Reading

I've managed to pick up the speed on my reading since I arrived in New Jersey. When I first got here I was finishing Blue Highways, which I enjoyed, but once I wasn't traveling myself some of the magic was lost. And his experience was so different than mine—because he was self-contained, with a bed in the back of his van, he could just drive (somewhat) aimlessly, and find a place to stop for the night before it got dark. These days, on my budget, the same just wasn't possible for me. Even though I have a tent, and I'm a confident, independent person, heading off to some random field or even a campground didn't seem like the wisest choice for me, and I certainly couldn't afford a hotel every night. So I took the blue highways, but I pretty much always had to have a destination in mind. And he, and so many other travel writers, are so good at meeting interesting people along the way, and getting into fascinating experiences. Why am I not very good at this? It's something I'd like to improve but I'm not sure how. Maybe I'm not asking the right questions—of myself or the people I meet.

After Blue Highways I was on to This Book Will Save Your Life, the latest from one of my favorite writers, A. M. Homes, who also wrote Music for Torching, which I loved. This was another fabulous book—and I think what I took away from it is similar to Blue Highways. The main character has completely isolated himself in his home in the hills in L.A., and it takes a series of extraordinary events to get him involved with the people around him, and by the end of this book he has all these interesting relationships and things going on in his life. So the main "characters" in both books, though one is fiction and one not, have lots of great experiences because they open themselves up to the people around them and to whatever might happen. I want more of that, in books and in life.

During all this I was still listening to On the Road, read by Matt Dillon, who was great. All the characters, especially Dean Moriarty, really came to life because of the voices he used for each—they were each roles he was playing for the reading. I finished that up while I was lying in bed the other night (finally figured out I could put the tracks on my mp3 player!), and drifted off towards the end, which made the last few lines seem so dreamlike, as he fades out with "I dream of Dean Moriarty." Or maybe it was "think," not "dream," but the effect was the same for me. Glad I "read" the book in this way—I think it will stay with me longer as a result.

And I just finished a very speedy read through The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime, which Sarah really enjoyed. I liked it too, though I think it takes a while for the wisdom and beauty of books with child narrators to sink in for me. The narrator is an autistic boy, and the way traumatic situations are described by someone who doesn't understand emotion is really fascinating. Made me feel like I understand autism a bit better, and I hope that since the author worked with autistic kids he has a pretty strong knowledge base for this stuff. There's a great section about how he doesn't understand why people want to travel to see new things, because there are so many things to see at home—he says "there are so many things just in one house that it would take years to think about all of them properly. And also, a thing is interesting because of thinking about it and not because of being new." He goes on to explain how he learned that you can rub a wet finger across the lip of a glass and it makes a noise, and with different amounts of water in different glasses you can play a song. "Lots of people have thin glasses in their houses and they don't know you can do this."

Not sure where to go from here… borrowed Pillars of the Earth from a friend of my parents and am not sure I'm ready to read it just yet. Picked up A Brief History of Time and promptly put it down—just not my thing—it kept putting me to sleep or making my mind wander even more than usual. Started reading an excerpt in Outside magazine from a new book written by one of the survivors of the Andean plane crash chronicled in the movie Alive, but decided I'd rather read the whole book. So I'm enjoying knitting books and Your Money or Your Life (will have to explain more about this once I've read more of it) while I figure out what else is next. Might be time for another trip to the library.

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3 Responses to “Reading”

  1. bekka Says:

    Matt Dillon on an audio tape? wow. i gotta hear that. i loved him in little darlings.

    i tried curious incident but couldn't get into it.

    what knitting books are you looking at? you decided on one or some?

    Ian reads KF and has noticed interesting themes: 1. there's usually an evil homosexual character and 2. female characters' pubic hair is often remarked about. ian tried pillars, couldn't get into it after thirty or forty pages; says it wasn't KF's usual writing. so actually, you might just like it!

  2. Amy Says:

    From the library I have Vogue Knitting—I think it's the one you mentioned, although maybe an older edition—very comprehensive; Stitch 'n' Bitch, which was been very useful; and a little Vogue Knitting Baby Gifts book where I'm getting ideas for my next project (which I can't talk about here, it's a surprise!).

  3. bekka Says:

    next projects, hurrah! those are all great books. keep your needles clicking together.

  4. vlad Says:

    have you read “society of others”? it’s pretty good…

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