Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Latest Obsession: Reading

Lately, I have a dilemma. I want to read. I understand--entirely--that this does not make me unique or special in anyway. But it is noteworthy since I haven't felt the urge to put my eyes to a printed page since college graduation. What can I say, books and me needed a vacation from one another. We had reached the point of saturation.

These days, I just can't get enough. I used to make these crazy lists of all these books I want to read and I find myself doing that. Ambitious, I know. My most recent list includes:

-All of McCarthy
-All of Russo
-All of McMurtry
-All of Charlaine Harris (exclusively Sookie Stackhouse)
-All of James

At the rate I've been going--specifically the rate since graduation until, well, now--this list would take me the rest of my life. Which brings me to a point that I have not wanted to accept or acknowledge: does anyone really enjoy McCarthy and find him easy to read? The Road was truly spectacular. Loved every word. But Blood Meridian--my only other diversion down this dark road--was a challenge. I will admit, it's profound sprinkled with moments that are truly remarkable. But it was a struggle. Anyone? N-E-1?

What sparked this reconciliation? I was Wikipedia-ing one day--a favorite pastime--and wandered over to Anne Rice's page. I discovered that she is a "reverted" Catholic Christian and that she's written a book about it all. I was intrigued, as I often am, to hear other people's reasons for choosing faith and spirituality. I dashed off to the library to pick up this book and went home with Texasville, We Were the Mulvaneys, and The Painted Veil. Thus, we were reunited.

The Painted Veil is delightful by the way. Maybe will add 'All of Maugham' to my list?

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Libraries, Literature, Love

I am excited--BEYOND MEASURE--about this weekend. Is it because of the Tech vs. Texas game on Saturday? Close, but, um, no. Actually, I'm dancing in my seat right now because the relentless little hopeless romantic that lives inside me is so revved up about the release of Bright Star.

I'm not going to pretend like I'm a John Keats fan, much less an expert. This particular section of Survey of British Literature II is a little fuzzy and not because it was at 9 am. But, I think all lovers of literature--poetry and prose--relish the opportunity to have a peek into the real lives of the enigmatic characters of literary history. And Keats is definitely one of the brightest stars (wink) in the cast. Even I have to admit that.

Bright Star is the story of his three-year long secret love affair with Fanny Brawne, passionate and tempestuous, that ended only with his untimely death. Okay, so it's not a wink-wink, ho-ho romcom in which the omnipresent Katherine Heigl tries her darnedest to pass as a romantic lead. I get the feeling there could be tissues involved. And sleepless nights. And a tender ache in the chest as the credits roll. But nevertheless, I will be there. Even if it does cost me ten dollars.

I might not be quite this excited if the film's creator wasn't the beloved and brilliant Jane Campion, director of the The Piano and my personal favorite, which I've seen at LEAST 100 times, The Portrait of a Lady. I haven't seen all of her movies, but I haven't seen one I didn't like. Think this one's going to be a winner. Leave the boyfriends/husbands at home. They can watch the Red Raiders/Longhorns game.

Speaking of Keats, and college, and survey courses, I was in a public library for the first time in a long time yesterday. Whoa, things have changed. I have to admit, I was little disappointed at the selection. You never appreciate the things you have until they're gone, like a university library. Even at that, Southwestern's library wasn't exactly epic. But it was three stories tall. And they certainly had every book I could ever want. Pickins' were a little slim at this particular branch of the Sonoma Co. Library system.

But what stunned me was this: gone are the days of library cards and the cathartic stamping of the due date on a sleeved chart inside the book of your choice. Things have gotten a smidge high tech. Check out process is as follows:

1. Scan library card--name and profile appear on computer screen.
2. Computer message tells me to 'place books on table' (table being a black pad under the screen.)
3. I cautiously and skeptically place book #1--Larry McMurtry's Texasville--on said 'table'.
4. Title miraculously appears on screen. Serial number and all.

Aside: Before proceeding, I'm looking around trying to find the conspiracy in all of this. I look at the lady behind the desk to see if she's typing in my titles. Apparently not.

5. I place remaining books, in a single stack, on the 'table'. Each title appears accurately on screen.
6. Complete transaction.
7. Dialogue box appears: How would you like your receipt? Email? Fax? Print? Or Text? Email please.

Yeah. Space-agey or what? Maybe I'm behind the times, but I was so charmed by it all. Plus it's one of the few places in town with free Wi-Fi where I don't feel pressured to buy coffee. So awesome.