1.) My letter to Stephen King:
Dear Uncle Stevie,
I am calling you this because this is how you referred to yourself in the many, many columns by you I’ve read in Entertainment Weekly throughout the years. I admire you. I admire your passionate and unabashed love of pop culture. I admire your playful way with words and your incredible imagination. I admire the fact that I think you are really supportive of other writers, and just generally a very good person who writes creepy things, which is cool to me (see: my love for Gillian Flynn, Kate Atkinson).
And some beautiful things. And some long things. Because my chief memory of 11/22/63 is that it was looooong. 800+ pages long. And the thing is – I liked it! I thought it was wonderful. Concise and edited, no. But that’s kind of missing the point. You write big and passionate and bold. So it’s ok that it was long. And I probably should have read it when I had larger chunks of reading time. Because to read and read and read and feel like you are making no progress, even in a book that you really like, is intensely frustrating. But the book itself? Very good.
More than anything else, it contained possibly the most likable male first-person protagonist I’ve ever read. If a movie was made of this book (which I think is kind of impossible, but it could be a well-done pay cable TV show), I picture Jason Segal. The love story was honest, sweet, and sincere.
I liked how you handled the tricky problem of time travel, covered often and rarely successfully. I wish there was more of the creepy creepy end and less sports betting. But in general, your book deserves more than I had the time to give it, and I’m sorry. It was a good one. I will be recommending it.
2.) Rainbow Rowell
Dear Rainbow Rowell,
I love you and wish I knew you in high school. Your characters are hilarious. I am now reading your first book (Attachments) and frankly it’s not that great. It’s a definite first book, something written before the incredible Eleanor & Park and Fangirl. But even not great, it’s still great. I think, although it’s not confirmed, that you were a stay-at-home mom. I would have liked to be friends with you. Thank you for existing.
3.) Going dark
For the last three years, I have given up most forms of social media for Lent. It is a great thing to give up because it feels like a sacrifice but is also eye opening into just how much time gets wasted in it. Doing it teaches me something new each year.
So I’m taking a break from blogging until April to use this time to focus on some other things. And of course I’ll be reading. I’m on a British classics kick right now and will probably see that through as long as it lasts.
And on that note, I will offer up an explanation of how and why I read. It makes me uncomfortable to talk too much about reading with people, because there’s this aura that it’s a more honorable hobby than others. It’s tough to run up against the comment “I really should read more” and know what to say.
Because in my mind, the answer is, “No, you shouldn’t, unless you feel like it.”
For me, reading is like eating breakfast. I have a big appetite and wake up hungry, and I never. ever. miss breakfast. I”m pretty sure I haven’t skipped breakfast in my entire life.
But it’s not always bacon and eggs and pancakes. In fact, it’s rarely that. It’s often toast, grabbed in bites while I feed my kids. Or cereal, or oatmeal assembled the night before and quickly heated up that morning. Sometimes, if things are crazy and rushed, it’s a banana and yogurt or a granola bar.
The thing is, it’s something that is intuitive and physical. And that’s how reading is. If I’m waiting in line somewhere, or getting my hair cut, I don’t sneak a few pages of my book because I should, I do it because I can. Because what occurs to me at that moment to do is to read. There are a lot of points in my life where my only reading time is 10 minutes before bed and that makes me feel sad sometimes but never guilty.
So I’ve never associated reading with some kind of self improvement project, and don’t want to. In fact, reading often gets in the way of me doing things that are more useful and would better serve my family and life. But I feel a little more whole and right when I have a book going that I enjoy, when there are imaginary people fighting for some attention among the real ones. I’m probably missing opportunities to actually better educate myself by looking at reading with a more critical eye, but I’ve come to terms with that. That’s what school was/is for; reading is something else entirely (for me. this is always personal, not a persuasive essay). I just don’t have it in me to destroy what’s been such an intrinsic part of me since I was a dorky kid carrying copies of Anne of Green Gables around with me.
So that’s it until late April. As I write this, it is hovering around 10 degrees. I fervently hope that by the time I come back to it, things will have improved.