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When I Was a Child, I Read Books

2012 July 10

Hello! Remember me? I’m that chick who used to write cool posts about literary style and books and stuff. Not so much anymore.

I stopped because it was a particularly busy week, both socially and professionally. And then I got caught in the busy trap–convincing myself that I was too busy, there wasn’t enough time to update the blog. Once I stopped updating, I just couldn’t start again, even though I wanted to. It’s a classic form of procrastination, and I don’t have any excuse or reason for it. I’m just going to try and dive right back in to the posting. Excuse the interruption. Please forgive me. Etc.

For book club this month, we decided to do something a little different–instead of one person offering up 3 choices, we each offered one choice, then voted. Catch was, we couldn’t choose our own book. Pretty sneaky. Anyway, the book I chose to offer was Marilynne Robinson’s When I Was A Child I Read Books. And the rest of the book club picked it. And I am finally working my way through it (we’re meeting tomorrow) and…I’m a little sorry I chose it.

Let me explain–I loved Robinson’s fiction. Housekeeping is one of my favorite books. Given the title of this new book of essays, I (perhaps foolishly) assumed that it was about reading, and childhood, and love of literature. Now there’s some topics I can really get behind. Instead, the book is a high-minded commentary on politics, religion, and American values. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing–it’s just not what I expected, or was hoping for. I think I was hoping for Robinson to spin tales of sitting alone in the schoolyard, reading books in bed at night by the crack of light under the door to the hall, begging her parents to take her to the library for more books–so I would feel validated in this ridiculous attachment, nearly romantic in nature, to books.

Now, don’t get me wrong–Robinson’s writing is still lovely and intelligent, and she makes some interesting points. It’s just not what I wanted. And I’m a little sad about it, though it should spark some interesting discussions at book club.

I guess I’ve been thinking a lot recently about reading, and books, and why they mean so much to me. So much that I’ve pretty much staked my life on them, or at least my living. I realize how ridiculous this is, given the current and ever-shifting shape of the publishing industry, not to mention how poorly it pays. And I’ve thought about turning my back on books–what have they done for me lately? But for whatever silly, nostalgic, romantic reason, I just can’t. Books, I just can’t quit you. I guess I’m here to stay. For whatever that’s worth.


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5 Responses Post a comment
  1. Raquel permalink
    July 10, 2012

    Don’t ever quit them. They need people like us, as much as we need them!

    I have to say, I’m disappointed the book is not about what you thought it was about–I wanted to read it and now I’m sad that it isn’t about book nostalgia. **SIGH**

    • Jill permalink
      July 11, 2012

      That’s a good way of looking at it! And don’t worry–I think it’s safe to say at this point that I’m never quitting books.

  2. Nancy permalink
    July 10, 2012

    This reminds me. I finally re-picked up Kavalier and Clay. I had the unfortunate timing of starting it just before getting into bar studying, so never finished it. I’m excited to get back into it.

    • Jill permalink
      July 11, 2012

      Hooray! I’m glad you’ve picked it back up. Sometimes it’s so tough to do that. Please let me know what you think when you’re done!

  3. July 14, 2012

    omg, you’re too cute! i was dying to read that book for the very same reason- and now you have come out with the awful truth that it’s not even about what we thought it would be about! maybe you should write that book? at least we know now that two people would want to read it!!


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