Thursday, December 07, 2006

A personal best: one book a week

I can't believe it. I just can't believe it. I've never read this much in my life! Maybe it's peer pressure. I have to keep up with my friends, who seem to all be avid readers. I have piles of books in the house begging to be read. Read me, read me, they call. But the piles get taller and taller as I accumulate books from a rummage sale in the eleventh arrondissement, a book swap that I organized with some expat friends, and weekly book relays among my school-mommy friends.

I don't mind having a whole bunch of unread books around. My habitat has always been like that. I've always been a book collector whose reading pace has never caught up with her collecting pace.

Reading is inspiring, uplifting, entertaining, enlightening. I love it. And even more importantly, I am able to experience different styles of writing and am learning to distinguish the good from the bad and the just plain ugly. This is part of my schooling required for writing a book sometime in the future.

I've just recently learned that the most highly recommended books are the ones that are humorous or are "page-turners." Their recommenders say the same words all the time -- doesn't matter who it is: "It's really funny," or "I couldn't put it down." Those books are the ones that are truly entertaining. But they're not always the ones that are the best written. The most impactful book I've read so far (I'm just about to start Zadie Smith's book, On Beauty, tonight, so I can't include her in the race) is still "Beloved" by Toni Morrison. It's so beautifully written -- elegant, poetic. But I don't feel comfortable recommending it to people because it can be a real downer. It's the strength of the protagonist that inspires me, that makes me realize that if she can survive what she went through (even though she's fictional), I should be grateful for what I have and make the most out of my life and the gifts I've been given. Hmm...I was reading this book about the same time I started turning my life around, taking control of it by exercising regularly, eating better, taking daily vitamins, helping friends, hanging with friends, and doing fun, worthwhile projects. So maybe this book really did have a profound effect on me, or was it just coincidence?

I'm ashamed to say I haven't been reading any books in French, aside from Maylin's bedtime stories which require me to translate Petit Ours Brun (Little Brown Bear), Babar, and Barbapapa, just to name a few. Well actually, yesterday, I did do some French reading outside of bedtime, but they were still children's books. Maylin dragged me to the children's book section of FNAC and I ended up doing translations for over an hour and a half, probably to the astonishment of the eavesdropping French patrons. Who knew there were so many children's books in English at this store? Non, ca n'existe pas! It's just me, nearly getting a headache from trying to make heads-or-tails of several unfamiliar colloquialisms. Fortunately, Maylin didn't notice when I just skipped over those parts nonchalantly.

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