Thursday, 4 April 2013

Book of the week: A boy and a bear in a boat

I am in a period of strong aversion toward any kind of writing: printed, digital, fiction, non-fiction, for work and for pleasure. This is the result of very intensive work with words and sentences and paragraphs, my own as well as other people's. I have tried to heal myself through reading completely unrelated literature, including Jane Austen's Lady Susan, a little gem that I had never read before, and Wilkie Collins's The Queen of Hearts, which is just as slow-paced as my mind can cope with. But even so, there have been days when I turned off the light without reading a line, which is very unlike me. In the middle of this mental bog, as I was moving piles of perused academic books from home to my office, I uncovered, with pangs of remorse, a book that a colleague gave me to read before I went on study leave - more than three months ago. She said it was a good book, and I took it out of politeness, because people always tell me about books they think are good, but I am frankly so fed up with average books that I can't stand another one. Some time ago when I happened to be in the office she asked whether she could have her book back because she needed it for her book club, and I felt so horribly bad, but I didn't want to go to the office again just to return the book.

Well, in a couple of weeks I am going back to work, and then I must return the effing book, so I thought I would read a couple of pages just to see what it was like. I have become adamant: I give a book a chance of twenty pages, and if I don't get hooked I won't read it unless I get paid. I get paid for reading books occsionally, so it is not just a figure of speech.

So I opened the book, without any expectations. I am glad I had this copy rather than the one with a "child-friendly" cover because I wouldn't have opened that one even with the best recommendations. Yes, sorry to admit, I do judge books by the cover, and some covers put me off completely. I hope some publisher is reading this.

Anyway, I opened the book, and I could not close it until I finished it, three hours later, well beyond my lights-off time. I wanted to know how it goes, because it is completely unpredictable, but I also enjoyed every word in this weird book. I found myself suppresing my professional desire to classify and dissect it, to find symbols and profound messages, telling myself: Stop doing this and have fun.

If you have been following my blog, you know that I don't normally use superlatives unless I really mean them. But let me tell you: put everything aside and read this book. If you only have time to read one book this year, this should be it. And don't ask me: Is it a children's book? I don't care.

Sadly, it only made my aversion toward reading worse. I cannot be so lucky twice.

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