My reading habits

I realized today that I’ve left a book that I’m in the middle of reading in practically every room in the house.  This says something about my reading habits.  Of course it says that I love to read, but you probably knew that already.  But it also illustrates to me how my attention is often flighty.  Yes, I have been known to sit and read an entire book at once in the can’t-put-it-down mode.  But a lot of the time I like to read a little bit of a book and then close it so I can digest what I’ve just read.  Why do I do this?  Sometimes I get overwhelmed by intensities of plot and emotion and have to step away for a breather.  Or else I get irritated with stupidities of character or writing and have to walk off and cool my anger.  Or maybe I’m just easily bored.  Or maybe there’s just so much that I’m interested in that I want to read it all at once.  And of course there are other interesting things that call for my attention, like my vast collection of yarn.

Anyway, this realization about my masses of half-finished books also got me thinking about what kinds of books I like to read.  It would be interesting to make some chart, a bar graph, about what genres I read most.  There is a silly detective novel in the bathroom.  There’s a historical fiction novel on the dining table, plus some poetry books that I just got in the mail.  There’s a young adult fantasy novel in the living room, and also the Wilkie Collins novel I’m reading out loud with S.  In my office I have The Heart is a Lonely Hunterby Carson McCullers. 

The mystery novel and the young adult fantasy both represent genres that I read repeatedly.  They’re my guilty pleasures, I guess you would say.  They’re what fills the space in my attention that I suspect is roughly the equivalent of watching TV.  S and I don’t have a TV, although we do watch dvds on our computers.  We have a netflix subscription.  But I don’t have any loyalties to current TV shows where I know and love the characters and tune in weekly to hear them speak and watch them struggle and know roughly what to expect.  Instead, I’ve come to know the stock characters of these genres of light reading.  I return to mystery novels for the enjoyment of the puzzle, and to fantasy for the unlikely heroes/heroines, the magic, and the quests.  I imagine I’d be a dismal failure if thrown into any of the situations found in these books, but I love to read about them.

And will I try to write these same books someday?  I have certainly thought about it.  Maybe, on some level, all this reading is just practice for my dreams.  I already write poetry, and feel deep good about that.  But somewhere in me is the desire to write the same exact books that I adored when I was a kid, to recreate that kind of awe that I got from the fantasy, or that warm, attentive fun I found in Agatha Christie.  Because I can find a certain meditative awe in my poetry, but I still seek the feeling I had when I read CS Lewis and Lloyd Alexander and Susan Cooper.  It’s a dream that I’ll probably never realize, but I don’t expect that I’ll ever stop doing the research.



Yesterday some dude in Rutland stabbed another dude in the Walmart parking lot, in broad daylight.  They were fighting about $40 one guy apparently owed the other guy.  Forty dollars!  Doesn’t seem worth it.  But I guess anger (and possibly drugs) can make you do crazy things, things you wouldn’t do in a calm, rational state-of-mind.  And I would theorize that the one with the knife didn’t mean to actually kill the other guy.  Still, this is like a two minute walk from where I live, and it happened in a place I walk through all the time to get downtown, right by the Amtrak station.  I think, technically, that we live on the “wrong” side of the tracks, although Rutland is a working-class town all over.  And I do like that about it here, that it’s not all touristy and pretentious.  Let’s just say that if some guy says I owe him forty bucks, I’m probably not going to get aggressive back at him, especially if I happen to be in the vicinity of Walmart at the time.  I’m going to run!


fading sunflowerI was gardening the other day, getting ready for winter.  In the front garden there was a big sunflower plant that was already growing there when we moved in.  It had lots of happy flowers all summer, but the leaves had been looking kinda yellow and moldy for a while, since it started getting colder, so I decided it was time to cut it down and bring it to the brush pile.  I thought that I would sprinkle a few seeds out of the dried up flower heads onto the garden in hopes of getting more sunflower plants next summer.  But all the flowers were gone.  Because the squirrels took them.  I know because I saw a squirrel in the back yard eating something strange and pale and I had to watch him/her for a while before I figured out that it was a sunflower head.  Maybe they dropped a few seeds, though, and we’ll still get a new plant.  Or we could always buy some seeds in the spring.  I don’t mind feeding the squirrels, but I hope they don’t eat all my bulbs, too, because I want daffodils and tulips in the spring when I’m all desperate for flowers.