Saturday, March 5, 2011

Books, Books, Books

I love books. Books, books, books.

What is so awesome about books?

I love the smell of books—the smell of new books, library books, old books you’ve had for years and years and used books at used bookstores. Every book smells sort of different from the next one.

I love the idea of curling up somewhere comfortable and quiet, maybe with a soft blanket wrapped around me (NOT a Snuggie—those atrocious blankets are all wrong because they don’t have BACKS to them—if they have sleeves, they should have backs, too), reading a book.

What about all of those words to look at? I love reading a word I haven’t thought about in a while (and then secretly issuing a word point to the author). I find reading the names of people and places helps me to remember them later (as opposed to hearing them).

Sometimes I’ll read something that pushes my mind away from the book, and I can’t help but ponder or wonder about a larger idea that the story has implied. For example, books set during World War II always cause me to sit there for a moment, feeling grateful that I am living now instead of then. I love reading suspenseful, exciting chapters. Sometimes I get so involved in parts of the narrative that once I stop reading, I feel my entire body relax and realize I had completely tensed up and my stomach had been in knots.

I have mixed feelings about finding errors (grammatical, chronological, etc.): I can’t help shaking my head at whoever edited the book for missing something, and I kind of relish in the fact that I noticed something that someone else overlooked.

Since I’ve been on maternity leave, I’ve kept track of all the books I’ve read.

Here is the list of books I have read over the past year. Most were recommended to me by friends and family, some were recommended by Oprah, and many were lent to me by a good friend who also shares a love for books, and I have to confess that while several were quite educational, many were indulgences:

1.       Blink by Malcolm Gladwell
2.       Green by Ted Dekker
3.       Have a Little Faith by Mitch Albom
4.       Twilight by Stephenie Meyer
5.       New Moon by Stephenie Meyer
6.       Eclipse by Stephenie Meyer
7.       Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer
8.       The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barberry
9.       The Secret by Rhonda Byrne
10.   The Texas Legacy by DiAnn Mills
a.       Leather and Lace
b.      Lanterns and Lace
c.       Lightning and Lace
11.   The Invisible Wall by Harry Bernstein
12.   Shanghai Girls by Lisa See
13.   Mini Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella
14.   The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
15.   Freedom by Jonathan Franzen
16.   Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay
17.   In Her Shoes by Jennifer Weiner
18.   Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
19.   The Host by Stephenie Meyer
20.   New York by Edward Rutherfurd
21.   The Russian Concubine by Kate Furnivall
22.   The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett
23.   Eragon by Christopher Paolini
24.   Eldest by Christopher Paolini
25.   Brisingr by Christopher Paolini

The last few books I’ve read are set hundreds and hundreds of years ago (The Pillars of the Earth takes place in the 1100s, and, well, the Eragon books take place in a fantasy world, but I’d place them just as far back as The Pillars of the Earth, if not farther, if they had existed in our world).

Books set in those far away days, far before technology and immediate information became so commonplace, are usually the ones that attract me. I wondered why that was (other than the fact that I just like them).

Maybe they help provide a little balance to my life.

Do you ever find yourself mentally exhausted by the end of the day—exhausted in the way that only people who live in this day and age, with the accompanying pressures and demands, would?

Here’s an example: One evening, I find myself standing in the living room, typing a text message while answering a question Joel is asking me, as I am pulling my coat out of the closet. I have half an hour free while Joel is watching the baby, so I run out to Wal-Mart for a few things (dangerous) and my cell phone rings and I answer it, thus talking and looking at thousands of products under bright lights around lots of people, all at once (OVERLOAD). I go home, make supper, put Emmett to bed, check my e-mail, then scan the Home page of Facebook, perhaps changing my status. Then I realize I wondered, since watching the Academy Awards, who won last year? Who won the year before last? I don’t remember. After looking that up, I quickly surf over to my online banking to see what payments are coming out this week, and then forget that I was supposed to reply to a certain e-mail, so I have to go back to my e-mail to do that. Then it’s later than I had expected, and my eyes are not focusing so well on the bright computer screen anymore, so I walk away. I walk past rooms and rooms full of stuff. I think, Why in the world do we have so much STUFF? (And we aren’t anything close to hoarders...I’m too anti-clutter for that.) We have racks of CDs and shelves of movies in the rec room, clothes upon clothes in our bedroom, toys upon toys in the spare room, cupboards full of food in the kitchen, papers on the fridge, and the junk drawer… (well, there’s a reason why it’s called the junk drawer – you probably have one, too). Then we watch TV or a movie (I prefer movies because Joel is notorious for watching two TV shows at once, flicking back and forth between them during commercials). Images upon images flash before my eyes and enter my mind.

Then I go to bed, and my mind is so full. My brain hurts. My mind is thinking about something I read about, something I talked about, something I forgot to do, whether I am doing all I can do to be a great wife and a loving mother, and then I realize I haven’t prayed yet, so I begin to pray and then fall asleep at some point during the prayer.

Did that sound a little neurotic?

Anyway, I’m saying all this to say that although of course I appreciate that we aren’t living in the Middle Ages anymore, and that we have great technology, and we have all of the neat and interesting things we have nowadays, and that a wealth of information is immediately available to us through the Internet—even so—sometimes these great things make me feel sort of tired. Sometimes I feel a lot of pressure from the world to succeed and be great at every part of the multi-faceted life I (and everyone else) lead(s). I like to bury my nose in an aromatic book, especially if I am reading about characters who only own what they need, and a few other interesting things like a jewelled belt or a nice goblet. It’s refreshing to read about people who spend an hour walking through town to run an errand (maybe they had no choice but to walk, but still, it makes for a little bit of reflective time, right?).

We have a lot to be thankful for and appreciative of, but it’s still nice to spend some quiet recreational time reading about people whose lives were free of the complications of our Age.

Reading is a great escape. I love books.


  1. I have a feeling that we would enjoy each other's libraries...I've read nine of the same books in the past year. I like to trade books with people who love them and understand the importance of returning them :) I think you'd fit in that category. If you are ever interested, you are more than welcome to come over for tea and check out my collection of books.

  2. Sounds like fun, Tammara! We should definitely plan something. It's fun to trade books! You are welcome to any books in my library, too.

  3. That last paragraph is exhausting, and I can relate! I hate being too busy and having too many things going on ... it makes me feel dizzy and unbalanced. Less is more. This is why I'm going to be working on simplifying my life (a blog on this later!) and trying to cut back and minimize all of the unnecessary distractions (ie. Facebook)

    Also, when you said "we're not hoarders. I'm too anti-clutter for that," I said in my head, "I'm too 'Oegema' for that!"