On this final day of October, I’m wrapping up my month of keeping a dream diary. For a girl who couldn’t stick to a routine if it were Gorilla-glued to my forehead, writing down my dreams every morning has been a surprisingly manageable goal. So I’ve decided to make this a new tradition: pledging to do something for just one month at a time.
For November, the goal is…NO NEW BOOKS!
I got my D.C. library card at the end of July, and in these past few months, I’ve checked out over 50 books–almost four books a week. This is not a problem, per se. In fact, it’s great for the library’s user statistics, which will (hopefully) improve their funding. And I’ve read probably about two-thirds of those books. However, there are dozens of unread books languishing on my very own bookshelves. Since writing about my Home for Neglected Literature back in February, I have read exactly zero of the books featured on that lonely shelf–and I’ve collected many more since then.
So for the next month, I cannot admit any new books into my house. I’m only allowed to read the ones I already own.
I’m starting with The World Without Us (Alan Weisman), which I received from friend Derek in a trade for Ishmael (Daniel Quinn)–which was itself a gift from a friend with great taste in books, and possibly the book that has most changed my life.
Then I’ll progress to Lady of the Forest (Jennifer Roberson), a re-telling of the Robin Hood story from Maid Marian’s perspective–I read half of it over the summer before I got seduced by the wiley D.C. Library system, but I’m willing to get down on my knees and beg for forgiveness. The first half was really good.
Just one library book will be allowed to stay: Love and Garbage, by Ivan Klima, because friend Justin insists that Klima is even better than Milan Kundera, and I must prove him wrong. (I’m enjoying it so far, and I can’t bear to add yet another half-finished book to my guilt list. I’m FINISHING it before I return it, dammit.)
So, no NaNoWriMo for me (say that five times fast!), but I do have a November goal…and I’m going to try extra-hard to finish the first draft of my piano teacher’s memoirs this month. I’m 65 pages in and we’re only up to 1956, so I’ve got my work cut out for me! Maybe it’ll be easier to work without that stack of abandoned books glaring at me from my bedside table…
Stargirl (Jerry Spinelli) (audiobook) – Heard him speak at the National Book Festival and realized I’ve never read any of his books! Parts of this were too cliche for me, but I did fall in love with Stargirl by the end.
Number the Stars (Lois Lowry) (audiobook) – Also heard her at National Book Festival, and her speech was amazing. This book was not what I was expecting (and I can’t believe I never read it in school…seems like everyone else did). I thought I was in for a depressing Holocaust story, but it was beautifully written and very uplifting.
No One Belongs Here More Than You (Miranda July) – This was recommended a while ago, and I finally got to the top of the library hold list. Absolutely beautiful book. Each story was quirkier and sparklier than the previous one. I’d read it again and again if I owned a copy…which I’m not allowed to do until December.
A Game of You (Neil Gaiman) – I could go on and on about the Sandman series, but I won’t. I’ll just say, go read them immediately. GO.
The Exile (Diana Gabaldon) – Supposedly a graphic-novel re-telling of Outlander, but if I hadn’t read the original book, I’d have had no clue what was going on. Also, all the red-headed Scottish characters looked exactly the same, and Claire’s bust got bigger and bigger on every page until I was worried that she was going to pop. This amazing story deserves much better.
The Book of Ballads (Charles Vess) – I was expecting complete re-tellings of legends and ballads, but it was mostly just illustrations of original or slightly-modernized ballad text. Lovely illustrations, of course, but not what I was looking for–not with authors like Jane Yolen, Neil Gaiman, and Charles de Lint involved. Let those guys do what they do best!
Bright’s Passage (Josh Ritter) – This one has been on my list for a long time, ever since I heard Josh Ritter speak at AWP almost two years ago. One of the most beautifully-written books I’ve ever read…almost like an extended poem, or a very long folk song (not surprising). Disturbing, too, but I guess that’s to be expected when you’re reading about a delusional, freshly-widowed WWI vet juggling an infant and a galloping case of PTSD.
Midnight for Charlie Bone (Jenny Nimmo) – Let me listen to almost anyone with a British accent read aloud, and I’ll be happy as a Yorkshire pudding. (Clams don’t look particularly happy, if you ask me.) (I’m not totally clear on what a Yorkshire pudding is, to be fair, but I’ll give it the benefit of the doubt.) This one was nowhere near as entrancing as the Harry Potter books, but that’s a pretty tough standard. Let’s just say it was a fun adventure story with some fantastic, wacky characters.
Fables and Reflections (Neil Gaiman) – I said, GO. Seriously. After all, it’s not NaNoMoBoMo for you!!