshelves and good books, except for the part of the walls where the windows and the fireplace existed. The Beau was partly right though. I don’t need to keep EVERY book I read, just for the sake of keeping it. To this end, Edgar Sawtelle must move on. Instead, it will become a gift for my oldest daughter, who turned me onto it in the first place. She’s not read it yet, so she should enjoy it.
The other reason, Edgar Sawtelle, doesn’t get to stay around, is because as beautifully written and crafted as it is, it is a downer for me. He just didn’t get me to my happy place. (If you haven’t read the book and you want to, you won’t want to read much further because it might be a spoiler for you.) I just kept reading, hoping things in the story would get better and it just didn’t. It was truly a modern day tragedy. Given that my life of late has been filled with enough of its own tragedy, I prefer to read things that help me focus on hopeful outcomes rather than dire and distressing ones. I got done reading this late one evening in front of the fire, tears streaming down my face (thank God the kids weren’t home) and I wondered, “What if things don’t ever get better? What if they keep getting worse?” No. Definitely not a good place for me to go…and the tears? No, definitely not a good look.
Another book that won’t be taking up permanent residence here at The Wild Mind household is The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger. You can read a review that I pretty much agree with here if you want a fully blown synopsis. (And by the way, check 10Thirty’s blog…she can cook…makes me sick…but she’s a fun read!) I agree with 10Thirty’s conclusions about the book, though I could never have articulated them quite as well. I simply don’t care to spend the time! Like Edgar Sawtelle, while I was intrigued and kept reading on to find out what would happen next, I simply couldn’t stand the ending. It left me wanting. Never a good thing to do to The Wild Mind, as Ex #2 can attest! He looks like this now, because he made that fatal error:
Like, Edgar, The Time Traveler’s Wife left me feeling down and dismal. I think I’m just at the place right now, where over the last three years, and especially this year, I’ve had enough of my own unhappy endings that I really don’t care to read about any more unhappy and tragic endings. Part of the reason I read is to escape some of my present reality. These books somehow didn’t quite reach the Calgon level of taking me away from all that, so they don’t stay on my shelves.
And, now I’m wondering…
Are you a reader and a book lover?
If so, what do you read and what are your purposes for reading?
If not, what do you do when you need a momentary escape from the less than happy realities you might be facing?