THIS Reads: Should Reading Cause Stress?

by thiszine

BY LACEY N. DUNHAM

I’m not going to lie. I’ve been really, really stressed about reading during the past month and half. As fall and winter book releases have piled up on my living room table, the stack now looks a bit like the leaning tower of Pisa, lumbering over the number of calendar days in which I have to read them. It’s not unusual, I think, for lovers of books to be overwhelmed with more books than time. For me, the added pressure of that awful word – deadline – zaps a bit of the pleasure out of reading, which is too bad, because I love reading. However, I shrug all responsibility for the tilted ratio of books-to-sanity from my shoulders. If publishers wouldn’t pile on all their top titles in the fall, maybe I wouldn’t be freaking out right now.

So what’s on my table?

Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell
This is probably the only book I’ve picked up for pure pleasure in the last month and it’s one hell of a ride. Mitchell’s talent as a writer far exceeds that of almost any other living writer. In Cloud Atlas, his chameleon skin at adapting to a plethora of voices, styles, and genres is revealed in the shimmer of this postmodern novel. Plus, James Woods has a small crush on Mitchell and if James Woods is in love, then you know Mitchell’s the real deal.

Deadline: 30 days, because the Library of Congress says so. And, unlike their poorly funded public counterpart, the Library of Congress does not fuck around.

 

 


Big Girls Don’t Cry: The Election That Changed Everything for American Women
by Rebecca Traister
Even though I live in DC, I’m not a policy wonk. Thankfully, Traister’s look at the women of the 2008 election is a pleasing mix of the political and the personal, which means I loved this book way more than I loved living through the pain of waking at 3am to take the Metro to the National Mall, wade through the muck of DC planning ineptitude, stand in the cold for 7 hours to wait for Obama’s inauguration, and then walking 6 miles home because the tourists couldn’t figure out how to cram–really cram–themselves into the Metro train cars. Which is to say, for anyone who has an interest in feminist politics, women in politics, or presidential politics, Traister’s book is one of the best to emerge from the post-election political publishing binge.

Deadline: Done and done, thanks to Traister’s superb reading at Politics & Prose Bookstore and Coffeehouse last Monday.

 

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
The movie opened to a limited release last Friday and will be in wide release soon. I thought I should read the book before the film poisons my mind. Unfortunately, I haven’t even cracked it open since I hunted it from my bookshelves six weeks ago and I saw the movie this past weekend.

Deadline: Ideally, I would have read this before seeing the film. Now, I’ll probably read the book the next time I’m laid up with the flu, which, in DC, usually hits around February.

 

Sunset Park by Paul Auster
An ARC of Auster’s forthcoming novel (due in November) dropped into my hands. A very nice review editor at a very nice online literary and cultural magazine asked if I would read and review. This was in July. He said, “Have the review to me September-ish.” Bad idea. I work on firm deadlines. September-ish means, to me, anytime prior to 11:59pm on September 30th. So have I read this yet? No. In fairness, up until that point I hadn’t read any Auster (gasp! but I’m not a New Yorker, so calm down) so I had to quickly plow through the main points of his backlist before reaching for his latest. The New York Trilogy blew my mind as a postmodern novel that questioned the very claim of the author and the veracity of fiction – until I read Cloud Atlas. Then The New York Trilogy became the ugly sister: still related but a lot less likely to become high school class president or prom queen.

Deadline: September-ish. But I give myself bonus points for having started it this weekend.

 


Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy
A writer friend of mine recently admonished me for never having read McCarthy’s The Road. I told him every woman I knew who had read the book hated it, while every guy I knew loved it. As a biological female, I just assumed it wasn’t worth my time. My friend argued that McCarthy is one of the best living American writers and promised to bring me a novel I would love: Blood Meridian. I asked for a deadline (I can’t help it); he said August 31 and I agreed. In mid-August, I asked for an extension. He said, “end of September, I guess?” the slight questioning tone of the sentence placing it firmly after “September-ish” and sometime before the Apocalypse. Therefore, Friend is never getting his book back, at least not anytime soon.

Deadline: I’ll take him out for beers and see who remembers anything about deadlines then.

 

Room by Emma Donoghue, C by Tom McCarthy, and The Widower’s Tale by Julia Glass

I borrowed both the Man Booker Nominated Room and C from friends because, okay, I admit: I’m not immune to the influence of judges on prize committees. I would have never read Wolf Hall if it hadn’t won the Booker last year. So wow me over judges!

I have my own copy of The Widower’s Tale because I love Julia Glass. Her novel is not nominated for any awards (yet) but Three Junes did win the National Book Award. I’m always impressed by Glass’s ability to write from multiple perspectives in her family dramas without condescending to the reader or her characters.

Deadline: Waiting for flu season (Glass) and the announcement of the Man Booker Prize winner (Donoghue and McCarthy).

Advertisements

2 Comments to “THIS Reads: Should Reading Cause Stress?”

  1. You are the first person I know who schedules work into her bout with the flu! Excellent!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: