Sunday, January 6, 2008

True Confessions of a Late-Night Reader

I'm having, you know, just a wee bit of difficulty keeping to my New Year's resolution to get more sleep. You can call it lack of will-power - or, perhaps, ambivalence - but I am blaming it on the really, really good books I've been reading lately.

You see, for Christmas I received Running with Scissors by Augusten Burroughs - I mean, seriously, folks, this book is uniquely compelling. "Will this kid actually survive his own childhood? Is it possible for so many people, all these families, to be this dysfunctional? Turn the page to find out, because it is about to get worse!" I loved reading about this family from the perspective of the other sibling - his older brother is John Elder Robison who wrote the wonderful Look Me in the Eye: My Life with Asperger's which I reviewed here last fall. Very talented brothers, those two. I'm not sure if Running with Scissors ended up more heavily weighted on the hilarious side or the heartbreaking side (probably the latter), but it was well-written and kept me reading long past my new-and-improved bedtime, whatever that's supposed to be. (Hmm, maybe that's my problem!) The day I finished this book I stopped at Black Oak Books in San Francisco and picked up another of his books.

But then, the next one I read (also a Christmas gift) was The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini. Holy moly, have you read this book? If not, go out and pick up a copy - you won't be sorry. Amazing story, beautiful writing. What a tale. I learned more about Afghanistan from that book (and A Thousand Splendid Suns, which I read recently by the same author - also an excellent read) than from any other source. I am now extremely frightened by photos of the Taliban, which is an appropriate response, let me tell you. When I got to the last quarter of The Kite Runner, I couldn't put it down. I ended up reading it well past 1:00 AM on Saturday morning to finish it. I cannot remember the last time that I read the conclusion of a book sitting up in my bed in the middle of the night, hand half over my exhausted eyes out of fear for the protagonist. This, like Running with Scissors in its own completely different way, was a story of survival and redemption.

Page-turners, I tell you. They'll keep you up past your bedtime. And that's a very, very good thing.

****

And now it's time for an Internet vote! Which of these books on my nightstand shall be next? Submit your vote now (quick!)

Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

or

Where I Lived, and What I Lived For by Henry David Thoreau

13 comments:

tulipmom said...

"Eat, Pray, Love" was fantastic. I haven't read the Thoreau book.

Lori at Spinning Yellow said...

I've heard many good thing about "Eat, Pray, Love" so I say read that first.

I just ordered "Look Me in the Eye". I read "Running with Scissors" in my book group per my recommendation and I have to say, I was disturbed by it. I wanted to like it for the story line, for the writing, but I was tripped up by the way he made his experience of being abused/ molested (as a child, no less), IMO, seem funny. I know it was an attempt to find the humor, but I could not read c*ck one more time w/o feeling sick to my stomach.

Anyway, thanks for the recommendations - I have Kite Runner and haven't gotten to it yet. But I am NOT talking about such things...

Sigh

kristen said...

I would love to vote, but I have been a bigtime slacker in my reading as of late. I don't know either of the two you are deciding between. Good luck and let us know what you decide.

(Kite Runner was amazing, wasn't it? Loved that one.)

Jordan said...

Lori, I know what you mean about Running with Scissors. I think you're right that it was an attempt to find the humor (probably so that people would actually read it!), but I also think it was a very real account from the perspective of a child/adolescent who is in the midst of all that dysfunction/insanity and didn't really know anything else - so he didn't have the perspective of an adult.

Supposedly it was almost entirely taken from his own journal as a boy. I think many people his age in that type of situation - maybe those who are most resilient in the end? - are lucky if they can laugh at some of those things that happened, and to have someone like the daughter who befriended him to laugh with was very fortunate. I felt that this made it that much more realistic, even as his actual life situation wasn't funny at all to me. But he brought me there with him and I could laugh with him at the insanity.

Cara said...

Eat, Pray, Love! An amazing book, as I mentioned to you yesterday. I really did both laugh and cry as I read it, and pretty much want to pick it up and read it again! Of course, I have not read the Thoreau book, either, so I really can't truly comment.

tulipmom said...

One more thing ... I checked "Eat, Pray, Love" out of my local library but I plan on buying my own copy. It was THAT good.

Emily, as some know me said...

I haven't read Running with Scissors, but Marshall read it a couple of years ago and gave me the play-by-play as he was reading it. Unbelievable. It is incredible that he survived to write about it.

I just finished The Last Season, by Eric Blehm (my tastes run to adventure/outdoor-type reading), about a ranger who vanished in 1996 in the Sierra. Makes me want to go back to Yosemite or Sequoia NOW.

Emily, as some know me said...

P.S.
Sleep is overrated, especially when there's so much good reading to be done. That's MY vote. ;)

Drama Mama said...

OMG. I LOVED Running with Scissors, but even more, DRY, his sequel. Love me some Augusten and John Elder.

I am flirting with Eat Pray Love. I was turned off my an Oprah show about it - "It's sweeping the nation!" - but my friend Michelle O'Neill raves, and so I will read it just to be like her.

Jordan said...

drama mama, I am automatically turned off from any book that is on Oprah's list, even though in truth I often end up liking them. I have to hear a LOT of people I trust say that they like it, to go out and buy it after that. That's just not a bandwagon I want to ride on a regular basis.

rachel said...

Hi Jordan! I am actually deep into "Eat, Pray, Love" right now, so I would have to be biased and go with that one. It's well written and fairly pragmatic. And makes me want to start yoga and meditation again in such a big way, but after I go to Italy and consume large quantities of tasty food.

Special Needs Mama said...

I'm going to wait for your "Kite Runner" giveaway ;)

Thanks for reminding us of the power of words.

Mari said...

I stumbled across your blog and I love it - esp your description of the in-car pokemon battles mentioned in a previous post..... (I'm a mother of Pokemon fanatics too).

Anyway - with regards to your next read - Thoreau wins my vote hands down