For the second year in a row I am taking part in our library’s Summer Reading Program (see last year’s progress here), which runs from May 6th thru August 21st. Last year I was a Rock Star and this year I’m a Rocketeer! To date, participants have clocked 11,314,826 minutes of reading and counting. I am proud to say I’ve contributed 4460 minutes of that total (or .0004% for you matheteers) and am thinking I can log another 2,500 – minutes not books – before the program ends… Continue reading “If a 6 turned out to be 9…”
Most of the 1600 additional minutes were spent reading Kurt Vonnegut Jr’s. The Sirens of Titan, Celeste Ng’s Little Fires Everywhere, Melanie Benjamin’s The Girls in the Picture, and John Connolly’s He. This is probably the 20th time I’ve read Sirens: I routinely read most of Vonnegut’s catalog on an annual basis. My only complaint with Little Fires Everywhere, which I thoroughly enjoyed, was that I wasn’t enjoying the story under an umbrella at the beach.
That leaves Girls and He, both of which deal with success, friendship, and love in the early days of Hollywood. The Girls in the Picture weaves the story of a lifelong friendship between ‘America’s Sweetheart’ Mary Pickford and screenwriter and film producer Frances Marion, both of whom were fascinating women way ahead of their time. He slowly builds up to the moment when an arbitrary pairing on a movie set leads to the legendary comedic pairing and deep private friendship between Stan Laurel and Oliver ‘Babe’ Hardy.
I would never have guessed that two books with such similar subject matter could impact me so differently. I was bored to tears by Girls and did not bother to even finish the book, while I stayed up way too long each night reading He. The one thing I did enjoy about both books was how each author included Hollywood stars in bit roles throughout their stories Unfortunately, because of this and a few paragraphs in He I may never be able to watch Curly and Mo in a Three Stooges short again. An odd side note – both books have Charlie Chaplin playing an integral role to the plot in each.
Maybe I disliked Girls because it felt like a variation on a story I’ve read hundreds of times before. And maybe I liked He because it was written in a voice that felt uniquely fresh and nuanced, and because so few books revolve around professional respect and platonic love between two individuals, and men at that. Or it could have been that Mary and Frances, who were so interesting in real life, came across as oddly one-dimensional while Stan and Babe were rendered in such detail I felt as if I had known each personally. I the meantime, I’m going to try and catch some old Laurel & Hardy films to see if the magic I felt while reading He comes through on the silver screen.
How about you? Have you ready either of these books? If so, what did you think of them? What are you reading now? I’d love to know…
When I was little I spent a large part of every summer reading. My sister and I would ride our bikes to the nearest library and load up our baskets with enough books for a week of reading. We’d bike home, fight over the porch lounge chair or the hammock, and read our afternoons away. My children, who each had a library card within weeks of being born, also participated in summer reading programs until they reached high school and their assigned summer reading assignments took over.
I continue to be a huge library user and supporter and generally utilize the online search and hold services to assemble a week or two worth of reading material. Imagine my surprise when I stopped by to pick up my book holds and realized that the summer reading club had started, featuring a club for children AND adults!
The program runs from May 14th through August 3rd and the goal is read 600 minutes. Not to brag, but I read 600 minutes in the first week, and am currently up to 4000 minutes and counting. There are also incentives for posting on social media (check), reading to someone (check) and making a recipe from a cookbook (check, check and check). I’ve already earned a mug and a $10 gift card and hope to have enough minutes to ‘win’ a book donation in my name when the program ends. Here’s what I’ve read so far…
Feel Free – Zadie Smith | Sing Unburied Sing – Jesamyn Ward | God Bless You Mr. Kervorkian – Kurt Vonnegut | Miller’s Valley – Anna Quindlen | The Wife Between Us – Greer Hendricks | While Mortals Sleep – Kurt Vonnegut | Eternal Life: A Novel – Dora Horn | Green: A Novel – Sam Graham-Felsen | Lullaby Road: A Novel – James Anderson | The Nothing – Hanif Kureshi | The Queen’s Embroiderer: A True Story of Paris, Lovers, Swindlers, and the First Stock Market Crisis – Joan E. DeJoan | King Zero – Nathaniel Rich | Surprise Me: A Novel – Sophie Kinsella | The Interestings – Med Wolitzer | The Monk of Mokha – Dave Eggers