Tuesday, March 23, 2010

At Least Three

"How many books ARE you reading," asked my husband. He reads one book at a time along with his favorite periodicals. I, on the other hand am reading at least three books at a given time, and often more than that.

Learning to read was one of the most exciting events of my life. I do not remember exactly when that happened, but I know that I instantly became an avid reader from that day forward. As a child, I devoured the Lois Lenski books, the Nancy Drew books, and the "Little House" books. All right, I admit it...I'm so old I also read the Bobbsey Twins. But I was really young at the time.

While my taste in books has become more sophisticated over the years, my love for reading hasn't diminished at all. When I was working full time, I bought books throughout the year to read on vacation. Now that I have retired, I can read almost as much as I want. It's wonderful.

Right now I am reading The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson. It is the first book of a trilogy, and Larsson died shortly after completing the three manuscripts. Translated from the Swedish language in which it was written, this book is a barn burner. The plot is absolutely engrossing with great characters and delightfully twisting plots. It is definitely not a book to read at bedtime. I am loving every page.

Another book in process is The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, a non-fiction book by Rebecca Skloot. I have known about HeLa cells since my days in college, but until recently I had no idea the origin of the name, nor the background information of their existence. HeLa (named for the first two letters of Henrietta Lacks) cells were the first cells to continue to grow and divide outside the human body. Discovered in 1951, they have been used for scientific study to benefit all of us.

While not the best-written book I have come across, the story is nonetheless quite interesting. The book tells the story of Henrietta Lacks and gives a good view of medicine and our culture in the '50s. The cells of Henrietta Lacks live on, continue to divide, and continue to be used in research. For years the family was unaware of the use of her cells and the controversy regarding the ethics of the use is central to the book. There is a monetary issue as well, since HeLa cells are grown and sold commercially with no remuneration to the surviving family.

Finally, my "pick up and put down but don't take with you to a doctor's appointment" book is Game Change by John Heilemann and Mark Halperin. The book details the 2008 presidential election. If half the book is true, it will dramatically change some of your perceptions about politics in general and the campaign in specific. The book confirms many of your opinions about the individual players, and some of your heroes may be portrayed as shrews.

The weekend was good for reading. After a glimpse of warm spring-like weather, the temperatures dropped and we had three inches of rain. And this morning we have SNOW on the ground!!! Strange weather indeed.


Jayne said...

I feel the same way about reading Carolyn. It is such a wonderful gift. I do only tend to read one book at a time, but I have several downloaded to my Kindle waiting their turn. Since I got the Kindle, I find that I read even more since it's so portable.

Vicki Lane said...

I loved the Lois Lenski books! I particularly remember "Strawberry Girl" -- a great picture of Florida Cracker life. And I keep hearing great things about the Larsson books.

(I also have several books going at once.)

KGMom said...

OK--got me beat by one, right now.
I am reading The Billionaire's Vinegar, and The Case for God. Nothing fiction at the moment.

I have The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and the next one, but I have not started reading. My daughter loved them, and recommended I read them.

Now, to childhood reading--I read The Jungle Doctor series (what can I say--a missionary child reading about a missionary doctor). Then I graduated to Zane Grey--loved that. Then I read Grace Livingstone Hill--don't ask.

Since I majored in Eng lit, obviously I love reading--and still do.

The Bug said...

I read the Bobbsey Twins too! Admittedly, they were my aunt's books, but they weren't THAT old when I read them :) And I've read Grace Livingston Hill - she was too nice for my blood LOL.

I rarely read nonfiction - I have some books I'm TRYING to read, but if I have a choice between nonfiction & pure entertainment, I'll go for the entertainment every time!

robin andrea said...

I was an avid reader until I started a graduate program in literature. That's when I had to read in a different way, with an eye for literary style and criticism. It made reading work instead of pleasure, and I haven't been able to rekindle the love, although I do pick up a few books a year, which I thoroughly enjoy.

I saw an interview with the author of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. It sounds like an incredibly interesting story.

Dog_geek said...

I also read the Bobbsey Twins - and I'll go you one better with Trixie Beldon! I've been looking for some good book recommendations, so I'll have to keep an eye out for these. I use HeLa Cells in the lab all the time and knew all about their history and the controversy, but haven't read the book about Henrietta. I think I might almost feel a little weird knowing more about her.

amarkonmywall said...

