Late last Wednesday night, I finished the book I was currently reading: A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler. I read it quickly, mesmerized as I always am with how she presents the largely ordinary lives of largely ordinary people (they do have their quirks, their exaggerations, as all good fictional characters do) in such a compelling way. The narrative voice Tyler uses in this book was particularly endearing. I was so captivated by the book, so eager to finish it Wednesday, it wasn’t until I was going to bed on Thursday that I realized I hadn’t lined up another book to read. I glanced through the current issue of National Geographic that night and hit the library and the bookstore the next day.
At the library, I took out Ann Hood’s The Obituary Writer. At the bookstore I bought The Purity of Vengeance, the latest in a series of mysteries by the Danish writer Jussi Adler-Olsen. Although The Obituary Writer has been on my to-read list since it came out in 2013, I started Adler-Olsen’s book Friday night. I love a good mystery, and my reading choices of late have been on either the heavy side or the literary side, or both. For example, when the library called me to say that my name was next on the list for A Spool of Blue Thread, I had to put aside Peter Matthiessen’s The Snow Leopard, a wonderful book, but not a quick and simple read. Prior to that, I had read Anthony Doerr’s All the Light We Cannot See—a magnificently written book, in which I relished every word, but so full of the tragedy of war. And before that was Louise DeSalvo’s The Art of Slow Writing; not a difficult book to read, but one that I paid close attention to and took notes as I read, so I could use it in my writing classes. So I feel I have earned my fix of a good mystery.
Yet even as I bought The Purity of Vengeance, I thought of all the other books on my to-read list: books I’ve read about in book reviews, new books by authors I like (although new is a relative term, and encompasses anything published in the past five years), books recommended—sometimes more than once—by friends and students. And then there is all the reading I do in my two jobs, as an editor and a writing teacher. Also, a writer I know once said that writing a book is a little like reading one—very, very slowly. And so I am “reading” that book too, the one I am writing.
My world overflows with books. What a wonderful way to live.