Friday, March 26, 2010

Book Club Blues

Tonight is my book club meeting, and I haven't read the book. I've skimmed it, but I haven't read it. That's rare for me. I have this sort of ethical belief that if you join a book club, you make a commitment to read the book. You owe it to your fellow members.

The book – really it's two novellas – is by Nathanael West. It's Miss Lonelyhearts and The Day of the Locust. I've only skimmed Miss Lonelyhearts and haven't even looked at The Day of the Locust.

This is the second book club book that I've deliberately not read (the first was Auto da Fé by Elias Canetti, and that was a few years ago). Why did I decide not to read this book now? Because it – like Auto da Fé – is unrelentingly grim, with unsympathetic characters who have few redeeming qualities. It's filled with misery, squalor and little, if any, hope.

And I just don't need that right now. I want happy, happy, happy! Or if not happy, then at least something with some hope, some sign that things might turn out well, could possibly turn out well.

That's the bonus with mysteries – what I curl up with when I don't want to think, or at least only want to think on a certain level. Sure, people die – at least usually – but the detective, in the end, figures out what's happened and all is well with the world once again. Crimes will be committed, another murder will happen, but a detective will come along and solve the case and things will be righted. That's the appeal of crime fiction. Things always work out. The case is always solved.

I love to read books (much more than just mysteries) and am always on the lookout for good books, books that I can totally lose myself in. They're hard to find. There are many books I've read over the years that I've enjoyed, some that I absolutely love. My apartment is filled with books, as you can see from the pictures below – they're on shelves, in cupboards, over doors, everywhere!

But if I'm going to read any type of fiction, I want something other than unremitting bleakness. I have enough bleakness in my life right now, thank you very much. I don't need it in my fiction.

P.S. If anyone has any good book suggestions, I'm always happy to hear them, so please let me know in your comments. I'm going to be off for a couple of weeks soon, and I'm looking for some good reading! (Needless to say, nothing that's grim and nothing but grim!)


  1. Your books are beautiful!! I love books so much, and proudly display them in my home too :)

    Okay, I am a bit of a grim manic so I may not be able to help you out in that department. I just finished "Precious", which was incredibly sad, but also kind of up-lifting! No, there's no way around it. I can't help you out, most of my books are depressing! I wonder why that is?

  2. Hey Pony!

    I'm glad you like my books. I do, too – I just wish I had room for more of them, believe it or not!

    I'm just always happy to meet someone else who loves reading – there's nothing like a good book, is there?

    :) L

  3. What gorgeous shelves! I love decorating with books.

    I enjoy a good mystery, too - perfect for de-stressing when I can't deal with anything too serious. I like Reginald Hill, Dorothy Sayers, Martha Grimes, Ian Rankin, Charles Todd and so many others.

    I also love P.G. Wodehouse's novels - especially his Jeeves and Wooster series. They're gorgeously written and absolutely guaranteed to bring me out of a foul mood.

  4. Thanks, Helen!

    I love Dorothy Sayers! My sisters bought my a DVD collection of BBC adaptations of some of her mysteries and I'm just getting it this weekend – very exciting! I also love Ian Rankin (TV + books). There are a couple of authors you mention whom I haven't read, so I'll have to check them out.

    I've seen the P.G. Wodehouse TV adaptations – love Hugh Laurie and always joke that if I married him I'd be Laurie Laurie! – but I haven't read any, so I'll look into those, too.


    :) L

  5. What wonderful bookshelves! And so neat! I have a ton of books -- old and new -- on many shelves and everywhere else. Um, they aren't neat. But I love them anyway.

    I just finished listening to "American Gods" by Neil Gaiman. GREAT book. It has just about everything: mystery, suspense, fantasy, reality, humor, sadness. Just an all-around great book with characters that are people you wouldn't mind knowing personally (well, SOME of them). And it's a long book, so it should fill up a sizable corner of your vacation time.

    Hope all is well, Laurie, and that you're feeling good. Whatever you decide on for your reading, I hope you'll enjoy it thoroughly.

  6. That's a lot of books!!!! :) I still have a ton of books on my sony reader that I need to read still! This makes me wants to go read now.

  7. Hi Wren,

    Thanks for the suggestion – I've never heard of Gaiman, so I'll check him out. Re how I'm feeling, the last two weeks, I've been oddly vacillating between feeling quite sore and achy for a few days then great for a couple – not sure what that's all about, but whatever! Can't wait for my vacay!

    Hey Skye! Hope you find something good to read!

    :) L

  8. That's how my flares were when I was first diagnosed, Laurie. I'd be fine for a few days -- completely normal -- and then a great toe would flare, or my shoulder, or one of my hands, or my knee. Two or three days of that, then suddenly normal again. I never knew what to expect -- not where it would hit or how severe it would be. Frankly, I prefer my rheuma in its present incarnation: constant, but mostly low-level. Aggravating but not disabling. OK -- really, I mean I'd rather not have it at all. But ... it is as it is.

    I really hope you'll have a nice "vacay" (love the word!) and get lots of good times and relaxation under your belt. It can only help.

    Have a great weekend!

  9. Thats impressive! I don't read as much as I would like to (mostly war history) but I'm a huge audiophile. Although a different media, I can definitely appreciate your collection.

  10. Thanks for writing that - it's why I haven't rented Precious yet, despite being sure that it'd blow me away. There's a limit to how much awful I can handle.

    I just finished The Postmistress by Sarah Blake and it's one of the best books I've read in a long time - breathtaking use of language. And then there's always The Fionavar Tapestry, the fantasy trilogy by Guy Gavriel Kay (Canadian, no less!). Older, but incredible - I used to read it about once a year or so and now it's out on audio so I can read it again.

  11. You're welcome, Lene!

    Thanks for the recommendations; I'll check out The Postmistress. I've read The Fionavar Tapestry and enjoyed it.

    Have any of you read Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke? Big, big book you can sink your teeth into, kind of fantasy, but not super heavy-duty fantasy. Very good!

    :) Laurie

  12. I really like your bookshelves, they are lovely! I feel for you and your situation, I have been struggling with pain and not feeling well for several years now, with no real diagnosis. I thought RA, but I don't have the rheumatoid factor. Have had lots of testing, etc, but nothing, but still have pain. I love to read also, I find that silly, girlie books help me when I don't feel good,I'm almost embarrased to say after the recommendations everyone else has made but the SHOPAHOLIC books make me feel better : )

  13. Hi Tournesol,

    Glad you like my bookshelves!

    I, too, don't test positive for the rheumatoid factor, but everything else points to RA (there's no one test that conclusively says, yes, you have RA, unfortunately). I hope you find out soon what's happening with you...

    Re the Shopaholic series, there's nothing wrong with enjoying them! I've read the first one and seen the movie, which I enjoyed (despite the fact that I thought her outfits were bizarre at times – but Hugh Dancy made up for that!).

    Take care of yourself and thanks for dropping by my blog!

    :) Laurie