Feb 192008
 

Sunday night, I had this strong desire to read a book. This presented an unfortunate situation, because I didn’t have any unread books here to choose from. The used stores were closed by then, and I didn’t feel like going to some gigantic book Babylon like Borders or Barnes and Noble because I wanted to get in and out and the choices there are entirely too overwhelming.

So I sucked it up and went to Wal-Mart. I know, I know. I hate Wal-Mart. It’s dirty there and bleak and makes me feel like I’m stuck in a state-run institution and I want out out out. But I figured the limited selection would enable me to grab something quickly and bolt.Convenience – that’s how they get you.

Since Henry was with me, we had to stagger down the completely boring computer aisle and then we had to look at lamps and then Chooch saw a large display for Cars magnets so I had to toss Lightning McQueen, Mater and Sally into the cart. You can imagine how disgusted I was since we were supposed to be there for me, to have my needs met. I could have gone off to peruse the books while Henry browsed what’s probably considered fine merchandise by people of his own social tier, but anytime I stray from him, he inaccurately gauges the amount of time I need before meeting up with me, and so I finish up in my aisle while he’s still off looking at butt paste and American flags. Then I go off in a panic-stricken search for him and my palms sweat and I whimper and I wind up tangled in racks of scarves and headbands and Looney Toons-emblazoned oversized sweatshirts and it’s just never a good scene.

Henry was having a troublesome time pushing the cart. "It must be one of the exercise carts," he grunted as he gave it another sharp shove.

"They have those?" I exclaimed.

"Um, no. It was a joke. Re-re." Here I thought Wal-Mart might be getting fun.

Henry stalled the cart in front of a row of magazines and I wandered off to the whole four columns of books. I peeked around the corner, expecting the row of books to continue on the other side, but instead came nose-to-nose with a blinding green St. Patrick’s Day headdress.

I skipped over the romance section and kids section and self-help section and Oprah section and was essentially down to one rack boasting a meager selection of current fiction. Now, aside from Harry Potter, I really haven’t had the chance to read in a very long while. I think the last new book I read was The DaVinci Code, and that was when it very first came out, before all the hype. So that was a long time ago.I used to read all the time when I worked at the meat place, but they were mainly James Patterson and Patricia Cornwell-type thrillers, nothing that really stuck with me so I don’t count those.

I tentatively tucked two books under my arm and held another in my hand, debating which to get. Some of the books I had actually heard of but wasn’t sure if I’d like them based on the cover art, because I’m shallow and I judge books by covers, evidently.

Just as I was about to put two books back and grab The Memory Keeper’s Daughter, a middle-aged woman with black hair and thick-framed glasses shoved her way next to me. Her body touched mine at one point, that’s how close she was standing. I withdrew, but then she spoke.

"This is a great book," she said as her arm jutted out and her finger jabbed the cover of Best Friends. The suddenness of her movement set me off balance and I took a step to the side. "I read it, then read it again immediately. It was great, couldn’t put it down." She slapped it into my hand, which was limply sticking out in front of me.

"Oh," I said with buzzing nerves. "Thanks." I’m always confused when strangers spontaneously speak to me.I learned all about people like her when I was in pre-school. She’s the kind of person who sticks razors in apples and drives rusted vans with tinted windows and has a doll collection that inhabits an entire bedroom in her old dilapidated farmhouse  and their eyes follow you around the room during the day and at night they come alive and fuck you with their porcelain hands. 

"This is great, too," she said. Her voice was full of self-assurance and confidence, as though she was recommending books to her sister or baby’s mama. She continued poking at books on the shelf, telling me what she thought of them, like we were having our own private book club meeting, while I casually skimmed the back of the first book she dumped into my arms. I’m thinking that if I wanted these kinds of suggestions, I’d just ask Eleanore for some good reads. Or Tina, though she strikes me as the type that enjoys Tim O’Brien war novels.

