I don’t know that anyone is not, but, I am of the Harry Potter generation. What exactly does this mean? It means that I was in second grade when I read the first Harry Potter book. Once I had caught up with the publishing schedule, I spent several late evenings at the local Barnes and Noble anxiously awaiting the release of the next coveted book.
Now, I have a sister who loved the books just as much and who is only a year younger than I am which means, you guessed it, we had to share the book. Why does this matter? Well, aside from the joy of cracking open each book, Harry Potter books are books to clear your schedule for.
My sister and I alternated who got to read the book first, (she got to read book 5 first — guess who’s still salty about the Sirius spoiler?). We’d then each disappear to our shared room for approximately 24 hours to devour the book. We’d emerge and pass it on.
This past Saturday, I had aspirations for greatness, or at least for my to-do list to shrink by more than a few items. I made it as far as doing my laundry and making it to the library. After the library, an amidst the laundry, A Woman is No Man got to me. From there, my Saturday belonged to Etaf Rum and her elusive collection of female characters. I was schooled in the realities from the Palestinian side of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict; I was enamored with the story telling and I was railing right along with Sarah at the cultural confines these women found themselves in. I picked up the book from the library Saturday early afternoon, consumed 26 pages while waiting for my laundry to dry, got back to my house by 1:30 p.m. and completed the book in time to answer my mother’s worried phone calls by 7:30 p.m.
One Day in December suffered a similar fate when being added to my to do list. I picked this book up specifically for its light fare and it’s relevance to the time of year. (I read it between Christmas and New Year’s.) What kept my attention was the desire to find out when the truth would come out among the characters and a desire to be lost in another world.
My question to you all: What factors play into a book that clears your schedule? Certainly, like Harry Potter, one such factor is anticipation. This doesn’t only have to occur when something is just released, but perhaps, like A Woman is No Man, it’s the anticipation that builds while waiting for the book to come to you from the library.
An author’s prose surely is a variable in this equation. Had my ease to read both A Woman is No Man and One Day in December not been so significant, almost like breathing, I wouldn’t have been able to sit for hours to consume them! I felt similarly about Amor Towles’ words in A Gentleman in Moscow. This book lulled me in with its rich and vivid detail, however, the book was also very dense. In addition to a wealth of minute detail that I would learn pages later was significant, it also had a wealth of historical references for me to put together. As a result, I read this one over several sittings. It was not a clear your schedule, one-time show for me.
A willing reader
I think the final factor here is the reader. Each time I’ve read a book in a matter of hours, I have been open to it. Saturday, I was practically searching for a book that would stop my busy mind and force me to relax in the nook of my couch. Some would say, had I had more willpower to achieve the items on my to do list and not while away my perfectly productive Saturday, this would not have happened. And they would be right. But, I’ll take my Saturday experiencing another life — or lives — entirely over the minutiae of real life any day.
It’s your turn: What books have you cleared your schedule for?
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