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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

So Many Books, So Little Time

Yesterday I mentioned I haven’t been discussing belly dance much lately, and that’s supposed to be what this blog is about.  Well, there’s another topic I’ve been neglecting as well, and that’s books. 
Reading is my favorite thing in the world to do, even more than dance.  My favorite place to read is in the hammock in the back yard.  Back when I had a job, it was where I would unwind after work.  It was sheer bliss to lie there swaying gently, hearing the burble of the waterfall, and staring up into the leaves and sky.  (See photo.)  The hammock was also the perfect place for thinking.  Or not thinking—to just look and feel and listen without actually thinking about anything.  This is much harder to do than it sounds--to stop the busy mind and just be. 
I’m appalled that so far this year I've read only 5 or 6 books.  Pitiful.  It’s true that two of those books required more time and concentration than most.  They were books of substance, dense with facts, names, and places.   We're talking serious scholarship.  One was Cleopatra, A Life, by Stacy Schiff, and the other, which I’m still reading, is Apollo’s Angels, A History of Ballet, by Jennifer Homans.  Besides those, I've read a few light novels, mostly thrillers by Lee Childs. 
I’m not a fast reader.  I miss too much when I read fast.  To me, a good book is like a gourmet meal, so I try to savor every bite.  I linger over it, mark passages for future reference, and admire how the author expressed this or structured that.   

View from the hammock

One of my fondest reading memories took place when I was 11 or 12.  It was the calm before the adolescent storm--the summer before I entered the adolescent horror show that we call junior high, or, today, middle school.  I would sit curled up in an overstuffed chair, munching on hot dogs and reading the classic Gothic novels Jane Eyre, Rebecca, and Wuthering Heights.  Jane Eyre was my favorite.  Sitting in that threadbare blue chair, it was just me, Jane and Mr. Rochester. 

If you haven’t seen it, check out the old Jane Eyre movie with Olivia de Havilland and Orson Welles.  There’s a new version out that I haven’t seen yet, but can it be as good as the original?  Let me know!
Where is your favorite place to read?  What were some of your favorite books as a kid?

1 comment:

  1. Reading has always been a passion of mine as well! I love the picture through the branches, Cassie! As a child, my sister and I would spend a couple weeks on Grandpa & Grandma's farm. It was so hot, we would sit in some pine trees along the gravel road (not even remotely like the scene in Sound of Music). I have very vivid memories of the warm breeze, evergreen fragrance and the swaying, comfortable branches on those hot afternoons, while my sister read Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn (not my favorites, but what wonderful memories)! I loved Carolyn Keene's Nancy Drew series, especially as I crunched a sweet, crisp apple after school. Books are usually SO MUCH better than movies. Although as my eyes tire more easily or I'm behind the wheel, I'm beginning to love audiobooks- especially the Harry Potter series, read by Jim Dale, more recently, The Girl Who Played with Fire, of the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series. I can't imagine using one of the electronic devices to read as for me it's the type, feel and smell of the pages... it's a physical package for me. And at the end of a really good book, I feel like a close friend has died. I, too, have gravitated toward biographies lately. I usually have 2 or more going at a time. One of my favorite quotes is by C.S. Lewis- "We read to know we are not alone."