I spent my childhood doing a great many things; from playing dolls to imagining I was an Indian living by the neighboring stream to practicing gymnastics and even pretending I was a mermaid swimming in our pool. Among all this I also managed to find time to read. Try as I might, I can only really remember reading one book series through my childhood, and that was The Baby-sitters Club. I was particular about what I enjoyed reading then, and I can't say that much has changed from then to now.
I went through what I'll call a 'reading for fun drought' for a large portion of my youth. I can't recall exactly when it started, but I would wager that it was somewhere around 6th or 7th grade - probably when I outgrew my precious Baby-sitters Club. Through junior high and high school, I found myself wrapped up in other hobbies and interests to keep me busy and yet I still found myself try on a handful of occasions to sit down and read...to no avail. Maybe it was my book choices, but I wasn't drawn into the stories. Again I tried in college and found that I could be really interested in the story and yet I would read a couple pages and realize that I had no idea what I just read. Crazy right? It's like my brain couldn't or wouldn't allow me to concentrate on one thing. I had trained my brain to multitask...unconsciously. I would be reading and a page or so later find that I was thinking about ideas for the project I was working on, or going over the grocery list in my head, and then I would snap back to the story and realize that even though I had been reading the words on the page, I didn't comprehending them. My mind was elsewhere so what I read didn't stick. This would lead to frustration as I would go back and reread over and over, till eventually I lost my patience and would give up and put the book down.
I would hear about my mom or friends really enjoying a good book and become jealous. I wanted to read, but believed I had some kind of attention deficit disorder that was keeping me doing so. Finally being done with school and with the wedding come and gone, I decided to pick up a book and give reading another shot. Funny thing, just as I was contemplating this idea, my mother-in-law sent me a chain letter of sorts. Now, I'm not usually one to pass on chain mail, and honestly neither was she, but this one was different, interesting and fun. The idea was that you send an old book from your library to to the person's address included with the letter. Then you copy the letter and send it out to a handful of people with the name and address of the person who sent it to you, and your friends would then each send a book to that person, and they would send it out to their friends, who would in turn send me books. In the end, if everything went perfectly, you were supposed to receive something like 25 new (used) books. Well, this sounded like a perfect way to jump into reading, since I had absolutely no idea where to start on my own. Needless to say, others weren't quite so enthused with the chain mail, so I think I only ended up with 2 books. Still, somewhere to start. So I read those books, and I actually quite enjoyed them, but then what? Libraries and bookstores had SO MANY BOOKS! I didn't even know what section to start in so picking out a new book became an overwhelming task.
I started talking to some friends, who were my husband's coworkers' wives, and we decided to put together a book club. Yay, now I have a healthy source of book recommendations and a reason to get together and socialize! (I'm all for girl's nights.) The book club was EXACTLY what I needed. I've read so many different styles and types of books over the course of the last year, it's been amazing. To give you and idea of the diversity of what we've read, here are the books that I can remember off the top of my head:
1. The Symbol by Dan Brown
2. The Host by Stephanie Meyer
3. The Watchmen by Alan Moore, Dave Gibbons (A graphic Novel)
4. Are You There, Vodka? It's Me, Chelsea. by Chelsea Handler
5. One Thousand White Women: The Journals of May Dodd by Jim Fergus
6. Morrigan's Cross by Nora Roberts(Book one of the Circle Trilogy)
7. Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
8. Fallen by Lauren Kate
Quite the variety and I've really enjoyed each of these books on different levels. I will admit that I had a bit of difficulty getting through The Watchmen even though I've seen the movie and really enjoyed it. The book was even on Time's Top 100 Reads list, but definitely doesn't make my top reads list. Still, there were parts I really enjoyed and the whole concept of a graphic novel was really interesting to me.
Being that my book club is comprised completely of mom's - with the exception of yours truly - our schedules are a little erratic. We started with good intentions of meeting every month, then it turned into every two months, and we pretty much didn't meet the whole of summer break last year. This was causing some problems for me because suddenly I found myself addicted to reading and really valued having recommended reading. How strange life is. My opinion on reading for fun has done a complete 180, and I now find that I have a hard time falling asleep without doing some reading first. I look forward to going to bed and being able to curl up with a good book. I might add that this is all much to my husband's dismay since I no longer cuddle up with him, but instead prop myself up on my alternative down pillow and settle in with my book of choice.
