What I’m reading and why I’m reading SO S-L-O-W-L-Y

Days are flying by with my kiddos. It seems like three days ago since I was so worried about younger daughter ever growing out of size 3T–and now she’s in a size 6 or 7 (granted, she’s almost 9, but still . . .). It seems like a week ago since older daughter’s first day of kindergarten, and now she’s finishing up elementary school. So, when I get a chance to savor something good (and for a second time), I do.

Books (well, I guess movies, too) are the one time that I know where you go back and relive an experience. You can slow down the good parts, speed read the bad parts, put the book down when the scary parts get too scary or the story hits too close to home.

A good book (and a movie) has the ability to take you out of yourself and your world and into another, more (or less) exciting world. It can kill an afternoon, a hour at the doctor, three hours at the mechanic. It can make a sleepless night a little easier to handle, a bath more relaxing, an hour on the elliptical a little less grueling.

I am reading two really great books right now. The first I have read before and have been looking forward to re-reading for quite a while. The other the second in a trilogy, something that I love because I can revisit the characters I enjoyed in the first book. Both I am savoring as slowly as possible, like a stew in a dutch oven. I want to get flavor out of every morsel, every character, every scene.  But I’m going to share them with you, so you can catch up and love them as much as I do!

“There are stories that are true, in which each individual’s tale is unique and tragic, and the worst of the tragedy is that we have heard it before, and we cannot allow ourselves to feel it too deeply. We build a shell around it like an oyster dealing with a painful particle of grit, coating it with smooth pearl layers in order to cope. This is how we walk and talk and function, day in, day out, immune to others’ pain and loss. If it were to touch us it would cripple us or make saints of us; but, for the most part, it does not touch us. We cannot allow it to.”

American Gods is the book I am reading for the second time. Neil Gaiman does everything that every writer should strive to do. He creates worlds and fantastical characters that don’t seem fantastic. It was first published in 2001, but was re-released in 2011 as a 10th anniversary edition in its full, uncut form (although there is a funny story to that, which you will get if you read the foreword by Gaiman).  The foreward (as just mentioned) is one of the best parts of the 10th anniversary release, as he tells how this book came to be, the story of the title and the cover and a little of what happened to him following the release (his visit to the Borders Bookstore in the WTC on September 8th, 2001, left a big impression on him).

The story is Gaiman’s rendition of what happens to old-country gods when their believers migrate to America and belief in those gods slowly dies. The old-world gods come face-to-face with the new world gods–credit cards, technology and black ops. And when one mans gets caught between the two and is practically pulled in half.  It’s a wondrous book to reread -I know the outcome, so I can enjoy every wonderful word written by Gaiman. I can immerse myself in the characters. I have so many books on my to-read list that it takes a great one to get me to read it again.

A note on this book, I am both reading and listening to it. The 10th anniversary audio book is a wonderful, full cast version, narrated by Dennis Boutsikaris that I recognize as one of the antagonistic lawyers from Law & Order. We also get the protagonist Shadow’s voice done by Daniel Oreskes, an actor who isn’t a big name but is very recognizable, and does a great job. It is fun to go back and forth between reading and listening.

” . . . man is nothing without the love of his family.”

The second book I’m reading slowly is The Secret Speech, the second book of the Child 44 trilogy by Tom Rob Smith. These books take place in post WWII USSR, in the middle of the 50’s when Communism was at its peak in the USSR; people were afraid to look others in the eye because they could be arrested, interrogated and sent to Siberia for nothing except for the perception of wrong. Leo Demidov is a man trying to come to grips with his past as an MGB officer and a bad husband. He has been granted a new lease on life, running a homicide division (which he formed after discovering a serial killer in the first book, Child 44) and finding that he and his wife (who originally married him for his status and the safety he provided but couldn’t stand him) can actually love each other once they learn to trust. It is a serious book, bleak and intriguing, much like the Siberian tundra Leo visits. I am reading it slowly as not to miss anything, but also not to be dragged into the bleakness. It is wonderful, but I tend to emote the books I read, and I may become darkly Russian, brooding and dark, if I let myself.

So, I figure I can rush through a bunch of mediocre books in order to get reviews in quickly, or I can spend my time savoring the books I want to read. I may do both (I tend to have two or three books going at the same time), but I will enjoy a good book as often as I can. So get reading!!!

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