A good book keeps reality at bay
I’m at that thrilling stage between books: the time when I select the author I’ll spend my next several weeks with. (I’m a slow reader, slipping into bed, taking up my book, and soon listening to my own soft snoring.)
This New Year, I made an irresolute resolution to read more nonfiction, though I prefer to immerse myself in fiction, preferably written in the 18th or 19th century.
Why would I elect to read nonfiction when I need a reality escape??
Last night I shut the cover of my Kindle on Hillbilly Elegy, which a colleague recommended. I felt this memoir, written by a man who grew up in Appalachia, might be something I could identify with. But outside of the southern accents, the writer’s life and my life are nothing alike. Still, he offered some insight into why America finds itself in this current political situation.
My go-to books are classics, but I love discovering the odd, entertaining novel—The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time; Where’d You Go Bernadette; The Rosie Project. Best-selling authors who write five books a year hold no interest for me.
I often hesitate to open my daily email from Garrison Keillor. In his “Writer’s Almanac,” I know I’ll find some long-deceased writer I’ve never heard of, but absolutely must seek out and read. After an Amazon search and one click, the book is mine—added to a long list of other to-reads.I swear, if paperbacks had back-lights and were onion thin, I would choose them over e-books. Click To Tweet
Do I feel guilty buying e-books and not tangible books from my local bookstore? Yes, and I swear, if paperbacks had back-lights and were onion thin, I would choose them over e-books.
Usually, there are two books in my life at a time; I’m reading one and listening to another in my MP3 player.
Currently, I’m listening to the gruesome and gloomy Native Son by Richard Wright. I don’t know how it will end, but my guess is, not as well for the black character, “Bigger,” as for the white character, J.D., who stars in Hillbilly Elegy.
I’m scanning my Kindle now, looking for a book appropriate for this season of change. For more than a year, I’ve been meaning to read Ta-Nehisi Coates’ reflections on race in America in his (yes) best-selling Between the World and Me. Choosing it would hold me to my resolution, but it would hardly keep reality at bay.
Somerset Maugham, one of my favorite authors, said, “To acquire the habit of reading is to construct for yourself a refuge from almost all the miseries of life.”
For now, I guess I should choose a novel.
Terri Lackey is director for communication for Women of the ELCA. Do you like reading in groups? Check out Women of the ELCA’s free, downloadable resource “Page Turners: Building a Book Club that Suits Your Style.“
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