Alison and I have a book-buying problem. We simultaneously lecture ourselves and encourage each other on our book-buying on a weekly basis (usually on lazy Sundays when we find ourselves wandering to Greenlight or BookCourt, or god forbid, separately at that airport bookstore at LaGuardia.)
"Ughghhgh I want this but I have so many books to read at home."
"I know, but it's a good beach read and since you're going to Florida with your mom..."
"Yeah, get it. Plus, you're supporting your local neighborhood book dealer."
"I know but I do have that stack of books at home. I suck."
"I know, me too. We both suck."
"Should we get some wine?"
"K, I'm going to first buy this book though."
Every weekend! Granted, it's not the worst problem to have. We both love reading. We read lots of books, all the time. But for this reason we can't quite keep up. I have a phenomenal stack of books sitting next to my bed right now, waiting for my attention. Henry VII is waiting patiently for me to finish Everything Matters!. So is The Marriage Plot, right there next to The Paris Wife about Mrs. Hemingway herself. I'm trying!, I shout at them as I browse the windows at Book Court on my way home from work.
My sister Emily also has this problem. Hers is so bad that she actually made a rule for herself last January that she wasn't buying another book until she had conquered her tall stack of unread material. A year later, having finishing absolutely zero of the books in the stack, she decided that the more productive solution was to donate them to her local library and move on. She then bought more books and stopped the silly self imposed guilt for not having read the old ones. This is one of the many reasons I love and admire Emily-- she's an action girl.
So, you understand that when I refused to purchase Emily's recommendation for winter reading-- The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins-- it wasn't out of disinterest or lack of trust. I had too many books seeking my attention! Poor little dears crying out to me for their turn. I didn't have TIME for the Hunger Games, I told her, there at The Strand on 12th and Broadway during her visit last October. Fine!, she said, don't read it! But you're the one missing out.
Well, obviously my sister-- the action girl-- took action. A few weeks later I received a package in the mail for my 28th birthday including not one but ALL THREE books from The Hunger Games Trilogy. Sorry! She said in her cheeky little birthday greeting. No excuses-- read them and let me know what you think.
And read them I did. I read them quickly and in big gulps over the next couple of months and then pressed them into John's hands upon completion. He caught up with me while on vacation in Florida and we raced to finish the series together. I finished the third and final book twenty pages ahead of him and cried out in honest-to-goodness grief at the ending. He then banished me to the hotel's hot tub--true story!-- to calm myself down lest I spoil the ending for him. I sat in that hot tub crying for Prim and for Buttercup; for Gale and for Peeta. I cried for Katniss and for Panem and then before it got too ridiculous I cured my tears with an ice cream. I even shared it with John.
I'm sure you've read these books or at least read about them, so I'll spare you further details. What I will say is this: if you want to fall deep into a story, into a world and a new way of understanding, read these books. It's not the best literature you'll ever read, but you aren't reading the best literature anyway, now are you? Hmmm? That Jane Austin that's been sitting on your side table for two years? Skip that. At least for now. Then let me know what you think.