I’ve been writing a lot lately about cutting back on my television viewing — or, more specifically — the News. So it won’t come as a surprise to hear that in the last couple of weeks I haven’t watched TV at all, and in the last month I don’t think I’ve watched even five hours.
Reading has been a passion my entire life. Even before I could read myself, I loved stories and was constantly bringing either my mum or dad a book so they could read to me. So it’s been disconcerting, and shocking to say the least, to find that in the past year or so, I’ve had a hard time carving off time to read, getting into whichever book(s) I’m reading and actually finishing them.
Too many distractions, I guess. Projects, deadlines, blogging, working on my own book, life, Trump — something’s always gotten in the way. Or at least I’ve let it get in the way. Very unusual for me.
Happily, though, that “phase” seems to have passed. This week I’ve been crazy busy, but the week before I read three books and started a fourth. Would probably have finished it by now, but an opportunity to write an article came along and I’ve had to concentrate on that — brutal deadline. What else is new?
One of the books is really tiny — both in actual size (slightly bigger than palm-sized) and in the number of pages — 48. Took me less time to finish it than it took to cook dinner last night, but I loved it, and wish it had been longer. It was written by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, and the title is We Should All Be Feminists. It’s adapted from her TEDx talk. I’ve had two of her other books — Americanah and Half of a Yellow Sun — sitting on my bedside table for ages. Can’t wait to read them now.
As for the other two books I read, it’s clear that I’ve been looking for an escape — quite literally, as they’re both about France. One’s about Paris and the other, Provence. Neither are what anyone would classify as “literature,” but both were exactly what I needed and craved. Hit the spot, they did.
A Paris All Your Own, which was edited by Eleanor Brown, is a collection of personal essays on Paris, written by 18 bestselling female writers. Brown, by the way, is a New York Times-bestselling author herself.
That wasn’t enough for me, though. I still wasn’t ready to come back down to earth and face reality. So for an encore I picked up Peter Mayle’s final book, My Twenty-Five Years in Provence.
You may remember his first book, A Year in Provence. Upon reflection, we may have him to thank for the whole my-life-as-an-expat genre. While I enjoyed it, I did find some of the chapters repetitive. But never mind, he was a charming and engaging raconteur and I wasn’t looking for haute lit.
Speaking of “haute,” I then switched gears, and moved on to haute cuisine. Or at least an exposé of what goes on behind the scenes. Or went on, when Anthony Bourdain first started to work in the restaurant business. I’ve long been a fan and, over the years, I faithfully tuned in and watched most, if not all his shows, on all the various networks that carried him. But I’d never read Kitchen Confidential. Like many others (it’s number one on the New York Times Bestsellers List), when news of his death became public, I made a beeline for the bookstore.
He hasn’t been gone long enough for the sound of his voice to fade away. I can still hear him clearly and, I’m having an odd — but pleasant — experience as I work my way through the book. Instead of me following the words along the page, It feels like I’m listening to him tell his story. I hope he’s at peace and doing a lot of what he loved best: Indulging in long, thoughtful, interesting, meaningful conversations with all kinds of people, from all walks of life — while sharing an abundance of good food and alcohol.
And me? Where do I go from here? I have dozens of books stacked up everywhere, waiting for me. I just may cancel my cable.