I've been complaining for the last few years that my reading habits have crashed due to the Damn Internet. Instead of a book a week, I am reading skeeteen million blogs and obsessively looking for new pictures of my grandson when my daughter posts on Instagram.
I have now, however, solved my Internet-induced ADD due to my HAD (hyper anxiety disorder)! Yay for the Damn Internet!
You see, one of the few parts of my body that still get a great aerobic workout and keep my cardiac rhythm pumping overtime are my well-exercised adrenal glands. Kids, they are in the best shape of their lives - 60 is the new 20!
In order to tame these little monsters, which have the sleep habits of a two-month old, I tried the following, to wit:
- meditation (completely bogus - if you can't concentrate, then you can't meditate)
- preslumber exercise (induced leg cramps)
- midnight eating (hence the 35 lbs I had to lose the past year)
- Pinterest black holes,
- TV (wakes up the dog who whines to get out of his crate)
- obsessively predicting worst case scenarios for every mistake I have made in every case, investigation, or trial; diseases I suspect I have after in depth research on WebMD; and financial ruin (from all the shit I can buy on Amazon in the middle of the night).
After a few years of this, I realized that as long as I am going to shine the monitor light into my face in the middle of the night and therefore completely upsetting my circadian rhythms, I would be better off reading books than scrolling down FB and "liking" a million pages about labradors and Cape Cod.
So yay, I am not sleeping any better, but I am much more well read!
Last night (and part of this morning, thus late for work by a half hour but it's Friday and I had an in office day) I finished The Girl on a Train. Fast-paced mystery as seen from the vantage point (mainly) of an alcoholic, divorced 30-something woman who has invented a storybook life for a young couple she sees from the train every morning, only to find out that appearances are deceiving. It was very smooth, interesting, well-plotted, and scary enough to divert my attention from my own under the bed horrors. As a middle of the night book, I highly recommend it for when you absolutely know that no matter what you do, you are going to be awake until dawn.
For when you are just off your game enough that you keep waking up but are not having night sweat anxieties, just mere why-is-it-so-hot-no-one-turned-down-the-freaking-heat, or will he EVER stop that FREAKING snoring, I cannot recommend enoughThe Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing. Unless you find completely compelling endless pages about invading your family's privacy by throwing out their belongings without permission, or you enjoy staring at the ceiling wondering if your socks really do feel exhausted from being bundled into pairs instead of being folded flat, I can completely recommend this book as a cure to any insomnia. And seriously, aside from being snarky, what exactly does she give as practical advice other than that you have to completely your declutter your house in one fell swoop or its just going to be be messy, which we learned in kindergarten.
For those nights when you are just fed up feeling anxious and old, please pick up India Knight's "Older, Wiser, Happier". I really did like parts of this book, especially the make up and skin care parts because I love English products and just clicked on Amazon and ordered the English tooth-whitening toothpaste that she recommended (of course see above: middle of the night shopping straining budget and marriage). She is funny and has a great handle on all the crap that bedevils middle aged women like bad knees and stiletto heels, stepchildren, affairs, and what to wear to a cocktail party without looking like a fat frump. Personally, I haven't been to a cocktail party since my daughter's wedding, have never had an affair, and haven't worn stilettos since my twenties, so not really relevant but it's nice to know that I have avoided being that woman of a certain age who has had too much to drink and has lipstick up around her nostrils.
Sometimes, I find I can fall back asleep pretty quickly if I put in the earphones and listen to a book. Of course, I then have to replay the whole thing in the car the next day, but that's okay. Vanessa and Her Sister: If our mandatory online 24 hours of biannual Continuing Legal Education was taught by English barristers, I'd have it all done in the first month. I will listen to almost anything read in an English accent, and the narrator of this novel is just perfect and you will learn that Lytton Strachey is pronounced Stray-chey not Stray-key.
All the kidding aside, this novel was very unsettling for me, which you will understand when I reveal that I have had a a photograph of Virginia Woolf on the wall of my study since college, where I wrote more papers about her writings than anyone else. I have every novel and all her diaries. When I am trying to write, I often think of her in her deep, upholstered chair with her wooden writing board on her lap, turning out masterpieces with a fountain pen and foolscap, and wonder why I cannot do the same lying on my bed with laptop on lap.
So it was disturbing to find out that her sister Vanessa should have bitch-slapped her about a hundred times but they were all so Bohemian upper class, which means that all the Bloomsbury gay men were having riotous serial affairs with each other, the straight men were all sleeping with their friends' wives, but the women were all stiff upper lip and just sighed and frowned discretely when their sisters poached their husbands right out from under them. It was somewhat soothing to learn at the end that Vanessa had affairs throughout her life but remained married to Clive Bell; that her true soul mate was Roger Fry, who paid Virginia no mind despite her best efforts; and that she had a child with Duncan Grant, and she, Clive, Duncan, and his gay lover, all raised and lived together in Charleston house. The Real Housewives of Anywhere have nothing on The Bloomsbury Group.
The Miniaturist is a novel I really wanted to like, and did in major parts. It takes place in the 1600's in Amsterdam but has a decidedly modern sensibility as it debates the role of women in the world and the abomination of the persecution of homosexuals. The city, the international spice trade, the food, the homes, the mores of society, and the costumes are beautifully and evocatively illustrated. Some of the characters are superbly developed and disturbingly unique. However, the eponymous thread of the narrative, though skillfully and creepily woven throughout most of the book, is left hanging, unexplained and tattered by the end. It is worth the read for the author's sheer brilliance at bringing to life a historical era not much written about and a strange, unrequited love story, but as a satisfying ending to a mystery, it falls short.
This week, I began listening to Joy Fowler's "We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves". It is fast, witty, sardonic, and self-effacing. I already knew the plot hook and I am glad I've reached the part when it is officially revealed, but I find myself wanting to fast forward to find out how it all went down, which means that I am finding it more interesting for the plot than for the characters. Too soon to say, however, and I'm sticking with it.
HARDCOVER, MY HEART
There are tons of books around here. Really, it's a sickness when your TBR could only be read if you quit work and became a book reviewer for a living (I AM AVAILABLE AT VERY SHORT NOTICE). But whatever, I love books, book covers, hardcover, paperback, and they are not going away.
So here is the one I can't wait to continue reading tomorrow, Saturday! H Is For Hawk. I had just started it and knew it was going to be great when my cousin Alison, who has great reading tastes and is in love with ospreys and hawks, etc, asked me if I had heard of it and my daughter laughed because the book was on the back seat of the car. If only I could be a writer with such writerly skill as to entwine with great love and care her grief over her father's death with a study of goshawks. I've only read the first few chapters, but I'll let you know more.
So, it is midnight, Mr. Pom is not snoring yet, and I need to go to sleep so I can wake up early, go to Starbucks and read H is for Hawk. There's rumor of a fast trip to DUMBO to go to Jacques Torres' chocolate shop to look at huge chocolate chickens and bunnies and have more coffee and buy some Easter basket goodies. See y'all later and let me know what you are reading/kindle-ing/and listening to.