Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Books, books, books

I used to read all the time. In the back seat of my parents' car, even driving through mountain ranges. In the bathtub. In bed. On a towel, sunbathing. Didn't really matter when. I loved reading.

As a newlywed, with a husband who frequently worked until close to midnight, I continued my love affair with books. I would get stuck on an author and read everything he or she wrote, and then feel a little let down when I realized that there were no more books. I'd find another author and the cycle would begin again.

There was a slight change, however, in my reading habits in 1996. That was the year we decided it was time to have a baby. Suddenly the novels were replaced by books about pregnancy, about infancy, about raising children. Looking back at my life eleven years ago, I quickly see that I was a one-trick pony. I ate, slept, breathed, and read nothing but procreation. Friends and family, I apologize. It must have been so tiresome!

After the baby was born, I continued to read nothing but books from the "Parenting" section, occasionally peppered with books about children's spiritual and moral development (I did, after all, work at a church). It just got worse during my second pregnancy, the culmination of which was intended to be my triumphant VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean). The pregnancy and birth books were more strident, with a strong and deep message of feminism. The birth didn't work out the way I'd planned and hoped, but those books still helped me. I knew I had done all I could to control the outcome (which, in all honesty, is very little). I had not failed.

Balancing two children under two, however, meant that I needed to give something up. I don't remember it being a conscious choice, but I stopped reading. Mostly. With a few notable exceptions, like when I read three "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" novels in a day (the kids were sick and sleeping). When the Harry Potter bug finally bit, I was hooked, but would binge on those books, reading them ferociously until I was finished, then going weeks or months before picking up another book.

I joined Goodreads last week, and it's been interesting to think about those books. To consider my "leave of absence" from the reading community, as well as my underwhelming return. To look at my Amazon.com purchasing history and seeing very clearly what, and when, I was reading. It's a bit of a map of my intellectual life in the past few years. And it's definitely got a slant: most of the books are about food, cooking, chefs, or all of the above.

This summer, I've re-entered the world of novels. Fueled by my excitement over the final Harry Potter book's release, I've picked up a few other books (mostly to bide my time as I awaited HP, but then also to fill up time since I finished HP faster than I expected to), none of which are about food. Okay, the first is not a novel, and it's somewhat about food. But it's not about cooking, and it is more of a memoir than a foodie book. One was a book club pick, a book I never would have read on my own. Another was picked up at a book warehouse outlet store; I soldiered through it but it had rewarding moments. I just started this one, which I think is going to be lots of fun, a good summer read. My mom also sent a book by an author I like in the kids' suitcase. And the online book club is trying to decide what to read next.

Which means I've got August covered. I'm looking forward to what I find in September. So, be my friend on Goodreads. And tell me what you read this summer.

5 comments:

Noodle said...

I'm on goodreads too. :) Currently reading Pippi Longstocking and just about to start Twilight (Stephanie Meyer).

Anonymous said...

I just made you my friend on good reads. :) Or requested it, anyway.

Valerie said...

Ok, I joined. This could be trouble. I work in a library, you know. :)

Paul said...

Hey neighbor, do you know how I might get in touch with that group of non-believers and their reading group? Anna says I need an outlet that isn't her.

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