It's amazing how much time I can fritter away thinking about books, and thinking about what I should read next. You, too? I am especially indecisive about nonfiction reading selections. Maybe it is because, unlike with novels, I will generally only allow myself one book on the go at a time. I can juggle lots of stories, but nonfiction is always slow going for me since I want to absorb as much detail as I can. And with nonfiction, those books tend to be chock full of all sorts of information.
This year I have spent far too much time grazing and then setting aside nonfiction books. I won't even go into which books I have had in my hands and then decided I was really in the mood for something else. There has been nothing wrong with any of these books except the idea that I just want something else. I can be so very tenacious in other aspects of my life, but apparently not with nonfiction. At least at the moment.
So, the moment has come once again--I am in the mood for something else. I'm just not entirely sure what. I want it to be really absorbing and gripping. I have a small (whittled down I will have you know) pile of potential reads. Are you curious what is on the stack?
I heard a great podcast of an interview with historian Nathaniel Philbrick about his new book Valiant Ambition: George Washington, Benedict Arnold, and the Fate of the American Revolution. Who would have thought a book about Benedict Arnold could be so interesting? At least the interview with the author made it sound pretty exciting. And then maybe a day or two after I listened to the podcast an email landed in my inbox with the offer of pre-ordering the book, for the low-low-low price of $7.50. How could I possibly pass up getting a chunky history book that sounded so good at such a great price? Well, I couldn't of course. So now it sits next to my bed and I want to read it now, but it is a hardcover. Remember what I was just saying about carrying hardcovers about with me?
For a while now I have been wanting to read about Colonial America and the Revolution and I have been accumulating books along those lines. So the Philbrick would be perfect. Or I could pick up one of my paperbacks, like Joseph Ellis's First Family: Abigail and John Adams. I've heard that Ellis is a great storyteller when it comes to American history. And Abigail Adams has long been of interest to me in general.
But then I was also thinking about reading something about 'walking'. There are loads of books out there about different aspects of walking and I bet I own more than a few of them. I like the sound of Robert McFarlane's The Old Ways: A Journey on Foot, which brings together lots of different topics--history, geography, geology, literature, natural history and even cartography.
These all sound really great, but I am sort of leaning just a tiny little bit towards Olivia Laing's The Lonely City: Adventures in the Art of Being Alone. As someone who is inclined more so than not towards solitude, I am very drawn to this book. From what I've read about it, however, it sounds like it leans more towards a book about artists rather than a book simply about the psychology of loneliness in general. This isn't necessarily a bad thing as I love books about art and artists, but I want to make sure it is what I'm looking for (or it will be another case of a little taste and then setting it aside--better to think about that now rather than letting myself get too far into it).
Really, I should just turn my head and reach for Teffi's Memories from Moscow to the Black Sea since it is my NYRB selection and I need to dig in and read before June arrives. Considering how quickly the month seems to be passing already, my next book is not too far off from being delivered. Technically it is a biography so it would fill that nonfiction gap quite nicely.
Whichever I choose, I need to make a commitment and stick with it. Read the book each and every day and allow myself time to fall into the 'story'. I think most of my problem stems from not allowing myself daily reading and spending a chunk of time (necessary in my mind) reading whichever nonfiction book I happen to have on the go.
Tenacity. Tenacity. Tenacity. Don't be tempted so often. Those should be my watchwords! I've been pretty good at returning daily to just a couple of novels and am making steady progress. Nonfiction should be no different.
Not to allow any other temptations into my reading life, but you know I am always curious. What are you reading in the way of nonfiction right now? One book? Several? None? Just curious. Really.