Friday, March 14, 2014

Satisfying This Reading Hunger

Ten months ago I left employment at a bookstore, and started working at a high-end grocery store. I'm still selling stuff, though it's food now instead of books.

One thing I love about going to work is that if I'm hungry, there are a lot of options to fill whatever I might be hungry for at that particular moment. Maybe I want something warm and filling, like chili or soup. Or maybe I want a salad, light and flavorful. I can always find something delicious and satisfying.

When I worked at a bookstore and was hungry for a book to read, it was the same way. The bookstore had a smorgasbord of reading material, and pick and choose I did, sometimes choosing heavier meat and potatoes reading, other times choosing lighter fare, easier to digest when life was stressful.

Two months ago I transferred to a new location for a promotion. New job title, new position, new routines, new co-workers. There has been a learning curve with the new position, and it is still feeling like an awful lot of new. Which, while good, is still challenging and tiring.

When I experience stress, my reading habits change. I'm less able to focus and have less energy to ingest books that are heftier in length or content. At the bookstore, I could browse through many titles until I found just the right one to satisfy my craving, no matter how much stress or energy I had.

Shortly after I got this new position I started reading, eagerly started reading, Donna Tartt's THE LITTLE FRIEND, after devouring and loving her other two novels, THE GOLDFINCH and THE SECRET HISTORY. At over 200 pages in it was feeling like a bit of a slog.

So I put THE LITTLE FRIEND aside. I picked up Rabih Alameddine's AN UNNECESSARY WOMAN* and even found myself putting that down and not able to focus on it very well.

It's harder to find reading fare that digests well at any given time, now that I'm not in the vicinity of thousands of books every day. There have been books on my radar (look for an upcoming blog post about that!), but I haven't been able to see them, touch them, read a first page, in other words, to be able to taste their different flavors and decide if they will satisfy my specific reading hunger.

I have heard about one book, though. This book has been recommended to me by two separate friends. That makes me take notice. They told me a little bit about it, which also got my interest.

In Andy Weir's The Martian, Mark Watney is an astronaut on a mission to Mars. Unfortunately he is left for dead on Mars after his crew mates are able to escape the planet after severe winds cut their mission short. Though not dead, Mark, as he says on the first page, is fucked.

I read the first 20 pages or so as a sample on the computer. I kept thinking about it over the next several days. It seemed as though it would be a delicious way to satisfy this girl's book hunger.


I have been reading it, albeit in smaller bites than I sometimes like (another indicator of my stress level). And I have been enjoying it. It may not be meat and potatoes reading, but it isn't just a book snack, either. (And yes, Mark is pretty much fucked. He is trying to survive until the next Mars mission crew arrives, in four years. Surviving will definitely be a challenge.)

Books are a refuge for me. Reading a good book feels like protection and solace, an anchor during tough times, as well as brain food and a delight when I'm not so stressed. I'm glad to have found some good brain food!

*What a wonderful author! You can see my blog post about him here:

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