Fat Books & Thin Women


Read-a-Thon! Read-a-Thon!

Ever since I first heard about Dewey’s Read-a-Thon I’ve mostly expressed confusion over what the point is. Although I had a proud read-a-thon run as a child (two-time winner of my elementary school’s read-a-thon) I am not all that into aggressive or speed reading or whatever you want to call it. But today I made bombitsa (you know, little snow bombs) with my host sister, and then I ate way too many of them, and now my stomach hurts and I can’t even think about getting off my sofa, and the best way to salvage this day seems to be devoting myself to knocking some books off my reading list, top among them the first novel in Olivia Manning’s Fortunes of War.

So, without further ado, here are the books I plan to tackle today, though I’ll probably get distracted and end up turning this into a Gilmore Girls marathon or something.

Olivia Manning – The Great Fortune
Francisco Goldman – Say Her Name
Elizabeth George – Missing Joseph
Bruce Coville – Jennifer Murdley’s Toad

I’ll edit this post as I go along, like to update you that my stomach feels better and I’m outside playing jump rope with my sister, or that I fell asleep during the Manning (it’s pretty good, actually, but usually I have to read it not while laying down) or that I still can’t figure out when the mystery is going to get going in the Elizabeth George.

Pages Read: 404

Update: 7:19PM – Ahh. As a couple have suggested in the comments, reading does do wonders for the stomach struggling under the weight of too many cookies. Green tea & Olivia Manning, Yaki being the most frustrating character ever (also, Manning must be the best at writing cruel & unlikeable characters ever – I’m not sure there’s a single person in the book I really care for), my host siblings playing football outside, sun going down, call to prayer.

Update: 9:09PM Fortunes of War carries on. 25 pages in two hours. Bah! There is such a weird disconnect between the lives of the ex-pats Manning writes about, and the war that’s gathering all around them. Her characters so often seem like children wanting entertainment, without another thought in their heads. I think I’m going to finish reading Howl’s Moving Castle now.

Update: 11:58PM: Howl’s Moving Castle is so funny and weird. I’d forgotten it was made into a movie – I need to watch that after I finish reading. I just finished The Great Fortune, the first volume in Olivia Manning’s The Balkan Trilogy, which is itself just half of her Fortunes of War. Pushing myself to read through this (more than half of the book since this afternoon) seems to have done something good for me and the reading, getting me over the natural inertia of facing a long, long book with characters who I halfway hate from their first appearances. It’s nice to remember that feeling, too, of reading like I did when I was a kid, getting all hyped up to finish a book so that I would never go to sleep on time but instead would lay under the covers with a reading light, not going to sleep until I’d finished whatever Nancy Drew & Hardy Boys Super Mystery I was on at the moment. Somehow it wound up being midnight but I thought it was about 10PM. Also, my copy of The Balkan Trilogy is getting that sort of nice floppy spine thing going on that announces to the world, I’ve Been Read. Also, I really like the smell of nyrb classics. They remind me of some books I read when I was younger, but I’ll have to come back later when I remember what the series or publisher was.

7:35AM – It looks like it’s going to be the nicest day ever out. Howl’s Moving Castle is still fun but kind of grating when it’s the only thing I’m reading. Last night I felt so inspired by my great time finishing up the Olivia Manning that I felt ready to declare myself a convert to the “one book at a time” thing. Not going to happen.

8:34AM – Second cup of coffee on the way. If there is one good thing about this read-a-thon thing it’s that it pushed me to wake up early today – good preparation for work tomorrow morning. Lynley & Havers finally showed up in Elizabeth George’s Missing Joseph, after over one hundred pages without them. Huge relief but something – being tired or reading too much or things that I’ve been kind of weird about, in relation to this series, but never let myself think about too much before now – has me noticing all the ways in which George has made Havers a sort of half-person. Like, every time Havers is described there is no question that she’s got “chunky” legs or wears frumpy clothes or that, despite only being 33 years old, she is never ever going to have a romantic partner. This is so weird and kind of disturbing – is this what women have to look like when they have successful careers? The day looks even more gorgeous – I am expecting my six-year-old host sister to be pounding on my door within an hour telling me to come out and play, and odds are I’ll take her up on the offer…assuming I haven’t fallen asleep by then.

12:53PM – Okay, I have to be honest: my enthusiasm has faded. I’m glad this read-a-thon got me through the first volume of The Balkan Trilogy, but now I am just tired and, bah, read-a-thons! Still, you know: I am finally moving on that trilogy, which I’ve been “reading” for months now, and that’s worth something.

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