Tuesday, February 16

My Reading Habits, Currently

I'm very fond of reading. Lately I've been getting back into it on three fronts: print (we moved a couch into the kitchen, since everyone hangs out there anyway, and there's a very cozy place to read); Amazon Kindle (whatever you say about the transition to e-books, reading in any form is better than not reading at all); audiobooks (just finished listening to Al Franken's Lies and the Lying Liars who Tell Them). No matter where I am or what I'm doing--audiobooks can be listened to from my laptop or iPod Touch--I have access and exposure to books.

It's a good life.

When I was in high school I used to read two or three books at a time. I don't know if my mind was especially active and needed that kind of switch-up, or maybe I had an inability to focus, but I found it gratifying and could follow each story. Sometimes it felt like each book was simply a different plot line in one much larger, byzantine text. The time I read Mark Twain's "The Innocents Abroad" and Memoirs of a Medieval Woman simultaneously was very satisfying, as they each documented their travels through the very same valley in the Middle East, separated by several centuries. How cool would it be to make a reading list of stories written all throughout the 19th and 20th centuries about one specific city?

I wonder what it would take for me to write my own book. I love writing short stories, but I've written a few and presented them to my writers group, and their reaction was that they wanted more. They liked the characters, they wanted to know more about their backgrounds, they wanted better explanations for behaviors whose rationalization I only hinted at. But could I expand these short stories into a book? I can't imagine I could justify that: one story was simply a character exercise in which a mother (aging, overweight, naive) quarrels with her son (pear-shaped, unkempt, arrogant) and that's all I wanted it to be, but my group felt very strongly that the story could have been doubled or tripled in length. I really don't have a grander message to share and I feel I'd need one to justify a book.


Shanna (Crabbit) said...

Ahh, but no one said you had to write a novel. A novella could be right up your alley. Longer than a short story, but not as daunting a task as a full novel. It's something to ponder on.

Recently I picked up a copy of Thomas Harris' "A Pair of Blue Eyes". Harris is one of my favorite authors. I also eyed up a copy of "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies" but decided that it was best saved for some other time.

Shanna (Crabbit) said...

And by Harris I actually meant Hardy. That's what I get for commenting on things right after I get home from class. Though I do really like Thomas Harris' works too. "Hannibal" is like a romance novel to me. Is that weird?