Gone Reading

I’ve been “Gone Reading” for a few months. Hey, I know I’m a nerd… but I like to read. A lot. Have you ever been so intent on a book or a book series that the real world disappears as you immerse yourself in the world created by words?

My whole family reads. In fact, the TV is rarely on in our home but we can all often be found together in the den with books. Our beach vacations consist of sun, sand, and words. I felt a little sorry for my daughter’s boyfriend who came with us last year and looked bored after a couple of days. But hey, you wanna date my daughter, pick up a book kid…

booksI was trying to think of the books that really sucked me in over the years. The first was probably The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien. I devoured it and then its much-larger cousins: The Lord of the Rings. I think the escape to another time and another world was what I found alluring. I stayed in the science fiction/fantasy genre for a little while but I had great English teachers in high school who expanded my horizons. They shared classics like To Kill a Mockingbird, The Chronicles of Narnia, The Great Gatsby, and The Grapes of Wrath. One introduced me to Charles Dickens through Great Expectations and I was hooked. I’ve read most of his works and consider David Copperfield my favorite. I’m trying to forget it right now so I can pick it up and be lost in it again. There’s nothing like the first time you read a classic.

I went through a Leon Uris phase. I devoured one John Grisham, Congo, but the ending was so disappointing that I vowed never to read another of his books. War and Peace started me down a Russian literature path that I followed for a while. There is a reason it is often called the best novel of all time. After 1400 pages I wasn’t ready to say goodbye to the characters. My wife talked me into Les Miserables and some Jane Austen. I admit, she is a master.

I’ve plowed through most of the top 100 novel lists – of course, some I liked and some I didn’t.

I’ve tried to keep up with modern writers also. Great books such as: The Book Thief, The Goldfinch, All the Light We Cannot See, The Nightingale, The Kite Runner, and A Man Called Ove.

Most recently, my daughter decided I need to read a series and she hid the book I was reading and replaced it with A Game of Thrones, by George RR Martin. Maybe it’s the RR, but I got completely lost in the story like in the Hobbit days. I became utterly useless to my family. For two months, I was gone reading again. I ignored projects and commitments. Our house fell in disrepair and I had very little social interaction except at work.

Five books, 5216 pages, and two months later, I’ve caught up with him and now I’m angry. Seriously – you can’t finish the story in over 5000 pages? He left us in the middle of several wars, plots and subplots, romances, uprisings, and no resolution! CURSE YOU, GEORGE RR MARTIN!!!! Please finish the next book without killing another Stark!

Soothing tones….

What are your favorite books and have there been some that have sent you, “Gone Reading”?

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20 thoughts on “Gone Reading

  1. I’m a sci-fi / fantasy nerdy girl. I’ve plowed through every last Terry Pratchett and Michael Crichton book. DH would fit right in with you guys at a beach… he is constantly reading something.

  2. My grandmother introduced me to Agatha Christie when I was a child. We read those together. I still love Miss Marple! I want to be like her when I grow up. 🙂
    I managed to get out of high school without reading anything. No classics. I have read them all as an adult. Great Expectations was my first, and favorite, Dickens. I read it to my children when they were young. They still remember Pip. I like to reread that one every couple of years.
    The Grapes of Wrath is another stunning favorite. I collect early editions of any Steinbeck work. (they know me well at Atlanta Vintage Books!)
    I love Edith Wharton and Jane Austin books. Whew…amazing stuff!
    The Sound and The Fury is my favorite Faulkner book. I collect his books as well.

    Some contemporary books I have especially enjoyed include The Orchardist by Amanda Coplin, Everything I Never told you by Celeste Ng…..Little Fires Everywhere was great too. The Exact Nature of Our Wrongs by Janet Peery.
    Of course I read all Ron Rash books.
    (if you haven’t read Good Night, Mr. Wodehouse by Faith Sullivan–its a lovely book perfect for a book lover)

    The best Science-Fiction I’ve read lately was Wool by Hugh Howey. The entire series is fantastic!

    Best Mystery would be I Am Pilgrim by Terry Hayes and The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair by Joel Dicker.

    Favorite children’s books–oh this is one of my favorite genres–Mary Poppins, Little House on the Prairie, Alice in Wonderland, Tuck Everlasting, The Bridge to Terebithia, The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman was superb!! I adore the Inkheart series by Cornelia Funke. Sarah Plain and Tall, Number the Stars, I Am the Messenger by Zusak, From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, Coraline, Peter Pan, Roald Dahl, Winnie the Pooh….well I could go on forever with this category.

