The first time I met my friend Martha, someone asked her what she’d done that summer while the rest of us were teaching summer school. She tilted her blond head to the side and happily reported that she had read 23 books. I was so doggoned envious! New at the college, I had worked like crazy getting accustomed to a new environment and teaching four classes, one of them a brand new prep. I vowed that one day I’d follow Martha’ example.
So far, I’m off to a good start. I just finished reading Patricia Highsmith’s Strangers on a Train (talk about a thriller!), and now I’m reading The Heart is a Lonely Hunter in the morning and Gone Girl at night. The reason for the day/night split is because I can read the latter at night with my iPad and its backlight. There’s something both eerie and cool lying in bed with the gleaming light illuminating words, words, words. To read a paper and ink book, I’d need a lamp or a book light. There’s nothing wrong with that, and I actually like book lights except that the batteries wear out too quickly.
I found Carson McCullers’ The Heart is a Lonely Hunter at the local county library, and it has become my day book, my beach book, my keep-in-the-car book. IPads with backlights don’t work as well outdoors because of the glare, and too, I often go for beach strolls and don’t feel trusting enough to leave a $500 apparatus in my bag.
I’m listening to John Sanford’s Winter’s Prey on CD in the car, and I can recall the exact spot on I-20 when the iceman sunk the knife into the head of the man unfortunate enough to venture outdoors to check for prowlers. Today, not wishing to revisit the gore just yet, I began listening to Daniel Gilbert’s Stumbling on Happiness. A book rep gave me a copy of the book a couple of years ago, but so far, I’ve managed to read only bits and pieces of it. On CD, the words are read aloud by the author himself, and I’m enjoying his upbeat inflection.
Here are some things I’ve picked up from today’s reading/listening. From Gone Girl I learned that flying the flag is what homeless people do when they hold up signs asking for food or money. I also learned that it’s possible to live in an intimate relationship with someone and be blind to his/her personality. From The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, today I was reminded of Karl Marx’s philosophy. After reading that Willie had his feet cut off, I had to put the novel aside for a few moments as I pondered social injustice everywhere. In Stumbling on Happiness, Daniel Gilbert informed me that humans are the only animals who plan ahead with conscious thought. The Sandford book? Hmmm. That one says, “Do Not Venture Outside After Dark,” especially if you live in an isolated area.
How can a person get through life without the written word? What do nonreaders think about? Will I read 23 books this summer? What are you reading, and what have you learned from it?