On this (day after the) unofficial last day of summer, I’m making a last-ditch effort to memorialize the final part of my summer reading effort. I’m already on the verge of forgetting everything I loved and despised about these books, because I just started my first semester of vet school. It’s only the beginning of my second week, but my routine–and frankly, my entire lifestyle–has been upset. I’m glad for it, because this is the kind of upset that’s going to change me for the better, but it does mean that my priorities have shifted. Oh, the time I once devoted to reading! Where has it gone?! In reality, it’s only been one week, but a week ago feels like a lifetime ago.
If we were having coffee, mine would be shockingly strong. I need something to wake me up, because I’m emotionally and energetically drained. I would put on my best bright-eyed and bushy-tailed mask, and try to escape my state of mind. Your company would cheer me up, and bring a sincere, unaffected smile to my face. Talking to someone instead of turning my thoughts over endlessly inside my own head would be a welcome change. Read more
If we were having coffee, I would probably be having tea. I would share this sunny patio spot with you, an overflowing bowl of toothsome, sweet White Lady peaches between us. I wouldn’t be very gregarious this morning, because I’ve been a little low. We would be sitting across from each other, enjoying each other’s presence, but our chairs would be angled slightly, releasing the tension from our open circle. I hope you would be happy to simply lean back and close your eyes, savoring the invigorating dance of the sun on your skin after so much rain. I heard there are more storms on the way.
The Remains of the Day has been recommended to me over and over again. Finally, when I saw it at my favorite used book store, I picked it up and shelved it. Somehow, the book never made it to the top of my reading list, though. Despite my affinity for Downton Abbey and all manner of British period pieces, it seemed too blatantly Anglophilic for me. I don’t enjoy reading just anything written about British people, but I do appreciate that uniquely British pairing of scathing humor with unnatural, almost illogical, stoicism. That’s why I enjoy Evelyn Waugh’s books, for example, or the lovely gem that is William Boyd’s Any Human Heart—one of my favorite reads of the year. In more ways than I had expected, Kazuo Ishiguro’s book was different from my usual fare.
We live our lives, do whatever we do, and then we sleep—it’s as simple and ordinary as that. A few jump out of windows or drown themselves or take pills; more die by accident; and most of us, the vast majority, are slowly devoured by some disease or, if we’re very fortunate, by time itself. There’s just this for consolation: an hour here or there when our lives seem, against all odds and expectations, to burst open and give us everything we’ve ever imagined, though everyone but children (and perhaps even they) knows these hours will inevitably be followed by others, far darker and more difficult. Still we cherish the city, the morning; we hope, more than anything, for more.Michael Cunningham, The Hours
It’s 9 pm on Thursday evening, and I’ve just done something I haven’t done for a very long time. I read an entire book today. I woke up, having finished reading Call the Midwife last night, and sat down at the foot of my bed to pick another book. I reached for The Hours, opened it, and looked up 30 pages later like I had just awoken from a dream. My own surroundings seemed strange, because I had been so completely invested in what this book laid out before me that the story seemed, momentarily, more real than my own existence.