I was having an absolutely lovely November morning last week – enjoying breakfast at a local café, chatting with one of my favorite severs, Derrick. He happened to mention that his roommate had written a memoir, and would I like to borrow a copy? It was published last year, it’s really great, and he could just pop into his apartment and grab a copy (he lives around the corner and it wasn’t busy yet). Derrick is smart, so I knew there was a good chance that if he loved his roommate’s memoir that I would too. So, yeah sure, I’d love to borrow it! He mentioned her name, and I hadn’t heard of her, and I’m always excited to learn of a new memoirist. Derrick handed me the loveliest book. A small sized hardcover with embossed flowers . . . all class. I said “oh, this is so pretty, I love it!” But then I looked at the title and my heart sank. It was called The Young Widow’s Book of Home Improvement. Ugh. I wish I had noticed the, um, obvious reference to death before I had tossed out the off the cuff and downright jolly compliment.
But then I realized this is something that happens with memoirs. Who didn’t love The Glass Castle? But we certainly wouldn’t wish that kind of childhood on anyone. What do you say to someone who wrote a memoir that particularly moves you? Love the memoir but I’m so sorry your life sucked? It really does seem strange to compliment someone on their work without making a reference to the difficulty of the material. Or am I making way too much of this? Feel free to tell me I’m crazy.
And the beautiful book Derrick handed over to me? It’s called The Young Widow’s Book of Home Improvement: A True Story of Love and Renovation by Virginia Lloyd. I’m looking forward to reading it and I’ll be sure to report back.
Firstly, let me start off by saying there is obviously ALWAYS something to read. There’s usually too much right? But have you ever been in that awful place where nothing sticks? You just don’t know what you’re in the mood for? You can’t get into anything and you’re stuck starting about 9 million books and you feel like you’ll never connect with anything ever again? That’s where I am right now. Honestly, I don’t have much time to read since I work at home (read loads on the subway when I had an office job) and I have a 2.5 year old and they really don’t let you read much. But when I have a book that I’m really into and I manage to read a chapter here and there, life is a little bit better. Books are kind of like Klonopin, or yoga (probably not really, but hey, it’s another excuse not to exercise) – they’re relaxing. I just got back from a conference, and I’d love to settle in with a book for awhile, but nothing is capturing my attention. I just finished Jonathan Tropper’s amazing This Is Where I Leave You and Wendy Webb’s totally creepy and fun The Tale of Halcyon Crane (which incidentally, I also blame for a new almond latte addiction). Totally different books, but I loved them both, and now nothing is measuring up. So, can I blame Jonathan Tropper and Wendy Webb for the fact that I’m watching a lot of reality television? An obvious idea is to read the rest of Mr. Tropper’s books right away, but here’s another weird thing about me – I want to save them and dole them out over time. Do you know what I mean? You don’t, and think I’m a total freak right?
Irrational I know. But I blame the quality of this book for my addiction to reality television.
What do you guys do when you can’t find a book that keeps your attention? Resort to old favorites or classics? Beg friends for recommendations? Eat 5 dozen donuts? Watch the entire John Hughes collection on VHS? I’m getting desperate here.