The Sunday Salon: Reflection

A sure sign the blog has been fallow for too long – a rash of spam comments on very old posts. Those things magically appear  like dust bunnies under the bed at the first sign of neglect. Like most people I’ve been a little pre-occupied this week,  mulling over the events in Boston and Texas and being quietly thankful to have spent an entirely uneventful week in my little corner of the world.

But mindful that it could change any second, as it did for the people in Boston, and Watertown, and West.

It’s all combined to make me feel a little melancholy.

My spirits were lifted Friday evening as I gathered with a group of bookish ladies for a lively discussion of The Orchardist. If you recall, I waxed rhapsodic about the book a few weeks ago. And while the general consensus among the group was to praise the writing, several people found the story simply too bleak to call enjoyable.

As much as I loved  The Orchardist, I could never call it a “feel good” book. It’s rather like the events of the past week – it’s a book that forces you to contemplate evil and sadness. It’s a book that uncovers isolation and hopelessness and unfulfilled dreams. As we sat around the table and talked about these things, it occurred to me how often I gravitate to books like that, how I almost relish that kind of literary atmosphere. Of course there’s sadness and pain and disillusionment and misunderstanding. I take it for granted in my books, like I’ve come to take it for granted in my world.

Having lived a lot “in my head” I know my own penchant toward the melancholy. My book choices reflect that – the memoirs and novels I read often focus on people who suffer, who seek spiritual and emotional sustenance. I don’t like violence or cruelty – won’t read a book that has any of that in it – but I do hunker into those books that delve into the depths of the human experience.

Of course this week I haven’t had to read about it in fiction…it’s been all over the news.

I wonder if other readers find themselves drawn to books that reflect their emotional temperature? Do you?










11 thoughts on “The Sunday Salon: Reflection

  1. I”m a mixed book bag, Becca. Sometimes fiction, sometimes non-fiction, mysteries, biographies, essays. I’m all over the map. My reading is as disorganized as I sometimes am! Which I guess makes interesting. Funny thing is when I’m reading for my book club I have a really hard time staying in focus. This week I have to finish “The last Lecture,” Randy Pauch’s book. I think holding the book in your hands adds to the intimacy and because this one is hitting a little closer to home than I’d like I may finish it out on video. I think that’s cheating but I’ll give myself a pass this time.

  2. If I’m just choosing a book to read for pleasure I do find myself reading mostly books about people like myself — secular humanist and kind of literary, but smarter, hipper, wealthier, and definitely thinner and better dressed. Aspirational reading, I guess, left over from when I was a couple of decades younger!

  3. Becca,
    I lean towards themes that follow a path that leads me to the missing pieces. It could be about finding ‘who done it,’ but it could easily be about a character who is searching for or unintentionally finds the missing pieces in his life. It’s those missing pieces that interest me. I love puzzles.

    • That’s interesting that you take your love of puzzles into your reading. Do you like mysteries, then? I’m just starting on the books by Kate Atkinson (reading her Case Histories now) and loving the way she pulls lots of pieces together.

  4. Conflict and difficult subjects make a good story and lead to new ways of thinking and understanding life. But a book I know to be about war or slavery doesn’t attract me, even though I know I have to read it eventually if I want to read all the winners of a particular prize. Reading is the same as life: we have to face up to some dark stuff, sooner or later. Books help us do that. And sometimes the book we dreaded turns out to be wonderful.

  5. I did go through whatever the female equivalent of a Holden Caulfield phase would be – decades ago, for sure. Lots of sturm und drang, plenty of existential pondering and all that. It was very much a time of living inside my head, trying to think my way toward answers instead of living my way to them.

    Now, I have little patience for that sort of thing.I’m not opposed to self-examination, or books that portray internal struggle, but I much prefer books that focus on the complexities of life, the exigencies of history and the role of strong personalities in shaping events. That can be history, memoir, biography and travel writing, of course, and mostly that.

    It just this minute has occurred to me – I wonder if I’m so uninterested in fiction because a living a larger than necessary portion of my life trying to maintain fictions? Now, that is something to consider!

    • I can only take so much “drama” in a book, and it has to be marvelously written. I enjoy a good biography (as opposed to memoir), but haven’t found one I really like in quite a while. (Recommendations??)

  6. I rarely watch TV anymore (except for Smash!) and the books I select are always about the human experience. I’ve been in my head a lot lately, and not feel especially compelled to blog about that. 🙂

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