Too Many Books

June 2, 2010 @ 6:25 am | Filed under:

I keep thinking that’s it, I’m drawing a line, no new books until I’ve finished all the ones already here—but I can hardly finish the thought before the disclaimers come crowding in. Well, except review copies; wouldn’t want to stop those from coming. And there’s all those waiting lists I’m on at the library: #16 of 31 holds for The Weed that Strings the Hangman’s Bag; 48 out of 56 for The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.

And friends have new books coming out; I’ll want to read those.

And there’s that one book I keep hearing about everywhere lately, it seems—including, HELLO!, just now in the teaser from Nick Hornby’s June Believer column. (Sigh—already a new issue to tantalize me.) There seems to have been quite a crowd of people who tumbled simultaneously to Elif Batuman’s The Possessed: Adventures with Russian Books and the People Who Read Them in the past month. Where was I when this mass tumbling-to happened? How many Russian novels is this book going to make me want to read (or re-read)?

Remember in Amadeus when the Emperor responds to Mozart’s opera with the devastating zinger, “Too many notes?” And Mozart is appalled: how could anyone think such a thing? There were as many notes as there needed to be, “No more, no less.”  Too many notes. Ridiculous notion. The Emperor begs to differ. “There are only so many notes the ear can hear in the course of an evening.”

I understand Wulfie’s incredulity. One might as well say, “There are only so many books one can read in a lifetime.”

What? Bite your tongue!


Books I read in May:

Kids’ graphic novels

Chiggers by Hope Larson.

Smile by Raina Telgemeier. Wry memoir of the author’s junior-high orthodontic nightmare (she fell and knocked out her front teeth). My tween girls, who have braces in their near future, found the dentistry details fascinating. (No doubt they found the middle-school drama fascinating too. Raina has mean-girl friends and various boy woes.)

Lunch Lady and the Author Vendetta by Jarrett J. Krosoczka. The Lunch Lady, if you didn’t know, is a spy; her spy gadgets are all cleverly disguised as food and kitchen utensils. She defeats bad guys with whisks. In this one, Lunch Lady and the Author Vendetta, a trio of intrepid students makes clever use of gym socks to fend off a team of hypnotized gym teachers. Very silly; lots of fun.

Middle-grade fiction

The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster. An old favorite in these parts. I was just in the mood.

Sarah and Katie by Dori White (mentioned here, not in depth). This one, I’ll have to save for its own post. It was a childhood favorite, long forgotten, that came back to me in great big wallops, smacking me back into my own past. It’s as moving as I remembered it.

Favorite Medieval Tales by Mary Pope Osborne. Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is my favorite of the tales included here. Gorgeous artwork.

Blubber by Judy Blume. Another blast from the past.

YA fiction

Betsy in Spite of Herself by Maud Hart Lovelace. Yes, again.

I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith (post).

The Perilous Gard by Elizabeth Marie Pope (every bit as wonderful as The Sherwood Ring). This, too, deserves its own post! Nutshell version: Tudor period, exiled girl, old castle, greenwood, green cloak, mysterious lady, brooding younger son, lost child, house of secrets, enchanted people, secret caves, Tam Lin. What. Is. Not. To. Love.


Prairie Tale: A Memoir by Melissa Gilbert.

Confessions of a Prairie Bitch: How I Survived Nellie Oleson & Learned to Love Being Hated by Alison Arngrim. Alison had, it turns out, quite a difficult childhood (understatement), but playing one of America’s most loathed TV villains gave her a curious kind of strength. She writes with great humor and warmth, dishing up affection and snark in equal parts. The Little House fangirl that I am really enjoyed the behind-the-scenes peek at the TV show that played such a huge part in my childhood. Colorful language (ahem), colorful anecdotes, and some quite touching sketches of cast and crew members, such as the makeup artist who had worked with Marilyn Monroe and still carried an engraved money clip she gave him in appreciation of his talents.

Not yet finished

Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams (a reread).

Crow Planet by Lyanda Lynn Haupt. (Almost finished; delightful.)

