What do you do when your knitting mojo takes a vacation without you? I have TONS of things I want to finish, need to start, WANT to start – theoretically – but I can’t seem to actually put the sticks in my hands and knit. So I’ve been reading, quite a bit actually.
A couple of weeks ago I finished the first JD Robb book, Naked in Death. It was a little difficult to get into, which seems to be the norm for me these days, but particularly once I got confirmation that the character I suspected was behind the murders was, I couldn’t put it down. I’d like to find the next couple of books in the series, so perhaps I’ll call the used bookstore in town and see if they’re open this afternoon. (And yes, I do have several bags of books to exchange, thanks.)
I’m still feeling the need to apologize for reading what I call “beach reads”, because I’ve always been a bit of a literary snob. No, no, I don’t care what you read (but do read… it prevents Alzheimer’s, or at least helps!), but I just don’t generally enjoy the light reading a lot of folks prefer. I like history, biographies and the classics. If it made most of the class groan in high school or was on a syllabus for English 101, I’ve read it and loved it.
However, something misfired in my book selector last fall, and suddenly, I want to read light stuff, especially if it has a happy ending. So last night, I finally finished Something Borrowed, by Emily Giffin. No links, because she’s our speaker for this year’s Literary Feast, the big fundraiser for the Junior League of Charlottesville. I’ve carried it around in the car, reading in doctors’ offices, in parking lots, and anywhere else I’ve been waiting. (Yeah, I know, a lot of you knit in those places, but see above. My mojo and I are estranged right now.) It’s VERY much a sappy, girlie, beach read, but Ms. Giffin makes the characters so real that I wanted to see what happened next. She even twisted the plot a few times so I was a bit surprised at the end, and the sequel, Something Blue has a bookmark in chapter 5 already. I don’t know that I’ll finish all four of her books before the event (Feb. 27th), but you never know.
In between, I raced through My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult. I generally grind my teeth through books where the point of view changes, especially when a series of characters narrate, but it was perfect for this book. This isn’t a beach read, and while I don’t think it’s destined for the English 101 reading lists of the future, I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that it is on an Ethics syllabus, especially in an advanced class. In fact, if it showed up as such around here, I’d take Ethics again. I’d love to have a book club to have some roaring debates with over the issues – and believe me, there are several! – ripped raw in this book.
It resonated with me on so many, personal levels. The dad is a fire captain. The son reminds me of a step-brother I once had. I too had my own attorney at 13. There was even a service dog in the book, not that I’ve had any real personal interaction with one, but I marvel at the connection between humans and canines and how it works. I’d even wanted to be a lawyer until I learned that too many cases really are decided at the Country Club, not in the courtroom.
It has a messed up ending. If you’ve read it, you know what I mean. I like happy endings, even though I know life doesn’t work that way. See, if I wanted realistic, I’d stick with my history and biographies. I already know how they end. When I do read fiction, I like the fairy tales outline. Sure, mix it up in the middle, and if like Ms. Giffin, you trick me a bit and STILL get to a happy ending, all the better. It doesn’t have to be all sugar and spice and everything nice, but when you make me care about a character, let me put the book on the shelf knowing she’s okay. (No, I don’t care what you do to the villains. I’m fickle like that. It’s all about me, the reader, and the characters you make me pull for…)
That being said, I love choice as theme in a book. I still think that was a big part of Harry Potter; our choices matter more than the hands we’re dealt. My Sister’s Keeper smacks each and every character – even the service dog – with choices on just about every page. I think that’s why the ending upset me; good old fashioned fate reared her ugly head and it was bitter pill to swallow. (And what happened to the dog?)
Now, if you’ll excuse me, both dogs are trying to perch on my shoulders. I have broad shoulders, but this is ridiculous, and uncomfortable. My right fingers are tingling, so I think Sissy must move…