I Slept with 14 Books and Read None

It’s only happened to me once and I remember the experience so clearly after all these years.  In my mind, I can see myself sitting in my comfortable chair hunched over a book, so consumed with it that I cannot stop. I read for three days, with a few hours of sleep in between; finally I finished the massive book.  I remember just sitting and letting the feelings swirl around me.  I can’t even tell you what it was, but in that instant I felt changed.

The book was “I Know This Much Is True,” by Wally Lamb.  Honestly, it was the strangest book.  There were flashbacks to Italy which were sometimes boring and confusing.  Whatever it was—Wally weaved this tale so beautifully, it moved me.  Just so you don’t think I’m crazy, the same thing happened to my sister.  She loaned me the book, saying I could read it first because she was busy and it was a huge book. When I gave it back to her, I just said, “You have to read this.”  She stayed up all night too and came out the other side—changed in some inexplicable way.

I’ve thought about reading it again, but I don’t want to erase that experience by reading the book with new eyes.

Today I picked up a book that has been sitting next to my bed for about two years.  It was stacked with all the others that my heart longs to read, but my head wonders if I ever will.  I collect books that catch my interest and add them to my collection, knowing when the time is right, I will read them.  I had this one book on my shelf for five years, only to discover that it was not what I thought—it was wonderful and made me so happy.  Maybe I wasn’t ready for it.  I don’t even know if I believe in things like that.

“Olive Kitteridge” won the Pulitzer for fiction in 2008.  It was on all the Top 10 lists of that year and I added it to my list; when I came across the paperback at a used book store, I grabbed it up, so excited with my good find.  And so she sat.

I have read several thousand books in my life, but for the last two years I have struggled with serious inattention, which is likely health-related.  I’ve hardly finished any of the dozens of books I have started to read.  Yesterday, I was so happy because I finished a non-fiction book, reading a little every night until the story took hold of me.  This morning I didn’t feel like reading online news, so I crawled back into my king-size bed, with my 14 book (I counted them) and my Kindle lying on my ex-husband’s side of the bed.

So there she was, Olive Kitteridge.  It’s a short book, 270 pages; why not give it a try—see if I can get into it?  This book is made up of 13 connected, chapter-length stories about the everyday minutia of the residents of a small coastal town in Maine.  Olive Kitteridge is the common thread.  The first story was a tad bit slow at first, but picked up and I thought it was interesting.

I was into the second or third paragraph of the next story when I knew this book was going to touch me deep.  The stories are short, so the author uses words, remarkable sentences, and wrenching metaphor to paint the most exquisite human emotions.

Because the stories and characters are so diverse, I experienced the powerful nature of the lives of ordinary people; how someone can cross paths with another, changing them, sometimes without even knowing it.  I felt sadness, the grips of marital bonds, happiness and a huge sense of thankfulness–knowing that beneath the most jaded of souls, kindness can find its way out when it is most needed.

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9 thoughts on “I Slept with 14 Books and Read None

  1. I LOVE those type of books. The ones that you can’t stop reading & even when you are forced to stop all you can do is think about cracking open that book again!! I’ve only had a few but I can still remember how they made me feel.

    • It’s good to know that others have experienced this as well. Books have been a “happy place” for me all my life. Thanks for reading my post!

  2. Love it! I love the power of books. I have been on a reading binge lately. I love my Kindle! The book that touched me recently was The Dirty Life by Kristin Kimball. This book starts with a single journalist from New York and ends with her married to a organic farmer in upstate New York. Kristin words were so visual to me. I felt the sun and smelt the earth. My heart raced with excitement for her new adventure. I longed for the value she felt at the end of a long hard day on the farm. I long for the simplicity of life that we have lost. Technology be damned. Get your hands dirty and feel the real meaning of living!

    • Thank you so much for the comments. I really do appreciate it. I will share this book with you. I teared up several times in totally different parts of the book. I will check out your book. I’m glad to hear you are reading again as well. Don’t forget the Library–all the Kindle books you could ever want. Take care!

  3. I can relate…Oh to get through all the books I have on my nightstand. My mood has to be right for certain books, but I’m in a bookclub so, every 6 weeks I’m reading a book I may or may not have picked up on my own. The one this month is Unbroken. I had a two hour drive to the other side of the state today and it’s all I thought about. It’s stickin to my brains and affecting my nerves. I’m about half way done but it’s about an American POW and the things that have happened to him in his life, make my darkest days seem like a breath of fresh air. I have the pull between wanting to see how it ends and not wanting to read another page because I don’t want to read how he has to withstand one more day. But it has really made me think of that time period and how agonizing it must have been. I’m not a big history buff so this is the first time I have read a book that grabbed ahold of me and made me understand the horror of the war.

    I love a good book that makes you think, reflect, and touches your soul!

    • I’m glad to hear you are in a book club. There are so many books that would never see the light of day if it were not for book clubs. Unbroken sounds familiar; I will have to check it out. I don’t read many war stories either. I read this one book, Carry Me Across The Water by Ethan Canin, (love him) where the main character has flashbacks about serving in the Pacific in WWII. The soldiers in his unit took turns crawling though Japanese tunnels on some island. It was very stressful because each who crawled through these intricate tunnels had a very high chance of getting their head blown off my an enemy soldier farther down the tunnel. The writing was so intense that I was in that tunnel and I swear I felt claustrophobia overcome me. It freaked me out. It’s one of those things that you never forget reading.

  4. How I identified with this post. I have a pile of books… No okay I confess I have 3 piles of books in my bedroom waiting to be read as well as 2 shelves on my bookshelf . I seem too unsettled to read much this past couple of years and I always seem to have a camera in front of my face these days! or I’m editing photos on my computer…my New Years Resolution should have been to read more !

  5. I’ve got one word for the dilemma-audiobooks. My poor eyes are too tired to actually read much myself, but my audio books=joy. I’ve listened to both book, and enjoyed them. Olive Kitteridge remains an all time favorite. Great post.

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