The only problem with the weekend was that it was only a weekend. I read Good Faith by Jane Smiley and Gilead by Marilynne Robinson. I liked both but didn’t love either, which got me thinking about the way in which I classify books.
This is how books break down in my head:
Category 1 – yuck. I couldn’t get past Chapter 3. I always give a book three chapters or thirty pages. If the author doesn’t hook me by then, the book goes back to the library.
Category 2 – meh. There was something in the book that kept me reading – a character or plot twist, f. ex. – but the whole story didn’t hang together for me. This is a very useful category because books like this help me understand where my own weaknesses as a writer are.
Category 3 – good enough. About 85% of what I read falls in this category. I kept reading because I was engaged in the characters and the story, I closed the book with a feeling of satisfaction. The author did her/his job and I will look for more that s/he has written. Usually there was one quality of the book that stood out for me. In Good Faith, it was the evocation of the early 1980’s, in Gilead, it was the language and voice that was so perfect for the story itself. But the book was not good enough to break into ….
… Category 4 – amazing. These are the books I rave about and buy multiple copies of for friends. These are the books that make me laugh out loud or weep. These are the books that take me away from this world and transport me into the world of the story – so much so that I lose track of time and get in trouble for it. Only a couple of books a year fall into this category. (Sometimes a year will go by without me reading a book that I feel is good enough for Category 4. That is depressing.)
In addition to reading, I worked on a couple picture book manuscripts and wrote in my journal (the old-fashioned one) for the first time in years. BH and I took a long walk up at Fort Ontario when the sun was shining. There is a small graveyard there where Revolutionary War soldiers are interred, and the body of a baby born while her father was posted to the fort. There was mist on the horizon. The line where the lake met the sky was blurred and lavender. Hunks of ice bumped against the shore. BH made the best batch of chili ever last night and we ate it while watching the March Madness selection show. Eight Big East teams!
If you live in the area and are looking for something to do tonight, my dad, Frank Halse, is giving a poetry reading at the Mexico Public Library at 6:30pm. He turns 79 in a couple weeks and he is still writing new poetry and giving public readings. I think that’s cool.