Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Losing Sleep

Several people have greeted me, bleary-eyed, to say they'd stayed up late reading MOURNING BECOMES CASSANDRA. This is wonderful news to me. And should be to them. After all, if we think of the things that usually keep sleep away, most of them are not very pleasant: newborn babies who spent the entire day snoozing, nagging anxieties, things that go bump in the night.

I, for example, had a hard time falling asleep last night because I was thinking about my son's splits at the latest swim meet. Doggone it, why was his breaststroke getting slower, when every other stroke was getting faster?

Un-put-downable books are few and far between, sadly. There should be a scale for measuring a book's un-put-downableness:

1- Academic Textbook in a course you didn't choose. You read the same page over and over, with no noticeable absorption of meaning. That is, if you can manage to read more than a paragraph without falling asleep on it, drooling.

2- Parenting Books. Books that not only bore non-maternal types like me, but also induce guilt.

3- certain Sections of the Bible. And I don't mean Leviticus, which I find interesting. I mean geneologies, certain passages of the Prophets (whew! which country were we lambasting now?), and, worst of all, instructions on how to build things or measurements of buildings.

4- Mildly-Interesting-yet-also-Secretly-Boring books which you can't quite decide if they're worth finishing. I'd put my current EDUCATION OF LITTLE TREE in this category. You might compromise by skimming.

5- Somewhat Interesting. Think Book Club selections chosen by that one, slightly-off person who always recommends movies you hated.

6- getting there! Worth reading every word of, but it can be uphill at times. After watching Ken Burns' CIVIL WAR series, I fell for Shelby Foote and tried to read one (enormous) volume of his seminal work. Despite falling asleep frequently I made it through the thing, but the minor battles and sieges did blend together somewhat.

7- a book you like and gladly pick up. I think this bucket holds most books I bother finishing. These are books you also put down without reluctance when invited to go play Yahtzee or watch a rerun of The Simpsons. Three stars.

8- Books you put down while suppressing mild feelings of irritation at being interrupted. I'd put books 1 and 3 of the TWILIGHT series here.

9- Books that cause you to stay up late or burn dinner.

10- Books that, if the house caught on fire, there would be danger that you wouldn't even notice and would burn to a crisp. And it would be worth it. The last five chapters of HARRY POTTER 4-7 fall into this category.

What are some of your 8s, 9s, or 10s?

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