Thursday, March 17, 2011

Here Today, Blog Tomorrow #17

My wife and I, as I've said before, are avid readers. Now, in our new apartment, we constantly trade book recommendations back and forth. My wife turned my eye to The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo Trilogy while I directed her towards the work of Richard Matheson. She's suggested David Sedaris while I've been praising A.J. Jacobs. I read both American on Purpose and Waiter Rant because of her. She introduced me to Johnathan Livingston Seagull which made me hunt for other works by Richard Bach. We discovered Mark Haddon together, reading his book The Curious case of the dog in the night-time as well as A Spot of Bother.

There seems to be no end to the constant chain.

So when she was off to work, she asked for something else to read. I, with a spring, jumped off the couch and started pointing to certain books on our bookshelf. I get excited whenever she asks me to get her a book. Being a full-time bibliophiliac is no easy task. In storage I currently hold fifteen large boxes full of books waiting to be read. I can sometimes be like a carnival barker when it comes to a good book. "Step right up here, step right up. Don't be shy! Witness the works of fancy the likes of which you have never seen or could possibly imagine!"

Quite often some of my suggestions hit the floor but she did pick up one that I pointed to: A Million Little Pieces by James Frey. When he hit the stores in 2003 I heard little, if anything about him. When I heard what a success he was I was impressed. When I heard he may have embellished some facts, I was angry. But that anger slowly faded over a period of time. Especially since witnessing the painful grilling of Frey on his second interview with Oprah. Love him or hate him, he's here to stay. When I was 23, the exact age of Frey when he wrote the book, I picked up the flimsy aqua green paperback at a local Goodwill shop. It sat in a box for years. I have a growing reading list and can't read fast enough. It is what it is.

But, when my wife unearthed it and took it to work, she couldn't put it down, devouring it the same way she did with the Girl with Dragon Tatto trilogy. She was hooked. Wasting no time, she asked if he'd written anything else. I was on the laptop at the time and said, "Fourth shelf, on the right, in between Umberto Eco and Joseph Heller's Good as Gold." I didn't even need to look up, that's how well I know of the books on my shelf. She found the little gray book, My Friend Leonard, and delightfully is devouring that one too. His latest book is ficton. It's called Bright Shiny Morning.

One day, today, she came to me with the request: "You've got to read this book."

I'm in the middle of Jodi Picoult's Handle With Care, with an eye for finishing Perfect Match as well. Then maybe Hornet's Nest, lord of flies, Lisey's story...

The list is never-ending.

So, we compromised. She pitched the idea of interactive reading. We'd each read a few chapters, out loud to each other and go back and forth, thereby finishing the book and enjoying the experience together. If you haven't tried something like this, you should. It's fantastic. I don't care who you are, at one point, you liked being read to. Even when I was at the hospital for food poisoning, my wife was good enough to read me Son of Groucho, a memoir I had been reading at the time. As I was being replenished with medicine, hearing her tell the story made me feel better, making me laugh as she'd deliver the punchlines groucho style.

It's a great experiment - Reading to each other. We've really gotten into the characters in A Million Little Pieces. I've adopted a gravely voice for Frey while she puts on a low voice for his friend Leonard. It's great, reading this stuff out loud. There are only a few problems. One being, who knows what chapter we are on, the headings are only squiggles. Second, I think our neighbors think we're crazy with us exclaiming, from the book, "I DON'T LOOK LIKE GENE HACKMAN! STOP LAUGHING!"

You'll just have to read the book to understand that last bit.

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