The Year of the Flood

Image by IkaInk via Flickr

I decide to steal – well borrow – and idea from my friend Jen Savage, and keep track of the books I’m reading on this blog. I love the idea of having an archive of what I’ve read, and Jen’s reading list inspires me to seek out specific books. Visit Jen’s excellent blog, Early Morning Fog, Partial Clearing here.

I’ve always been a lover of fiction, and I’ll admit that it’s because I love to escape into a good story. As a child and teenager my tastes ran to the mainstream – mysteries, romance, a short period in my mid-teens where I tore through hundreds of “bodice-ripper” novels, but as an adult my favorite bedside book is usually literary fiction. The sort of book I aspire to write one day.But that’s the subject of another post – or several, as is my somewhat challenged abilities to “read like a writer” or with a literary eye, rather than just read to escape.

In recent years I’ve become more interested in nonfiction books, but unfortunately some of those have languished on the shelf unread. These days I read most of my nonfiction in magazine articles and online. Subscriptions to periodicals such as The New Yorker, The Nation., Mother Jones and The Atlantic provide more than enough fodder for my inquiring mind about politics and current events. In fact, I can’t keep up with all the articles and stories that flood my mailbox via magazine subscription. In addition to the above mentioned, I found myself sending the little cards back to The Sun, Yes! Magazine, Ode, The New York Review of Books, Ms.,  and I think a few more. Of course it’s impossible to read all I want of these publications, PLUS keep up with my fiction habit. Ah well, just have to hope I’m choosing the best in each issue.

But late in the evening, and sometimes on a rainy weekend afternoon, I turn to the bedside book. I just finished Margaret Atwood‘s Year of the Flood. Atwood is one of my favorite authors, but I put off picking this one up because her dystopian novels can be so disturbing. I’d read Oryx and Crake years ago when it first came out, and although as usual Atwood did not disappoint with her polished prose and spot-on explorations of human character, the story was deeply unsettling on many levels.

Cover of "The Year of the Flood: A Novel&...

Cover of The Year of the Flood: A Novel

The Year of the Flood has the same traits, but I found the reading much more enjoyable. It could be because the two narrators were female and thus easier for me to identify with, but I think this book carried an overall softer tone. I was hooked and stayed up way too late reading it on too many nights. Since it is basically a companion volume to Oryx & Crake, and mentions some of those characters I felt compelled to hunt it down my bookshelves and give it a second read.

As a kid I read favorite books multiple times but as an adult, realizing how few years are left to read all the books I want to read,  I’ve rarely read through an entire book twice. Now I’m seeing the value of the second read. It’s like the movies – you gain whole new insights the second time around.

Just wish there were more hours in the day I could devote to curling up with a book!