I went almost the whole day yesterday undecided about what book to read next. I know, the horror, the horror.
I usually have one nonfiction book and one work of fiction going at once. I’m quite happy with my current nonfiction read: the highly recommended Crow Planet. But I need a novel too, always. You understand.
OK, I’m being imprecise—I actually do have a novel going—but it’s the nighttime-read-on-the-iPod-in-the-dark novel, and I can’t read on the iPod outside in the back yard while the kids are playing, which is my best reading time. (The current iPod read is Cory Doctorow’s Makers. Am not far enough into it yet to have opinions.)
Now, yesterday was a fiercely busy day—the Malaysian chicken was delicious, by the way—and the terrible void in my soul caused by Failure to Commit was only a dull ache in the background until it was time for me to dash off to a dentist appointment. There was bound to be waiting-room time, and the iPod wasn’t charged (mea culpa), and OH NO, THE PANIC. Hastily, with no time to dither over options, I grabbed two novels off my To-Be-Read bookcase. Yes, the entire bookcase is filled (two rows deep) with the books I’m willing to read: I’m wanting to read: I’m waiting to read.
The problem, you see, is never a dearth of options. It’s the abundance of them.
The two promising titles I grabbed yesterday came readily to hand because they have been beckoning from the queue for months and months now. In fact, here on this blog, more than once, I have announced my desire to read each of them. If I stopped writing about meaning to read them, I could probably have read them both by now. This post alone is probably costing me a chapter.
I never claimed to be sensible.
As chance would have it, one of the two books (neither of which I cracked at the dentist’s office, by the way; astonishingly, there was no wait) was, I discovered later, a title mentioned enthusiastically in the comments of yesterday’s Maudly-books post, over and over again. It also drew a great many cheers on Facebook—including remarks by more than one friend who said she first heard about this particular book from me, and read it, and did indeed adore it—thereby proving my thesis of two paragraphs ago.
This book? I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith. I read about it (but not too much) in Noel Perrin’s A Child’s Delight, and ordered a copy based on Perrin’s recommendation. Over two years ago.
I know it was over two years ago because when I finally curled up with Capture after dinner last night, I found a business card tucked inside: the card of a young woman employed by Vienna Beef of Chicago, whom Scott and I met on the San Diego-to-Atlanta leg of our trip to Barcelona in April 2008. It seems I Capture the Castle was the book I took with me for the trip.
It seems I didn’t spend a lot of that trip reading.
Actually, I did read on the way home from Spain—two books about Gaudi. It was a cathedral, not a castle, that captured my heart.
But last night, I did give myself over to I Capture the Castle. Only a chapter: then it was time for LOST. Besides enjoying the charming voice of the narrator, much commented on by lovers of the book, I find myself mightily intrigued by this business of her father, a fine writer, suddenly ceasing to write. I assume we’re going to find out more about that.
(Don’t tell me.)
So, whew, with profound relief I put yesterday’s agony behind me. For another few days, until I finish this book.