Don’t get me wrong. I love training for endurance events. I love thinking about it, talking about it, planning it, doing it. I spent my spring, summer, and fall 2008 preparing for and participating in multiple races. Running, biking, swimming, and the occasional strength training or yoga class for good measure – all of this takes time. A lot of time. It is, as they say, time intensive. Then of course there’s the celebrating of all this time intensive physical activity, which is… in and of itself… also time consuming.
I didn’t realize it until after the marathon when I had nothing to do. Nothing. Nada. Ho hum, another boring Saturday with no four hour training run to suck up half the day. It occurred to me then that over the last nine months I had stopped reading… books, not blogs… and for pleasure, not for information on how to train for a half marathon/marathon/triathlon. I read one book between June and September – not a long one at that – and it was all I could do to sit down and focus. A chapter here on the plane before I passed out, a few pages there in my bed before I passed out.
As far as I can tell, I have always loved to read for pleasure. Sure I didn’t do it much in college or graduate school because when you are forced to read boring ass text books for hours on end, reading for pleasure seems more of a chore than an escape. And, I’m certainly not one to go after “good” literature on purpose. Give me whatever book will keep me occupied (no… better than that… keep me up late on a school night… keep me laying around on a Saturday afternoon for hours on end... make me wonder how to get away with reading at while at work), and I’ll read it.
I decided that it was time to recapture my love for reading. I needed something… easy. Quick and easy – not something good per say, but something that would absorb me -- grab me and hold me captive, slave to the characters and the story.
I chose something so obvious, it’s almost embarrassing. Twilight. Yes, Stephanie Meyer, and her band of really good looking teenage vampires and the pathetic little human girl who loves them. It’s like soft-core teenage book porn. Pure pleasure, if not the real deal. It took me a few weeks to read the entire saga. After that, American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld, a writer I would recommend to anyone, and a book that I’ve been cramming down the throats of every single person I’ve ever met ever -- a little higher on the scale of "good," but still juicy enough for beach reading. Then, while doing some Christmas shopping, I happened upon David Sedaris’ latest book, When You are Engulfed in Flames for 20 percent off and figured why not, personal essays have always been a favorite genre of mine. Now, I’m nearly a third of the way through the Pulitzer Prize winning novel, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. Next on the list Olive Kitteridge (which I know nothing about, but some woman on NPR was so convincing I texted myself the name of the book while I was driving so not to forget it) and The Host – I figure I’ll give Meyer’s first adult shot a chance because… well, hell, it’s not like I’ve got anything else to do.
If you’ve got a suggestion of a book that will keep me sitting in the same place for – I don’t know – about the same amount of time it takes me to do a 20 mile training run, please leave it in the comments.