Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Books, Books, Books!

I am so amazed by Nina Sankovitch. She's doing a sort of Julie Powell, but more specific. Whereas Julie Powell had the rather loose (but immensely ambitious) goal of cooking through Julia Child's "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" in a year, Nina Sankovitch's goal is very, very specific: Read one book every single day. No repeats- each author only once, no books previously read before the year started.

I thought perhaps she was reading Sweet Valley High books, or some other such inane dribble that wouldn't require much thought, but no. She's reading some intense books, some very long books, some literary classics- a bit of everything.

I wish that I had the time to commit to a project like this. I love books with a passion that I have for very few things. Something about the paper, the serif-y font crawling across the pages, the smell of the binding glue ... it's magic between a front and back cover, with a spine holding it all together.

I know that I knock my profession a lot, but here's another sound wallop: Books convey more than movies ever could. Books can and often do encompass all five senses. The description of tastes and flavors, the prose used to describe scents, the words dedicated to the feel and textures of things- none of these can ever be properly captured on film.

People (ahem, students) often cheat and watch the movie version of a book that they are supposed to read. It is never the same, and unless that person is some whiz kid, they will never get the same impressions from the movie that they would have from the book.

Two words: Harry. Potter.

I just finished "Life Expectancy," by Dean Koontz. I don't generally like Dean Koontz books, but it was sitting on the bookshelf, courtesy of my roommate, so I picked it up.

I devoured that book whole. Well, in two gulps- it took me two nights to finish it. I have a job and (sort of) a life, after all.

It was much better than I thought it would be. It was an easy read, kept me engaged, and I enjoyed it. I don't know if I really enjoyed it because the last books I read were by William Gibson, and therefore made me go through a mini-existential crisis after every other chapter, or if I just legitimately liked the book, but I'm willing to accept either scenario.

When I read a book, regardless of whether or not I liked it, the thing rattles around in my head for a few days, or even for a few weeks, depending on how memorable the book was. "Geek Love," for example, still catches me off-guard every so often. I find my thoughts wandering back towards Oly ... and invariably, where "Geek Love" goes, "Middlesex" follows.

I like these wanderings that my mind takes when I think of books. And I'm not above any type of book- it's true that I won't read those "Twilight" books because I am just vehemently opposed to the brouhaha surrounding those movies, but I loved all the "Harry Potter" books (some more than others) and I read fluffy beach books with no shame (Michael Crichton, Stephen King, Candace Bushnell, and Sophie Kinsella all fall under the "fluffy" category).

I also love biographies (not so much autobiographies, for some reason) and books about, of all things, wars. I appreciate the Bronte sisters but re-read "Ender's Game" with no compunction. I can read cookbooks the same way I read novels, and have very much the same reactions. I love children's books, like "Harold and the Purple Crayon," as much as I love Anne Frank.

All of the books, magazines, newspapers, pamphlets, blogs, articles, and cereal boxes that I have read throughout my life have contributed to who I am now. I am grateful that I loved reading and still love it, so that my brain can refer to all those words.

Nina Sankovitch must have a very zen focus or a very single-minded brain, because if I read an entire book every day, my mind would turn to mush and all I would do is draw and write all day long, to try to get the trapped ideas out of my cranium.

Her year is up at the end of this month, and I am so excited for her. She's been through a lot (read about it on her website) and she deserves the sense of accomplishment that I am sure she will have.

Now I'm off to find my next book. Or maybe I'll re-read a William Gibson book, since I've been thinking about "Spook Country" since I first typed his name...


Anonymous,  January 1, 2010 at 11:39 AM  
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Anonymous,  January 10, 2010 at 12:07 PM  
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