Book Thief

Tonight my dog, Swirl, went into my office, picked up a 406 page library book entitled, “An American Sickness: How Healthcare Became Big Business and How You Can Take it Back,” and carried it back to his bed. When I discovered this, the book was open and Swirl had a chapter in his mouth. I grabbed it just in time.

He didn’t take “One Hundred Years of Solitude” which was laying well within his reach on my bedside table and I was glad for that but puzzled. Going after the library book required so much more effort.

I took “One Hundred Years of Solitude” from my brother’s house in Texas. It was on a shelf with several mysteries and photographs of him and his wife when they were young. There was a bookmark in the book about fifty pages in and I figured that either he or his wife had reached the same point everybody does with this book. They can’t keep it straight, they can’t follow, they can’t believe, they can’t cope and it’s because they have no patience.

I know this because I tried reading “One Hundred Years of Solitude” about a hundred years ago because everyone smart was reading it and I wanted to be in that club. But I quickly became weak and discouraged and the book got lost somewhere.

Then I saw the book on my brother’s shelf and thought, ah, my second chance! I knew he wouldn’t mind. He is beyond the point of reading books now so I tucked it in my backpack and started reading it on the plane home. The window seat at dusk, then dark, the little light above haloing me, blurring the other passengers, alone and suspended in air is the way to read this book.

I am on page 99 but in no hurry to finish. There aren’t other books in the queue. This is my only book right now. It kind of requires that kind of exclusive commitment. Getting to page 458 could take me months, years even. But I don’t care. I have patience now. And the illusion of having all the time in the world, a notion as fantastical as Marquez’ story.

5 Comments on “Book Thief

  1. I know I read it but I don’t remember anything except that I vaguely remember I liked it. Otherwise? I have absolutely 100% forgotten it. I read a lot of books — libraries full — more than 50 years ago. I can’t remember why I’m in the kitchen these days, so books I read when I was 19 or 20? If I DO remember back that far, they must have been REALLY good, absolutely terrible or I re-read them several times and at least once in the past ten years.

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  2. Oh, Jan, I feel your pain. And your sense of satisfaction for having begun it. I am currently about 100 pages from finishing The Pillars of the Earth—Which is almost 1000 pages total. I have not read a book anywhere near this length since before my children were born. We can do it :-). Keep on keeping on.

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  3. Swirl is a book dog, eh. Stick with the book. It’s crazy and completely off the wall and you’ll want to bang your head against that wall, but it’s worth it.

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