The Steig Larsson books are absolutely great- smart and well written, the best of that genre I've ever read. I've done the first two and already signed up to have the third delivered to my Kindle in May. :-) Happy reading on those!

How is the weather?? I can't get there for three more weeks and I'm desperate to know what is blooming at my house that I have yet to enjoy in the Spring time. Arrghhh. Every day that passes is hard- I can't wait for the kitchen to be finished. Drive by and let me know what's happening! :-)

Busy Bee Suz said...

I love when I can take the time to read (or make the time) I have 3 going now...but I started them all around Christmas. :0
I had heard about the Henrietta Lacks story, very interesting.

KB said...

I'm like you, with 2 or 3 books going at a time. One is usually a mystery thriller. One is a nature and environment oriented book (Edward Abbey right now). And then finally, one is a hard-core science book about the animals in my forest or about dog cognition.

I just pick up whichever one suits my mood at a given time...

I agree about reading being an incredible gift. I've had some serious eyesight issues in recent years, and it's a very scary thought that I might someday not be able to read (but also very unlikely).

Barb said...

I also have several books going - I read on a Kindle so choose whatever suits me at any given time. I read my NYTimes Sunday on the Kindle, too. Reading has been a life-long pleasure. I'm glad to meet someone else who read the Bobbsey Twins!

Anonymous said...

Had to smile at Vicki Lane's comment. I did a post about Lois Lenski some time ago--I actually met her when I was a little girl--and was pleased at the e-mails and comments I received in response. Apparently there were a lot of Strawberry Girl fans. :)

I always have one on CD and one in print going. I don't even drive to the grocery store without audio book in hand.

Do want to read the ones you mentioned!

Spring has sprung here in Charlotte. It's heading your way!

Leedra said...

It was gorgeous here over the weekend, then Monday at 1PM it was 38, and snowing. Today at 1PM it was 71.

I remember a while back (maybe a year) you posted about adding beads in your knitting. Where in the world do you buy them? What are they made of? Expensive? All I can find have very small holes, sure couldn't thread them onto the yarn.

Ruth said...

My childhood summers were filled with Bobbsey Twins, Trixie Beldon, Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew...we read and then went out and tried to create our own adventures. I have had the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo recommended to me a few times, but if it is too stimulating to read before going to bed, I may not find time to read it at all.

TaraDharma said...

As for the childhood books, let's not forget the indefatigable Trixie Belden, tomboy girl detective!

I have heard about all the books you mention herein; thanks for the reviews. I'm kind of afraid to read Game Change. Gimme some hints as to whom you are now most disappointed in!

Jo said...

If I tried to read more than one book at a time I would be found sitting in a corner scratching my head in total confusion. I love to read,but only one at a time. My daughter on the other hand reads two or three at a time. I am in awe of anyone that can do this and still be able to keep the story lines to each book straight. I am very happy that I found your blog.

Coffee with Cathy said...

Oh, Carolyn, I thought I was the only person who kept several books going at once! I like to have a book in the car and one in the den and one on my bedside table. And then when one book grabs me so intensely I have to carry it with me everywhere and read it to the end, then I know I've got a winner!

NCmountainwoman said...

Thanks for your comments. How could I have omitted Trixie Belden and Cherry Ames? And, of course, I went through my own Grace Livingston Hill period.

Robin - I must admit that I sometimes become frustrated with poor grammar or events out of historical sequence. But I'm pretty forgiving about it all.

Mark on my wall - Weather here is still up and down. We had a couple of unbelievable days and now we have chilly rain and high wind.

merrily - I would have died if I'd been able to meet Lois Lenski in person. I loved all of those books. Lucky you.

TaraDharma - The author portrays Elizabeth Edwards as a controlling emotional woman who belittled her husband at every opportunity. She apparently was very much disliked by the staff because of her outbursts. I had a very different image of her based on her book and interviews I had seen.

Sam said...

Thanks for the recommendations. I am an avid reader too! I keep a book in the living room, bedroom, kitchen, kraft room, my purse and the truck. I would rather just pick up the book where I am at then carry it around! Right now I am reading a new book called "Little Bee". It is very fascinating!