Too many books….

This week I’m reading too many books.

It’s all the fault of Boulder Public Library. Suddenly a large number of the books I’d requested over the last few weeks/months arrived, all at once. There were books read about (in The New York Times, London Review of Books etc), heard about (on NPR, recommended by friends & colleagues), remembered from some distant time. They all go on my “Holds” list, and eventually they all turn up. Books borrowed, unlike books bought, have to be read on some kind of realistic timescale which is why this week I find myself simultaneously reading:

Katherine Boo – behind the beautiful forevers: life, death & hope in a mumbai undercity

Because I know Mumbai and I like non-fiction that reads like a novel and was wonderfully reviewed everywhere.

J-P Sartre – What is Literature?

For something I’m writing on Existential thought & journal therapy

Ellen Ullman – By Blood

A novel in which a professor eavesdrops on his psychoanalyst neighbour and her client. It turns out to be a search for birth mother narrative & a holocaust narrative… and identity & SanFrancisco

Virginia WoolfMoments of Being

Because I thought I remembered something but I haven’t found it yet.

Elizabeth Weil – No cheating, no dying; I had a good marriage. Then I tried to make it better.

Because it sounded interesting on NPR…….It turns out to be an Eat Pray Love kind of book where the author undertakes various experiences in order to write a book.

So many books (and that’s not counting the ones I was reading before) – I wonder how they’ll all end (or if I’ll find out before they have to be returned). And I need to get on before the next lot of requests arrive…..

What are you reading that you recommend I add to my list?

Thank you, libraries, I couldn’t have supported my lifelong reading habit without you.  That’s something I got from my father.

Here’s a journal prompt I’ve adapted from one or more of the books above:

My parents had given me what they’d known to give: eight weeks of summer overnight camp, a good education, unconditional love and trust.

What did you get from your parents?

Write it in the form of an unsent letter. [What’s the First rule of Unsent Letters? That’s right, they never-ever get sent.]

8 thoughts on “Too many books….”

  1. Jane,
    Someone described my clutch of titles as ‘eclectic’ – I’m happy to award you the same epithet!
    Yes, yes, yes to all of those you mentioned (with the exception of
    Robert Harris & Hallie Ephron, whom I’ve never read, the others have been consumed, are on my holds list or waiting in the to-be-read pile)


  2. Carol,
    I love Irvin Yalom’s books – he writes some really interesting novels as well as the psychotherapeutic work – Love’s Executioner is a kind of crossover – clinical tales which read like short stories rather than case studies. It’s just part of why I’m an existential psychotherapist!
    I’ve just been teaching his Group Psychotherapy book in my Group Process class at the Therapeutic Writing Institute.


  3. Since Christmas I’ve consumed quite a diverse menu:

    The Savage God – A study of Suicide by Al Alvarez. This because I am involved in running workshops on exploring suicide, and had not read this 1971 incredibly valuable work on the subject.

    The Marriage Plot by Jefffrey Eugenides. Because he is hailed by many, as one of great contemporary American writers. Set in the early 80’s and with a principal character researching the “marriage plot” in 19th English novels. It does involve a very intense depiction of both experiencing and being with the course of “bi-polarism”.

    The Fear Index by Robert Harris. A journalist turned novelist whose popularist take on historical, political and in this case, the financial world is both engaging and, in its way, thought-provoking.

    Why Be Happy When You Could be Normal. Because I heard a snippets of Jeanette Winterson reading this autobiographical piece on the radio which included an account of her attempted suicide, and of her relationship with the psychotherapist Susie Orbach, and I wondered what I could learn from her account…….

    Germinal by Emile Zola. A French classic of 19th century mining poverty, strikes, excrutiating hardship. I had a very physical response to the immediacy of the descriptions of the conditions of the mines through incredibly vivid characterisation of events and relationships.

    Never Tell A Lie by Hallie Ephron. A departure into mystery and suspense. Because I met Hallie in Trinidad, liked her very much and wanted to read something she had written. Although Harper Collins is her publisher and she is publised in several languages, she is not published in the UK, which is what happens in this genre evidently.A very engaging, page-turning, tale with a particular liveliness and connection with the main female (pregnant) character.

    The Tiger’s Wife by Tea Obrecht. We chose it in our small book group. I find that magical realism seldom really does it for me. I am too distanced by the flights of fancy,(perhaps I don’t connect well with this particular kind of symbolism) ,even when the writing is good.

    And currently – The Strangers Child by Alan Hollingshurst. Because it has been praised; I liked “The Line of Beauty”. My jury is out because I haven’t finished. It is certainly not uplifting. Like the Eugenides, Franzen’s “Freedom” and Australia’s “The Slap” to name a few, it depresses me to realise the issues with which we human’s become entangled, the relationships we are unable to make, and the hurt that ricochets through generations and around communities.
    And as an antedote (Huh) I had tried Dickens last month – Pickwick Papers, which I had never read through: hilariously funny (and very silly) at times, hugely ironic, amazingly contrived (for serialisation), throughly male, a tour de force for it’s then starting author. More cartoonlike than novelesque!!


  4. I’ve just read Love’s Executioner by Irvin D. Yalom, a world renowned psychotherapist who is particularlly known for existential psychotherapy. I would recommend the book to anyone with an interest in mental health. The book is based on psychotherapy sessions with about 10 clients and it is a very thought provoking and illuminating read. Irvin Yalom writes really well and is the author of a number of fiction and non-fiction books. This was recommended to me and is the first of his books I’ve read.


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