Sunday, August 2, 2009

Rereading Everyone Else's Favorite Book

I know plenty of people who loved Yann Martel's Life of Pi. So I bought it. That was back when everyone was talking about it and you couldn't get on the bus without seeing someone reading it.

Now I'm reading it for about the 5th time. But not because I love it.

I aborted my first few attempts because I wasn't in the right frame of mind. Midway through The Lull, though—when my mind was no longer plagued with work—I was relaxed enough to enjoy the story. However, when an animal got killed, I put the book on hold.

After some time passed, I continued reading—until another animal was killed. Again, I put the book aside. 

When I told a friend why I hadn't finished Life of Pi, she exclaimed, "But there's so much more TO it than that!"

Shamed into persevering, I started reading again—this time skipping the gruesome passages but all the same imagining what I was missing. The book is again on hold (thanks to the demise of a turtle) and though I'm determined to finish the bloody (literally) thing, I can't say that I've enjoyed much of it. But I'll muddle through to the end. I need to at least reach the point that made it a fave for so many folks.

Thank goodness I have other books to turn to when I'm trying to forget about Pi and his ocean journey. I have a book in every room of my home and a lightweight one in my bag for when I'm away from home. Here's the current docket:

The Big Book of Favorite Dog Stories
This is an anthology of short stories and book excerpts written between 1915 and 1963 by the likes of Rudyard Kipling, James Thurber, and Marguerite Henry. I don't think any of my friends will be reading this one, so I plan to skip all the unsettling portions.

Everything that Rises
A Book of Convergences
by Lawrence Weschler
This is about "seeing." I'm grateful to Weschler for putting his ideas (and things I noodle on but can't articulate) into words and to McSweeney's for publishing it.

Unaccustomed Earth
by Jhumpa Lahiri
More short fiction from a graceful writer.

Mother Tongue
An American Life in Italy
by Wallis Wilde-Menozzi
This memoir's going to take some time. It's filled with references to historical and political events of which I'm ignorant.

Small Wonder
by Barbara Kingsolver
Essays about life and life after 9/11. She's already inspired me to reduce my carbon footprint, stimulate the economy, and eat better by purchasing goods at my local farmers' market.

Shakespeare Wrote for Money
by Nick Hornby
A collection of Hornby's semimonthly columns from The Believer on books he's bought and books he's read. If you've never read any fiction by Hornby, I bet you've seen a film based on one of his books (e.g., Fever Pitch, About A Boy, High Fidelity). 

More on these later. I'll let you know which ones get to stay in my library and which ones are headed for new homes.

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