April 22, 2010

there comes a time...

In every woman's life where she reads a Danielle Steele novel.  This is what I told my Mom this weekend on a phone call home.  Her response was a classic.  "Well, honey, I suppose..."  I for one was pretty sure my time would never come.  Oh I was so wrong. 

That time came on Friday night.  ManInCharge was talking to his brother over Skype and I found myself with nothing to occupy my evening.  My computer and my husband were both otherwise engaged.  I resorted to the only book unread in our humble abode.
I picked up Silent Honor and began to read.  After a few sentences I was able to resolve a question that I had always had in my mind.  Why on earth was there a Danielle Steele novel in my house to begin with?  Well, it appears that Silent Honor is about Japan - or - I am just three chapters into the novel - about a Japanese-American.  Of course.  Because it is about Japan, it must have appeal to someone here, which is how I inherited it.

On first impressions I am kind of shocked.  Danielle Steele is not at all what I expected.  I am not saying she is like reading Camus for the first time, or even revisiting Alcott on a rainy afternoon, but I have read far worse.  I suppose I imagined her as thrusting bosooms - much like John Jakes lived up to in North and South, a book that made me so unbelievably uncomfortable that I kept having to skip pages.  I also imagined her to be a less that sublime wordsmith.  While she is not great, she is imminently more readable than many who win critical acclaim.  I'll let you know if my impression sours as the novel progresses.

This dilemma of reading my last book is a reminder of all that I will not miss when I leave.  One of the things that is hard about living in a Japan-centered alternate universe is the lack of easy access to English language books.  {You should have seen me go crazy in Thailand because of all the English book stores.}  I blame my parents. I grew up in a household of unstoppable readers.  All five of us are voracious consumers of words - weekends were near silent in our home growing up, all of us nestled somewhere devouring pages.  Often we would fly through books only to hand them off to another member of the pack as if they were relay batons. Around this time last year Dad mailed me a book before Mom read it - I'm bringing that book home with me just in case she hasn't gotten her hands on a copy yet.

Life in Japan has forced me to severely limit my favorite hobby.  When I finish this last novel I will have no paper left to read.  The internet will suffice.  I am already expanding my Google Reader subscriptions to manage my needs - but come August this girl is going to pull out the plastic and get back to reading.  That's right.  I am going to the library.  Seriously.  How wonderful is it that we can go and borrow books at no cost.  If the book we want isn't there, just request it.  The lovely librarians will arrange for an inter-library loan.  In Japan the largest English language book collection is housed in Tokyo at the main branch of the Metropolitan library.  They let you go and read, but there is no borrowing.  Maybe if I really need a reading fix I will jump on the train and head down.  After Ms. Steele has spun her tale - this girl is still going to have the need to read.

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