Books help me live a passionate life. I’m surrounded by them all day, every day. I have stacks of books on my nightstand, on my office bookshelves, in my backpack. On weekends, I spend time at the library and in my neighborhood bookstore. I subscribe to newsletters about books and follow bloggers who write about books. And I never tire of them. It’s one of the few interests I have that has spanned most of my life. So I was intrigued by a popular magazine’s feature story about how hobbies can define our lives. Insert your hobby and think about how you would you answer these questions.
A book I read in secret
Judy Blume’s Forever. There was one contraband copy in my school, which was passed around with all the “important” pages dogeared for easy reference. Now, of course, that book is tamer than a Robin Thicke video.
The books I’ve read over and over
I return to these books because I learn something new each time I read them, but more specifically I learn something new about myself. Walden, by Henry David Thoreau. To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee. “Song of Myself,” by Walt Whitman
A classic I’m embarrassed to say I’ve never read
Oh good Lord, but Moby-Dick. I’ve tried. I really have. But the moment after I read “Call me Ishmael” I close the cover. Every time.
A book I consider to be overrated
I hate to call any book overrated. Some books just don’t speak to me personally (see: Moby-Dick), but they still have value. But if you’re going to twist my arm: Ulysses. I wonder what all the fuss is about. I know. I’m in the minority.
The books I wish I’d written
Brooklyn, by Colm Toibin. His prose is clean and straight-forward. Each word is so carefully chosen. He’s not pulling any gimmicky funny business. And yet… it’s riveting. The characters take center stage and their world slowly builds around you while you’re reading. Before you know it, you’re enveloped in it and you don’t even know how it happened. And all I want to know is, how? How does he do it? I’ve got Nora Webster on my shelf and I’m both excited and nervous to open the cover.
The novels people might be surprised to learn I love
I enjoy the irreverent Jeeves. I don’t usually go in for slapstick comedy and general buffoonery, but the Jeeves-Wooster combination is pure fun. I highly recommend the audio versions of the Jeeves books. There’s something about the cadence of Wodehouse’s words that are even better when read aloud.
The last book that made me laugh…and the last one that made me cry
Oh, David Sedaris. You had me at hello.
I’ve gotten teary in certain bittersweet sections of Me Before You and Eleanor & Park (both wonderful reads), but I needed to keep a tissue handy for Between Shades of Gray, by Ruta Sepetys, a story about keeping hope alive when all else is lost.
My favorite movie versions of books
I’m usually in the book-was-better-than-the-movie camp. That said, I thought The Book Thief, Atonement, and Brokeback Mountain were very good adaptations. Can I list To Kill a Mockingbird again?
What I’m reading right now
Graham Swift’s Booker Prize-winning Last Orders. about four men who are charged with scattering their friend’s ashes at sea. I’m still getting to know the characters
Why I read
Reading is an act of empathy. That’s true of bad vampire fiction and experimental beat prose and Swedish thrillers. It connects us to each other by conversations just like this one through the universality of common human experiences.
“We read to know that we are not alone.” — C.S. Lewis
Do you have any lifelong hobbies? How has it defined your life?
Have a great weekend, everyone!