Sunday, January 16, 2011

Books and Movies

I'm not exactly sure when it happened, but at some point I stopped reading books. There was a time in my life when reading was so important to me that to say I stopped reading books would be like saying I stopped breathing. But I started reading fewer and fewer novels (I've always been a fiction girl and a bit of a plot junkie) until finally, when I had my first baby, I just about quit books entirely.

I couldn't not read--I subscribed to a bunch of magazines and journals, because I knew I would be able to read to the end of something and put it down when duty called. Duty called often and with a very screechy voice.

Well, not long ago, Shaun took up reading in his spare time in a way that he hadn't ever done before. And I saw him sitting down with his book, and I thought how has this happened? How can it be that I don't read novels anymore?

So I started in. And now I remember. I picked up Little, Big by John Crowley and it took me a while to get going, but once I did, I was back to my old habit of staying up all night because I couldn't stop turning the pages. And despite the book's shortcomings, it was so successful at creating its world that I got crabby when I finished the book and it was time to say good-bye.

Because Shaun was so enthusiastic about it, I read Cormac McCarthy's All the Pretty Horses next. Well, that was different. The first several pages were hard for me to get through; the language felt suffocating and I seemed to be reading with the lights out. After a bit, though, it opened up and I was sucked right in. The whole deal; up too late, mad when it was over, trying not to talk like a cowboy.

I haven't dared to pick up another novel this week; I've been reading some short stories and my new issue of First Things. I guess I will have to institute a strict bed-time if I'm going to let novels back into my life. Self-discipline is not my strong suit.

Weirdly, I have also stopped watching movies regularly in the past several years. I used to love to watch movies. In the past two weeks I've seen four movies. Between those and the books, I feel like my head might explode.

Shaun was in a western mood, so we watched Rio Bravo. And I liked it. Who knew Dean Martin was such a good actor? We also watched the movie version of All The Pretty Horses. It was interesting to see what they did with it, but I didn't think it was worthwhile apart from that.

Departing from our theme, we took the boys to the cheap theater ($3 tickets!) to see Despicable Me, and for maybe the first time in the life of our family, all four of us equally enjoyed the movie. This review says a lot of things I was thinking about it better than I could. It's good fun.

Shaun's folks took the boys this weekend, so on Saturday we spent our gift certificate at Powell's (thanks, Nancy!) and loafed about at Clyde Common. The excellent Jeffrey Morganthaler was behind the bar, so we decided to stay put rather than rushing off to catch a showing of True Grit.

When we got home we watched Exit Through The Gift Shop. Is it weird that the narration was my absolute favorite part? Anyhow, it is an engrossing (and occasionally very funny) documentary that raises significant questions about art without being preachy or taking itself too seriously. You don't come across movies like that every day.

So, that's the year's worth (for me) of culture I've taken in in the past few weeks. I'm also reading The Borrowers (a book I somehow skipped when I was a kid) to the boys. Willem usually loses interest in books written at Nels's level, but the notion of tiny people grips him, so he's following right along. I don't think I'll ever count it among my favorites. Nevertheless, it should come as no surprise that I still find it hard to resist that perennial plea: Just one more chapter!


alison owen said...

I love reading (and reading about reading! nice post!). Novels got me through some of the boring, at-home-with-no-adult parts of parenting. Especially since Peter has always worked nights, I have this built in reading and movie time.
And, side note- I loved exit through the gift shop. and despicable me (mac got it for christmas). And we should trade lists of books we like!

Nathan said...

I've been reading your blog for a while now at Carol's recommendation. I saw such a parallel here that I had to stop lurking and comment.

I had been reading only non-fiction for decades. I liked that it was useful info and I could start or stop at anytime. About 2 years ago the kids begged me to read HP and I listened to a book (and then the whole series) in the car. I was sucked back into the world of fiction and have been a voracious reader again. It's awesome and addictive. I love it. But, I recognize that feeling of wondering why and how you ever stopped...

Gypmar said...

Alison-we totally would have got the boys that movie for Christmas if we'd seen it by then! And I always love to get book recommendations, though I'm shy to give 'em. (But I will :)

Nathan, thanks for your comment! It's nice to know that a fellow reader has had a similar experience. I enjoy following your family at Carol's blog, though I very rarely pipe up in the comments myself.

Annie Nannie said...

I watched Rio Bravo on your recommendation via Netflix streaming the other day. Yup - who knew that Dean Martin was such a good actor? Loved it.


Oleg K. said...

I liked this post for obvious reasons. You should write about books and reading whenever you feel like it, and even when you don't.