© Another Day in the Country
At this time of year, with a cold February wind whipping around the corners of the house, there is nothing quite so satisfying as a good book to read. You don’t mind gloomy weather, lack of money for traveling to some exotic far-off place, or poor conversationalists, if you have a good book.
If your family isn’t funny, read a good book. If you’re bored, read a book. If you can’t afford to fly to Hawaii, read a book. Almost anything you can imagine is right at your fingertips with a good book.
That said, there is nothing more aggravating than to get home from the library — or even worse from the bookstore with your purchase in hand — and discover that the book you chose is a real dud.
Here you are looking forward to an excursion to some far off place or someone else’s barely imagined life, and you find that the person telling the story doesn’t really know how. Disappointment looms disproportionately severe in February on a cold, grey day.
To counteract the bad-book effect, I always check out an armload at the library. According to my calculations, about one in four is a really good book. There may be another ‘okay read’ in the bunch, but there are sure to be a couple of duds.
The only way around finding yourself alone at home with a dud is to either follow my “one out of four” advice, avidly read the reviews, or get recommendations from a friend whose taste in reading material you trust. In my experience book reviews are the safest bet of the three options. When a magazine headline yells, “Ten Books You Should Have Read This Year,” I listen!
Besides offering me all these free books to read, the library I most often frequent these days does something that I really appreciate. They often put out a table full of books on a similar subject.
Their most recent table contained books that were humorous. I chose a book by Tina Fey titled “Bossypants,” and I give it two thumbs up!
One of the funniest chapters was “My Honeymoon, or A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again….” It’s good for your health to laugh and this story of going on a cruise because her husband hated to fly is a funny, funny, tale — especially if it isn’t happening to you.
If you like beautifully written sentences and languid, descriptive paragraphs, you’ll like Taylor Brown’s first book, “The Fallen Land,” about life in the south during the tail end of the Civil War. It is a poignant tale, reminding us of the devastation that follows armies and war.
In one of my blank books that I’ve told you about, I keep favorite quotes from books I’ve read. Some authors provide a good read but just aren’t quotable, like Ian Rankin, whose mystery books I’ve devoured.
Others, like Annie Dillard, offer delightful lines on every page. From her book, “The Maytrees,” this:
“Their summer friends, in particular, harvested facts row on row from newspapers like mice on corncobs.”
A recent favorite is “The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry,” by Gabriela Zeun, a delightful story of redemption and transformation set in a bookstore — so it’s about books and people who read.
My cousin, Keith, sent me a Kent Haruf book this summer, “Plainsong,” and I’ve now read every book the man has ever written except one, “West of Last Chance,” which I’ll check out as soon as I can find it! His lines aren’t necessarily quotable but he spins a delightful story which you recognize in your own soul as true, even though the books are fiction.
It’s another day in the country and you know, “we’re never alone, if we have a good book to read.”