Currently, I have nine books on hold, which might sound like too many except that for some of the more popular titles I'm 55th in line -- even 98th, albeit that's on 20 copies. Still, there is a danger that too many will come available at once or that the book might become available just as I suddenly find myself too busy to read (you're right; that almost never happens -- not that I'm never too busy, just never too busy for reading, which is virtually indispensable to my well-being). And for precisely that reason, the VPL's software has a nifty little feature that allows the borrower to Pause a Hold request, so that you maintain priority in line, but allow others to go ahead until you're ready to take advantage.
However, if you've got a few too many books on Hold, and you get a bit too distracted with travel and broken teeth and other sundries, well. . . .
Let's just say that at the moment I have two e-books downloaded, their 21-day expiry period shrinking as I type, I'm currently racing my way through a paperback that holds four novels in one book, and the library emailed that a print copy of a mystery novel recommended by my sister is waiting for me now, and just as I was groaning over that, I checked my account and saw that the latest Val McDermid mystery has just been added to the Holds shelf, in my name.
Embarrassment of riches, definitely.
So at the moment, I'm a reading fool, and I'm really not complaining as the weather is chilly enough to make curling up with a book very pleasant. . .
But the reading doesn't leave much time for writing about reading, I must say. Still, I'll try to catch you up quickly.
When it seemed everyone and her dog had a copy of Jess Walter's Beautiful Ruins tucked in her beach bag a few summers ago, I held the book's popularity against it. Silly snob, right? With a few flights scheduled recently, though, I clicked Hold when it was featured again on the library website, and the e-copy was ready for me to download in time for the flight to Palm Springs.
Enough has already been written about this novel to convince you to read it now if, like me, you foolishly held yourself above the crowd first time 'round (please take my self-scourging with a big grain of salt -- you'll see from my past reading lists that I am happy to be quite promiscuous in my reading patterns and that I am regularly content to lose myself in popular fiction, as long as it's well-written). This NY Times review by Helen Schulman, for example, lauds Walter's engaging storytelling but also his clever skewering of Hollywood, the way he can move us and amuse us both.
But I do want to show you the passage that moved me most. It takes place in the one chapter an American veteran of WWII manages to write in the book he claims to be writing for years and years of post-war disillusion and dissolution. In the book, a character like himself recounts an incident in which, near the end of the war, walking in ragged, stretched-out formation with fellow soldiers, he sees a beautiful young Italian woman, is smitten, and insists on walking her home to her village. She turns out to speak English very well, having learned it at school and obviously having a facility for language.
They're speaking, as they walk, of where the soldier/writer/protagonist is from, and he's impressed by how much she knows of the state. It's a beautiful and devastating tale told in two deft pages. Read it, and see what I mean? Although I warn you, it's difficult, and even more pertinent these #MeToo days, perhaps, than when it was written a few years ago.
Next up: I'll tell you which two fat new hardcovers I found in the Fast Reads section of the library, just before our long weekend in Palm Springs. The latest mysteries in two separate detective series I'm always keen to keep up with, but whoa! Each one weighed in at over 400 pages. . . Perfect for poolside but good thing no one weighed my carry-on!