I have a very strange habit of picking up books that I really want to read, at the library or bookstore, and then leaving them sitting on my shelf. This leads to some scary-looking, double-shelved, broken-down, saggy-ass bookcases.
Exhibit A. There are many many more scenes exactly like this one almost every room of three floors of my house. I haz a shame.
Most recent example: State of Wonder, by Ann Patchett. I am not a big lover of contemporary fiction for adults, but Bel Canto quickly became one of my all time favorites. I had been hearing that State of Wonder was even better, and after finding that I was 1028th in the line of requests in my library system (with 100 copies to go around) I would be better off just buying the dang thing.
So I did. And it took me weeks and weeks to read it. Nights when I wanted a little something to read, it sat on my nightstand forgotten, a part of the wallpaper in my cluttery bedroom.
Then one day I had nothing to do but sit in the hammock — well, strike that, reverse it. I have everything to do but sit in the hammock, but I was tired of the tyranny of busyness and decided to plant myself in the hammock with a book and a beer regardless.
I started into State of Wonder. For a couple of nights I was up until at least 1am reading. Laundry went undone. Groceries went unpurchased. Children drank maple syrup and ate empty tortillas in a vain attempt to fill their hungry bellies. And then I finished the book. (It was wonderful.)
Dance with Dragons awaits, but the same pattern has emerged — forget, ignore, re-read a snippet of a David Sedaris essay before falling asleep. And now I think I understand in the front of my mind what the rest of my brain already knew: once I pick up the book that I really want to read, nothing else will happen.
As usual, I am the last to know these crucial facts about myself. A friend posted this on my wall recently: “Saw this and thought of you.”
Is this you? Take it. Claim it. Get in the hammock and stay there until it’s too dark to read. And then tell me, what book are you lost in right now?