Sunday, August 10, 2008

Sunday Salon: Leave Me Alone, I'm Reading!

On a whim, I cracked open Maureen Corrigan's Leave Me Alone, I'm Reading: Finding and Losing Myself in Books this morning. It was one among many books I have sitting on my desk waiting to know its fate: be relegated to the TBR room or remain on my desk for immediate or near immediate reading (my personal definition of immediate being relative at this point in time). I have only gotten to the introduction so far, forcing myself to stop reading, in order that I may visit awhile with you (and to play with my dog who is craving a little morning attention).

Maureen Corrigan is a book critic on the National Public Radio's (NPR) Fresh Air show. She is also a college professor at Georgetown University and writes for The Washington Post. She is a lover of mysteries and serial fiction, which made me stand up and take notice immediately.

The author's father sounds very much like my own: a war veteran who spends hours lost in books. Similar to the author, I grew up around books about World War II, the American Civil War, and westerns, just to name a few. The author and I differ, however, in that my mother has always been a reader, whereas, Maureen's mother was not. Speculation about how we became readers is nothing new to the blogging community. I have discussed the topic here on my blog before as have many of you out there--either on blogs or in other forums. Some readers seem born into it while others come upon their love for reading completely on their own. Regardless of the origin, we all enjoy reading and could probably relate on many levels to the author's own bookish experiences.

I love the idea of Maureen Corrigan's book. She has been a reader all of her life and she is lucky enough to work in professions that encourage and support her reading habit. She explains in the introduction that she wants not only to talk about books, but to share her experiences in how books have molded and impacted her life as well as how her life experiences have influenced her reading.

It is my intent to stretch out the reading of this book, reading snippets here and there in between my other reading. I want to share with you my experience of reading Maureen Corrigan's book, piece by piece. It will give me fodder to talk about on Sundays at the very least. At the most, it will stir up some interesting discussion. I hope so, anyway.

Here are a few random quotes that caught my attention (It was hard not to want to copy the entire introduction for you here):
I think, consciously or not, what we readers do each time we open a book is to set off on a search for authenticity. We want to get closer to the heart of things, and sometimes even a few good sentences contained in an otherwise unexceptional book can crystallize vague feelings, fleeting physical sensations, or, sometimes, profound epiphanies. [pg xvi]

Good writing is writing that's on target; that captures, say, the smell of sizing on a just-sewn garment the way no other known grammatical scramble of words has before. [pg xvi]

In our daily lives, we're bombarded by the fake and the trivial, reading serves as a way to stop, shut out the noise of the world, and try to grab hold of something real, no matter how small. [pg xvii]

Books are wayward. You can begin a book assuming that you're entering one kind of world, getting one kind of message, only to find out that beneath that cover story lurks another kind of tale - or two, or three - altogether. Books can turn us readers around, mess with our directional signals, deposit us, drained and bewildered, on completely foreign shores. [pg xxvi]

In regards to the semicolon (a punctuation mark the author and I both seem to have a special affection for):
It's the punctuation mark that qualifies, hesitates, and ties together ideas and parts of a life that shoot off in different directions. I think my reliance on the semicolon signifies that I want to hold on to my background - honestly, without sentimentality or embarrassment - and yet, also transcend it. [pg xxxi]

I did not get nearly as much reading done as I would have liked this past week (likely story, I know). I attended an out of town conference and was looking forward to a quiet evening of nothing but reading. Instead, I decided to be sociable and joined a group of people for dinner and a movie. By the time I got back to the hotel, I was too tired to do anything but fall into sleep. The conference itself was interesting enough not to entice escapes to a quiet alcove to read, although the very idea was tempting enough in itself. I was good though and attended all my workshops.

I plan to spend much of today in Far World, along side Marcus and Kyja who are trying desperately to save not only the world but themselves as well in Far World: Water Keep. My goal is to finish the book today and start on my review. I am one stop among many on the author, J. Scott Savage's summer book tour, and I am happy to say that I am enjoying the book (there is always a little fear that I will hate a particular book and then be put in an awkward position).

