Wednesday Book Links

A few book-related links for this Wednesday:

I am always fascinated by the topic of what happens when writers write about their family members, either outright, or through characters in novels. A few months ago, author Joyce Maynard wrote an essay that was published in The New York Times'' "Modern Love" column about a time many years ago when she snooped in her daughter's email and learned something very private about something her daughter was going through. Maynard had been racked with guilt ever since about invading her daughter's privacy. Yesterday, her daughter, Audrey Bethel, posted her side of the story at DoubleX in a feature called "Modern Love Revenge". (How cool that this blog has launched a column for people discussed in the Sunday Styles column to have their say?) I thought Bethel's post was really well-written. How mature to think this way: "I tried to keep reminding myself that it was her story, and her emotions to resolve, so that I could make peace with what she wrote, rather than allow myself to view it as a not-so-necessary exposé in which I am the main character." I imagine that it was difficult to be so gracious!

Thanks to Book Club Girl, I discovered this blog: Flashlight Worthy. (Oh, how I remember those nights of crouching in my bedroom reading via flashlight, because it was "past my bedtime". If only I could stay up past my bedtime now.) Flashlight Worthy is full of all kind of cool book lists, like The 10 Best Books of 2009 For Book Clubs and What New Yorkers Read on the Subway and The 7 Best Novels About WASPs. There are so many good lists to peruse.

Finally, thank you Literary License for pointing me to this L.A. Times essay by David Ulin called "The Lost Art of Reading." Ulin talks about how reading is like meditation, and that with all of our competing activities these days – television, email, the internet – it's hard to settle down to read.  Ulin writes, "What I'm struggling with is the encroachment of the buzz, the sense that there is something out there that merits my attention, when in fact it's mostly just a series of disconnected riffs and fragments that add up to the anxiety of the age." I really relate to this. There are so many things that take me away from reading these days – work, book blogs (!), social networking, that I am reading less and less. It does take a concerted effort to shut out the clutter and focus on escaping into a book.

How do you stay focused on reading when there are so many other things demanding your attention?


  • October 28, 2009 - 4:21 pm | Permalink

    I just read the Bethel post on DoubleX today. I then had to go back and read her mother’s essay. I agree. . .it was very cool to get Audrey’s perspective on her mother’s writing.

  • October 28, 2009 - 4:44 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for the post! I recently discovered Flashlight Worhy as well.

  • October 28, 2009 - 11:28 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for the Joyce Maynard link. I just read Labor Day and I loved it so I am am interested to see both sides of this coin.

  • October 29, 2009 - 6:49 am | Permalink

    Hi Gayle, Thanks for the great links and article recommendations. As you say, there is so much out there to read, how can we find all the good stuff?
    I think that is part of the “anxiety of the age”: there is so much out there we are afraid of missing something, missing that one important tidbit that will change our lives somehow.
    Re slowing down: with laptops and blackberries, you can even “curl up” in bed with the computer. We have the newspaper delivered, though, and still enjoy relaxing at the end of the day with paper and print in hand.
    I’m bad about reading for pleasure (as opposed to information), but I’ve found that joining a book club can force you to stop and smell the proverbial roses. It’s also a great way to connect with people beyond the daily small talk about things that matter but often get forgotten about in our hectic daily lives (literature, history, writing, etc).

  • Grandma
    October 29, 2009 - 10:58 am | Permalink

    My largest chunk of reading gets done on airplanes–preferably to someplace exotic.

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