Talking Books

Yesterday, my family and I went to a book-themed birthday party. On the ride there, my husband, Anthony, asked our eight-year-old, Li’l D, about his favorite book character.

Li’l D first named Clay, a dragon from the Wings of Fire series. We spent a few minutes talking about Clay before moving on to favorite human characters.

At first, Li’l D couldn’t think of any human characters. Anthony and I offered up four names for D’s consideration: Greg, Rafe, Miles, and Niles. Rafe (Middle School: The Worst Years of my Life) got the gold medal for being so funny; Miles (The Terrible Two) got silver, because he’s so good at improvising pranks.

After a good ten or fifteen minutes talking about Li’l D’s favorites, I asked if he had any questions for us. He said, naw, I don’t want to hear about scary books! I pointed out that I read a lot of not-horror books; my favorite author, Neil Postman, wrote cultural critiques.

I could practically hear Li’l D roll his eyes as he said, “Postman, Postman, Postman.”

(See, even he knew it’s not all horror for me—though, to be fair, some of Postman’s critiques exposed horrifying possibilities!)

After a pause, Li’l D asked us about the scariest books we’ve ever read. Anthony and I agreed on The House of Leaves. We spent another ten minutes or so trying to explain its creepiness, with Li’l D completely unpersuaded. He couldn’t believe I’d slept with lights on and all inside doors open for weeks after I’d read it alone in rural Japan. Anthony, for his part, couldn’t believe I’d dared read it in such circumstances.

The conversation tapered off after about thirty minutes, but the minutes it lasted were delightful! For all we all love reading, yesterday highlighted how little we talk together about what we’re reading.

Now, we’re going to consciously set aside time for such talks. I’m already looking forward to our next one.

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Daytime read, nighttime read

I recently joined a book club. We’ve only met once so far, gathering to introduce ourselves and discuss how we’d choose which books to read.

From a list of about eleven books suggested by various members, each member was to choose three. The book with the most votes would be our first group read. This ended up being The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World by Desmond Tutu and the Dalai Lama.

Though I cast a vote for this book, the beginning is a little breathless for me–a little too “bask in the awe of seeing two such noble people together!” I’m no longer interested in awed portraits of celebrities, whether they’re political, theater, music, or religious celebrities; I want to see people along all walks of life as they are, none esteemed or exulted more than any other. Still, I’ll read, knowing I’ll find some useful tidbits … and taking delight in actually getting to discuss books face-to-face with folks!  Continue reading “Daytime read, nighttime read”

Horror & redemption

My husband and I took two separate trips to the bookstore on our Monday anniversary date. The first time was planned. I left with three non-fiction books, while Anthony picked up a couple of handsomely bound classics.

Our second trip was meant to be a strictly bathroom-only trip. It’s silly we should have, even briefly, imagined we’d walk out without more books. One who loves books does not simply walk into a bookstore to use the bathroom and depart. Nope.

One book that caught my eye was Canadian Adrian Barnes’s Nod. After reading the back, I knew I’d be buying it.

Dawn breaks over Vancouver and no one in the world has slept the night before, or almost no one. A few people, perhaps one in ten thousand, can still sleep, and they share the same golden dream. Continue reading “Horror & redemption”