Saturday, February 16, 2008

To read, perhaps to think

Charles Schultz created a cute Peanuts cartoon many, many years ago that showed Charlie Brown home from school, tucked in with a cuddly blanket, saying "Happiness is being too sick to go to school, but not too sick to watch TV."
From my perspective, contentment and calm come from being too sick to teach, but not too sick to read. As miserable as I've felt in the past week, the plus side is that I've been able to stretch out on the couch with a refreshing beverage by my side, vaporizer on the floor, cozy blankets all around me, and a good book in my lap.
I started with a re-read of the SuperMom books by Melanie Lynne Hauser. I like rereading. I get to refresh my experience with details I might not have noticed the first time, enjoy the hints and foreshadowing, and revel in the writer's craft. I still laugh at my favorite parts, and I still want a few of those adorable scrubbing bubbles for pets.
I found a complete change of pace with All the Numbers by Judy Merrill Larsen. Maybe it was good that I read this slowly while under the weather. It's not a book to rush through, to race to the finish. Instead, it's a book to grasp, consider, examine. Moms face issues in ways non-parents might not understand, no matter how close they are to the families. This story isn't about motherhood as much as it is about coping, recovering, grieving; facing truths that are not always comfortable. It's intense and thoughtful, a rich and worthwhile read. But have a tissue box by your side -- and don't way I didn't warn you.
I was about to start Jodi Picoult's Nineteen Minutes, something I picked up at the B&N book fair last weekend, but then Patry Francis' The Liar's Diary came in the mail so I piled into it instead. I'm only a few chapters in, but the part that's struck me already is the importance of female friends. Guys may minimize this as "chick talk" or the "housewives eating bonbons" bit, but these friendships make our lives so much richer. A good quality novel, whether for women or by women, will have relationships (good or bad!) between women.
For example --
SuperMom: Carrie. Birdie needed her, and when they were on the outs, it hurt both of them.
All the Numbers: Anna. And more, but mostly Anna. With Ellen being on her own, no husband, even though her parents were emotionally supportive, her friends were her foundation, her rock.
The Liar's Diary: Granted, I've just begun reading this book, only getting a taste of the characters and their relationships. but the friendship between Ali and Jeanne is ripe for growth. Both need a female confidante, both are different enough to be drawn to each other, and both are emotionally needy in their own ways. How that evolves, I have yet to find out.

If I get sick again (no-no-don't-even think-about-it), I'd better make sure my lesson plans are up to date, and my home bookshelf is full. Better yet, there's a blizzard on the way into town...the candidates will be stranded here, and (darn) so will I.

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Blogger Cheryl said...

I always considered myself an avid reader, but I guess I can't claim the title if I only read two new books a year. Maybe when my kids are older. My son is a card-carrying member of the Anti Literacy League. He can't stand to watch me read, and I'm rarely awake when he's sleeping. Excuses. Excuses. You are inspiring me.

2/16/2008 7:17 PM  
Blogger JaniceNW said...

Nineteen minutes is an excellent read. You see all sides of the issue. I like to reread as well. I always find something new. Right now Hamlet and algebra take up all my time. :P

2/16/2008 8:09 PM  
Blogger Judy Merrill Larsen said...

Hey Daisy, I love that loved All the Numbers. Thanks and I hope you're feeling much better!

2/17/2008 9:30 AM  
Blogger Daisy said...

I just found your blog via Farmgirl's. I feel like the universe is saying something to me - I've recently been trying to figure out a compost system.. and then there's that whole same-name thing. I'm excited to explore more of your blog!

2/17/2008 2:55 PM  
Anonymous oh precious one said...

have you read THREE CUPS OF TEA about building schools in Afganistan?

2/18/2008 12:49 AM  

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