from the writerly life to the reviewing life

Sunday, July 8, 2012

There's a funny thing that happens when you stop writing your own books—when you cool the fever, when you walk the garden, when you do not rise at 3 AM, determined.  Other people's books become your obsession.  Their stories, their words, their worlds.  You grow responsible for understanding.  You yield your empathy, devote your time.  The days are long and hot and languid, and New Orleans wafts by courtesy of Ruta Sepetys, and Haiti, thanks to Edwidge Danticat, and the humor of Haven Kimmel, the confessions of Caroline Knapp, the daughter of a salt god (Ilie Ruby), Cambodia at war (Vaddey Ratner), the very secret life of objects (Dawn Raffel).

Over the course of the last month, I have bought nearly 100 books and others, due out soon, have made their way to me, courtesy of publishing houses and authors.  My triple-stacked shelves in every book-devoted room are officially overtaxed.  Book piles approximate architecture.  Most women get up and ask, What will I wear?  I wonder, upon rising, what to read.

My mind is clear; it is at peace; it is satiated.  I sleep better than I did.  I want less.  I am comforted by books, comfortable around them, and the words I do write these days are reviews and essays, opinion pieces, suggestions.  Short pieces, perhaps 1,000 words a day, that help me put into context those things that I'm learning about language and how it works for others.

It seems enough, for summer.


Elizabeth Mosier said...

Love that line, "I wonder, upon rising, what I will read." That's what summer's for!

Becca said...

What to read is always an extremely important question, and most especially in these sweltering days when any clothing at all is an encumbrance!

Melissa Sarno said...

Oh no. The more you read and review here the bigger my list grows!

KFP said...

Ah, the sweet and simple joy of words, of reading.

Serena said...

I love finding that I have a free week in review obligations so I can pick what I want to read blindly.

sarah said...

I just ambled into your weblog from the tangled paths of the internet and am captivated - I've seldom read an ordinary, everyday kind of post like this one written so poetically. I shall enjoy reading more here.

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