making my own napkins and loving it

November 12, 2008, 9:43 pm
Filed under: miscellany | Tags:

one of the real downsides to living in nicaragua is the (almost) total absence of libraries.  outside of private schools, i believe there are two libraries in the entire country.  at least, two that i know of.  the first school i taught at, which sucked in almost every way imaginable, had a tiny tiny little room with 3 computers and just as many shelves of books.  as a literature teacher, i almost couldn’t assign book reports or independent reading projects, because there was no selection!  the american school had a much much much better library (just one way in which it was infintely better than my first school).  during the two years that i worked there, i checked out at least 60 books, especially over summer vacations.  in fact, i got special permission from the librarian to check books out this past summer, even though my contract had ended and technically i had no rights whatsoever.  so i was able to read some books during my 3 years in nica, although nowhere near what i would have liked.  so i dreamed, of public libraries!  way up high on my list of “reasons i will be happy to return to the united states” was the existence of libraries and book stores to feed my heart and soul.

now that i’m home, i’m once again sort of disappointed by the selection at my local library, but it’s light years beyond nicaragua, so i shall keep my criticisms to myself, and share with you instead my recent project: to read as many pulitzer and national book circle award winning books as i can make it through.  i have a little list that i keep in my purse, and once every week or so i stop by the library and check out the ones i can find most readily.  every week there’s at least one that they don’t have, or that isn’t on the shelves, hence my disappointment ( i mean, shouldn’t every library have all the pulitzer prize winning pieces of fiction?).  but in the two months that i’ve had my library card, i’ve made it through nine of the books on my list, and at least as many books that weren’t even on my list but that i picked up in the meantime for one reason or another.

several people, upon hearing of my plan, have sort of scoffed at me, or called me a dork (not necessarily meaning it in a very negative way, but still).  the thing is, what the hell is wrong with my plan?  don’t we all wish we were a little better read?  and these are award-winning books!!!  plus, normally i just walk into libraries or book stores and stare blankly at the shelves, not knowing what books might be good or bad, staring at the covers for some sort of guidance (and we ALL know what they say about that!).  so i figure that at least this way, i can be pretty sure that i’m getting a halfway decent book.  so far, my plan has not let me down.

and so, i leave you a partial list of the books i’ve managed to read since i got back.  these are the ones that i most enjoyed, and would recommend myself:

The March, by E.L. Doctorow

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, by Junot Díaz  (this is definitely one of my favorites!)

Atonement, by Ian McEwan

Motherless Brooklyn, by Jonathan Letham

Rabbit is Rich, and Rabbit at Rest, by John Updike (numbers 3 & 4 in a series)

A Thousand Acres, by Jane Smiley

so far i’m almost halfway through my list (some i still can’t find at the freakin’ library!).  soon i’ll have to go back to the original lists and add some more of the books that didn’t attract my attention so much the first time around.  so yes, mock me if you must, but i feel accomplished now, and inspired to complete my goal.

read on!!!

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