"Let me see what you got there," and I fearfully held out one of my original picks. "Oh, I haven’t read any of his books, but I hear he’s wonderful," she said of Nicholas Sparks. Then she titled her head back and pulled down A Thousand Splendid Suns.

"Have you read this?" I shook my head to the side. "All of my friends loved it. Me? Couldn’t get into it." She slammed it down and bent at the waist to look at the next row. I took that as my cue to leave. And I did, hurriedly, just turned and ran before she could talk again. And I was sure she wasn’t through talking to me. What was the protocol? Should I have said goodbye? Thanks? I didn’t really fucking care; I just wanted to go home before she made our bodies touch again.

At the self-checkout, I decided that the book she handed me looked really gay, so a Wal-Mart employee had to come over and help me since I already rang it up. Then I got home and realized that Nicholas Sparks is that asshole who writes all those sappy love stories like The Notebook. The one I bought is Dear John and I’m nearly done with it and it hasn’t done a damn thing for me. It reminds me of the stupid books my aunt Sharon used to read on the plane every time we’d vacation  together. She’d sit there and cry dramatically and clutch my arm and read passages out loud and I’d tell her to shut up and take a nap.

So please tell me what books you like. I really don’t know much about what’s "good" and "essential" these days — I’ve always been more into music. I’ve been having a hard time going to sleep when I come home from work and I’d rather fill that time with books and not TV. (I’m sure the fact that I chug coffee up until 11:30pm has nothing to do with my inability to sleep.) Tell me what to read; I trust you guys. No romance or science fiction, though. I really like horror and memoirs, and anything that’s unforgettable. Whatever that means.

  28 Responses to “I’m Learning to Read”

  1. PLEASE, for me…read Cruddy by Lynda Barry.

    Also, anything by Laurie Notaro.

  2. Yeaaaaaaaah, at the risk of sounding like a class snob, Wal-Mart really not known for its literary customers.

    I’m currently reading (in between scads of Snarry) “Yes Man” by Danny Wallace, about how his life changed when he decided to say yes to everything and anything asked of him. His first book, “Join Me,” was about how he inadvertently started a cult. Good, funny stuff!

  3. The best books I’ve read so far this year are Little Children (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Little_Children_(novel)) and Special Topics in Calamity Physics (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special_topics_in_calamity_physics). Little Children is nice and short, perfect for a beginning reader. =P

    I wouldn’t go book shopping at Wal-mart either, you’re going to end up with a lot of Oprah type romance and crap. I like ordering from Amazon, sometimes those Listmania book lists can be helpful to find something similar to books you already know you like.

    • Thanks Jenn!

      I usually order from Amazon too (I usually buy used) but I needed something right then. It was one of those life or death, “If I don’t get this Right Now I’ll die” moments, lol.

      I also didn’t want to bombarded with too many choices right off the bat. My head is prone to exploding under pressure.

    • “It was one of those life or death, “If I don’t get this Right Now I’ll die” moments, lol.”

      Haha =) I get like that too but my overwhelming need NOT to leave the house usually wins over anything I could possibly get by going *outside*. /shudder

      Wal-mart is definitely the place to go if you don’t want any choices!

  4. For you, I would say to try Preston and Child’s “Still Life With Crows.” It is really just fucking creepy. I still get shivers when I think of the ending.

  5. If you’ve yet to read them, Chuck Palahniuk’s Choke and Invisible Monsters are my two favorite books ever.

    In fact, Kara will be in town this weekend and we should hang out! I could let you borrow one then!

    • I liked Invisible Monsters, but haven’t read Choke!

      Dammit Valerie, I won’t be here this weekend:( I’m going to Columbus! I still want to hang out sometime very soon though. Next time Kara’s in town?

  6. I am currently reading “Twelve Sharp” by Janet Evanovich. In fact that is all I have done all day while at work since I do not have anything to do.

    http://www.evanovich.com/plum_12excerptA.html

    They are about this girl in her late 20’s early 30’s that is a bounty hunter and she is not that great at it. She has two guys that she can not choose between that she is dating and there is always an adventure around the corner.

