I just finished the third book in my ambitious plan to read 25 books this year (for pleasure — I have other reading to do, too). I think it might have fit into several categories, but I’m going to go with music. For obvious reasons.
I haven’t felt so personally drawn into a book in a long time, and I regret that it has taken me over a decade to discover The Inextinguishable Symphony: A True Story of Music and Love in Nazi Germany. Martin Goldsmith’s account of his parents’ love story, intertwined as it was with the increasing dangers of the Nazi regime in Germany, and the beautiful expression of joy through music captured my heart.
Goldsmith tells his family’s story — a love story. A story of betrayal. Of sacrifice. Of humanity — with the inhumane backdrop of the Holocaust. The looming specter of death is ever-present, except in those places touched by music.
The title, the Inextinguishable Symphony, captures the heart of the story, and the heart of the lovers whose lives are unquestionably, a symphony.
Pathfinder by Orson Scott Card grabbed my attention and held it throughout the story. And now, I’m stuck, because it’s a series with two other books available, and it’s going to get in my way of getting through the rest of my list. I must stay focused. I must get the next book.
You may know Card from Ender’s Game, which I read years ago, but my favorite of his novels is Enchantment. I loved the premise of Sleeping Beauty’s story being bridged with reality/modern times. The hipster gene that runs through me was pleased to know I was familiar with this book long before Disney’s knock-off Enchanted, and the subsequent hit, Once Upon a Time.
Card is a terrific storyteller, but he really nails characters and their relationships.
The sci-fi in Pathfinder is not too over-the-top — once you get past the colonization of the human species and time travel. It’s good. And plausible, which is what makes any story, sci-fi or not, compelling.
But I go back to the characters and their relationships. This is my favorite quote from the novel, a piece I highlighted early, and drives the characters’ motivation throughout:
Children wait to learn if their love is true by seeing how long it lasts; adults make their love true by never wavering from their commitment.
There was a time in my life when I was reading 2-3 books a week. For pleasure.
That didn’t include the reading I had to do for work or school, which was often pleasurable, but not necessarily.
And then something happened, and I quit reading for pleasure. Other things required my attention, and I still had to read for work, so I kind of let that go. I’m knocking that out right now. I still have a lot of reading to do for work, some of it is good and fun, but most is very dry and academic.
I’m reclaiming my love of literature!
Right here! Right now!
I plan to read 25 books in what remains of 2015. That’s about a book every couple of weeks or so. Very do-able. In fact, some of you might think I’m low-balling based on my previous habits. Nope. I’m setting a goal I can handle, but there’s a twist. I’m going to qualify the books.
When I was a kid, fascinated by comic books and cartoon adventures of superheroes bounding through the air, I wanted more than anything to have a superpower.
Of course, I never realized that my superpower could be cultivated by my silly little adventures hiding from my mother while I secretly read, not so much forbidden books, as being forbidden from reading at the moment when I should have been doing something else, such as cleaning my room.
My secret place, the space behind the bookshelf that was in the corner of my room, was the perfect hiding place. No one knew I had the strength to move the shelf just enough to squeeze my little body through. Maybe they knew, maybe they didn’t, but I read many books in that little corner of my 10-year-old heaven. And a few years later, read one or two titles that I had no business reading.
In all that time, I was developing a superpower that would be particularly useful in my major, and in my career. I learned to read fast and retain some pretty decent comprehension. I had to read fast. My mom could swoop into my room at any moment to check on my progress.
Believe me, I got busted plenty of times, but it never kept me from going back to the book the minute she took off down the hall.
So now I find myself in the grown up version of those Saturday afternoons. I have plenty of chores to do, Mom-sized, not kid-sized, and the allure of my reading stack is pulling and pulling and pulling. I want to disappear into the little office off my kitchen, throw myself on the sofa that’s too short for my long legs, and bury my toes into the cushions.
I want to read with the kind of abandon I had as a child.
Hmmm. Come to think of it, there are lots of things I should be doing with the abandon I had as a child.
But grown-up me says I have to clean my room, first. And so, I will. Clean my room. And then, I’m gonna read. Cuz it’d be a shame to waste a rainy day.