I set a Goodreads goal every year, just to remind myself to make time for reading. I love reading, but I feel so selfish and self-indulgent when I do, unless absolutely everything else is done. Regardless, usually I’m way ahead of schedule. I read so much in 2020! This year…I’m behind. Yikes!
Not to worry, I just finished reading a book, Mirror, Mirror by Gregory Maguire. Despite being a fan of his work, and wanting to read it, I had trouble settling in. I don’t blame him or the book. Okay, I blame them both, but only a little; I imagined the possibilities of a real-life Snow White much differently and more beribboned than he did. I wanted to know more about Bianca’s inner life, her struggles to mature, her life without her mother. Once I began thinking of what could be, I had trouble reading what was. That’s on me.
He did cleverly use a historical character for her unofficial stepmother, but that’s all I will say about the plot. The writing is characteristically gorgeous. I love a couple of lines he wrote about art and the artist, naturally, though I don’t have the book in front of me at the moment to quote them, darn it. And his imagination is flawless, just, in this case, not to my taste. It mentions some places I’ve visited in Italy, and that’s always cool. But this wasn’t meant to be a book review and, as I said, I couldn’t enter the book with my complete attention, so it’s not fair to criticize. It did whet my appetite for reading again, though, and for that I thank him. I’m putting the book on Barry’s side of the bed now because I think he will really enjoy it.
Due to quickly reading a short craft book yesterday, This Creative Life: A Handbook for Writers by Sara Zarr, I’m now only a book behind my goal. Sigh. You have no idea how being even that one book down vexes me. (And though I don’t have the privilege of knowing Zarr, she and I are very much on the same page when it comes to writing. I enjoyed her book and I likewise enjoy her eponymous podcast.)
If I’m being fair to myself, I’ve actually read more than what my record shows. I beta read a memoir last month, and I’ve read my second manuscript numerous times. Those aren’t really countable on Goodreads, though. Maybe we should ask for an anonymous book setting?
This holiday weekend, I have a lineup of books and magazines I’m looking forward to, so with any luck, I’ll be back on the Goodreads track before Tuesday, and more importantly, on the eager reading train for the rest of the year.
First up is The Secret History, a novel by Donna Tartt. I have long wanted to read it, and when it was brought back to mind by a mention on a podcast recently, I made a trip to our local library and picked it up. (I would say what book review podcast I heard about it on, but I really don’t want to seem pretentious. Suffice it to say that it comes out on Fridays, but I usually listen to it while making brunch on Saturdays. It’s a tradition I’ve cherished for years now.)
The second is nonfiction, Charles Dickens by Jane Smiley, also obtained from our local library. I have my and Barry’s poet friend, Mark Madigan, to thank for suggesting it – he’s reading it right now and says he thinks I will like it, too. I’m sure I will. (If you haven’t checked out Mark’s poetry, you should. We’ve been on a few trips abroad with this humble man with his fascinating backstory. He writes stellar poems about art, so of course I like his work. Here’s his latest book, Thump and Other Poems. Yes, that’s the mesmerizing Prague Astronomical clock on the cover, only one of the wonders Barry and I have experienced during our travels.)
This weekend, I also have the latest issues of Poets and Writers and Women’s Health at the ready. I always have a pen handy when I read P & W. I circle the writing competitions and the call for submissions and then…promptly forget about them. I guess I just see myself primarily as a novelist, though I do enjoy writing the occasional short story. And I do like to suggest – almost insist – that my eligible writer friends enter their work when I see an entry that matches their gifts, because I know so many damned talented people but it takes action to get published, my dear friends.
And WH? To look at me, you wouldn’t know it, but I love keeping up on health and fitness trends. I subscribed my husband to Men’s Health for Father’s Day (What? He read an issue on our latest trip to the beach and enjoyed it; it wasn’t a hint. I also had his car detailed as a surprise. I wouldn’t usually give him such mundane gifts, but I bought him a pretty-pretty instrument for his birthday in May. I’ll let him share that with the world when he’s ready.)
