One Thousand Words on a Long Awaited Weekend

This has been a long week, even though it’s only Wednesday.

It’s because I’ve been looking forward to this weekend all week. Hell, I’ve been looking forward to this weekend all year because it’s Booktopia.

In case you somehow missed it, even though it’s the most written about subject on my blog, Booktopia is the event put together by the folk from the Books on the Nightstand podcast. It’s a great weekend where readers and authors gather to talk books.

Because I’ve been looking forward to it, I’ve been telling everyone where I’m headed this weekend. And I can always tell the readers from the non-readers by their reaction.

The readers ask questions about which authors are going to be there, if you get to mingle with them or just listen, and things like that. And they end up looking a little jealous.

The non-readers go a bit blank. They smile and nod, and inside their thinking that it doesn’t sound like very much fun.

I was telling one person about the event and he asked if I had read books by all the authors.

I said that they announce who is going to be there three months out, so I had time to read something by each one.

He then asked how many authors were going to be there.

I said eight or so.

He said, “You’ve read eight books in three months?” He seems astounded.

I told him that I actually read more than eight books in that time period.

I think he thought I was a genius.

I’ll take it, but frankly I think it’s the opposite. People who don’t read are morons. Don’t they like to be entertained? To lose themselves in another world for a while?

I’d be willing to bet that the people who say they don’t read, go to the movies and watch tv. It’s the same thing, only better. Why in the world would you not read?

I hate to be a snob, but when someone tells me they don’t read, I dismiss them. I assume that they are unintelligent, unimaginative and uninquisitive.

Because even if they don’t read, a smart and interesting person knows better than to brag about it. If you’re the kind of person is proud of the fact that you haven’t read a book since high school and can’t keep your mouth shut about it, I have no use for you.

Personally, I’m lost if I’m not reading a book.

You know how chain-smoking is when you light your next cigarette with the one the end of the one you’re currently smoking? I chain read.

I often read the last page of one book and go right to the first page of the next, without a break. That way I’m never without a book.

I have been going through a dry patch lately, though. I’ve put two different books down without finishing them, and I never do that. Usually I’m the type that struggles through even if I’m not enjoying the book.

But then I had the realization that most readers have at some point. There are so many good books out there that you shouldn’t waste your time reading the ones that aren’t to your taste. It’s not a judgment on you as a reader or the quality of the book. It’s just not the right fit.

I heard that the rule of thumb is that you should subtract your age from one hundred and read that many pages of the book before giving up.

I like that because the older you get, the less time you have left to read so you shouldn’t spend precious hours reading books you don’t like. When you’re ninety-nine, you can quit after one page if you want. You deserve it.

The first book I attempted and quit was Tortilla Curtain by T.C. Boyle.

Someone recommended the author to me because I liked Jon Clinch’s books so much. I guess they both write stark, gritty books.

I read a collection of short stories first, and liked most of them so then I tried Tortilla Curtain.

The story seems pretty compelling, two couples living in California. One rich, white and the other immigrants, homeless and living in a canyon. In the first chapter, the rich guy hits the immigrant guy with his car, gives him twenty dollars and drives off. It wasn’t quite a cold as that, but that’s what happened.

By the time the third dog died, less than fifty pages or so in, I had it. I like grit, but that was too gritty for me.

Then I tried The Northern Clemency by Philip Hensher.

I got further in that one, probably one hundred and fifty pages in. I really liked the book when something was happening, dialogue or action. But then there were long stretches where nothing happened and I got bored.

Plus I couldn’t keep the kids in the two families straight, so I never knew who I was reading about.

For a week now, I’ve been surfing on my iPhone instead of reading when I went to bed. And I always, always read before falling asleep. Then last night I realized I hadn’t read in quite a while and decided it was ridiculous to avoid reading just because I wasn’t interested in the book. Even if it was a finalist for the Booker prize.

So I put it back on the shelf (I’m still not brave enough to get rid of a book I couldn’t make it through.)

I plan to buy a couple of books this week. My very favorite author, Christopher Moore, has a new one out and I’m going to splurge and buy it in hardcover.

And Chris Bohjalian (Who was at Booktopia last year) has a book out that everyone else has already read, but I was waiting for the paperback. And now it’s out.

So even though this has been a long week, the weekend is going to be worth the wait.


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