I’m having, you know, just a wee bit of difficulty keeping to my New Year’s resolution to get more sleep. You can call it lack of will-power – or, perhaps, ambivalence – but I am blaming it on the really, really good books I’ve been reading lately.
You see, for Christmas I received Running with Scissors by Augusten Burroughs – I mean, seriously, folks, this book is uniquely compelling. “Will this kid actually survive his own childhood? Is it possible for so many people, all these families, to be this dysfunctional? Turn the page to find out, because it is about to get worse!” I loved reading about this family from the perspective of the other sibling – his older brother is John Elder Robison who wrote the wonderful Look Me in the Eye: My Life with Asperger’s which I reviewed here last fall. Very talented brothers, those two. I’m not sure if Running with Scissors ended up more heavily weighted on the hilarious side or the heartbreaking side (probably the latter), but it was well-written and kept me reading long past my new-and-improved bedtime, whatever that’s supposed to be. (Hmm, maybe that’s my problem!) The day I finished this book I stopped at Black Oak Books in San Francisco and picked up another of his books.
But then, the next one I read (also a Christmas gift) was The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini. Holy moly, have you read this book? If not, go out and pick up a copy – you won’t be sorry. Amazing story, beautiful writing. What a tale. I learned more about Afghanistan from that book (and A Thousand Splendid Suns, which I read recently by the same author – also an excellent read) than from any other source. I am now extremely frightened by photos of the Taliban, which is an appropriate response, let me tell you. When I got to the last quarter of The Kite Runner, I couldn’t put it down. I ended up reading it well past 1:00 AM on Saturday morning to finish it. I cannot remember the last time that I read the conclusion of a book sitting up in my bed in the middle of the night, hand half over my exhausted eyes out of fear for the protagonist. This, like Running with Scissors in its own completely different way, was a story of survival and redemption.
Page-turners, I tell you. They’ll keep you up past your bedtime. And that’s a very, very good thing.