It’s not that I didn’t have a book on my nightstand and I certainly hadn’t forgotten the title or the author. I am currently reading Jennifer Weiner’s Fly Away Home. I’m really enjoying the book and I’m finding it hard to put down...but do I want to be defined by it? That doesn’t seem fair at all! As much as I love Weiner why does she get to define me? If any book is going to define me shouldn’t it be one of my own?!
Of course that was part of the problem. All Mr. Nonfiction knew about my relationship with the literary world was that I wrote novels with titles like Vows, Vendettas & A Little Black Dress and now he would know that I was spending my late evenings and early mornings reading a book that he would inevitably dismiss as fluffy chick-lit. Of course Weiner’s books, while fun and highly humorous, aren’t exactly fluffy. They deal with relationships, women’s roles in society and finding one's place in the world without bending to the force of others' unrealistic expectations. But how on earth could I say all that without sounding absurdly defensive. It was, after all, possible, even probable that he didn’t think the question: “What are you reading?” was incredibly loaded and it was definitely probable that he would think I was crazy for thinking that it was! And it was very, very probable that his conclusions about the state of my sanity would be completely on target!
But then I realized that the question and the entire premise of his theory would be more sound if you were going draw conclusions about a person based on the last FIVE books they’ve read. If that had been his question I could have said, “I’m currently reading Jennifer Weiner’s Fly Away Home. Before that I read James Gleick’s Chaos (a nonfiction book about the development of Chaos theory), Toby Barlow’s Sharp Teeth (gritty and poetic novel about werewolves), Alison Weir’s The Lady In The Tower (a nonfiction account of the fall of Anne Boleyn), and re-read David Sedaris’ Me Talk Pretty One Day (because Sedaris’ essays, while frequently poignant, always make me laugh out loud).
Weiner, Gleick, Barlow, Weir and Sedaris with my own books sprinkled in like little punctuation marks. Yes, you probably could at least partially define me by that combination. Fantasy, humor, feminine introspection, a small dose of neurosis, a bit of scandalous history, a little fluff and a little intellectualism (or, you could combine the last two qualities and say I’m into fluffy intellectualism). Unlike my date, it would never occur to me to only read nonfiction anymore than it would occur to me to only read fiction and certainly not one genre of fiction. Perhaps that’s why certain...well for lack of a better word, book snobs are so dismissive and derisive of books like mine or Weiner’s. Could it be that they don’t know how to mix it up? Are they like the wine connoisseurs who wax poetic about the $200 bottle of reserve Cabernet they consumed with last night’s dinner without ever being able to appreciate the truly refreshing quality of a $3 beer on a hot summer day?
Anyway, I decided to give my date the name of the last five books I had read even though that’s not what he asked for. If you’re going to draw a conclusion about a person it seems to me that you should be able to consider as much evidence as possible.
In other words, you can’t judge me by the book on my nightstand UNLESS you add it to everything else on my bookshelf.
Bestselling Author of:The Sophie Katz Mystery Series
So Much For My Happy Ending
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