Hello, friends. You know how, from time to time, I talk about what I’ve been reading? I’m going to start calling it A Reader Reports (not least because the initials spell “arr”, me hearties!) and making it a regular-ish feature.
At the moment, I spend most of my time with a floppy-yet-lunging baby and trying to remember critical things like where I left my coffee cup. As a result, I have 2 new criteria for things I read:
1. Words must be served in snack-sized portions. Short stories are great. Fact-packed non-fiction is even better, because I can drop it when necessary and remember where I left off (most of the time) without having broken the spell.
2. The pages must lie flat and stay open while my hands do other things.
I know, I know – the second stipulation is just absurd. I hope one day to have one hand free to hold a book. But in the meantime, here’s what I’ve been pecking at.
I confess, I wasn’t sure I’d like a blog-inspired book about gardening. I’m not a good – or even mediocre – gardener. I’m also suspicious of blog-spawned books, which are so often single-idea stunts rather than thoughtfully constructed narratives. But Merilyn Simonds’s A New Leaf: Growing with My Garden is absolutely terrific. Simonds has a warm, expansive, wry, and sometimes sly voice that invites you into her world. She’s great on rituals, mistakes, frustrations, and unexpected delights. And she’s always learning, always experimenting. It’s a powerful blend of everything I love, all applied to a subject I know little about. Merilyn Simonds makes me want to garden like a fiend – assuming that fiends do, indeed, garden. I’m a little afraid of this new force she’s unleashed within me. For now, it’s all held in check by the fact that I have no hands with which to turn the pages, but I can plot. Oh yes.
In our house, we have a strict rule about magazines: anything more than 3 months old gets recycled, whether it’s been read or not. Unless it’s a classic car mag. Or Top Gear. Or a design mag. Or that one about restoring old homes. Or… you get the idea. We are drowning in old magazines. But the stockpile has come in very handy with the appearance of Rule #2, above, and I’ve been reading old issues of the New Yorker, in particular, from cover to cover. (The image above comes from its profile of Jaron Lanier. I’d link it, but subscription’s required.)
I’ve been reading snippets of Joe Moran’s Queuing for Beginners: The Story of Daily Life from Breakfast to Bedtime for months, now. But I suspect this may be the best way to read it. It’s a light-hearted book of social anthropology, crammed with details you immediately have to relay to the people nearest you (even if you’re in a doctor’s waiting room – trust me on that one). If you read it in a long session, the details begin to overwhelm you and they’re less delightful than they might otherwise be. And that would be a shame because they’re amazing, in both senses of the word.
And that’s my report for the past month or so. What are you all reading?
*Also, a little reminder to those in the Greater Toronto Area: I’ll be at the Mississauga Central Library on Saturday, August 27, from 2-4. Tickets are free, but you must have a ticket to attend. More details here. Hope to see you there!*