Sunday, December 14, 2008


New experience: I just read a book where I put off reading the final ten pages for more than 24 hours because I just dreaded how it would end. And I didn’t want it to end that way. But it had to end that way. Sometimes I get the feeling that I’m not the intended audience for the books I read. They’re being written for someone else—someone much younger and more flexible than I am. Someone not as easily disappointed.

The book I was reading was Ann Patchett’s Bel Canto. Prepare to be inspired and thrilled and enlightened--and utterly, completely bummed out in the ending, because that’s the way it had to end. The book is loosely and fictionally based on the 1996 Japanese Embassy hostage crisis in Lima, Peru.

Sometimes there are books that make me think contrary my normal values and beliefs. Secret History by Donna Tartt made me understand the need to murder someone (yes, Bunny must die!!). Lamb: The Gospel According to Bif, Christ’s Childhood Friend by Christopher Moore made me think that maybe one of the three wisemen actually was a Buddhist. And Bel Canto made me really, deeply sorry to see the bad guys lose. I’m getting too old to read books like this.

I recently expressed to Tom that all the books I was reading lately were kind of bizarre or depressing. So in thoughtful Tom fashion, he brought me a suggested reading list from a newsletter of the Sisters of the Sacred Heart Convent in Fargo, North Dakota, in which Presentation nuns had all written down a list of their favorite books. After all, if they're good enough for the Presentation nuns, he figured I might benefit from them, too.

Here’s the new list of books the good sisters recommend: A Monk in the Inner City, The Hard Work of Hope, The Power of Now, They Come Back Singing, and Things Hidden: Scripture as Spirituality. Just by their titles, I know these are books that will inspire and lift me to become a better human being. Heaven knows I need all the help I can get.

And unlike Geek Love, the book I read before Bel Canto, these books will not contain even one aqua boy with fins instead of arms and legs who is the father of the albino dwarf’s illegitimate baby, Miranda—who coincidentally was born with a small tail protruding from the end of her spine, although Miranda was a very talented medical artist. (I am not exaggerating. This really is the plot of the book Geek Love.)
For whatever reason, some of the books I’ve been reading lately are making me feel a little weary—like I’m not the intended audience. Maybe Tom's right and I’ll benefit more from the good sisters' suggested reading list.

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