September 2005 Books

Well, I’ve reached a new low, folks, with only five books read this month. I still have two I cannot seem to get through under my bedside table, which are absolutely driving me mad. This is all I got this time. Man. Five. Five!

September 5, 2005
Monkey Food: The Complete I Was 7 in 75 by Ellen Forney

I read this the day I went to Bumbershoot, standing in various lines for various shows and sitting on the grass eating some delicious chicken sambusas. I’d been to a lit reading at which Ellen Forney spoke, and she even signed my copy. I have a big crush on her because she looks great in knee high boots and also because her comics are funny and real and generally awesome, just like I like them. I can’t wait for her next collection (about Led Zeppelin, apparently) to come out. It too will be awesome, I’m sure.

September 8, 2005
Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See

Meh. This must be another one of those books I’m putting on my library hold list after another night of blackout drinking, after which I remember nothing, only to be reminded when the library emails me to tell me I have a new book. This was fine. Footbinding, secret women’s language, arranged marriages, so on and so forth. I don’t know why I was assiduous about reading it but I sped right through it even though I didn’t really understand where the story was going, or even care that much. I’m not really committed to any one book right now but am, instead, sleeping around with two or three at various points. Why I would spend a couple of days with this book is a little unclear, but I guess it was good enough for a bus-and-bed read. The book equivalent of the girlfriend that’s not really your girlfriend but that you’ll hang out with down by the skate park when your friends aren’t watching.

September 21, 2005
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Putting aside for the moment that this seems to have been only the third thing I’ve finished this whole month, which is three-quarters over, which is sort of horrifying, I have to say how much I love this book. I read it every year. I want to be Elizabeth Bennet, and not just because she gets to marry Mr. Darcy, although I’m sure that’s all very nice, up in Pemberley with the ten thousand a year. I always feel sort of high when I finish P&P, like I want to run around the room pumping my fist in the air yelling “It is a truth universally acknowledged that this book rocks SO HARD!” Man. I love it. I love the language, I love the characterization, I love the snarkiness. I love the relationship between Jane and Lizzy, I love how ridiculous Mrs. Bennet is, I love when Charlotte Lucas sets out to meet Mr. Collins accidentally in the lane. I love Lizzy’s beatdown of Lady Catherine in the wilderness, and I love how Miss Bingley totally tries to get on Mr. Darcy when they’re at Netherfield. It maybe is sort of cliché’d to say that you feel like you know imaginary characters in a book, but I really do feel like I know everyone at Longbourn. I roll my eyes at Mrs. Bennet when she fixes it so her family’s carriage is the last to arrive at the Netherfiled ball because that is just like her. I shake my head every time Mr. Collins writes a letter, because, damn, dude, just shut up...and I still can’t believe Charlotte marries him! What is she thinking? Jane Austen, quite simply, is a genius, and I wish I had one itty tiny bit of her observational and descriptive gifts. She doesn’t talk down to you, she assumes that you know how important the little things in life are; she shows you, without being self-important and without preaching, that the little things…who said what to whom when, who looked at whom a certain way while they were dancing together, who said something that led someone to believe something else…are really the big things, that our lives are made of relationships and that those relationships are the most important things, are the only things in the world. All in a book about a big family living in a small town almost three hundred years ago. The only thing I don’t like about P&P is that it ends; I want to continue living in that world forever and am always so disappointed to come back to my own.

September 26, 2005
Attending Children: A Doctor’s Education by Margaret E. Mohrmann

This was literally sitting on the couch in the TV room and I just sort of picked it up. It’s cool because it looks at the “attending” aspects of being a doctor, where attending can mean, “to listen or pay attention to,” “to wait upon (as a servant), be present or accompany,” or “to wait for or expect.” She talks a lot about what her patients have taught her over the years and how she got out of hospital work and primary care and into religion and ethical studies. It was a fast read and quite thought-provoking but since my head is currently stuffed with a hellish combination of cotton balls and mucus, I can’t really remember what thoughts, indeed, were provoked.

September 29, 2005
The Birthday of the World and Other Stories by Ursula K. LeGuin

I was sick and wanted comfort reading, so this is a re-read for me, a many many times re-read for me. I cannot stress how much I love this collection of stories. I have bought this book twice because I lent it out once and never got it back and couldn’t handle not having it near me. These stories are about love and death and sex and war and peace and sadness and happiness and confusion and connection and loneliness and despair and joy and loss and thought and perspective and understanding and fear and fearlessness. Mostly they are about learning how to be a person, a human being, and all the different ways there are to do that, all the different contexts and circumstances in which we do that. The last story, particularly, is very dear to me and I still remember the first time I saw it, never wanting it to end, being sorry that I couldn’t live in the world of the story, into which I had fallen head-first and utterly. Maybe I will read it again tonight.

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