30 January 2014

the pleasure of reading her again

I am turning forty this year. It's a big number, weighed down with baggage and expectations. I wish I could say that I'm staring down this number with grace and a light heart. Turning thirty was not a problem for me (I say, in retrospect--am I rewriting history here? I don't think so, but I might). I still have plenty of time in my thirties--the perk of being an autumn baby.

But I didn't want to write about aging today, so let me steer this post around.

It is fashionable amongst a certain set of people on social media to read only certain types of books in a year. A few years ago it was The Year of The Short Story (#YOSS). This year, I'm seeing a lot of The Year of the Woman (#ReadWomen2014) or The Year of People of Colour. I'm not one to jump on wagons of any sort, but I'm going to hitch my own this year--not exclusively, of course; I am a polyamorous reader.

But, staring down forty, I'd like to reread some books that were important to me earlier in my life. Steinbeck's East of Eden is the only novel I can think of that I've read as a teen and in my twenties. I'm going to reread it this year and will plan to read it in my forties as well.

I'm also going to reread Keith Maillard's Gloria. Gloria is a beloved book. I read it in my mid-twenties and it has stayed with my in a way very few novels have. I've said that it taught me how to be a woman, though I'm not quite sure that's true anymore. It at least shaped how I was a woman in my mid-twenties. I've been nervous to revisit it because I have elevated it so high in my mind and heart. But I am reading it again. I'm only about sixty pages in, but oh, it's so good to be back with Gloria. I'd forgotten a lot, but not everything, of course. Being with her is like being with an old friend. It all comes flooding back, and the past and present are richer because of it.

I'm a slow reader, so I'm not sure if there will be more books I will reread this year (both Gloria and East of Eden are long. There aren't that many that I can remember reading in my twenties that have really stuck with me, though as I write this, I few are popping in my head. But no grand pronouncements, no hashtags needed. Just the pleasure of revisiting a good friend.

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