    A lot of ass kicking, death threats and fires.

    I also loved “Jamie” by Lori Foster.

    http://lorifoster.com/books/excerpts/jamie-exc.htm

    It is about this guy who has many different physic abilities. She leaves this institution where they were doing test on him and lives in the woods so nobody will find him. He does not have many friends… if you call them that. He has a problem with trust even though he knows what is going to happen before it does.

    I hope this helps.

    • I think I read one of Janet Evanovich’s books before. The woman I used to work with would always lend me books and she was really into that genre. I’m pretty sure I enjoyed it, so I’ll check this one out too!

      And “Jamie” sounds really intriguing. Thank you, Sylvia!!

  7. I second the anything by Laurie Notaro….
    Especially The Idiot Girls Guide to Survival (or something like that).
    Her books are light quick reads and funny AS HELL.

    For some reason I always associate devout Nicholas Sparks fans as frequent Wal-Mart shoppers…

    • Why do people like this guy?!?! His dialogue is really lame and the relationship he created for the two main characters is just really unbelievable. I don’t care about them. At all. I keep hoping the girl is going to die, lol.

      I really don’t know author’s names that well, so when I read the inside of the book when I got home, I literally groaned and said, “Oh great — That Guy.”

  8. … the story about this lady really makes me laugh hard. i’m not quite sure why it is so super funny to me… but it is.

    reading about it made me laugh just as hard as when you told me about it.

  9. I would suggest Haunted: Tales of the Grotesque by Joyce Carol Oates. I really think you would like it.

  10. I am still on my Jodi Picoult kick. She writes a lot of lawyer fiction so you get to learn about how the court works.

    But I wonder if you might like “The Bright Forever” by Lee Martin.

    And FUCK THE NOTEBOOK. GOD I HATED THAT MOVIE. And the Shit King for making me watch it.

    • I’ve never read any of her books, but I think I have one or two in my Amazon wishlist. I’ll definitely check her out!

      I saw that movie too and it made me so depressed BUT!! It was because I had just given birth and was all stupidly hormonal. The book by him I just read was really similar except it was set in present day but it still had the whole opposites attract bullshit story line. I hate it when I don’t feel drawn to a character. I didn’t care about the couple in this book at all.

  11. I’m working on a list for you! I’ll email it soon.
    xx

  12. I get books by the dozens from Freecycle or at garage sales, because reading – anything – is my escape. I read everything but those stupid romance novels. I especially like fantasy and crime/mystery books.

    However, I’m reading one now that you might like. It was on Oprah’s book club but do not let that deter you. It’s called “Fall on Your Knees” by Ann-Marie McDonald and it’s pretty weird. I am about a third of the way through the book and several things have happened that I had not expected and something I had waited for to happen never happened, due to some twists. The book is about a family history at the turn of the 20th century.

    I’ll go through the piles and piles of books I have in my closet and see what else you might be interested in.

    • That sounds really interesting! I’ll look it up.

      I really like crime/mysery/thriller type books too, but that was seriously ALL I was reading for like five years. I really liked Patricia Cornwell and Harlan Coben is fantastic — have you read any of his? Henry would never read (is that surprising?) until I couldn’t stop talking about Harlan Coben and he finally read one. Then he read them all. It was a Very Big Deal for me that I got Henry to read!

      OH and because of you, I bought Tom Robbins’ “Another Roadside Attraction” the other day. It hasn’t arrived yet but I’m anxious to read it!

  13. I have not read any Harlan Coben but will surely look out for them once garage sales start again! I hope you’re not disappointed by Robbins. He just brings people and stories to life just like you do, and he’s funny, too.

    Terry Pratchett is another one of my favorites, Terry Brooks and Piers Anthony are two others, they write mostly fantasy, but Piers Anthony has branched out.

    Another murder/mystery person I’ve been getting into is Cynthia Harrod-Eagles; she is British. She actually writes many different genres (historical fiction/fact) but her “Slider Series” is very interesting. Murder/crime mysteries.

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