I'm pretty sure I'm one of the very worst people in the world for forgetting a book after I've read it. I love that this allows me to read my favorite books over and over, and still be wondering what's going to happen in the end. Okay, I'm not that bad, but I definitely forget enough of them that it's very easy and enjoyable to reread.
A while ago I started rereading Poland by James Michener. I think I read it once before we came to Poland and once after we got here. So this would be my third time. It gives a great history and a real feel for what the Polish people have been through over the centuries. I don't particularly love his style of writing, as it's quite plain, but he's really great at the difficult task of representing so much history, and so many wars and not overloading too much, but making you care while teaching you something.
Reading it this time has been a lot less enjoyable than my previous readings. I only read a little here and there and every time I come back to it I feel like "okay, so which character is this? Wait a minute which castle are they rebuilding?--Ugh*. Can't remember. I'll look back into it and read more tomorrow." But the next day, I still don't feel like getting back into it. His language doesn't draw me in, so once I've lost a bit of the story, I just want to drop the whole thing. Which is what I finally did today. I realized that I just want to sit down and enjoy a book. So I pulled out one of my very favorites: Villette by Charlotte Brontë.
I got comfortable and started in. It took about 3-5 seconds for me to remember how much I love reading. For me it's like a good book gives me something, in nearly every sentence. It so happens that I enjoy the story in this book, too, but there are some authors that just make me want to read and read because of their style of writing. They could be writing about anything (almost) or nothing (like the wonderful Jerome K. Jerome--pointless anecdote after pointless anecdote) and I just want to read and read and drink in those words, sentences, paragraphs and chapters. They just make me feel like I've occupied my brain such a worthy and pleasurable way. I feel as I do after I've eaten an extraordinarily healthy dinner that tasted delicious. Perfectly satisfied in all ways.
Of course there are all sorts of other books that can make me want to read and read, but those would be the ones where I'm mostly interested in the story (and I don't read them often). Almost anything that was written after 1920 falls under this category. I know it's terribly shallow of me, but I find it hard to love the writing in a lot of newer novels. I don't believe I know what good writing even is these days. If a book is written in modern English, I often find myself just reading it for the story, and if it's a good story, I may feel like I ate a big brownie for dinner. Yum, that was good, but neither filling nor satisfying.
I suppose this is what comes of being stuck with Penguin Popular Classics (so cheap!) almost exclusively for 8 years. They're not all romantic novels, there's adventure, comedy, plays, suspense/detective, Gothic horror etc., but they are nearly all written in the Victorian period-or earlier (and therefore written in a lovelier English to my ears--or eyes) .
I would love to be in a book group and be forced to read all sorts of different books and then get to talk to a bunch of smart people who can help me see the brilliance of them. I wish I could enjoy reading non-fiction (apart from Dr. Spock and pregnancy related books). I wish I had free access to books outside my genre of choice in the form of a library that stocks more than 15 books in English located closer than two hours away. I wish I didn't feel so stuck like this and my mind could be opened a little.
Mostly, though, I want to settle back in and read some more Villette. I can't wait to find out what's going to happen to Lucy (again)!
*Note the spelling. See how progressive I am?