Drinking the Rain

Friday, April 3, 2009

I woke up this morning and I didn't feel like reading. I think that's the fifth time that's happened so far this year, which is a lower number than I expected at the beginning of this project. I decided to deal with my reluctance to read by trying to shake things up with today's book. I decided to read the book out of order and see what happens. I knew I had to pick a book that wasn't a novel so the experience wouldn't be a complete disaster - although my curiosity if piqued about what it would be like to read a novel out of order, so maybe I'll give that try at some point as well. I debated between reading the chapters in reverse order and just jumping around willy-nilly. I picked the latter.

Today's book; "Novelist Shulman (In Every Woman's Life..., LJ 6/1/87) here tries her hand at feminist autobiography, detailing, in graceful and readable prose, the story of her midlife transformation. She leaves her writer and political activist's life in New York City for solitary habitation on an island off the coast of Maine, discovering there an abundance of life at its most elemental. Living in a cabin without indoor plumbing or heating, she spends her days writing and foraging for meals among tidal pools and sandy beaches. Through her solitary experience, she discovers the interconnectedness of all life, even the ties between her city life, with all its bustle and waste, and her life on this island. At age 50, Shulman experiences new love (replacing years of a troubled marriage) as well as renewed threats to her sense of self."

Thoughts on today's book:

  • I realized five pages into reading today's book that I've already read a book that was similar to this one earlier in the year. It's so strange that it took several pages for that to occur to me - but I think at this point the books I've read so far are all starting to blur together. I can't even remember what I read last week without looking it up. Any day now I expect to run into someone I know, have them ask me a question about a specific book which I won't have the answer to, and we'll stand there in awkward silence while I desperately try to remember what I just read a few days ago.

  • The only difference I see between this book and the similar one I already read (A Year By the Sea) is that the story from today's book took place in the 80's, which helped to alleviate some of the boredom of reading a book on a day when I don't feel like reading. I spent most of the book imagining the author wearing enormous 80's hair and hideous pastel leg warmers. . . I see her sitting in her cabin wearing a hot pink headband and an over sized lime green sweatshirt with matching stretch pants that have giants flowers on them. . . Then she's at the farmers market wearing frosted lipstick and white sunglasses while Whitney Houston's Didn't We Almost Have it All plays in the background. There are clearly times when an overactive imagination can be a huge detriment to the reading process. I was so distracted with images of the 8o's that I didn't pay a whole lot of attention the rest of the book, but that part that I did pay close attention to wasn't all that interesting anyway, so it was no big loss.

  • The trip back to the 80's didn't end there. Mid-way through the book the author describes going to a farmers market where the more unhealthy the food was the more the display brochure accompanying that booth claimed it was a health food. This story sent me on another trip in the time machine. It reminded me of high school Home EC class. My Home EC teacher kept huge stacks of old magazines at the back of the classroom that we could use for projects (or as I like to call it, pointless busywork). I loved looking through those magazines, particularly through the advertisements. My favorite advertisement from those magazines was a Snickers ad from the mid-80's, touting Snickers as a wholesome snack that Moms can feel good about feeding to their kids. According to the advertisement, nougat is a health food. The advertisements explaining why Crisco oil is the ultimate health food were amusing as well - but I can't let myself dwell on that image too long or I'll start picturing what Florence Henderson looked like in the ad, which will lead to imaging that awful TV movie from the 80's called The Brady Girls Get Married.

So let today's blog entry be a warning to you dear readers, if you try to read a book out of order you will end up having horrible, hideous flashbacks to the 80's.