During the last few months of 2009, I was doing a hell of a lot of reading. I got very excited about all the reading that would happen in 2010 and I was going to keep track of everything that I read. Well, I reported on Brief Interviews with Hideous Men and then that was it. But to keep the record from piling up, let me tell you about the only two other books that I've read since this lovely decade began.
First up: The Kiss by Kathryn Harrison
I beg you to let me begin with how I came to obtain this book. I was at the library and I'd left my reading list at home. I was on a time crunch and wasn't really feeling like reading something big and important. It was the literary equivalent of jonesing for chicken nuggets. Not only that, but I was on a time crunch. So I went to the autobiography section (usually a very safe bet for a fiction-non-fiction lover like myself) and when I got a text message indicating that I was late to my next appointment, I grabbed a smallish book and checked out with the idea that anything I read can teach me something profitable.
This. Book. Sucked. I didn't want to finish it but there's something about me that won't allow that to happen.
It's the story of a girl who grows up without a present father. Then when she's an adult, she meets her dad and they begin a harmless sexual relationship. For the next 200 pages or so, she hashes out how powerful he was over her and how manipulative. I was really looking for something, any sort of light, any bit of responsibility or silver lining to a unique, absurd, painful situation. Nope. It just ends.
A Million Miles in a Thousand Years: What I Learned While Editing My Life by Donald Miller
Donald Miller, if I could just take a moment to write you a love-letter it would read like this:
Don,You know how you soothe me. Do you know that when I lay in bed at night and read this personal note to me (that you so kindly had cover bound and for which you oddly requested I pay seventeen dollars), I'd drink you in. You'd pass through my eyes, down my throat and I'd feel you sit warm in my chest like amaretto. I want to go hiking with you, I'll ride a bike across the country with you (if you feel like doing that again--if you don't then I'll have to admit that I never really wanted to do that in the first place but I would have), I'd let you kiss down my neck like you tried to do with that other girl. I'll pretend like you weren't in love with that other girl. We could be a team, Don. You and me. You get me. I get you--is there anything that two people want for more in the whole world? I submit that they do not. How lucky we are.Anyway, I hope that you Google yourself and this blog shows up at the top of the page and you feel compelled to make use of the comments feature.Love,Libby
"...to know there is a better story for your life and to choose something other is like choosing to die." If I may be so bold as to assign a thesis statement to A Thousand Miles, it'd have to be this.
I like how he doesn't come at this subject as an expert extolling knowledge on us as students. It's like he lets us in on his journal of what his life started looking like when he decided that he wasn't content letting life happen to him anymore. He was going to take control and he told us about how it went. Here's a secret, it wasn't all happy trails. Any good story endures conflict (that's another main theme). There was actually a considerable amount of heartache and sunburns but at the end of the day, I don't think you'll ever regret a life that you fought for.
In the few weeks that occurred since I finished this book, I've started fighting for myself and my life. I'm excited. In a year, you'll be looking at a whole new girl. Thanks, Don, for showing up at the right time for me.
And now I'm reading Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. It was so popular a few years ago that I really didn't want to read it. But I've decided to stop being a book snob. Sometimes a book is a best seller because it's actually good (but sometimes it's because Oprah talked about it).
I love you. I know I don't say it enough (except when I say it too much). Pass that message along to Don if you see him.