When you’re sick, if you care about your friends, family and co-workers at all, you shut yourself and your contagion in your home and promise not to infect everyone you care about with your germs. You cough, hack, sneeze and wheeze, shiver and boil all by yourself, reaching out every now and again via Twitter, Facebook, text or the ancient medium of the telephone to contact people and let them know you’re still alive. And, could someone please deliver Popsicles and orange juice to your doorstep?
One thing being sick gives you, is the uninterrupted time to catch up on certain hobbies and entertainments that usually get pushed into the far corners of your available moments, competing against one another for your attention before you fall asleep, exhausted, at the end of another day: Television. Movies. BOOKS.
Ah, books. Glorious pages of imaginable fantasy, fiction, mystery and horror! I have a thriving “to read” list that exists within my Goodreads account, but at the end of each year I like to peruse the Goodreads Choice Awards, adding anything that sounds promising, interesting, different into my queue. Last year, some of the best books I read were ones that I found through a perusal of the Choice Awards finalists for 2011: Deathless by Catherynne M. Valente, The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh, Ready Player One by Ernest Cline, The Last Werewolf by Glen Duncan, and The Leftovers by Tom Perrotta.
Catching a Christmas bug gave me the opportunity to page through the Choice Awards finalists (and winners) for 2012, and to add a number of new books to my “to read” list. After the many successful stolen titles from last year’s awards, I’m very excited and am looking forward to picking through this year’s finds.
First up, Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn. I finished that one in about three hours this morning over a long breakfast-on-the-couch, nursing a glass of orange juice and clutching a box of tissues. It was a great little satire that pays homage to the English language in a unique way. Classified as a young adult book, this volume should not deter adult readers — it’s packed front to back with voluptuous, meaty words that will have you reaching for your dictionary, just as finishing it will make you want to sit down and practice the art of writing a letter again.
Right before Ella Minnow Pea, I spent the day in bed immersed in the Kindle pages of Robert McCammon’s Swan Song, trying to keep my mind occupied between the 4-6 hour time frame in which I could take more Tylenol for the body aches. Swan Song is a big novel about the destruction — and salvation — of the world. McCammon weaves a rich story from the very separate stories of disparate characters, slowly drawing them together in the years after the POTUS gives the word to start World War III, unleashing all of the United States’ nuclear power while the states absorb the missiles and bombs of other nations.
The scene McCammon paints is gruesome: a devastating portrait of a world torn apart at the seams, riddled with radiation poisoning, and the remnants of humanity that struggle on. It is a dark portrait filled with death and evil, but one that finds its own light within a few individuals whose inside faces are good and valiant. Hope does find a foothold within the devastated Earth — it is brought about by a wrestler, a little girl, and a homeless woman. Swan Song is a big book that doesn’t drag an inch. There are enough characters for McCammon to keep moving between, but not so many (Hello, I’m talking to you, Mr. G. R. R. Martin) that you begin to fear keeping their individual stories clear in your mind. Given the opportunity and time to read the whole thing, it goes by pretty quickly; while in bed, I managed to get from 35% to 100% completion in a little less than a day.
I have two more books in hand to hopefully get me through the last remnants of this damned cold. On one hand, I’m enjoying the unfettered reading time. On the other, I’m anxious to spend some of this holiday with my family instead of alone, to hug my sister and my fur-nieces, to have our own little belated Christmas, and to celebrate my Mom’s birthday on January first. To sum up:
Dear Christmas Cold,
Please, pretty please, take these three full days of respite from doing anything at all (save eating, sleeping and reading) and give me back the remaining two days of holiday! What it really comes down to is that I can’t imagine not starting 2013 off by celebrating Mom’s birthday with family and friends.
Thanks for your consideration in this matter.
Your Host, Jennifer