Over the last three weeks, after moving, I’ve been busy doing small jobs around the house. Now that most of the tasks I had appointed myself with are ticked off, I’m pretty satisfied. Yet I’m also quite stressed out.
The number one reason for this situation is simple. During this period I read next to nothing. And now, given I’m addicted to books, like a junkie who desperately needs to score, I’m experiencing the usual withdrawal symptoms.
For example, I dream of books. Continuously. At night they appear in my dreams. No more pinups and bombshells for me. No more flying over the clouds–that’s for losers.
No, only books matter to me now. Fat books bursting with pages. Showing me their spines, still untouched, unwrinkled. Books full of stories to read and enjoy. Books alluringly flicking their pages to me, like peacocks. Books that leave me salivating like a Pavlovian dog.
Another symptom of my addiction to books is pretty apparent. These days I read everything I can put my eyes on. Automatically.
Truth be told I’m affected by this sort of illness since I was six. I mean, I read the notice in the lift over and over every time I use it and I’m alone in the car, or with some of those people who like it best when they keep their distance.
I also read every notice whenever I have to use a public bathroom. Those notices telling you how the water is perfectly sanitized and everything squeaky clean. Even if it looks like from the bowl of the toilet could emerge the monster from the lagoon any moment.
Also telephone numbers are pretty common in public bathrooms. Especially those restrooms you find on highways. But for some reason, for me numbers don’t have the same evocative power that words have.
Besides, it isn’t exactly that exhilarating when you call Jane full of steamy expectations and then the voice at the other end of the line bespeaks Karl. No, no fun. Not in the least.
The final and most important symptom my book addiction causes to me is simple.
I begin to think of the books I’ve already read. I relive in my mind the most interesting scenes, the passages that really got under my skin.
As a result I come up with a sort of confused collection of very different works. At time it can be bewildering. But most often than not this patchwork is also profoundly rewarding. Because it’s the way my mind uses to sum up a whole book and squeeze it into a scene.
Luckily for me I’m almost done and so I can start reading again in a new home that is finally just as comfortable as the old one was. Over the next weeks I think I’m going to read Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami. But I haven’t decided yet.
In any case, here is a list of the books that most often come to my mind when I dream of reading but I can’t read as much as I’d like. Just a couple of words of caution. Forget about genre. And about consistency. Having said this, I hope you can find some precious nuggets.
As I’ve already said on many other occasions, in creative writing and literature in general what is ambrosia for a reader can be just an execrable mess for another. De gustibus non est disputandum, there is no disputing about taste.
A very partial list of the books I love most
Lisey’s Story, by Stephen King
Some love it. Some others hate this novel. I fall in the first camp. Just check it out and decide for yourself.
The Green Mile, by Stephen King
No Country for Old Men, by Cormac McCarthy
Hypnotic. Super clear language. Cinematic actions. Distilled fatalism. Too succinct? I know.
From the Corner of His Eye, by Dean Koontz
It’s a book with a quite convoluted plot. But its theme and the way it’s tackled engaged me from start to finish.
The Lord of the Rings, by J.R.R. Tolkien
Everybody knows about this trilogy. And the film adaptation was a damn fine job in my humble opinion. However, a friend of mine told me that for her the books were a bit too slow. I almost threw her into the Orodruin for such an affront.
The Elfstones of Shannara, by Terry Brooks
Some say Terry Brooks copied J.R.R. Tolkien. Maybe. I don’t care. In literature everyone steals from everybody else. And book two of the first trilogy, which is a complete story, is simply great.
Echo Burning, by Lee Child
Maybe Lee Child’s main character doesn’t grow and evolve that much over a single book. But Jack Richard is one of those character you can really come to love. Just let me tell you that I’ve read twenty of his books.
The Mad Ship, by Robin Hobb
The Mad Ship is the second book in the trilogy of the Liveship Traders and you must read the whole thing. But I loved it. In particular the way Robin Hobb treats the main characters. Above all I appreciated the evolution of Malta’s character. And many other aspects.
Animal Farm, by George Orwell
Zombie, by Joyce Carol Oates
If you want to enter the mind of a psychopath you must go and read Zombie by Joyce Carol Oates. It’s as brutal as honest. This book is a perfect complement to Lolita by Nabokov, where style and elegance deliver more or less the same kind of horror.
Perfume: The Story of a Murderer, by Patrick Süskind
If you want to change the way you look at the world. The way you perceive it, go and read this. As readers we all want characters that are larger than life. But sometimes we tend to forget there are many different kind of life.
The best book of them all
That’s our personal book. The book of our life. More often than not it doesn’t get written down on paper. But that is irrelevant. What matters is we know about it and we work hard to make it a good one. Not one everybody loves. But the one we wanted to read.