I was whining on the phone to MJ last night that I’m finding it hard to entertain myself at the moment. It was essentially a repeat of our most common conversation that we’ve been having since I was little. It begins with, “Muuu-uuum, I’m booooored”.
In between working long hours and sleeping, I’ve just hit a point where daily life seems a bit too dull. In fact, I embody the phrase “All work and no play makes Johnny a dull boy.” I’m not looking for major life upheaval – I already have that in spades, I mean I just want to do something a bit fun at the end of the day to take my mind off work.
I usually keep busy with side projects and internet stuff, but they seem like more of a chore than a hobby lately, and I’ve finished watching the West Wing and 30 Rock. So MJ and I brainstormed a bit, coming up with a few suggestions, but the best one was to read books. This is no.1 on my list of favourite hobbies, and it’s the best way I know to wind down…but I’ve been struggling to get into any of the books on my shelf lately, and have about four books on my side table with bookmarks languishing at page 20. I went to the bookstore on Wednesday (hair colour day) to buy something new that could break the reading funk, but I talked myself out of it because every new book is another book that needs to be shipped home.
But on the bus ride home last night I had a breakthrough! I realised the perfect way to get myself to sit down, push past the first 20 pages of a book and enjoy reading again! (and lighten the load of books that I’ll bring home with me – Once I’ve read my books I can pass them on to friends).
I’ve decided to set myself the challenge of reading every book on my shelf before I leave Bangkok. I have quite a few books, and one of them is the 600 page journal of Joyce Carol Oates, so it’s more of an experiment to see how far I get than a challenge I expect to win, but I’m excited nonetheless!
Last night I started Good Wives by Louisa May Alcott, which I think will get my reading muscles moving again. I thoroughly enjoyed the first few chapters and am looking forward to getting back into it tonight. See, Sarah’s Bangkok Reading Challenge is already working!
Happy Birthday Beck!
I just finished reading What I Loved by Siri Hustvedt. MJ recommended this book to me a billion years ago. Unless I dreamed the whole thing, this was one of her book club books. I bought a copy of it to Aceh because I knew it would force me to finally read it after years looking at it on the shelf. If only MJ was a little more over top in her recommendations, then I might have understood just HOW AMAZING THIS BOOK IS!
My housemate Mike read this book before I did (I think he tore through my entire Aceh collection while I meandered through one book). About a week after I started this book, Mike said, “isn’t it great how that book is so calm at the beginning and then turns sinister?” Well, of course, after one measly week I was still in the calm beginning! So it played on my mind every time I turned the page…Is this where is gets sinister? I was enjoying the calmness so much that I was dreading the sinister part, and worried it would degenerate into a crime novel (Sarah DOES NOT like suspense and unsolved crime-style books…they make me anxious). All I will say, so as not to spoil the ending, is that the turn that this book took was so seamless and engaging that I didn’t lament for a moment the passing of the beautiful pre-sinister period.
If you have an interest in any of the following you MUST read this book:
- Art/art history/art theory
- Psychology/psychological disorders
- New York (in the 70s, 80s and 90s)
- Relationships (romantic/sexual/paternal/maternal/friendship…it’s all covered)
- Raising children
I like all sorts of books, but this book falls well into my favourite genre that I can’t define (that maybe doesn’t exist as a genre), of books that discuss ideas and generate thought almost incidentally to the plot, but never at the expense of the plot. I once thought that the plot was secondary for me, but then it occurred to me that if I wasn’t there for the plot I’d be reading non-fiction.
- Read five novels
- Cook dinner at home once a week (and invite at least one person to eat it)
- Write one story or essay to completion
- Go to Lake Toba
- Go scuba diving in Sabang
- Paint the ugly door in my bedroom
- Go on a day hike on the outskirts of Banda Aceh
- Make sushi in Banda Aceh
- Post on Where is Sarah? 150 times
This list seems so tame, and yet I might not even come close to achieving these goals. As I was typing the list into this post I revised the first goal to read “five” instead of “ten” novels (“come on Sarah, as if you would get through ten” I read like a turtle…if turtles could read, presumably they would be slow.)
I don’t like the sound of scuba diving at all, but it seems crazy not to try it once. Maybe I will even aim for it this weekend. It would be great to cross the awful things off my list first.