Dear Library Books,
I meant to read you, I really did. I carried you home with such good intentions, certain that you would be the stack I made it all the way through before the due date. I know I was overly ambitious, but then I always am. Eight books in three weeks is an unlikely pace, especially this year, especially this month, but all of you looked so interesting! I never get books back on time anyway, so stretch those three weeks to five, maybe six, and I felt confident. Especially since I had my reasons for choosing each of you.
When I finish a book I really enjoy I love to look at those “If you liked this, try that” lists online. That’s how I found Ursula Le Guin’s Lavinia, Mary Renault’s The King Must Die, and Pat Barker’s The Silence of the Girls. You are all read-alikes for a type of book I didn’t know I liked until I finished Madeline Miller’s Song of Achilles.
I might read you, Woman Warrior, for one of the categories of Book Riot’s Read Harder 2022 Reading Challenge (“Read a classic written by a POC”). I tend to make reading plans and then not follow through, but this challenge has so far brought me great reading pleasure in 2022. I already have a copy of you somewhere, but sometimes it’s easier to find you at the library than on my own shelves.
Ring Shout, this challenge is also why I brought you home. Not all of the categories in my reading challenge appeal, and “Read a horror novel by a BIPOC novel” fills me with, well, horror because this sensitive and impressionable reader can’t handle horror. But you sound like a book I would choose even if I weren’t tasked with reading a horror novel. Plus, you’re very short, and that is a quality I admire in a novel.
Good Riddance, I’ll be honest: even when I picked you up, I knew I probably wouldn’t read you. But I have such fond memories of Elinor Lipman’s early novels and also of meeting her when she guest lectured in a college class I took, and there you were looking charming and entertaining. I’m sorry that Pomegranate tore your cover when he knocked over the book stack and began kicking and biting you.
Beautiful World, Where Are You, I didn’t go to the library to look for you either, but there you were on the New Books shelf. I couldn’t make it many pages through Normal People, so I wasn’t sure you’d be for me. After reading fifty pages, I’m still not sure. I’m going to be honest with you: there is something really boring about you even as I feel compelled to keep turning pages.
I’ve read you before, Wide Sargasso Sea, but it’s been many years. Listening to all of the episodes of my new favorite podcast, Marlon and Jake Read Dead People, a series of lively conversations between Booker Prizing winning author Marlon James and his editor Jake Morrissey, has me wanting to read you again, because Marlon mentions you frequently.
You’re all already overdue, and I thought I might just return you all, unread. But it’s still dark outside, and no one is awake but me, and I have a warm lap of purring cat. Perfect reading conditions?
My theme for Slice of Life 2022 is finding inspiration in the writing of others. Each day I plan to find my slice in someone else’s words or forms. Today’s post was inspired by Rita DiCarne’s love letter to books.