Just this morning, I happened upon a copy of Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid. I’ve been trying to wait for it to become available at our local library, but reader, when I saw it, I bought it. (You know she’s my newest literary crush.)
Anyhow, It always comes back, my love of reading, even if it takes a bit of time. If you ever hear me say that I’m not reading or writing, I’m not okay, friends. But I’m doing a little of both right now if that tells you anything.
Sorry to tack this on to the end of a light post, but I thought it might mitigate it if I did. I leave you with this, a song written and performed by my and Barry’s son, Zack. He said I could share this, as he hopes it will help those similarly struggling with addiction. Addiction is a hellish beast that leads to terrible decisions and consequences. We know our family is not the only one to have been plagued with it these past few years. Despite the grief and fear we’ve experienced these past few years, we live in hope for our son.
(On the production side, Zack wants everyone to know that he forgot a verse, and that I filmed this spontaneously a couple of weeks ago. His dad will record him in his home studio when things settle down.)
And may Zack’s earnest song keep him safe and strong, and may it help anyone currently in that dark night.
I hope you never need this, but if you do, here’s the website for SAMHSA. I’m wishing health and wholeness for our family and yours. We would cherish any good vibes you could spare for our son as he takes this long, difficult journey.
Copyright Drēma Drudge, 2022. All rights reserved.
2 thoughts on “Reading and “My Addiction””
Putting the words ‘reading’ and ‘addiction’ together for me is pretty accurate. But unfortunately, I too feel indulgent and a little selfish and unsettled when I sit down to enjoy a book, because I enjoy it SO much and there is ALWAYS something else to do. I think that is a mindset we both need to squash–any time spent giving yourself joy is not unproductive or wasted time. It is what life is about.
I would love to hear what you think about The Secret History, although The Goldfinch is my absolute favorite by her and one of my favorite books of all time. Funny enough I have not yet read any Charles Dickens (though I have read some snippets of Jane Smiley’s non-fiction work), but I am fascinated with him and think that his novels will end up becoming some favorites of mine if I could just get to him. So many books, so little time!!! (Side note: have you ever seen the movie About Time? One of the characters who can time travel literally just uses it to read more. Haha. That would so be me)
Zack’s song was moving and left me with chills, having dealt with my own addiction and seeing it run an even more destructive course through my family. Even stranger, his chord progression is eerily akin to one I randomly play around with all the time.
Ashley, I’m always so glad to hear from you. First of all, thank you for sharing about your own addiction. I can’t imagine how tough overcoming that must have been. Wow. Brava!
I’m sorry that you, too, have seen addiction throughout your family. (I lost a man who was essentially my brother-in-law, had been in the family 15+ years, three years ago to an overdose, and an older cousin passed just three months ago of an overdose as well. I don’t mind telling you I am a terrified mother every time I get a phone call nowadays. I’m sure I annoy my son with all the texts, but if I don’t hear from him every few days I really worry. Not that I tell him that, of course.)
Thank you for listening to Zack’s song. He’s really passionate about his music; we say he works to support his music habit. LOL.
On to the fun stuff: if I were your teacher, I would assign you to read a Dickens book posthaste! IMO, Great Expectations is a, well, great place to start. 🙂
If only we could time travel, I’m sure I’d use the time to read. I’m trying to get over my “I don’t have time to read” feelings, but sometimes…I did go to the library yesterday and came home with a nice stack, so that’s a start. Yes, joy, it’s all about the joy! I need to remind myself of that.
I did enjoy The Secret History, but I liked its premise better than how it turned out — it felt a bit surreal, if that makes sense. I mean, it was unique, and I love that. But some of it seemed hard to swallow, and great shades of Dead Poets Society. (BTW, I totally see why The Goldfinch is your fav of hers!)
That being said, I want a secret academic society of sorts. Deep thoughts on speed dial would be my jam!
Again, thank you SO MUCH for stopping by. I was just thinking of you and your excellent novel yesterday. I hope you find it a home soon — that’s some powerful writing.