Monthly Archives: January 2006

The Will is Weak

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Or, it’s strong, but only until temptation comes along.

Today I succumbed to the siren call of the Borders gift card. It started out so innocently. I am missing a book in my Martha Grimes series, so I thought I would go see if the Borders near me had it. I had looked at a couple of other bookstores, but not this one yet. I knew it was dangerous, but I thought I could handle it. Of course, things started falling apart before I was even fully in the store.

In the alcove between the two sets of doors, they have set up a bunch of bargain books. I was just going to breeze through, but I saw an interesting looking yoga dvd and book set. I have been wanting to try yoga, but I don’t want to go take a class, so I veered over to check it out. This is not a problem, I said to myself. It’s not even a book I will need to add to my list. It’s a reference book, not yet another book-to-be-read. But then, naturally, there was a sign declaring Buy 3 Bargain Books, Get the 4th FREE! So, I had to pick out 3 more, didn’t I?

Once inside the doors, I headed straight for the mystery section to see if they had what I actually came to get. No such luck. They did, however, have a book at the end of the series that I had not yet purchased, so that was added to my stack.

At this point, I needed to sit down and look over my choices. I can’t go to the bookstore without sitting down and reading parts of the books, making sure I really want them, and just enjoying the bookstore atmosphere. On my way to the back of the bookstore, however, I passed the table of Buy 3 for the Price of 2! trade paperbacks. I picked up three of those and continued on my way. One last pickup–a daytimer for mom’s, marked down to only $4!–and I was looking at the stack.

Now, here the story gets a little better. I started out with the Day-Timer. It was pretty intimidating, let me tell you. The directions for use recommended setting three hours aside to get the thing set up. Hmm. That sounded like something that was more likely to produce guilt than organization. I set it aside and started in on the books. After looking through the trade paperbacks, all of which (Vanishing Acts by Jodi Picoult, The Best American Nonrequired Reading, edited by Dave Eggers, and Size 12 is Not Fat, by Meg Cabot) looked excellent, and moving the Martha Grimes book to the buy pile, I turned to my stack of bargain books.

And then came my minor victory. I realized that I only really wanted the yoga dvd. The world would not come to an end if I didn’t buy 3 to get the 4th FREE! And anyway, I was already getting Size 12 is Not Fat free, so I wasn’t completely forgoing free books. So, I put the 3 bargain books back, along with the intimidating organizer.

Yay me!

Of course, I still bought 5 books, none of which were the one I went to the bookstore expressly to get, but hey, I did call it a minor victory.

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I finished Life Before Man by Margaret Atwood tonight. It was not nearly as good as other books that I have read by her (well, any other books that I have read by her), but I read it fairly quickly, and I didn’t consider not finishing it, so I guess it wasn’t too bad. Reading the reviews on Amazon, I can see where it is probably very dated, and was probably much more cutting edge when it was written. I liked the end a lot, even though it was quite a change from the mysteries I have been reading. In mysteries, when you get to the end, everything becomes clear. At the end of this book, it is all up in the air. But it is still a very hopeful ending, as the people realize that their lives are not pre-ordained, there is still some mystery in them. In fact, when I was reading it, I didn’t like it all that much, but I am liking it more the more I think about it.

One thing I really didn’t like about the book–it had a discussion guide at the end. I suppose that those can be helpful to structure a book group discussion, but I find them irritating. First of all, I read for fun, not to take a test at the end. Also, it seems kind of lazy to me. If you are going to have a book group, shouldn’t you come up with the discussion questions yourselves? I’ve never belonged to a book group, so I don’t know for sure, but it seems to me that if I were in one, it would be to discuss how the book spoke to us as readers, not to determine if I could answer a bunch of academic questions. Part of the fun would be discovering these questions and topics through discussion, not through reading a list. So, it makes me feel lazy (this slothful reader-for-pleasure, no literary analysis for me), but it also seems lazy to use the guides if you are going in for literary analysis. Which is probably just snobbishness, but they annoy me anyway.

Total number of books on my list of not-read-yet books: 53.

I finished two, I discovered that I actually had read one, and I added a bunch of books I bought at the book closeout place Monday night while the kids were at their dad’s. I didn’t add all of them, though, so the actual number of books that I haven’t read is higher, but I ran out of energy for typing them in.

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A real conversation at work recently:

Friend: You always seem to have a different book, how do you have so much time to read?
Me: My house is a mess!
We both laugh.
Pause.
Me: Plus, I read a lot when my kids are at their dad’s house.
Friend, nodding: Oh, yeah, I bet that helps a lot.

But I was serious with the first response. So, the past couple of weeks, I have been working on getting some of the clutter out of my house, putting things where they belong, and generally cleaning up around here. The apartment looks a lot nicer, but it is seriously cutting into my reading time.

And I need my reading time, because (are you ready for a shocker, here?), I bought still more books this weekend. The book closeout store is closing soon, so they have marked all of their books down to $4 per hardback and $2 per paperback. I tried to be picky, and I think I got some good stuff, but I still bought a bunch of books. I am thinking I might go back next weekend when the kids are at their dad’s house, too. It’s just such a good deal! I didn’t see anything that was on my list of books to buy, but I did get a couple of books written by the same authors as some of the books on the list, so that is good. Total number of books that I own, but have not yet read: 48.

In other news, I have been trying to get back to healthy eating lately. I used to be insanely fanatic about eating healthy food only, but that’s been a while, and my figure shows it. Plus, I feel more tired and generally yucky, so I am going back to eating the good stuff. I spent an arm and a leg at the grocery store today and last week stocking up on some stuff, and buying expensive winter produce. I am at that awkward stage of food transition where I never feel quite satisfied by the healthy food, so I feel like I am hungry all the time, even though I am eating enough food. If I do succumb and try something fatty, though, it doesn’t satisfy, either; it lays like a brick in my stomach and feels greasy and too rich. I just need to get through this, though, and I will be satisfied with the good stuff, I know it!