I haven’t been reading many books of late.
No, wait. That’s not accurate.
I haven’t been finishing many books of late. I’ve started a lot of them, but whether it was a main character I failed to bond with, or a narrative style I didn’t care for, I’ve stopped partway through. Some lasted 100 pages, while others I gave up on after about thirty.
The ones I’ve given up on include The Witch’s Daughter by Julia Brackston, The Winter King by Bernard Cornwell, The Necromancer’s House by Christopher Buehlman, and Katherine by Anya Seton. I have nothing against them. They all sounded lovely and started out well, but I just didn’t click with them. And that’s okay. There are plenty of other books in the world to read, and there’s nothing wrong with saying “I didn’t care for these”. They didn’t make me want to throw them across the room (as I did with Philippa Gregory’s The Other Boleyn Girl. I couldn’t help myself. I don’t normally go in for book-throwing, but that one was wretched enough to warrant it).
I have finished a couple of books in the past month or so. Elizabeth Gilbert’s The Signature of All Things was absolutely luminous, and Patrick Rothfuss’s The Slow Regard of Silent Things was a gorgeous story about a broken-but-still-beautiful soul. But that’s all. And it’s still okay.
I have been writing lately. A lot. Short stories and character sketches, a long story that wants to be a novella, and a couple of other pieces that want to be novels when they grow up. I’ve always been a bit of a writer, a dabbler in words, but in the past six months, the minor hobby has become a much larger one. A habit that leaves me feeling a bit bereft if I go a few days without writing something.
That part’s not okay. It’s kind of wonderful. And maybe it will go somewhere brilliant. Right now the idea of sending my weird little stories out into the big, wide world is a little nerve-wracking. But if I can get on a trans-Atlantic flight and go a quarter of a way around the world and spend a week on my own in London itself, then I can do this, too.
A couple of weeks ago, I bought a new edition of The Lord of the Rings to replace an older boxed set of mine that is close to falling apart. The new books come in a lovely white box with some of Alan Lee’s illustrations on it. The books themselves are a cream color with the Tolkien rune printed on the spine above the titles. They are hardbound, and the perfect size for putting them in my bag to take wherever I go. Tonight, I will open them up for the first time and take another trip through the realms of Middle Earth. Yes, it’s familiar territory- I’ve only read The Lord of the Rings 24 or 25 times now- but like any good book, I keep finding things I missed the first many times through.
Or maybe it’s just me, seeing the world- and the books- differently from the way I did ten and twenty years ago. Whatever it is, It’s nice to know that, in light of my inability to find a new book to fall in love with, I will always have a literary home to return to, whether it’s in Gondor, Rohan, or Hobbiton.