Friday, October 30, 2009

Book Lust

On of the nice things about having a husband who works for an airline is that I can fly free. The down side is that I have to fly stand-b y and only get a seat if there is one available. It usually works out, but to ensure a greater degree of success, I almost always try for the first flight out of Tulsa to Dallas at 6:00 am.

Which means, like it did this past Wednesday, that if I have something scheduled in the evening, I have lots of down time. This makes me very happy. Because it allows me hours of guilt free time to read!

I read two books in two days--one great one called, "The Glass Castle" by Jeannette Walls, and one good one titled, "The Guinea Pig Diaries" by A.J. Jacobs. I feel ahead of the game in regard to my self-imposed but extremely strict rule to read at least a book a week.

The first one was so good I finished it in a matter of hours. We were rain delayed getting out of Atlanta on the return trip, and I found myself in a quandary. I usually carry a smorgasbord of books to choose from so that, depending on my mood, I will have on hand just what I am looking for at the moment.

However, I just started carrying my laptop computer with me when I travel--primarily because I now have a laptop computer to take with me when I travel. But it takes up precious real estate in my carry on bag and significantly decreases my book space.

So on this last trip, I only took one book, foolishly thinking it would keep me fully occupied for both days of the trip. What I hadn't counted on was the "can't put it down" factor of Walls' brilliant memoir, and all the down time caused by weather delays on the return trip.
So there I was, stuck in the Atlanta airport, jacked up on Starbuck's coffee, with the whole day ahead of me and nothing to read. This was a much bigger inconvenience than delays. In fact, it was close to a catastrophe.

I wandered into the nearest airport book store and scoured the shelves, instantly dismissing anything with the word "novel" on the cover and severely limiting my choices. But that's okay. Americans have too many options on everything from toothpaste to salad dressing anyway. And I am purely a non-fiction aficionado.

I looked through several titles including Jeannette Walls' second book, "Half Broke Horses" and "Accidental Billionaires" about the two former friends who started Face Book which I'd read a favorable review about.

Having just finished the emotionally draining, "The Glass Castle," and knowing the brain expanding book, "Satan and the Problem of Evil" that was waiting for me at home, I decided I needed a little mental levity. So I finally decided on "The Guinea Pig Diaries" and headed to the check out counter when I decided to glance at the price tag. Instantly there was a problem. The book was $25.

I can't tell you the last time I spent $25 on a single book, but I can assure you it's been a while--ever since I discovered, where it more than lives up to its name, so the price seemed a bit steep, to say the least.

I stood there for quite some time weighing it out in my mind. $25 for a book I could get for half that or less if I waited, or hours of boredom listening to talking heads on the television monitors or watching countless people talk too loud on their cell phones in public places. I'm surprised it took as long as it did because, naturally, the book won out.

I justified it to my inner self by convincing that inner self I would return it to Barnes and Noble in Tulsa and buy three books that were on sale with the store credit I'd receive.

This was merely a lie I told myself to justify my decision to buy the book. I know very well that once I read a book it becomes my life-long friend and I can't bear to part with it.

Whenever Jay and I get into an argument about all the stuff he collects and all the junk he can't seem to part with that needs to GO with a capital G (in my humble opinion) all he has to say is, "If you want to get rid of stuff so badly, let's just get rid of some of your books!" It shuts me up every time.

It's impossible to explain to a non-reader the power of a good book, so I don't even try.
I can't say I'd highly recommend A.J Jacob's book, though I thoroughly enjoyed his first book "The Know-It-All" about his quest to read through the entire Encyclopedia Britannica. But I would highly recommend Walls' bittersweet memoir of triumphing over incomprehensible circumstances.

I'll even loan it to you so you won't have to buy it!