Monday, June 8, 2009

Summer Reading

I’m not good at reading, but I still love it. There is something about a good story, the way it can draw me in and transport me to a different world. I know a lot of people who are always half way through three or four books at any given time. I really don’t understand how they can do this. It is extreamly difficult for me to not read a book in one sitting. Once I get hooked by a story, I have a very hard time focussing on the events in my real life. In many ways the fictional world feels more real to me than the physical world. I learn to love fictional characters and feel a deep emotional connection to the events in their lives.

Because of this love for literature, I try not to read very much. I know that sounds stupid and backwards, but books have a tendancy to take over my life. I can’t function in the day to day until I escape the hold a story has on me. To make maters worse, I read very slowly, so it takes me quite a while to break out of a story. Typically I try to start reading a book as soon as I wake up on a Saturday morning. I sit on the couch and move very little for the next 18-20 hours and then go to bed late after I’ve finished my sojourn into fiction.

Listening to audio books is slightly more freeing. I can at least move around while living in some fictional world. In some ways that is worse though. When I attempt to interact with my friends and family while plugged into a book, they know I’m not paying attention to anything they say.

My husband has informed me that when I’m writing it’s like me reading times 100. When I fall into a fictional world that exists only in my own mind, it is impossible for me to get out. After a long day of writing, I don’t reach the end of the story. Instead the characters consume me, and I begin seeing every aspect of my own life through the eyes of my imaginary friends.

One thing that writing does to me is squeltch my desire to read. I love the characters in my head and connect with them on a much deeper level than I can to characters invented by other people. I understand that having a strong grasp of literary tradition is not only helpful, but in many ways required for good writing. So I attempt to pull my mind out of my own personal fiction long enough to occationally dabble in the fiction of others.

I have come to accept the fact that I’m not quite normal. So if you are one of those people who enjoys a light read on a summer afternoon, here are a few stories that have consumed me in summers past. Hopefully as you lounge next to the pool this summer you can find yourself caught in a fictional reality.

The Sweet Potato Queens’ Book of Love by Jill Conner Browne: This is a very funny book filled with southern charm. I read it during one of my past summers in North Carolina and found it a great way to emerse myself in southern culture.

How I Paid For College by Marc Acito: Everything that Marc writes is hellarious, but his first novel is particularly entertianing. If you haven’t read this book yet you should. And if you have read this one check out the sequil Attack of the Theater People.

Voyage of the Summer Sun by Robin Cody: If you can’t take a great adventure this summer, reading about somebody else’s adventure can be a fun alternative. This epic tale of canoeing the Columbia River is a great read for northwesterners. I especally like the section about Hanford.

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