Wednesday, September 7, 2011

What not to read

I have a general rule that I do not read books that are sad. NO CRYING BOOKS! I don't mind if I'm reading a sweeping saga and there is a bit of emotion at some point. But I never set out to read a book I know will be sad.

Case in point: I do not read Nicholas Sparks.

Exception: The Book Thief. Now, it wasn't really SAD, so much as it revolved around World War II and a Jew and...well you know how that's gonna end. But still, the subject matter seemed to fade behind the unique and startling writing style, allowing the characters and storyline to really stand out.

I broke my rule, though.

I'm in a book club and this month's book was "Still Alice" by Lisa Genova. And I knew that it was about a woman who is diagnosed with Alzheimer's.


I was told it was "really good" and a "quick read" and while I have to agree, I take issue that nobody also said, "extreme tearjerker" (though maybe that should have been obvious).

Honestly, it was really good. REALLY. GOOD. Reading it was effortless and interesting and before I knew it an hour had passed. Or two. I didn't know much about the disease, or really thought much about people as they slip into dementia, but I felt an attachment to the characters almost immediately. I was surprised to read how aware patients are as the disease takes more and more of their memories.

And it was heartbreaking, as the main character is aware of losing memories of her children and husband. It's not all sad, but the entire subject matter has given me a lot to think about over the past couple days (I was done in about 4 days, but if you had a steady stream of tissues and a hydration pack, you could probably do it in 2).

Reading something well written is like eating a wonderful meal. Every word is delicious and you look forward to what is next, while appreciating what you've already had. I felt that way about this book. Except that at the end, I feel drained (in a good way?), whereas a meal leaves me full (not always in a good way). I definitely recommend reading this book, but I've given you fair warning.

Today I am grateful that I am untouched by degenerative diseases. My heart aches for those who are.

I broke my rule. And it's going to be a long time before I do that again.


Tennille said...

I read this a while ago and was haunted by it for days. Haunted. I don't have a family history of Alzheimer's but I do have a family history of strokes, and I was deeply affected by the first person narrative about forgetting, misplacing, and confusing things. And I was really affected by how her husband and family dealt with the situation. So heartbreaking.

GWACK said...

I remember that you hate sad books. Good for you for persevering. I might just have to check that one out when I finish the thousand pager I'm reading right now.