A book honeymoon for a tired girl

by Beacon Staff • April 28, 2011

I am finished with my honor’s thesis. And soon, my BFA thesis will be bound and completed, too. The books in my backpack are long overdue, and I’m sorry to say that I’m not in the mood for reading. 

My brain is tired. I haven’t slept for eight hours straight in months. I cheat on my literature by watching bad television and I feel guilty.

Books and I need some relationship counseling. Here’s what needs to be said: Books, you haven’t been treating me well lately. The academic ones I have aren’t exactly easy on the eyes, and I haven’t swooned over a phrase in a while. Most of what I’ve read recently has been assigned, and I’m not always happy with the arrangement. I’ve worked so much lately that I think we need some time apart.

But then I remember. That first time I fell heels over head for Revolutionary Road. I listened to that book on my iPod a couple summers ago.- I would make excuses to take any of my dogs for a walk so I could listen to that book.

It just made me weak in the knees. I remember the weather that summer in Colorado was wickedly hot and everything smelled like sunscreen to me. I would sew paper envelopes on my back porch with April’s voice in my ears, imagining the perfect green lawns of Revolutionary Hill Estates.

I want to feel that again. What I think I need is a book honeymoon, a time to remember why I fell in love in the first place. I want to approach books with the same wonder and awe as I did when I was little. I want a porch, a cold drink, and bare feet. And there are plenty of suitable fish in the sea.

I haven’t read much Tolstoy. Or David Foster Wallace. I’ve been meaning to pick up anything by Saul Bellow for ages. I’ve been told I’d like Blood Meridian. And I really should revisit Lolita. Honestly, it’s all a bit overwhelming

As a WLP student I’m supposedly trained to look for the “how” of the book — how characters are created, how they bump into each other and cause trouble, how it gets resolved and complicated, how the slow progression is made so naturally it seems effortless.

But as a book reader, I don’t want to know. I don’t want to know how any of it is done; I don’t want to know what Yates did or what kind of pen he used. Often it’s best to forget all of these lessons and read as you want, letting what you’ve learned naturally settle into your own style.

I was told in a poetry class once that kids are lucky in that no one has taught them what they can and can’t do in poetry — there is no personal barrier, no embarrassment; it’s an unadulterated mind-to-paper transference. It makes for wonderful poetry, and every now and then an older, schooled poet will have moments like they did when they were five, clear visions of that small, perfect line.

Well, I suppose I need a little of that right now. I want to forget a lot of what I’ve been taught for a bit. I don’t want to connect this book to the overarching historical themes of any era. I don’t want to do a pastiche of anything. And I don’t mind if that last chapter seemed a bit clunky. I just want to stare like a kindergartner at all the pretty pictures.