Back to basics

I stopped reading. Well, I was still reading, but I was retaining little and caring even less about one of those National Book Award noms that I took for granted I would love because of a previous experience with the writer.

But I was really hating on this thing. It was so much exposition, it was starting to feel like I was trapped at the bar with a gin-soaked acquaintance who sighs and starts the night out with: “Well, it’s a sort of long story. Let me start at the beginning. When I was seven …” Then I segued into a rock bio that starts out real kicky, cleverly written and super heavy on voice but gets bogged down with names and same old same old. Perfect for super fans. A little blah blah blah-sy for the people looking for shredded hotel rooms and what was snorted off groupies’ whats.

I’m still working on the latter, the former goes in the special place where I put books I believe deserve a second chance. I collapsed into graphic novels and Words with Friends, drawing, laundry and two work-shift length marathons of “Criminal Minds.”

But a reader needs to read, yo. You find yourself looking in closets for something, only to realize it is the plot of the novel you aren’t reading. And it’s not on the high shelf. There is a panic: So many books in the world you want to read, no interest in reading any of them. Clock’s ticking. At this point you’ll never clean out the Amazon Wish List before you’re 70. And then you think: What if I never read anything else ever again? What if I’m done reading?What if my favorite hobby in the world is suddenly, inexplicably, no longer my favorite thing in the world and I have to, like, learn Spanish or figure out what the hell a Sudoku is

So I eased in slowly. An old lady in a shower cap who plans to swim laps at the Y without getting her hair wet slow. Truman Capote’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Reason for the season: Reading it gives me one more oft-referenced story in my arsenal. (I’m that one person in the world who hasn’t seen the movie). And it’s real short. A perfect practice book.

Readers, I read it in its entirety. Chuckled a few times. Shook my head over the antics of that whacky Holly Golightly, and thanked goodness that I hadn’t read it when I was 19 and wholly prone to lit girl crushes. (It took me more than a decade to get over Lady Brett Ashley. If those two had tag-teamed me, I’d probably be in Spain right now drinking my lunch, smoking dinner, while an intervention team tracked me by following the breadcrumb trail of discarded pet cats).

So did I love this story of a young sassafrass in New York City, charming the dinero out of bunches and bunches of men? It was fine. It was cute. I’m glad I read it. But most importantly, it got me in the habit of reading again. And that is what is important. I’m proud to say I’m now more than 250 pages into a serious bunch of crap and I don’t even mind.

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