And about half a dozen first chapters, thanks to the Kindle-for-iPod app’s “sample this book” feature. The Possessed (see above); the opening of Melissa Sue Anderson’s memoir (figured I ought to read Mary’s too, now that I’ve read Laura’s and Nellie’s); Scott Westerfield’s Leviathan; Susan Cooper’s The Dark Is Rising; I can’t remember what else.

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11 Reponses | Comments Feed
  1. becka says:

    Alas, it may prove true that there ARE only so many books one can read in one lifetime, but I’m all in favor of pushing the limit. One book leads to another leads to another, and then one has a surprise baby at 40 and although there are days when I’m definitely too old to have a three-year-old, I’m loving, loving, loving having a good excuse to do another cycle of all the favorite books of my own and my big kids’ childhoods. And so many really good new books coming out apparently every day as well, and so many of the classics I missed the first time around growing up in a very strict fundalit household…

    Such a thing as too many books – I think not.

  2. Mary says:

    Wow Melissa! Now I have to go find those books. They look so good.
    Have you read the newest Little House memoir “The Way I See It: A Look Back at My Life on Little House” by melissa Anderson? I am on the waiting list at the library.
    Happy Reading…

  3. Theresa says:

    Just finished The Perilous Gard and you were right, it is a good read. There’s little draggy spot down in the caves, but other than that, a really neat story. I’ll have to see if I can find The Sherwood Ring. Our library does not have it.
    Oh, and another of your recommendations, Daughter of Time, was great, though I have to admit I don’t get the title at all. Any insight there?

  4. Amy C. says:

    Yes, I am adding to your list . . . but you started it! 🙂 With The Possessed high on your list, and your recent Twitter link to a Nabokov essay on translation, you’ve compelled me to push one of my favorite books ever: Le Ton Beau de Marot by Douglas Hofstadter. I quote the first line of the intro: “Picture Holden Caulfield, all grown up, now a university professor, writing a book about translation. Okay, don’t. It’s too silly.” I suspect that this book is right up your alley. The intro, in particular, includes an in-depth and poetic explanation of his process as a writer, a subject you’ve mentioned your fondness for. It’s a book that rarely stays in its place on my shelf for long . . . I’m constantly pulling it down to read snatches. Happy reading, whatever comes next!

  5. Melissa Wiley says:

    Theresa, the title of Daughter of Time comes from a quote by Sir Francis Bacon: “Truth is the daughter of time, not authority”—i.e. the passage of time will eventually reveal the truth of a story, such as the tales about Richard II as villain and murderer.

    SUCH a good book, isn’t it!

    Amy C, I shake my fist in your general direction!! 😉 Good thing I drew that “no more books” line in pencil, metaphorically speaking. 🙂 Thanks for the recommendation. Off to the library website…

  6. Elisa says:

    I have always loved reading. If it were up to me, I’d love to do nothing else. I have a few more classes left to graduate w/ a Bachelors. I take them online, in 8-week accelerated courses, so whenever I have to take another one, all my reading is on hold =( I definitely don’t like reading textbooks.

  7. Theresa says:

    It all makes perfect sense now!LOL! Thanks!

  8. Eileen Smithdeal says:

    Please keep up with your reading…we all depend on your book recommendations!

  9. kelly says:

    Hi Melissa,
    Have you read “The Help”? Have heard that it is really good. Interested in what you think.

  10. Nancy Piccione says:

    We are re-listening to the excellent audiobook version of The Phantom Tollbooth now and it’s just so funny. 17! is my comment on that.

    I thought “Prairie Tales” was a little on the eyebrow-raising side when I nabbed it at the library new book table some months back. But hard to put down for those of us raised on Little House. Sounds like the others are also worth perusing.

    One of my sisters read “The Help” in book group and she recommended it highly. I’ve got it on hold from the library.

    Too many books, not enough time! Thanks for all the great suggestions.

  11. Mama Squirrel says:

    Oh, *now* I remember Sarah and Katie–and Melanie. Thanks for reminding me of that one!

    My just-turned-9 just finished Amy and Laura–I know there are two others that come before it, but I haven’t been able to find copies here and the library has dumped them.