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The Need to Read

June 25, 2011

A couple of years go, when I realized that I was reading a lot less books since I got internet, I decided to set myself a reading goal: at least eleven books every season. Eleven because it’s my favourite number, and every season because I have a long tradition of celebrating the solstices and eqinoxes and they’re also more practical than months or years – months are too short, there are some when I just plain don’t have time to read, and years are too long – I’d just try to reach my goal early and then spend all my time at the computer again, ignoring my books.

This summer is my eleventh season with this reading goal, and I can only hope it’ll go better than the tenth. Realizing that this spring was the tenth just reinforced my dislike of round numbers – never before have I struggled so much to reach my goal.

It was late May when I realized I’d hardly read anything in weeks – just no time to do it at home, and during train rides and lunch breaks, I was scribbling story-bits into my notebooks. Late May, a month till the solstice, and only one book read! Oops!

This meant it was time for a lot of rereads, for a lot of Young Adult books, for a lot of quick-and-easy reads.

‘City of Golden Shadow’, the first book of Tad Williams’ ‘Otherland’ series, was the one book I’d finished earlier in spring, in mid-April. I don’t know how often I’ve read that one… I don’t even like it much, but if I’m going to reread the whole series, I have to read that one, too. Getting pretty fed up with it, though… it’s not a bad book, certainly not, but ‘Otherland’ is definitely not my favourite among Tad’s books, and also it has a character in it who really, really gets on my nerves.

So I started a new book after that, Anne McCaffrey’s ‘The White Dragon’. I had a hard time getting into it, but I think I’d have had a hard time getting into any book at that time, with all the work, work, work of May. Feeling kind of ‘meh’ about it. Just as with the rest of the Pern books I’ve read (which are only two, since they’re hard to find in bookshops here.)

I reread one of those two next, ‘Dragonsong’ (‘Drachenlied, in German). Quick and easy, which was good, but just as ‘meh’.

Seems I was on a roll there, because I picked up another McCaffrey book, ‘Acorna’. Technically, also a reread, but I didn’t really remember anything since the only time I’d read it was when I was about thirteen. This one is just plain ridiculous, just as ridiculous as the stories my best friend (who lent me the book then) and I used to write at that age.

Next was ‘Pirates’ by Celia Rees. Another reread, and I like this one. Kiddie book, OK, but I still like it for having pirates without being ridiculous.

Back to German books for a while, Wie Spucke im Sand’ (‘Like Spit in the Sand’) by Klaus Kordon is a book that even my evil secondary school teacher could not ruin for me. It was one of the books she made us read, I guess the life of a girl in India is very educative… it’s also sometimes depressing, but ends happily enough to make me want to own it and to read it again sometimes

Feeling the need for something less depressing, I choseDie Stadt der wilden Götter’ (‘City of the Beasts’) by Isabel Allende. Another book that brings memories of school, but happy ones this time. I completely messed up my book presentation in German class my second year of grammar school, because I just couldn’t think of anything to say about the book my teacher had assigned me (I think I actually pretended I’d forgotten my notes to cover up the fact that I simply had nothing to say), and got to/had to do another one. I chose ‘City of the Beasts’, which was perhaps a little childish for a class of sixteen-year-olds, but I had fun with it, and got a good grade.

Even though I think ‘Acorna’ is ridiculous, I hate not finishing a series I’ve started, so I read ‘Acorna’s Quest’ as well. Just as ridiculous. All that landing on planets without worrying about germs and such… At least it was a new book to me.

Back to German and back to rereads then, as I had to hurry to make my deadline.

Julie von den Wölfen’ (‘Julie of the Wolves’) by Jean Craighead George is one of a little collection of books about wolves… I was rather obsessed with them as a teenager (still my favourite animals, but at least now I read books about other subjects as well). Looking back now, ‘Julie of the Wolves’ is still a good book, though it makes me grin to think about how easy everything appears when you’re thirteen – I’m pretty sure that at thirteen, I would also have believed I could just walk across Alaska and get on a ship to San Francisco… I certainly wouldn’t have been able to survive that journey, though, or get adopted by a pack of wolves!

After that, I needed something a little more lighthearted again, so I picked Im Reich des Goldenen Drachen’ (‘Kingdom of the Golden Dragon’) by Isabel Allende. I know the first couple of times I read it I liked it better than ‘City of the Beasts’, but now I’m not so impressed any more. Tensing just doesn’t make me laugh so much any more.

And finally, the last book. I was getting fed up with all those rereads, so I had to read something I hadn’t read in a long, long time. Something that was also short enough to finish in a day. I chose Schwester des Meeres’ (‘My Sister Sif’)  by Ruth Park. It’s a book I loved as a kid, but I’ve always found it so depressing that I didn’t really want to read it again. And I still find it depressing… for some reason, the theme of environmental destruction hits me much more than personal tragedy. It’s a little embarrassing, but I was actually in tears by the end… not so much tears of sadness, though, as tears of anger and frustration – that book is older than me, and has anything changed? We still go on destroying things we can’t repair again, messing with things we can’t control… what hit me hardest, what’s always hit me hardest is the last sentence, something like, ‘it’s getting better… it’s in the air’ – because I so wish I could believe it, and I can’t!

But, depressing or not, I’d made my deadline, only just, finishing the eleventh book on the very last day before the solstice. Never had such a hard time before!


I really need something happy and unrealistic now, but I haven’t got anything that fits that description, at least nothing that I haven’t read half a dozen times. And if I reread another book, I think I’ll have a fit. I keep picking up books, ‘Winnetou’ by Karl May, which is wonderfully ridiculous, but so long-winded, ‘The Hobbit’ by J.R.R. Tolkien, which has songs I love, but such a … condescending tone in the prose text that it makes me want to scream… and I just can’t find anything in my library that I want to read… went to two bookshops on Friday, but neither has a decent Fantasy section, and I had no time to go to any other shops on Saturday because I was at a workshop, and shops are closed on Sundays, and then it’ll be Monday again, and I still won’t have a book I can read without wanting to throw it out the train window! And online shopping means waiting, waiting, waiting – I need something to read!

4 Comments leave one →
  1. June 26, 2011 04:23

    I need to read more 😦 I’m getting so out of touch!


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