Our topic last week was your most insert adjective here purchase ever. I have not read any of the posts and I really don’t know that there is one stand-out purchase for any adjective I can think of.
I think I know.
My most un-woke purchase ever
On January 30, 2020 I bought the Kindle addition of American Dirt. I’d read many articles, tweets and blog posts explaining why I should not buy the book, but I bought it anyway.
I did it because it was recommended by Stephen King. I didn’t do it because Oprah chose it for her book club. I did it so I could talk about something that I’d actually read and not just read about.
I started reading it. I thought it was well-written, at least what I read. I stopped for a few reasons: to concentrate on books I needed to read for this reason or that, I didn’t like part of the storyline, I felt guilty for buying it in the first place.
I still plan on finishing it but it needs to wait in line for a few other books I want to finish.
Seven months shy of twenty years ago* I complained to some friends that my kids were reading books that I thought were too young for them. One friend suggested I buy a book, the first in a series, place it in a prominent location, and tell Clare and Andrew they should not read it because it was too advanced for them. He went on to explain that the book seems to be written at a grade school level, but is full of higher vocabulary (with embedded definitions by the author/narrator).
Shortly thereafter I bought The Bad Beginning by Lemony Snicket and placed it on the living room coffee table. When one of the kids asked about the book, I did as George instructed and told them that I bought it for myself and that I thought they were too young to understand it.
Of course I read the book first, and found it delightfully unusual. The kids, one at a time, stealthily picked up the book and read it too. I continued buying the books as they were published until we had a full set (plus an extra The Hostile Hospital for some reason).
I grew tired of the books after a while, they are very formulaic, but intentionally so. I’d read one, then not read another for a while — and eventually stopped after reading The Carnivorous Carnival.
When Netflix announced it was producing a television series based on A Series of Unfortunate Events I was interested, but when I learned that Neil Patrick Harris was playing Count Olaf, I knew I had to watch it, but I wanted to make sure I’d read books before it aired. I didn’t manage to finish them before the series aired, but did manage to finish each book before I watched the Netflix episodes that featured the events in the books. I started reading them again through our library’s ebooks (our hard copies disappeared with one of the kids once they left for college or life after college — although they both deny taking them). I finished The End at 5:00 this morning, having pretty much stayed up all night to do so.
Then after a few hours’ sleep I watched the last episode in the Netflix series.
It’s taken me nearly twenty years to finish a set of 13 books written for children. The mystery has been solved for me (who is Beatrice?), although I am still confused. I am sure the internet will explain it to me though.
*I might be misremembering this since the books would only have been published the month before the gathering in which I thought this conversation took place, so maybe it was more like eighteen years ago…
I’ve recently finished three more books: A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin, Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty, and Bruno, Chief of Police: A Mystery of the French Countryside by Martin Walker.
A Wizard of Earthsea just wasn’t my cup of tea. I would have probably liked it more as a teenager. There were parts I liked, but I guess I am over fantasy books. Which is sad.
Now, Nine Perfect Strangers, on the other hand, was my cup of tea. That Moriarty woman just doesn’t write books fast enough for me to devour them. This one was not quite as good as some of her others (Big Little Lies, for instance), but fun to read. That’s okay right? If I read for pleasure?
Bruno, Chief of Police: A Mystery of the French Countryside is a book that I would have gladly never have heard about. I didn’t like it when I read part of it for book group, but liked it somewhat more when I picked it up again as an audio book. Then I got tired of it once more and it was almost painful to listen to it after a while — not that the narrator was bad — he was pretty good, but I had no interest in the story — especially after Bruno and the other detective hooked up. I finished up reading the book last night and I will never revisit Bruno’s countryside again. What a waste of time.