Week in Review:
Review of Aberrations by Penelope Przekop
Booking Through Thursday: If I could live in a fictional world, which one would I choose?
Off Topic Chatter: Friday is Finally Here

New Addition to the TBR Collection:
The Monsters of Templeton by Lauren Groff

How has your reading been this past week? Did you come away satisfied or wishing you had made different choices? Any new books added to your shelves?

Wishing you all a great week and happy reading!


  1. Hey -

    I just sent you an email about Olympic TV coverage. MSNBC is carrying coverage and at the moment they are covering badminton!

    Thought you'd want to know.


  2. Oooh, I can't wait to see what you think of "The Monsters of Templeton". I loved it!

  3. I loove that first quote you listed. It sums up, almost perfectly, why I read. Unfortunately I had a bit of a slumpy reading week thanks to not feeling so well, but all seems fine now. I'm back to the books and couldn't be happier about it.


  4. Leave Me Alone sounds like a book I would love. I hope I can find it soon in my library.

  5. I'm glad you're enjoying Far World. I'm on the tour at the end of the month, and I have to get cracking at it.

  6. My reading has been going in fits and starts. Every time I pick up a book lately I get sleepy! Not good! :-)

  7. CJ - Thank you so much for the information!

    Nicola - I've heard such great things about it. I'm really looking forward to reading it.

    Andi - I thought so too! I am glad you are feeling better and are back to reading.

    Jeane - I think I'm really going to like it. It's gotten off to a great start. Hopefully you will find a copy in your library.

    Lesa - That's when I'm slated for the tour too. I figured I better fit the book in now before it gets to be too late.

    Marie - That was happening to me for awhile there too. Hopefully it will pass for you like it did for me.

  8. Maureen Corrigan's book has been on my Amazon Wish List for years now and after learning how much you are enjoying it I really must get it soon. Thanks for reminding me about it.

  9. This was a decent reading week for me. Finished two books but wasn't mega thrilled by either, rated each with 3 stars (reviews to come). I've also added a lot of new books to my shelves (see my TSS post). My friend B is a horrible enabler. I really need to win my millions soon so I can devote all my time to reading. This work thing just keeps getting in the way!

  10. I read and enjoyed Leave me alone last year. I found it to be a little slower at the end, but I kept my copy and plan on returning to it over time. I'm really excited that you also picked up The Monsters of Templeton. I absolutely loved that novel from the first sentence. I can't wait to read your review of that one.

  11. Karen - I can't believe it took me so long to discover it. I hope you will enjoy it when you get to it!

    Gail - I noticed your TBR pile had grown! It looks like you have some great reading ahead of you. :-)

    Jennifer - I am glad to hear you enjoyed it! I can see myself returning to this book down the road too. I can't wait to read The Monsters of Templeton!

  12. Wendy - you have an amazing site here - I love it! The passages you quoted from Leave Me Alone, I'm Reading! were great. Thanks for sharing those with us. Sounds like a very intreresting book. My father was also a war veteran and reads books on the Korean War and the Marine Corp. I got my love of reading from him and I'm so thankful I did! I hope you have a wonderful week. :)

  13. I'm glad to hear that you stretch out books, too. That's why it takes me so long to post about books. I am picky about what I read because I love to savor them. So even though a lot of books cross through my hands, I only review a handful of them.

  14. I'm looking forward to your sharing your journey through Leave Me Alone, I'm Reading (sometimes I really wish people would DO that, BTW); it's a little like what you did with Ex Libris by Anne Fadiman. Reading about reading can be very thought-provoking.

    Hope you had a good weekend, Wendy, and happy reading this week!

  15. I'm trying to ease myself back into blogging after my break. I'm busy making up for lost reading time for the past 3 weeks. While I was gone (actually out of state) I hoped I'd get to read, but people took priority and I was left jonesing for reading time. It didn't help that the book I had with me was loooong (Jonathan Strange/Mr. Norrell) and so any reading I did do felt like standing still! So, I'm back (kinda) and spent the weekend making up for lost reading time by reading Breaking Dawn in 2 days. Feeling a bit more calm, so maybe I can visit some blogs :o)

  16. Leave Me Alone: I'm Reading sounds like a very interesting and good book! The author does sound like an interesting person, also. I will have to keep an eye out for this.
    I have the same thing with my TBRs. I have a big stack on my computer table of ones to read first and then my mountain of other TBRs on my shelf, random tables, etc, lol!

