I need something to read

My house is full to bursting with books, some, ok, many, of which I have never read, either because they're hardcore history tomes belonging to the H aka the amateur historian (history--never my best subject--dissect at will, Freudians among you) or because I fell in love with them in the bookstore but then they let me down on the second date.

For a while after we moved here, I couldn't read at all. No focus, no concentration. Then, slowly, I started again, basically by reading a really wonderful book written by a new friend. I only started because I like and admire her, but then I loved the book, too--bonus--and kept on going. Not so much later, I was lucky enough to encounter another talented writer turning into a new friend, so I read her book, too, and laughed and wept and didn't want it to end and was proud to know someone so wry and wise. Ok, there've been a couple of others in between. But nothing (besides those two) that has really captivated me, made me tell everyone I know and love about it, and so on.

I don't think the problem is all me--truth be told, now that I am once again taking SSRIs, I can focus again: I can read entire articles and short stories in the New Yorker, which probably sounds like a ridiculous, vaguely meaningless thing to brag about, but trust me, it's an accomplishment.

Back in L.A., I had a dysfunctional but still wonderful book club which at least made me focus on a particular volume every few months. They were all really smart, if not all really good, and if they weren't good, I had fellow travelers to whom I could bitch. No book club here. Does anyone out there in the 'sphere have any interest in a virtual one? I should put it right out there that I am a huge snob when it comes to literature (if that New Yorker reference didn't already start to make this fish smell from the head, now it's positively putrid, right?) I don't like most popular literature. I don't read chick lit. I like biography, incisive and profound non fiction, and extremely well written fiction. I laughed at the H earlier this year because he was forced to read a novel for work (a possible adaptation job) and he adored it--I think it was the first novel I've known him to read in about ten years. He couldn't believe how profound and beautiful it was, and I rather gently, I thought, tried to explain that there's a universe of that kind of writing out there.

Can any of you help me find more of it?


goodfellow said...

I'd like to find more of it myself... I am suffering from ennui when it comes to books; maybe because I have been so disappointed in them, or maybe because children take up so much of my time, it is hard to focus. (your reference to SSRIs scares me -- what the heck are they? wonder if it is something *I* need for focus...)

I missed my book club meeting last night because I have been felled by something (hoping it is not the flu, as I haven't managed to get a flu shot yet). The book was Ian McEwan's On Chesil Beach, which was sufficiently short to hold me.

We read Water for Elephants last month, which while not in the league of the sublime, was a nice read. I actually enjoyed it, and that is saying something. Can't seem to make any headway in the latest Rohinton Mistry or Ondaatje's Anil's Ghost (and I LOVE Ondaatje).

A couple of the Canada Reads books in 2006 were good -- Deafening, which I kept casting as I was reading (Forbes March for the lead) and which wouldn't stop springing to mind when we drove through Belgium last month. And A Complicated Kindness, which I had real problems with, was a good read.

My favourite book in the past x number of years is Ondaatje's In the Skin of a Lion, which is sublime and exquisite. And the book I most want to read at the moment is The Language of Baklava; for Christmas I also ordered a book on how the French and English regard each other, fascinating as I am falling in love with the French more and more each day that I am here, and have always felt myself to be an anglophile http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1400040248

I used to be a bookworm, but now I have a hard time being tempted. (a couple of years ago, I even tried to put together a group to read ALL of Proust's In Search of Lost Time, but wonder if that would have heightened the ennui?)

If you find any good books, be sure to post them.

Alto2 said...

You need to check out GoodReads.com. Take a look at my list (Alto2) and especially at my friend, Karen's, list. You'll like her taste in books. I read voraciously, although my standards are lower than yours. I'll read almost anything, save romance and Danielle Steele, but I like very little of what I've read. Some suggestions: Heat (Bill Buford); Loving Frank (Nancy Horan); Last Train To Paradise (Les Standiford).

You'll find I have a books category on my blog, as does my friend LSM whose blog is "Somewhere In Suburbia". Look for the link on my blog.

Alto2 said...

BTW, since you're living on the East Coast now, you should change the time-stamp on your blog.

Froggymama said...

Do you ever read the magazine "The Sun"? It's amazing - short stories, poetry, completely unpretentious, lovely writing.

As far as book recommendations, T.C. Boyle's "Tortilla Curtain" is excellent, or "The Botany of Desire" by Michael Pollan (non-fiction, but delicious). Another favorite is "Green Cane and Juicy Flotsam" - it's a collection of short stories by Caribbean women.

rebecca said...

I'm totally verklempt and thrilled to be a bright spot on your reading list! And I'm game for a virtual reading group - am a similar snob, actually known to have NOT FINISHED A BOOK (sorry, many of them) that I've started and not gotten into. Life's too short for bad books, no? Amy Bloom's new book is great but she's doing this one thing that is KILLING me and I may have to put it down, if she doesn't stop it!