Monday, December 15, 2008

December 2008 "Snow Emergency"

The weatherman today announced the first real snow storm of the season. Five inches, plus ice and anticipated power outages. The indoors time is upon us.


I took the dogs out into the field for their exercise while the flakes were still sparse, and they seemed to feel the coming hoopla, running at each other and play-growling and leaping about. When I got everyone back inside I laid a fire in the stove and prepared to enjoy that snowbound feeling that is so delicious in December and so maddening in March.


And then I realized that I was out of books to read. In a house with seven bookcases, there was not a single page I either hadn't read before or had no interest in reading.


I got in the car and drove to the next village, the snow falling thickly. I didn't go to the grocery store for bread or milk or coffee. I didn't go to the feed store for laying mash or kibble. I went to the library.


There I wandered through the stacks unable to recall the name of a single author or the title of a single book I wanted to read. This always happens to me. I walk into a library and my mind goes blank. George Eliot? Who's that? And it doesn't help that 85% of the books in the local libraries are mysteries.


Eventually, I found two books by Margaret Drabble. One sounded wonderful, but upon opening it it rang a vaguely familiar bell. So I checked out the other one, which may well ring a bell later. Then I remembered hearing a wonderful review on NPR of John Crowley's Little, Big. But the library didn't have that one, so I checked out something by the same author called Lord Byron's Novel—The Evening Land. This had better be good, as I'm not as a rule fond of historical fiction.


I also got a book by Tana French, The Likeness, because the NY Times Book Review referred to the “lyrical ferocity” of her first novel, In The Woods. We'll see how lyrically ferocious The Likeness is. Also decided to give Kim Edwards's The Memory Keeper's Daughter a try, though I'm suspicious of the title: there seem to be a lot of novels with “somebody's daughter” in the title of late. And finally I took something called None Of Your Business, by Valerie Block, that I've already decided was a mistake. I read 25 pages and found it annoying.


So, five books. One by a man. My usual stack is all women. I'm still trying to make up for my grad school reading lists in French Lit, which included only two (17th century) women writers.


The best part of this trip to the library was an encounter with the new Library Cat, a gorgeous long-haired calico who found me in the stacks and made overtures, then followed me to the table where I sat down and jumped into my lap and purred imperiously. So what could I do? I sat there and petted her until the snow got really thick, and then I got up, picked up my books, and went home.

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