Monday, September 10, 2018

The Avid Reader

I have always described myself as an avid reader, ever since my grammar school days when I haunted the school library and walked to the public library, a mile away from my house, chose 6 books, and carried them home (it really was up hill), read them and returned them the following week to get six more.

I read a few classics, but mostly I read whatever passes for the grammar school version of chick lit -- books about animals, books about girls choosing careers to follow, etc.

Several years ago, I started a database to keep track of the books I read.  I've kept it for about 15 years and since 2006 have kept all of my book reviews on line.

While I aim for about sixty books read a year, in most years I read somewhere between 50 and 60 and one year -- I believe it was the year my mother broke her ankle and I both drove back and forth between Davis and San Rafael countless times (eats up those audio books!), but also had lots of spare time while at her house to sit with a cup of coffee and read.  

I read 75 books that year.

It's already September and in 2018 I have just finished my 8th book.

I blame Trump.


These days instead of sitting down and grabbing a book I turn on the television and immerse myself in the news of whatever shocking thing is happening in and around the Trump administration (I just learned from the prez today that Trump got more votes than Hillary two years ago.  Did you know that?).  I have also read big chunks of books about the Trump administration that I start and then drop when the next one comes along, so while the book totals don't represent the totality of what I have actually read, it's still pretty pathetic.

I think about reading a lot, wondering why I am not devouring a book, picking up my kindle, opening it, and then closing it again.

The other day, a used paperback appeared in the mail.  There was no note and while the name of the sender looked vaguely familiar, I couldn't place it.  I checked every place I could think of.  She's not on Facebook, or in my Over 50 and Proud discussion group.  I couldn't find her through Google.  (The following day I received a letter from her, so I remembered who she was.)

But I started reading the book.  It's called "While My Sister Sleeps" and while not a particularly good book, it's an enjoyable bit of chick lit.  The thing my mysterious book giver didn't realize was how it would resonate with me.  Robin, a professional runner, collapses while out on a run and has a massive heart attack, due to an apparently genetic enlarged heart that nobody knows she has.  Because of her fame, she has been the center of the family and it is up to her younger sister to keep the family together.

But the book has a brain dead sister and the discussions of life support as well as the emotions surrounding her continuing, though she will never receiver.  Brought back a lot of thoughts about my sister and the weeks between her shooting and her death in 1971 when I was pregnant with David.
Then there are the discussions about organ donation (I think only corneal donation was possible in 1971 and my father was adamant that nobody was going to cut up his daughter) and the conversation I had with the organ donation coordinator about David's organs (I have never regretted that decision and even today it brings me comfort)

There are the differing emotions experienced by each person in the family as Robin lies comatose, many of which were so sharp reading it today.

There is also a grandmother with Alzheimers and conversations with her sound like conversations with my mother.

As I say, it was not a good book necessarily, but it held my interest.

One of the comments in the Amazon review of the book came from someone who had just finished a book called "The Only Child," about a six year old by who survives a school shooting in which his 9 year old brother is killed.  It's a gut wrenching story, told in the voice of the 6 year old (much like "Room" is told in the story of a young child as well).  

I finished the book in a day and a half and was sobbing by the time I finished. 

Maybe I have revitalized my reading genes and will go on from this book to another one.  Lord knows that even with the emotional reaction to the stories, it's a heck of a lot more positive than the news.

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