Words Upon Which To Feast

by Venomous Kate

A while back, I bought a wholesale lot of books on eBay — a few of which I’ve since listed in my own auction. Granted, as a would-be author I wrestle with the propriety of buying used books since the royalties don’t go to the author. On the other hand, many of the books I purchased are no longer stocked in most bookstores, and yet having read and enjoyed them I’ve since purchased other works by the same author. In other words, having read something that didn’t earn the author money led me to purchases that have.

Right now, I’m reading a book that I’ve ignored for the five months it’s been on my shelves. Why? Well, because Oprah recommended it and, while I’ve got nothing against Oprah (in fact, I rather adore her), I’ve previously assumed her book choices would be geared toward the mass audience: folks who want an easy read, a fast-paced story, and lots of emotional warm fuzzies. Thanks to running out of fiction to read before bed — I save non-fiction for daylight — I wound up grabbing Jewel by Bret Lott off my shelf.

Since then, I’ve been coming up with reasons to go to bed early. The story of Jewel Hilburn, a Southern woman pushing 40 and pregnant with what she knows will be her last child, speaks so poignantly of motherly love and angst. Not since Styron’s book, Sophie’s Choice, have I read such divinely crafted sentences. Some are so powerful I find myself setting the book in my lap, my eyes fixed on some distant point while I just repeat the words in my head, rolling them around like candy on my tongue.

I’m halfway through Jewel right now, and I don’t want it to end. I long for writers like this, for words so carefully written that I, the reader, know I should take care to read each and every one. I don’t need to know the end of the story to know this is a book that will stay with me — and on my shelves — for a long time to come. If not life-changing at its conclusion, well, I can say the book has changed me already: I have a new understanding of the beauty of a story unhurriedly told.

So… what book has rattled your cage lately?

11 Comments to “Words Upon Which To Feast”

  1. I checked out your lot on e-bay and saw one of my favorite books, Boy’s Life. Our copy has been read so many times that the binding broke and half the pages have fallen out.

  2. Lately I’ve been so busy I haven’t had time to read. The last book I read that had me taking my time and savoring the reading was Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson. It is, of course, immensely long. But it’s also very well written and I found it extremely enjoyable. *grin*

  3. It, too, is in that eBay lot! I loved that book, although I wasn’t as fond of his other work, Quicksilver. (Think it may be in there as well.)

  4. William Shirer’s Rise and Fall of the Third Reich and Albert Speer’s Inside the Third Reich make for some fascinating reading, if one reads them at the same time.

    Yes, I’m a WWII buff. lol

  5. Last thing that grabbed me was The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls. Not for the writing as much as for her clear-eyed look at family dysfunction. I bought it for my daughters for Christmas and none of us could put it down. Right with ya on Sophie’s Choice for sheer beauty of verbage. Cryptonomicon also sucked me right in — NS is one of the best contemporary writers IMHO — what a mind the guy has! Will try Jewel asap — thanks!

  6. I don’t remember the last piece of fiction I read that was new to me. I find too much of it pretentious. Like wg I’m into history and biography.

  7. I wouldn’t say I’m not into fiction; sci-fi and fantasy are big interests for me (heck, I even went to see Eragon). I absolutely loved Peter Jackson’s LoTR, having been an avid Tolkein fan and general knower-of-very-obscure-trivia for most of my life. 🙂

  8. You probably will never find this book. It’s written by Canadian author Paul Quarrington and is called: Home Game. In typical Amazon fashion, the editorial reviews/comments are for a book by Ken Dryden, also called Home Game, about hockey.

    This book is magical.

    As well, for me, anything by Mitch Albom.

  9. Wasn’t implying you don’t like fiction, wg. Actually I don’t dislike it either, in general. In specific I find a lot of modern adult fiction rather pointless, but in fairness, because I found the ones I’ve read pointless, I haven’t read a wide variety. 🙂

  10. I will hesitantly admit to having read and absolutely loved Diana Gabaldon’s books in their entirety. I console myself with thinking it’s because it’s set in the American Revolution. 🙂

  11. I love historical fiction. Margaret George writes some of my favorite fictional “autobiographies”.