    Maus by Art Spiegelman is my favorite graphic novel.

    Religion and Theology–everything by C.S. Lewis, G.K. Chesterton, Bonhoeffer, F.W. Boreham

    Poetry-Wendell Berry, Edna St. Vincent Millay, E E Cummings, Pablo Neruda, Shel Silverstein.

    Well….that barely scratches the surface…but…you know how it is with book. My passion!

    Thanks Mark. I do enjoy your blog.

    1. Wow. So much to respond too. I knew of your celebrated reading habit. I’m going to have to keep this lost. However, I tried Everything I Never told you and disliked it. The Grapes of Wrath jumped up and bit me recently. I loved it – the pace was what got me. It seemed like a boring subject but just kept building to a fever pitch.

  3. As a kid I loved C.S. Lewis & Roland Dahl. What kid didn’t love getting lost in a world entered through a Wardrobe Closet or a giant peach? Today I am so busy most of my reading is done via audio books. Have you tried those? They are the best way to make the traffic go away! 👍

    1. I was a little late to the CS Lewis party, but love it just the same. I do listen on my commute now. Have caught up on some classics that way. My library is short on newer books, but that’s okay.

  4. like you, i find myself lost in all kinds of books. i love children’s literature, beatrix potter, roald dahl, even the original golden books, the giving tree, go dog go, snow,….

    also loved bel canto by anna patches, the book thief, to kill a mockingbird, war and peace, bill bryson books, pat conroy books, agatha christie, and on and on. it’s an addiction, a good vice to have. )

  5. I am an only child and my parents and I used to sit and read on a Sunday – television never on. To this day I will read before anything else, including doing dishes, cleaning, grocery shopping – just the basics of life. I LOVE to read – and almost anything. I do not have many favorite authors, as I read probably 3 books a month – and it’s hard to stick to just one or a few. I am so grateful to my parents for instilling reading into my life. I NEVER go anywhere without a book – which used to seem rude, but now I can just read on my phone 🙂 and it doesn’t seem rude anymore, just checking mail!
    I so enjoy your blog Mark. You are a gifted writer and even though through the difficult writings, you always leave something to think about and learn from. For this I thank you.

  6. Wasn’t All The Light We Cannot See something? I recently got sucked into Jane Smiley’s trilogy, starting with Some Luck. It follows an Iowa farm family (and their offspring) over a hundred years. Also enjoying The Plague of Doves.

  7. The Harry Potter books did that for me. Even though they are “kids” books, they sucked me in as an adult and I couldn’t put them down. And my kids are the same way! It’s so great when an entire family can enjoy a book series together.

    1. I’m reading Harry Potter for the first time right now. After I read Game of Thrones at the suggestion of one daughter, the other said I had to pick up Potter. She is a great writer. Two down and five to go.

  8. Books are the best thing in the world in my opinion!
    Without books life would be so much bleaker and boring, and I spend most of my downtime with a book, it’s my way to relax and have a good time, I’m not one to watch tv or movies either, in fact my tv is not even packed up from its blanket since the move almost four months ago.
    Movies can be nice as a way to socialize, but I’d rather read if I’m alone.

    Right now I’m reading one of Dorothy L Sayers books, “the Documents in the case”, I’ve read it more times than I care to count in my life but that’s the best thing with books, they are like old friends that turns up in your life again and again and they keep making you laugh and cry no matter how many times you’ve read them.
    Sayers’ books are amazing, she was so talented and so very funny even though she wrote detective stories, and so I can read them over and over.

    1. Ps; when I was about four years old my parents were getting worried for a while because I used to talk to myself, (when I was in my bedroom), they thought, but then my four year older sister lost her patience and told them that I had simply learned to read and that was what I was doing, so my mom asked me if that was true which I confirmed and when she asked why I hadn’t told them about it I said that I didn’t want them to stop reading goodnight stories for me.

      Today I think that I had a pretty rational thought about not telling them, and I still find that story quite hilarious.
      Don’t ask me why I was reading aloud to myself in the beginning though..

  9. It’s beautiful how your whole family reads! 🙂 Mine does too… well except my brother who has barely finished 5 books in his life. I like many of the titles you mentioned. One of the first books that send me “Gone Reading” was His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman. I really adored Will in the books, I wanted to be him and at the same time I had a huge crush on him.

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