Start Again: Without A List
All too often I find myself creating "to read lists" because I feel pressured. Sometimes I think I should read more literary fiction. Other times I feel like I should read everything on the New York Times Best Sellers list because doesn't everybody else? And then other times I feel like I should have a goal of how many books I will read this year and stick to a schedule. Then I remember, with a little glee, that there is no "right" way to read. This realization allows me to let go of the stress created by what I think I "should" read and allows me to gravitate toward what is compelling to me at that moment. A book cover, a new novel by a favorite author, or a recommendation by one of our teens are all paths to what might be a discovery only allowed by the freedom to read without a "to read list." After all, isn't one of the goals of reading to get something out of it? To gain knowledge or pleasure, to escape or be entertained, or to get a glimpse into a different kind of life? So with this in mind I am going to read what I want to when I want to, allowing my next selections to evolve organically. Here are a few books I am looking forward to reading not because I think I should, but because they each spoke to me in some way. I would love for you to take a moment to post a comment sharing books that serendipity led you to.
The Circle is the latest novel from one of my favorite authors Dave Eggers. Eggers is the founder of McSweeney's Press and author of A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius and What is the What. This new novel intrigues me through its use of setting: an influential, and cutting edge, high-tech Company that harkens a comparison to Google or Microsoft. The protagonist lands a coveted job at this esteemed company called The Circle and quickly becomes embroiled in the all-consuming culture of the company, swept along until things just don’t seem quite “right.” I have always been curious about what it would be like inside such a company with a strong identity and culture, and whether you can maintain your individuality as a member of such a team.
The Summer of Beer and Whiskey: How Breweries, Barkeeps, Rowdies, Immigants, and A Wild Pennant Fight Made Baseball America's Game by Edward Achorn is about beer, whiskey and baseball – three of my favorite things. This book tells the story of how brewer Chris von der Ahe set out to make baseball accessible to the everyman of the time. His motives were not purely unselfish; he did want to sell more beer and liquor to the masses through attendance at sporting events such as baseball. This book seems to be about business and rising up against the classist culture of the time to create success and accessibility to beer, whiskey and baseball, and I'm excited to learn about how they've changed their time.
The Mysterious Howling by Maryrose Wood tells the story of children found running wild in the forest of Ashton Place, and promises in the story synopsis that these are no ordinary children. I have always loved stories about “misfits” like Anne of Green Gables, Jo in Little Women and the Baudelaire children in A Series of Unfortunate Events, and that is what draws me to this book. It promises and adventure filled with humor, mischief and mystery. I can’t wait to see where this curious beginning takes them.
In Pastrix: The Cranky, Beautiful Faith of a Sinner Saint, Nadia Bolz-Weber takes no prisoners as she reclaims the word "pastrix" – pronounced "pas-triks" – a term used by some Christians who refuse to recognize female pastors. This memoir is intriguing to me because she seems so "off" type for someone who would be religious. I am drawn to this memoir because Bolz-Weber seems to have gone against the lines of typically conservative religion to use her gift. Her gift appears to be the ability to connect with people where they are and exactly who they are, faults and all. I love the idea of imperfection, soul seeking, relationship building, and striving for answers for your own personal spiritual journey, regardless of what society tells us we ought to be.