  17. Those are some terrific quotes! I'll have to see if I've got that one on my wish list. The title is familiar, but my wish list is so huge I always have to double-check.

    I had a terrible reading week, last week (storms, migraines, blah, blah) but I made up for it, this weekend. Of course, that means I'm now suddenly 3 reviews behind. LOL

  18. I haven't read nearly enough lately. I'm not sure what happened during the week, but I spent the weekend watching olympics. I love the synchronized diving!

    I am in the minority, I really didn't enjoy Leave Me Alone at all. I was completely uninterested in what she read. I have Ex Libris on my end table now, hopefully I'll enjoy it more.

  19. My reading has been lagging. I am not reading as much as I normally read. I've been reading the same amount of hours per day, but at a slower rate. If this keeps up, I am going to be forced to read more during the day. :( And I already read a lot! (lol) Maybe when the weather cools, I'll speed up.

  20. Lisa (B&C) - Thank you! I have a feeling this particular book is going to be full of great quotes. I hope you enjoy your week!

    Nikki - Some books are made for stretching out. :-)

    Gautami - Far World is a great novel. I hope you do get the chance to read it!

    Florinda - LOL I wish people would leave me alone while I'm reading too! I am hoping to get a lot of reading in this week. So far, so good. Let's hope I can keep it up. :-)

    Terri - I don't always get as much reading done when I am out of town either, sO I can completely relate. It's good to see you back!

    April - With so many TBR books, it makes sense to prioritize, doesn't it? I am glad I am not the only one with different levels of TBR stacks.

    Nancy - I am glad you were able to get some reading done over the weekend. Hopefully this week will be better for you than the last one.

    Lisa (BLLT) - That's what ended up happening to me too! The Olympics are very distracting. Hopefully you will enjoy Ex Libris more than Leave Me Alone.

    J. Kaye - Could it be the types of books you are reading? Sometimes that makes a difference for me. The weather too though sometimes slows me down as well.

  21. Hi Wendy,
    Trying to catch up on my blog reading which has been sadly lacking of late. In fact, I haven't been reading much of anything. I'm not sure why, there's certainly been plenty of opportunity. Hopefully, it's just a phase.
    Anyway, just dropped in to say hello.

  22. I've been lagging in my reading as well. The weekend's been busy with covering a concert (I've gotten a media pass for the first time in my life! LOL)

    Have a good week ahead, Wendy!

  23. Julie - I understand. I was in the same place not too long ago. And my blog reading still hasn't quite gotten back on track yet.

    Alice - From the looks of it, you are taking full advantage of that media pass too! I'm so happy that you have that opportunity!

  24. "Leave me Alone" is one of the books I've been thinking about reading for quite a while now. I'm a pushover for books about books and reading. Thanks for the quotes - I think I'll have to add it to my "read in the very near future" list.

  25. I had that same fear after I had signed up for the blogtour--especially as I don't read as many ARCs as other bloggers do.

    This sounds like a great book--one that I would definitely love to read. I have a few casual readers in my family so anything that has to do with books I gobble up immediately and this could probably curb some of that booktalk appetite--of course maybe then I'd want to talk about the booktalk that I am reading about. *Sigh* Anyway, its going on the list--thanks for the great quotes!

  26. I hope you enjoy Corrigan's book. I tried it and unfortunately couldn't get into it. I like how you are planning to read it in snippets and will look forward to your posts on it. Maybe I'll go back and pick up my forgotten copy ;)

  27. Joy - I enjoy books about reading and books too. I've been late in discovering them though.

    Trish - I really try to only accept ARC's I think I will like (a lesson I learned the hard ?way), but you can never tell, can you?

    Iliana - I am sorry to hear that. You're obviously not alone in your opinion of the book. I haven't yet read the next chapter, but I hope to do that tomorrow.


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