Despite my best intentions, I have only finished four of the ten books I assembled for this post):
■ You Will Know Me (Megan Abbott; 2016. Fiction.)
■ My Name Is Lucy Barton (Elizabeth Strout; 2016. Fiction.)
■ A Study in Scarlet (Sir Arthur Conan Doyle; 1887. Fiction.)
■ Eileen (Ottessa Moshfegh; 2015. Fiction.)
This puts me at only six books for August, a number that makes sense when I consider that (1) we spent most of the month preparing for our daughters’ departure; (2) we’re all adjusting to new routines and communicating (phone, text, email, packages, etc.) takes much longer now that we all spend most days apart; and (3) I’ve been under the weather for a week… which reminds me: When I was much younger, I had an idea — crafted from a complete misunderstanding of the subtext of stories about genteel characters recovering in sanatoriums — that illness translates into more time to read. I clung to this misinformed idea into my early twenties, when a bout with sinusitis and later with the flu (not a really bad head cold but influenza) taught me that I can’t read — At. All. — when I’m sick. This may be because I am the world’s worst patient, but it may also be that everyone finds it difficult to focus when feverish, congested, drowsy, in pain, coughing, or [insert symptom(s) here].
So, six books this month — although if I’m feeling particularly motivated later this afternoon, I may be able to finish Duhigg’s Smarter Faster Better. My current plan for September, though, is simply to return to reading at whim — hence, the rather anonymous-looking stack pictured above.
Regarding the only book I’ve finished this week: I understand how Eileen made the Man Booker Prize longlist, but it was a claustrophobic read for me — too small, too sordid. Two passages made it into my commonplace book, though:
Nobody missed me. I know other young women have suffered far worse than this, and I myself went on to suffer plenty, but this experience in particular was utterly humiliating. A psychoanalyst may term it something like a formative trauma, but I know little about psychology and reject the science entirely. People in that profession, I’d say, should be watched very closely. If we were living several hundred years ago, my guess is that they’d all be burned as witches.
I don’t know where we went wrong with my family. We weren’t terrible people, no worse than any of you. I suppose it’s the luck of the draw, where we end up, what happens.