Monday, May 19, 2014

Books, Lies, and Memories

My to-read pile is big. Really big. Big like it starts on the dining room table and extends to several 2-3 foot tall stacks in the guest room and continues in several small stacks tucked neatly under my bed and that doesn't even cover the four cases of books that line an entire wall of my bedroom...big. Plus books on my Kindle. Plus Net Galley titles...BIG.

So it's unusual that I read a book almost immediately after it's published. Really unusual. And I don't generally interrupt one book (or two) to start reading another. But I did, for reasons that probably won't make sense and really are more like a feeling than a legitimate set of reasons. A contributing factor was #liarsliveread on Twitter this weekend and wanting to read before someone spoiled it for me--both literally and figuratively.  So I read.

I interrupted Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira (I'm almost done and I'm really sorry I didn't read it sooner because it's really goed), and I've also been listening to Bellman & Black by Diane Setterfield (also really good though I find myself wishing I was reading it on paper because some books are just better that way, and I think this is one of them). Anyway. I interrupted both those books, which I'm just now realizing as I type are both books--in one way or another--about death, or at least about what we do when the people we love die.

It's strange, is it not, how certain topics seem to pop up in our lives all at once in seemingly unrelated ways? It has been ten years and some weeks since I moved into my home, previously my grandparents' home, purchased in the wake of my grandmother's death, and I find that I am still grieving and still learning to live without her. She was my grandmother--I was an adult, and lucky to have had her in my life as long as I did--but I still find there are times, these ten years later, when I miss her so desperately. Oh, sure, it's better than it was at first. Way better. But still. Living in the house that was hers, sometimes, is a blessing and a curse. For many reasons. Before it was hers (so long before), it was my great-grandparents, and (I think) my great-great-grandparents before that. I've been told it's haunted, though whether or not that's true...well, I suppose when a house has been in the family as long as this house has been in mine, it just feels like home. Is that the scent of my great-grandmother's lavender soap because there are remnants still tucked in the bathroom cupboards, or is it an apparition? It's hard to know. And if there are ghosts, well...they're also family.

And of course, living in a home that holds so many memories also means living in a home that holds so much...stuff. Soon after moving in, my daughter fell ill and I spent countless hours up in the attic while she lay in her bed at the bottom of the attic stairs and slept away the bronchitis and pneumonia. In addition to bags and boxes of cards and letters dating back as far as the 19th century, one of the very old plastic bags I found (the kind made when plastic bags were new) was carefully labeled ODD SOCKS-WOOL-NEED TO BE DARNED. And that is exactly what it contained. Why do we so carefully label and preserve things that no longer have any practical use? What value--sentimental or otherwise--have old, odd socks with holes in them? Or, for that matter, Christmas cards from 1953?

But I digress. I interrupted all I was reading to pick up E. Lockhart's We Were Liars. And I'm told that I should lie about this book, but I find I cannot. Instead, I submit that forgiveness--both giving and receiving it--is one of the most difficult things we can ever do. And so, rather than beg your forgiveness, I must beg your pardon and suggest that you act quickly and read this book. Immediately. NOW.

What are you still doing here? There is a book waiting to be read. It's by E. Lockhart and it's called We Were Liars. Go get it. And start lying.

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