It’s Book Review Friday!
I couldn’t wait to tell you about the book that I finished this month! But before I do, I must make a confession…
I went completely off the rails from my book list. That may not seem like a big deal, at first…however if you know me and books…we kind of have a "thing." (You can read that backstory in this post.) I always have a bunch of books in queue to read.
Many of them have been partially read. Some have been skimmed. Still, a host of others haunt me. My desk in my home office sits directly across from three mounted wall shelves situated above a nine-cubicle bookshelf, with books on every level. 😉
Back to the book…It started with an article that I read in next month's Real Simple magazine (2018, March) about the benefits of adults reading before bed. Apparently, it reduces stress. “Six minutes is all you need to slow your heart rate,” Brandi Broxson reported. The article warned against reading books that would alter the “feel-good effects” of reading.
I was so tired one Sunday afternoon that I couldn’t think straight. My husband encouraged me to go take a nap, which for me tends to mean lay in bed thinking about all that I need or could be doing. With that article still fresh in my mind, I picked up a book that I had been meaning to read for well over a year. I intended to read for a few minutes until I dozed off. A couple of hours later I had to pull myself away from it.
The book: Palace Council by Stephen L. Carter.
Carter is an outstanding, prolific writer. He clerked for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall and is now a Yale law school professor. Carter has written several non-fiction books, mostly political in nature. His debut novel, The Emperor of Ocean Park became one of my favorites when I read it several years ago.
So, I was familiar with Carter’s robust style of writing. This novel captured me from page one. It incorporates intrigue, suspense, history, and multiple storylines in a conspiracy that spans from the 1950s into the 1970s. The happenings are so incredible that I half expected an almost fantasy element to emerge in the story. Real historical figures such as Richard Nixon and Langston Hughes play a role in the tale's advancement. Set in Harlem, Washington D.C. and Ithaca, N.Y. with a trip to Vietnam, the story of the protagonist, Eddie Wesley’s two loves is central to the narrative. It also gives a beautiful illustration of Harlem in its heyday. Caveat: Carter admits to tampering with the dates to accommodate his rendering.
Though Carter artfully keeps the reader engaged for every one of the text’s 500 pages, I finished the tale realizing something more important. A lesson that I must share.
I had been so caught up in my other reading…for my work, for personal development, for my children, etc…that I had forgotten what it is like to enjoy a story. It felt completely self-indulgent. Given the cadence of the story, I finished this book in less than a week!
And I didn’t spend a lot of time reading each day. I read for a bit before going to bed. (However, more than six minutes.)
And I am generally a slow reader. As I mentioned, the story just took flight.
My lesson is that I must make time to indulge in forgotten pleasures. In most cases, it doesn't take as much time as I think it will. And consider making them part of my self-care regimen. It is very easy to become myopic and lose touch with things that I enjoy.
Now I am on a search-and-discovery mission to find other "guilty" pleasures that I have sidelined from my life. For me, another novel right now would not hit the mark. (I’m still musing about the characters from Palace Council. I’d like to enjoy them a bit longer. 😊) But maybe in another couple of months…I’m thinking about New England White, another Carter novel.
Got any other suggestions?
As promised, I am sharing my current At My Bedside: Books to Grow On book list. Some I have been slowly working through for months. Others just came in the mail from Amazon last week. (I did mention about me and books, right?)
At any rate, I hope some of these titles interest you. Let me know if/when you’ve read any…I’d love to talk about it.
Until next time…
P.S. Please share your book recommendations and a guilty pleasure in the comment section below. Thanks!