Monday, July 25, 2011

Best. Reading. Experience. Ever.

I've been MIA from most things in my life these days. No much writing. No time for a blog. Largely, because it's summer and my kids are home and it's hot and the wading pool beckons. But, if I'm honest, it's because I've been reading. All the time. As much as I can. I was given the first four books in the George R.R. Martin Series this is being made into Game of Thrones on HBO.

I am not one for fantasy books - but I can't call this fantasy. At least in the way I knew fantasy. And I apologize to Sinead and her husband for calling them nerds. They are - but so am I. These books are epic in scope, heartbreaking in detail. Complicated, utterly suprising and freaking unputdownable. Having the whole series on hand this summer as I sit by the wading pool and hide out in my room and read dockside while my husband swims with the kids has been one of the best reading experiences of my life. Largely because this is the first summer that a child doesn't NEED me on the playground. I can read and look up every few minutes. It's amazing!

Which made me think of other great reading experiences. I have a list - because I love lists. But to be a great experience - the book has to match the opportunity to read it or the situation it was read in. So, start thinking about your own. Here are mine.

1. Blue Willow - Deborah Smith - I was living in California and I always went to this used bookstore and this book sat on the shelf for six months. I considered it everytime but for some reason I always put it back. I'd never read one of Smith's books, and I am rarely in the mood for family legacy/saga books. One day there was nothing else at the store and I grabbed it and stayed up until three am reading it. Next day I went to Borders and bought every book of hers I could get my hands on.

2. Seabiscuit. I took my fourth month old son sailing with my parents. He was not a great sleeper, but the hum of the engines and the rocking of the boat lulled him into sleeps of which I had never seen from him. I laid in the aft cabin reading this book voraciously while my son slept beside me and my mom brought me watermelon. Perfection.

3. The Time Traveller's Wife - it was a slow start with this book, but the last one hundred pages I read in my bathroom at one o'clock in the morning so my sobbing wouldn't wake up my husband. I was uncomfortable, kept telling myself to go to bed, but I couldn't.

4. The fifth Black Dagger Brotherhood book - the cop's story. I was speaking at a conference, my first time away from my second child. I'd just stopped breastfeeding and I felt so free. Picked up this book at the airport, didn't read it until I got to the hotel room that I had all by myself and read it all the way through. Delicious.

All right -what are yours?


Anonymous said...

Now this is an interesting twist on favorite reads - favorite reading experiences.

Lately, I've been rereading books I read in the 80s - lounging around the pool in my San Francisco Bay Area condo - guess the experience was so good, I had to revisit it. The books were "Oriental Hotel" - one of my all-time favorites - and the Wagons West series that's being rereleased now (the omniscient POV kinda bugs me now, though.)

One of my favorite things to do ever is to stop in the airport gift shop and buy a book to read on the trip - somehow the book has to be bought in that gift shop - not before in anticipation. I also love hotel gift shops. :)

Eileen said...

Perfect books read at the perfect time? Let's see . . .

Sylvia Plath's The Bell Jar when I was 16 . . . actually I probably shouldn't have been allowed to read it. It gave me permission to be way more dramatic and moody that I ever should have been.

Kathleen Woodiwiss' Ashes in the Wind when I was in my early 20s. Opened my eyes to how fantastic romance can really be.

Gabrielle Burton's Heartbreak Hotel and Margaret Atwood's Lady Oracle when I was in my mid-20s. Both gave me the courage to start investigating who I really was and what I really wanted to be, something I'm still doing today.

Tim O'Brien's In the Lake of the Woods at the beginning of the Iraq war. Completely and absolutely heartbreaking. I cried for days.

I know there's more, but that's what I can come up with off the top of my head.

P.S. So glad you're loving the Martin books! I think he's amazing. Also glad you were as moved by Time Traveler's Wife as I was. I still cry if I try to talk about it.

Simone St. James said...

I'm not sure about the reprints, but my old edition of the George RR Martin books features a quote from Anne McCaffery: "I read my eyes out." And you really, really do. I think never has a cover quote been so perfectly apt.

The last time he was in TO I got a precious autograph, for Clash of Kings. (For the record, his autograph says "Keep your sword sharp.")

As for other books - I remember finishing Flowers from the Storm the first time, flipping back to page 1, and starting it all over again. The only time I've done that, ever.

The first time I read the Sherlock Holmes stories, I was on a beach on vacation. I'd read one of those wonderful stories, get up and get a drink or take a dip, then settle back down and read another, all the way to the end. It was heaven!

Sinead M said...

I own my nerddom.... it's given me some of the best entertainment in my life, and so looking forward to reading this thrones series...

best reading experiences, the Zadist book, The poisonwood bible and those first few books of the Anita Blake series. I was so into them, I'd spend my work lunch hour hunched over so lost in what was happening on the page that everything else around me ceased to exist.

out of the wordwork said...

OMG, Molly. I'm so with you on this George R.R. Martin series. I need to do other stuff and I CAN'T PUT IT DOWN!! I will have to email you when I'm done the third book so I can talk about it with someone! Jaime! I can't believe I'm LIKING this guy!

As for reading experiences?
The THORN BIRDS when I was 15. Epic family saga. Bought it to read just before I left on my first trip away alone and finished it before I stepped foot on the plane.

With you on THE TIME TRAVELLER's WIFE. Read it at the cottage and have never sobbed so hard.

Sue said...

Molly, right there with you on the Deborah Smith books. Loved Blue Willow.

Poisonwood Bible is the only book I ever read that I re-started the moment I finished it. I was absolutely enthralled from the first page.

Reading Gone with the Wind when I was 14 and travelling to PEI with my family saved me. I got so caught up in the story, I was able to ignore all the bickering. Gotta love that.
Sue D

Patrice Kavanaugh said...

A friend of mine is addicted to Game of Thrones. I'll have to tell her about the books. Time Traveler's Wife, eh? I could NOT get into that book (though I read it to the very end and agree it got better). Would love to have a chat sometime about it because I have so many unanswered/head scratching questions left. As for me? Gone With the Wind (teenage years.) JD Robb's series (adult years). Nothing in common. Oh, wait. I just realized. Strong, kick-butt (metaphorically and literally) heroines, whom I would probably be intimidated by in real life, but LOVED in print.

Maureen McGowan said...

Patrice, Time Travelers Wife is definitely worth the work. It is a bit mind blowing to work out who knows who in a particular section... But those bits gave me chills. The first time he meets her as a young man, and he's never met her as far as he knows, but she's known him since she was a little girl... Wow.

Maureen McGowan said...

PS. I never put my perfect books on this post...
I read a lot of Robertson Davies and John Irving as a young adult (early 20's) at a time when I was struggling to decide what I believed in, and what I thought about religion and other controversial subjects. Those two authors helped me solidify who I am as an adult. Particularly Cider House Rules and The Deptford trilogy from Davies. Particularly The Manticore, I think. That was my first introduction to Jungian psychology, which I found fascinating. (In another life, I would have studied psychology.)

As far as books that completely absorbed me over the past several years... I'd put Time Traveler's Wife on that list, too. And the first five Black Dagger Brotherhood books. And just about anything by Amanda Eyre Ward, (who I see has a new book out!!!).

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