Since I was finishing my book club selections long before our next meeting, I had to find other books to read to fill the time. Luckily, Morrigan's Cross by Nora Roberts was one of our early selections, and I quickly obtained the other three books in the series and thoroughly enjoyed them all. I fell in love with Nora Roberts and found myself buying up every used copy of one of her books that I stumbled across (and there are plenty out there to be had). There was something about Nora's characters I could relate to. They were people I wanted to hang out with. How did this happen? I went from not being able to focus on what I'm reading, to being wrapped up in the story, to the point where I feel like I'm a part of these characters lives and the characters in turn are a part of mine. Dare I say they became friends?
Does that make me weird? A little crazy? Perhaps. Truth is, when I finish a book that I really enjoy, especially a series when you really spend time with the characters, I get a little sad when it's over. It's as if I just made some really great and interesting new friends, and then they all moved away and they never write or call. What happens to them? After the story is over, it is rarely truly over. Not many stories end with the characters dying after a long full life. I think the only movie (and I have to say movie because I haven't actually read the book...yet) I've seen where both the main characters pass away in their old age in the end is The Notebook. Great movie, and I'm sure an excellent book, but most of the books I've been reading end with two people falling in love, finally coming to terms with the fact that they are madly in love and deciding to spend their lives with each other. If' you've read any Nora Roberts, this is pretty much the plot line of all her books. Two people fall in love and one, or both, hate to admit it, but in the end they always realize they can't live without each other...blah, blah, blah. So predictable! Why do I read this? Better yet, why do so many read this? Nearly every one of her books have been #1 New York Times best seller. I, no WE - and when I say we, I mean the female population - are obsessed with love. Is there anything better than falling in love? Anything more eye opening than realizing that you simply cannot exist without this person in your life, and anything scarier than realizing that you have no idea if they feel the same way? If they are in as deep? Is there anything more soul crushing than losing your love? It is such a dynamic time, and when you find that person that you can't live without, and learn that they feel the same way, life doesn't get any better. So as we get further along in the relationship, the love is there and it grows as you learn to appreciate one another, but the dramatic ups and downs of new love tend to peter out. The relationship and the feelings are no longer shiny and new and exciting. The feelings may be stronger than ever, but nothing compares to young love. That is why we read these books. That is why Nora Roberts has well over 150 best sellers. I pray that Jason and I will grow old and senile together (some of us becoming senile sooner than others) and I will never have to enter the dating world ever again. But I can't deny that finding love is exhilarating, so I get my 'fix' through fiction. Well written, relatable fiction.
I love the characters, I love the stories, but it pains me when I get to the last page and it's over. I'm sad to lose those friends, to not be at their wedding, to never know if they started a family. I know some people read and reread books over and over again, and I've kept all my books in the event that I get the urge someday to reread something, but it won't change how I'll feel in the end when I once again lose touch with my revisited friends. When I'm still no closer to knowing what the rest of their lives hold for them.
Does this happen to anyone else? Am I alone in these thoughts and feelings? I've always been the emotional and sentimental type - which you would have some idea what I mean if you read my previous post about the holidays and the poor, little, unselected Christmas trees sitting in the tree lot on Christmas Eve - and I tend to have feelings for things that most normal people don't seem to care about. So maybe I am a little screwed up inside. Maybe I need to go get some help. Do they have a group for people like me? FFA? Fictional Friends Anonymous? The first step is admitting I have a problem right? Check. Now what? Oh to hell with it! I've found that I love to read again, and read I shall! So, to those few who may actually read this psycho, rambling non-sense, I'm calling it a night and am heading upstairs to curl up in my wonderfully amazing bed (which you would know about if you read my blog on my new mattress) and fully intend to crack open a new (used) Nora Roberts book and make some new friends. I already know how it will end - love on their end, heartbreak on mine - but it is the journey that I enjoy the most! Cheers!