The Coast News Group
Small Talk

So many books, so little time

It’s my favorite problem to have — too many books to read.
Santa clearly knew that I had been very, very good last year and the result was a bumper holiday season for books. I thought I’d share.
Some were given to me, some I bought with holiday money and some were books I bought for others, only to find they had already read them. My intentions were stellar, but I admit I generally pick gift books I’d kind of like to read myself.
Then to really challenge myself, there are a couple of books in the stack that I don’t really want to read, but need to read. Vegetable books, I call them, whereas the rest are pure dessert. One is “Smart Women Finish Rich,” by David Bach. My friend raved about it, and, heaven knows I need it, but how-to books are just too much like homework for my taste.
Just before the holidays, I read “South of Broad” by Pat Conroy. I don’t actually think it’s his best, but I’ve never read anything by Conroy I didn’t enjoy. Since Christmas, I have managed to get through “Let the Great World Spin,” by Colum McCann, given to me by my son. It’s a fascinating collection of characters all artfully tied to the amazing 1974 tightrope walk of Phillipe Petit between the Twin Trade Towers.
I also read and thoroughly enjoyed “The Help” by Kathryn Stockett, reminding us of when and why the civil rights movement was launched.
Still filling my bedside basket are six more books. “The Shortest Distance Between Two Women” by Kris Radish, was sent to me by a friend who has never recommended a book I didn’t love. Next is the novel “Better,” a sequel to “Complications,” both by surgeon Atul Gawande, and purchased for my son, the medical student-to-be. Yep, those are the ones he’d already read.
I decided to see what Tom Brokaw thinks of my generation, so I bought “Boom, Talking About the Sixties.” I also plan to read “The Greatest Generation” one of these days.
Then I will abandon intellectual pursuits and indulge my love of the humor of the deep South with “God Save the Sweet Potato Queens” by Jill Conner Browne. I have read other Sweet Potato Queen books by Browne and they make me laugh — a lot. For more laughter, I turned to Public Radio humorist David Sedaris and bought “Me Talk Pretty One Day.” To round out the mind candy, I picked up “Someday my Prince Will Come” by Jerramy Fine. It looks like a laugh-out-loud book about a girl convinced throughout her youth that she would marry English royalty. Having had a serious, youthful crush on Prince Charles, the topic spoke to me.
Then an outdoor-loving teacher-friend I always talk books with, offered me “Deep Survival: Who Lives, Who Dies, and Why” by Laurence Gonzales, along with “Between a Rock and a Hard Place,” by Aron Ralston, which tells of his having to cut his own arm off to escape being trapped in a remote canyon. Those should both be interesting if I can stomach them.
My final treat, which I will save for last (it may be summer by then), is the sequel to “Pillars of the Earth,” called “World Without End,” by Ken Follett. I adored “Pillars,” a perfect, thick epic set in 12th century England. I can’t wait to pick up where it left off and be submerged in historical fiction.
In between, I managed to shoehorn in a short biography of Nelson Mandela from my school library. After seeing the movie, “Invictus,” I realized how sadly uninformed I was about Apartheid and Mandela himself. It is a fascinating, disturbing and triumphant story. I plan to read more about it.
My family keeps wondering why I’m in bed by 6:30 p.m. Odd, though, that I don’t turn off my light until midnight. Here’s to a year full of long waits at doctor’s offices, banks and coffee lines, so we can read, read, read with an absolutely clear conscience.