Reading is pretty much my life. I read history books, I read historical documents, I read the news, I read some blogs, I read more history books. It used to be that I read good books for fun, but since I've begun graduate school, I've suddenly found myself in that category of people for whom reading for fun just takes too much effort. A small disclaimer: I do read romance novels to escape it all. But there's no real effort involved in that. I mean, seriously. even when the would-be lovers are stubbornly angry at each other, or one is held at gunpoint, it's kind of a no-brainer. Clearly, some third party will help mysteriously resolve the conflict, or the hero will take a bullet for the heroine, and thank god it always lodges in soft tissue only. Point is, from page one to page 354, you always know how it's going to end, more or less. The fun part is how they get there. Minimal emotional or intellectual investment required. Anyway, I'm sick of it. I want to read good books again.
I used to LOVE book stores. Still do, actually. I guess what I mean, is, I used to walk into the fiction section and, almost instinctively be able to find good books. No longer. A few weeks ago after I emerged from my post-comprehensive exams coma, I went to the book store, walked into the fiction section, and stood there looking blankly around. I had no idea where to even start. WHYYYYYYYYYYYYY????? Why have I let myself get to this state? Totally stupid of me, because there are few things better than a really good book. You know the kind, where you slow down as you get to the end, lovingly holding on to each word in an effort to prolong the experience. And when you finally get to the last page, and finish reading the last sentence, you just sit there with the book open on your lap for a little while, wishing you could start over and read it again for the first time.
Well, I finally found a good one, thanks to my darling sister Umulu, who has been after me to read The Sunne In Splendour by Sharon Kay Penman for years. I remember when Umulu first read this book, over New Years Eve weekend in 2001. She was so hooked that when it came time to go out for the New Year celebration she totally just stayed in to read that book. I finally read it last week, and it was indeed a ripping good story. I highly recommend it. Now I'm reading One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez. I've got to confess, it hasn't yet grabbed me by the short and curlies and refused to let me get up off the couch, but it's still pretty damn amazing. But what will I do when I run out of Márquez? I need more good books to read on my month of vacation before I head off to Central America!
So here's what I'm going to do. I'm going to give you all a list of some of my favorite books of all time, and I'd like you to leave suggestions in the comments for books you think I'd love. Deal?
OK, in no particular order, here are some of my favorite books of all time.
The Poisonwood Bible, by Barbara Kingsolver
The Bean Trees, by Barbara Kingsolver. Also, anything else she's ever written.
Corelli's Mandolin, by Louis DeBernieres
Cold Sassy Tree, by Olive Ann Burns
An Instance of the Fingerpost, by Iain Pears
Mama Day, by Gloria Naylor
A trilogy by Louis DeBernieres, titled as follows:
The War of Don Emanuel's Netherparts
Señor Vivo and the Coca Lord
The Troublesome Offspring of Cardinal Guzman
The Bluest Eye, by Toni Morrison
Raney, by Clyde Edgerton
The Power of One, by Bryce Courtenay
The Interpreter of Maladies, by Jhumpa Lahiri
The In-Between World of Vikram Lall, by M.G. Vassanji
I'm sure more will pop into my head as I continue mulling over my greatest hits list, so I'll come back and update this in a day or two. Anyway, hope some of you check out at least a few of these books, because they are simply stunning. Now give me suggestions, please! Can't wait to start reading...
I'm off to No-Internet-Landia (aka The Beach) for the weekend, so I'll post again on Monday. Love to you all!