This week I was sitting in the bank drive-through commercial lane (as I do every day), and the ultra-sweet teller whom I’ve grown very fond of, said, “Ms. Fakename, how many books do you read in a week?”
“Hmmm”, I replied. “Two, maybe three?” The reason she asked, of course, is that while they complete my transaction, I’m reading.
This week, however, I outdid myself and read four books. You may be wondering how I have time for that, and the answer is simple…I read all the time. I have no spare moments. I read when I’m in line, anywhere. I read while I’m watching TV–during the commercials.
Many people, if not most people, prefer or maybe even require uninterrupted time to read and focus. I can sort of remember that I used to be that way too. I trained myself, in a sense, to be able to read in short bursts and remember the thread of the story when I return to it. I might have to re-read the paragraph I stopped at, but then I’m off and running again. So why do I do this? Good question.
I think it’s because I can’t bear to have an empty moment, where my brain isn’t working on two or three things at once. Meditation, where the idea is to empty your brain in order to relax, would be sheer hell for me. Needless to say, I’ve never even tried it. I’m like that all the time. One of the reasons I love my job is that I get to flit between one thing and another all the time. I get to get up and move around. Put me at a desk for eight hours a day, doing anything whatsoever (unless, maybe it was reading!) and I would go insane.
So if I’m not reading, it’s because I’m engaged in something else that makes it impossible. Sleeping. Taking a shower. Writing. Okay…I can think of at least one activity that would engage my full attention so that I wouldn’t even want to be reading.
Now for the books: This week I read Aristotle and an Aardvark Walk Into a Bar (thanks to Fakesister for the tip), Michael Shaara’s The Broken Place (thanks to online friend Ptfan1 for that tip). The latter book I found to be too gloomy and brooding for the most part, but it was well-written and had a sort of redemptive ending. Then I read the last two books in Walter Mosley’s Easy Rawlins series: Little Scarlet and Blonde Faith. I’m quite undone by the fact that in the latter book it’s possible that Mosley has killed off Easy, but maybe not. It’s a cliffhanger.
Friday I went to the library and got six more books. (If I can read four in a week, why not six?) I was thrilled to find that one of my very favorite writers has a new book out. That would be William Tapply. Tapply writes crime fiction, and has also written for magazines such as Field and Stream. His recurring main character, a Boston lawyer named Brady Coyne, alternates crime-solving with fly-fishing. The only thing equally exciting would be a new book by Robert B. Parker.
I got two more Walter Mosley books: Black Betty and Gone Fishin’. I’m really looking forward to the latter, because it’s a sort of prequel. We get to learn how the sometimes-dangerous Easy and the always-dangerous, truly scary Mouse become friends.
I got two more Michael Shaara books: For The Love of the Game (thanks again Ptfan1) and The Herald, which is, of all things, science fiction. The library did not have a copy, or perhaps it was checked out, of The Killer Angels, for which Shaara won the Pulitzer Prize. I’ll keep looking for it, as I will Rushdie’s Satanic Verses, which is checked out.
Finally, the latest Jonathan Kellerman novel Bones.
One reason I can read so much is in fact that I read very fast, but also, it’s because I don’t have to take a test afterwards. There are no pop quizzes in novel-reading. I’m looking forward to all these books with great pleasure, but I can sense guilt coming on. Soon I’ll have to read another non-fiction book to keep up my pretense of being an intellectual. Unless my attention becomes otherwise engaged.