Reading list

reading list

As of this writing, I’m still pretty bouncy: I’m working, and living a normal life, and walking to work, and eating relatively normally. In a month or two, however, I will be pretty house-bound: the radiation and chemotherapy will make me tired and achy, and there are dozens of other unpleasant side effects which may manifest also.

I will need distraction.

So I am pulling together a stack of books to read as the year darkens and as I become less active.

I pre-ordered Thomas Pynchon’s “Bleeding Edge” from Amazon, and got it a few weeks ago. I’ve read a few pages, but Pynchon’s a difficult read, so he’ll be good for a dark November day.

Also a book of stories called “Sesqua Valley & Other Haunts,” recommended to me by my Internet friend Flora Gardener in Ilwaco, Washington. The author, Wilum Hopfrog Pugmire, is an acquaintance of hers, and the stories are part of H. P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu mythos, so I’m looking forward to them.

Also Rick Riordan’s latest “Heroes of Olympus” installment, “The House of Hades,” which arrived in the mail only the other day. Okay, it’s young-adult, but who cares? Riordan writes very well, and it’s an entertaining story. I had a hard time putting it down after I unwrapped it; I made it through the first twenty pages, just enough to see that it’s good, and sighed, and put it down.

Also a pre-calculus book given to me by my student employee Ralph, who listened to me complaining that my Coursera calculus course was too difficult for me, and realized immediately that what I needed was pre-calculus. When I’m sick of fiction, I can relax with some numbers and formulae.

Also: “The Power of Now,” by Eckhart Tolle. My friend Joanne sent it to me, and I’ve browsed it, and it’s not bad. If it teaches me to live in the moment and relax a bit, then I will have really learned something.

Also it’s probably time (as Flora reminded me a few days ago) to reread E. F. Benson’s “Lucia” books. I first read them in college, and fell desperately in love with them. I haven’t reread them for years. I’m long overdue.

Also: I can listen all the music I’ve collected over the years. And I can finally watch all the pre-Code movies I have on the DVR. And . . .

I’m not saying this will be fun.

But I think I’m looking forward to some downtime, and some serious (and not so serious) reading.

Reading in the bathtub

reading in the bathtub

We never had a shower in the house when I was growing up, but only a bathtub. I know for a fact that my mother never took a shower until the morning of my sister’s funeral in 1995. (She was terrified of it, and I had to talk her through it, from outside the bathroom.)

I take showers most days, because they save time. But on weekends, and during vacations, I take baths.

Baths are lovely and luxurious. You can add salts if you like, but they really only create stains on the porcelain. All you need is hot water – the hotter the better, as hot as you can stand – and a bar of soap.

And a book.

Naturally one reads in the bathtub. I remember Anne Parrish’s comment about her copies of E. F. Benson’s “Lucia” novels being stained by being “dropped into brooks and baths.”

Well, of course we drop them! Our hands are wet as we turn the pages.

This kind of use marks a book. It lets everyone know that it was well-beloved. I have lots of used books, and I can tell you in every case whether or not their previous owners read them lovingly.

Some have marginal notes. Some have greasy spots, probably where crumbs fell while their readers ate. And some have been dunked in water, and then carefully (or not so carefully) dried.

My own books – the books I bought brand-new – reflect this too. Some are pristine. Others are in terrible shape, dog-eared and stained and ragged and broken-spined.

Care to guess which ones are my favorites?

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