If It Brings Joy

In general, I don’t like “stuff.” Clothes shopping is a rare occasion for me. I can’t remember the last time I bought jewelry, knickknacks, or something that was a want and not a need.

So you’d think I’d be an adherent to Marie Kondo’s philosophy of getting rid of things that don’t bring joy. In an ideal world in which I live in my own neat little bubble, I would be, but it’s hard when I have a husband who is a pack rat and a baby who will naturally accumulate tons of clothes, bottles, books, toys, and other accessories. (I’m dreading the days when I have to avoid stepping on Legos and K’nex!)

Books are probably the physical object I love the most, if I had to pick something. Not only are they useful, they are decorative. Little is more aesthetically pleasing to me than an organized bookshelf. Notebooks and journals are also difficult to part with, even if they’ve never been written in. They are essentially books and have that same pleasing aesthetic quality.

But the sad fact remains that books take up space, which is a precious and rare commodity in our apartment. So I pared my book collection down to only 30. To be honest, it wasn’t all that difficult. Every reader has books in his collection that are destined to be sitting on the shelf for years, never read and never touched. Probably 90% of my books fell into that category.

Every reader also has books that, for whatever reason, he will never part with and would probably be buried with, if given the opportunity. Those were the 30 books I kept. Only two were fiction (both by William Faulkner). The others were writing related and other nonfiction. Religious books didn’t count because my husband wanted to keep most of them; I think if I had included religious books in my 30, it would have been a lot harder to choose only 30. I did cheat a little by keeping two “keepsake” books and another written by a friend, but all three are pretty small and won’t take up much room. 🙂

Is it easy or hard for you to part with physical things?

Books I Can’t Read

Some books I have tried to read multiple times, but I just can’t make it through them. For this, I am ashamed of myself, because practically everyone else seems to think they are great reads.

I have never read the Lord of the Rings trilogy. I slogged my way through The Hobbit a long time ago but didn’t like it and was glad to have “gotten it over with.” I tried several times to read the first Lord of the Rings novel and never could. I put it down, shaking my head in disgust each time. Not because of the author or the book, but because of me. This is such a great book. Everyone loves this series. It’s supposedly full of Catholic symbolism. Why the hell can’t I like it? Even the movies fall flat for me. I saw the entirety of the third one, but it made no sense because I hadn’t seen the previous two. Also, it was Way. Too. Long.

I also tried to read Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited, which is supposed to be another great Catholic novel. Couldn’t get into it. Short stories by Flannery O’Connor confuse me, and she’s another great Catholic author. (Actually, short stories in general confuse me. By the time they’re over, I’m like… WTF just happened?)

What’s even worse is books that I did read but didn’t comprehend (or only partially comprehended) because the language was so difficult. Proust comes to mind, as well as certain things by Dickens. How can I call myself an English major if I have such a hard time with these books?

To be honest, I spend a lot of time feeling guilty because I’m not an “intelligent” or “intellectual” reader. I don’t have the mental energy for something complicated, where I have to figure out the meaning behind all the symbolism and hunt for the metaphors that are buried in all these great classics. I have a lot of these kinds of books sitting on shelves in the apartment, but I think I’ll end up donating them. Might as well face the facts. I doubt I will ever read them. (And I need the space for baby and children’s books anyway. Baby Cheep Cheep. Now that’s an easy read!)

Ever started a book you just couldn’t get through?

Thursday Three #48

Recent reads edition! SPOILER ALERT! I was in a rush, so I grabbed three random books out of the library, only glancing at the covers and blurbs for a quick second. Interestingly, all were part of a series (not the same series), but I didn’t know that when I picked them up.

  1. The Last Good Girl – Allison Leotta. Part of the Anna Curtis series, which centers on a lawyer working for the U.S. government. The book had an interesting premise: the dangers of the date-rape drug commonly used by unscrupulous people at college. Moral of the story: Men are evil. College boys, especially those associated with fraternities, are sex crazed and irredeemably evil, except when it serves the book’s plot for them to turn over a new leaf. All women are good, especially when they fight against injustices perpetuated by evil men.
  2. The Three – Sarah Lotz. There’s a sequel called Day Four. Both are horror novels describing an end-of-the-world scenario. Moral of the story: Fundamentalist Christians are evil. But then again, the entire human race, including gay people, little kids, the Japanese, and South Africans, is evil, and we deserve whatever apocalyptic terror we get. This book is much more like Stephen King’s novels than Bird Box because of its length and complexity, but the depth of characterization is just not there. At the point when I was getting to know and like the characters, the book was ending and/or said characters were dying or dead. This was a bleak one.
  3. A Sin Such as This – Ellen Hopkins.* This is the sequel to Love Lies Beneath, which most likely contains more of the main character’s morally disgusting sexual escapades (although she tries to justify it to herself) and unbridled arrogance. Moral of the story: Men are evil. Except when they can provide women with mind-numbingly good sex. Women’s moral failings can be attributed entirely to their parents and their upbringing; thus, women are blameless, even when they do the same morally reprehensible things as men. Because, wouldn’t you know, women are entitled to cheat on their husbands when they have been treated poorly!

Oh, the depth of misanthropy in these three books… will I read the others in the series? Maybe. All three books were entertaining and went pretty quickly, but I wasn’t particularly blown away by any of them.

*I’ve read a couple of Ellen Hopkins’ YA novels-in-verse, which are much more well known and greatly loved among teen audiences. She should stick to that genre. A Sin Such as This had a couple poems in it, and they just didn’t work for the book. It was like sprinkling powdered sugar over moldy cookies.