Sunday, July 29, 2012

The Sunday Salon: Reading As an Olympic Sport

One of the benefits of The Summer of My Unemployment is having extra time to read more books than usual. (That's not to say that I'm not doing things like applying for jobs and going on interviews and whatnot. I am. I'm just not ... you know...getting the damn jobs.)

But, I am getting to read (and write my novel) so ... there is that. In these dog days of my unemployed summer, I'm tearing through at least one - usually two - books a week. (This week I read Small Damages by Beth Kephart - reviewed here - and The Fault in Our Stars by John Green, and reviewed here. Loved them both.) This sort of reading pace hasn't happened on a regular basis since I was a teenager and I spent many a carefree summer day with my best friends hanging out at the swim club, reading the likes of Judy Blume and Lois Duncan and everything else our little town's library had in stock. 

It's like I'm in my own personal Olympics competition, going for the gold to see how many points in books read I can score. I have visions of knocking down my entire TBR pile one by one, reading at least a book or more a day, watching my Goodreads "to read" number drop below 1,025. These delusions are as close to the Olympics as I - a certified non-athlete - will ever come. In addition to the books I own, my night table is piled high with library books, thanks to my going there one extra night per week now while Betty is (ironically) at gymnastics class. (I can't help that the class is an hour long and the library rather close by, can I?) 

On the other hand, the gift of this time is also allowing me the time to delve into some books I've always "meant to" get around to. One of them is the book I'm currently reading, Randy Shilts's 602 page And the Band Played On: Politics, People, and the AIDS Epidemic. This feeds into my novel writing and is serving as research; as regular readers of the blog may recall, this is a key element of what I'm writing about and the era in which the story is set.

It's one thing to have lived through this time (as a carefree teenager in the early '80s lounging by the pool), to have loved people who have been impacted by this disease ... and another thing to read Shilts's incredibly well-written and researched book. It's like reading a mystery where you're the only one who knows the answer and can see the clues. It's like going Back to the Future (because, by God, all you want to do is reach through the pages and stop time). It's sobering and heartbreaking and maddening as hell.

Anyway, since it's a pretty sure bet that I'll be going into August with this one (even despite my current  reading pace), here's my July reading stats. (Links take you to my reviews.) Surprisingly, for all this reading, I read just 6 books in July. That's a tie for May and June.

No Such Thing as the Real World:
Stories About Growing Up and Getting a Life
by An Na, M.T. Anderson, K.L. Going, Beth Kephart,
Chris Lynch and Jacqueline Woodson 

America's Women: 400 Years of Dolls, Drudges, Helpmates, and Heroines, by Gail Collins

By some miracle, if I do manage to finish And the Band Played On in the next two days, that will make July the month with the most books read so far this year.

Did I mention I'm on page 168 of 602?

Game on.

copyright 2012, Melissa, The Betty and Boo Chronicles If you are reading this on a blog or website other than The Betty and Boo Chronicles or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.

1 comment:

JoAnn said...

July has been an abysmal reading month for me, but I've had a lot of fun with other things. And the Band Played On is an amazing book... one of my favorites several years ago.