To the right you can see the books I planned to read this summer. A stack like this would take me a couple of months, so back in June it seemed like a good mix, a reasonable goal.
And yet happily, I got totally derailed! I am now in the midst of my very favorite kind of reading, which is when I discover a new author that I love so, so much, and read everything they've ever written.
I started the summer pile with Curtis Sittenfeld's Eligible, and I pretty much haven't moved on. Eligible is a modern retelling of Jane Austen's Pride & Prejudice, and while I'm neither a huge fan of modern retellings nor Jane Austen, I could not get enough of this book.
This has been a bit of a tough summer for me personally, with some unexpected loss and troubling family issues. It's been bumpy. Sittenfeld's books, it turns out, are hitting just the right note for me. The retelling on Eligible is pitch perfect, and Sittenfeld's writing is snappy and witty. Since I read it over the 4th of July holiday, I passed it along to my mom, who read it and then gave it to two of her friends. Who knows who has my copy now.
Since reading Eligible I've read two more by Sittenfeld, and I have two left. Each is very different from the last, and each leaves me with a lot to think about later. So they are overlapping, playing off each other, and coming up in my conversations with my husband a lot.
My favorite thing about doing my own at-home author study is finding that I'm becoming deeply familiar with Sittenfeld's writing style, which can only really come from reading in succession a lot of different texts by a single writer. The other day, my husband very patiently listened to me explain the particular way that Sittenfeld constructs quotations, which I surely never would have noticed had I not just read 1,500 pages of her writing in about four weeks.
Invariably, I have done this with each of my favorite authors: John Irving, Barbara Kingsolver, Jennifer Egan, Donna Tartt. I even read the collected works (such as they are!) of Jacqueline Susann, who, of course, authored Valley of the Dolls. I read that (several times), as well as every one of her other books (except the one about her dog), and her biography. I am steeped in Jacqueline Susann.
But I digress. I am starting to feel a slow burn of anxiety about finishing Curtis Sittenfeld's books. Is she working on another one? What if she's slow? (This is the conundrum with being a Donna Tartt fan, whose books have decades between them.) After I finish everything that's available, I'll be drumming my fingers on the tabletop, waiting for more.
(And perhaps at the end of the summer, I'll return to my orginal summer reading pile.)