Thursday, October 17, 2013

A Bookish Hangover


After finishing two books in the past two days  - Stoner by John Williams and Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo - it feels like I'm at loose ends. There are literally stacks of books surrounding me, yet I am unable to move on.

Stoner  is a beautifully written, incredibly moving character study. A true five star read, it has earned a place on my list of all-time favorite books. Behind the Beautiful Forevers  is narrative nonfiction at its best. A sobering look at life in a Mumbai slum, it's an important book, but at times devastatingly sad and difficult to read.

So, now what? Last night I read the first chapter of several novels I would expect to enjoy under normal circumstances but, in light of these recent reads, they seemed trite and uninteresting. In the end, I turned on the television instead.

Later, I had trouble falling asleep and decided to listen to an audiobook. Scrolling through the titles in my library, I came across Crossing to Safety by Wallace Stegner (possibly my favorite novel) and listened to a couple of chapters. Perfection! I'm long overdue for a reread, but it's going to be a read/listen combination this time around. Thank you, Wallace Stegner... my bookish hangover is cured.


P.S. I plan to review both Stoner  and Behind the Beautiful Forevers soon.


36 comments:

  1. I can imagine you feeling a bit stopped by Katherine Boo's book, and Stoner is also a hard one to follow. Perhaps something light? Lighter, anyway. I looked through your booklists from previous years and think perhaps you don't "do" light. But to cheer you up I would recommend CINNAMON AND GUNPOWDER by Eli Brown, which is about a pirate and a chef but it has roots in how to live as well. And since you read TRANSATLANTIC by Colum McCann, perhaps you'd like LIFE AFTER LIFE by Kate Atkinson or THE CONSTELLATION OF VITAL PHENOMENA by Andrew Marra.

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    1. Trish - Thanks for the recommendations. I don't read fluff very often, but a book about a pirate and a chef sounds intriguing (and I must have considered it before because the cover looks so familiar). I got Life After Life from the library a couple of months ago, but had to send it back unread when I couldn't get to it in time. There were a bunch of holds :(

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  2. these 2 books are on my TBR! Have you read Angle of Repose, also by Stegner? A friend of mine loves it a lot

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    1. Emma - Yes, I read Angle of Repose and thought it was wonderful. Stegner is a favorite!

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  3. I haven't read Stoner but I might have to now! Behind the Beautiful Forevers...whew. Powerful book, can't wait to read your review!

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    1. Jennifer - It's going to take a few more days to digest Behind the Beautiful Forevers - wow. My book club is going to Katherine Boo's reading at a local university next week, and then out to dinner for our discussion.

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  4. I hear ya. I don't feel like I've really gotten over my post-Mudbound hangover. And then I finished Kindred by Octavia Butler which was close to a hangover-inducing book. Sigh.

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    1. Andi - I had the same type of hangover after Mudbound, too. Such a good book...

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  5. I haven't heard of any of these books!! And while they all sound fantastic and books I would love under normal circumstances, I'm not sure my mushy brain would allow them to do their true justice. I did love Mudbound last month and am currently enjoying The Girl You Left Behind. Enjoy your re-read. I wish I did more re-reading. Maybe next year. ;)

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    1. Trish - When my girls were young, there were years I read only a handful of books. It's been a few years since I reread anything, but Crossing to Safety is a favorite and it's time...

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  6. I've had similar problems recently. I have read a few amazing books and then everything else seems dull (probably because it just isn't as good!) Glad to hear you've found some great books. I have Stoner on my shelf so may give it a try when I've finished the next book.

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    1. Jackie - Stoner is such a beautifully written book. Hope you decide to try it!

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  7. I am at an impasse myself. I am trying to finish my RIP reads, but other things keep pulling me away. I am glad you found an audio to suit your mood!

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    1. Col - I'd hoped to finish at least one more RIP book, but it looks like that won't happen now. I still plan to read Lady Audley's Secret fairly soon though.

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  8. I'm a big fan of rereading and this seems like a perfect solution to your present state of mind. Crossing to Safety will be one of my TBR pile books to commit to reading in 2014. It is staring up at my right now, in fact!

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    1. JaneGS - Starting Crossing to Safety has me wondering why I don't reread more often...a project for next year may be taking shape. I hope you read Stegner in 2014. What a great writer!

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  9. I don't have a book hangover but I've been very distracted lately. I'm not sure what's wrong with me.

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    1. Kathy - I think we all go through periods like that... wonder if it's the change of seasons.

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  10. I think I have a similar hangover problem! I'm telling myself it must be the change of seasons. Plus, it is difficult to decide on what to read next, after reading a great book.

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    1. Pat - I usually have a stack of books I want to read, but none of them seemed appealing after finishing such great books.

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  11. I loved Angle of Repose earlier this year, and I am determined to read more Stegner. Sounds like this would be a good one to start ith!

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    1. Carrie - Stegner is such a good writer! Angle of Repose was wonderful and I loved the audio version of The Big Rock Candy Mountain. I think The Spectator Bird will be next for me.

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  12. Crossing to Safety is a fave of mine as well.

    I love the title of your post. So perfect as describing THAT feeling.

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    1. Ti - Seems like most readers can relate to that bookish hangover feeling. Crossing to Safety is every bit as amazing the second time around.

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  13. I loved Crossing to Safety and I must try Stoner seeing how much you loved it. It sits on my shelf.

    I know what you mean, once I read something really, really good, it takes me forever to select its successor.

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    1. Diane - I bought Stoner a couple years ago after reading about it on Matt's blog and later learned that both Thomas and Marie loved it, too. They were all right! Hope you like it, too.

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  14. Oh, I've never thought to do a reread to get over a book hangover. Brilliant.

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    1. Lisa - That was definitely a stroke of luck, but it made me realize that I don't reread nearly enough.

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  15. Well heck, I guess those books will have to go on my list if they have knocked you off your track. Lately I've had this same problem after I finish a Mo Hayder book. I just want to start another Mo book, and usually I don't have it from the library yet and I go into a funk.

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  16. I need to read Stoner, but I wasn't as thrilled with the Boo book as others. Maybe my own anthropology background made me see flaws or maybe because I listened to audio.

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    1. Beth F - Stoner is truly one of the best books I've ever read, but the Boo book derailed me more because of the subject matter.

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  17. Crossing to Safety is a favorite of mine too, it's such a great book. I have to read Stoner, soon and I'm going to start Behind Beautiful Forevers again and read it through even if it takes me a while. I think the first chapter with the garbage heap was tough to stomach!

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    1. Amy - I think Stoner bears more than a couple similarities to Crossing to Safety... I'm quite sure you would love it. Behind the Beautiful Forevers is a tough read that I would recommend with some reservations.

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  18. I agree with the very first comment from Trish; Cinnamon and Gunpowder is a fantastic book and may be just what you need. I love and hate reading hangovers. They make me feel lucky to be a reader but it's so hard to find that next book.

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    1. Vasilly - It's literally been years since I had a reading hangover like this one. Another recommendation for Cinnamon and Gunpowder means I definitely need to check it out!

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