A miracle happened when we were on holidays.
I read four books.
Four whole books – with two days to spare. I was annoyed with myself then actually because in a fit of unbridled optimism, I had purchased a 3 for 2 book deal the day before we flew out but then left the biggest of the three – The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt – at home because I couldn’t justify such a heavy book in my luggage that wouldn’t be read. But I was wrong! I would have gobbled it up!
It has literally been years since I read properly. Just read this post from two years ago about things I miss about child-free holidays as proof. I used to be a huge reader with a book constantly on the go, but then I have to admit I completely dropped the habit when the little man came along. It was silly really. I replaced the escapism of a good novel with reading stupid parenting books and online forums. Then I joined Facebook…in short, I am an eejit of terrible time wasting proportions.
But this holiday was a revelation. I even read books DURING THE DAY. While the small boy played in the sand or generally entertained himself. Like I said, a miracle.
So I caught up on a bunch of books that everyone else read ages ago. First I read Gone Girl. Then Academy Street. Then We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves. Then a non-fiction popular psychology book that has been on my bedside locker for nearly a year now called Sensation. Then I nicked my buddy Liz Nugent’s book off the library bookshelf in the hotel reception and started re-reading Unravelling Oliver.
I enjoyed them all immensely. And at the same time remembered that my non-fiction obsession with the subject of parenting and specifically mothering is also the cornerstone of nearly every bloody book ever written! Here’s some themes from all the books I read that really got to me, some of them the kind of parenting niggles that can keep me awake at night.
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
- The end. Jesus like. That’s a heart of darkness right there. I can’t even imagine a sequel to what happens next in that house. (I’m not including any spoilers here in case there’s anyone else left on the planet who hasn’t read it. Read it though, seriously.)
- The real truth about Amy’s entrance into the world and her upbringing. Imagine the trauma for her parents over all those years? How did they keep going?
- When Amy has to accompany Nick’s mother to a chemo session because Nick “pronounced it unbearable”, and his mother says “Don’t be too hard on Nick. About not wanting to do this kind of thing. I just always doted on him, I babied him – how could you not? That face. And so he has trouble doing hard things.” This quote really got me where it hurt. All those irrational thoughts: Am I that mother? Do I over-baby? Is there such a thing? Will I raise someone who has trouble doing hard things? Jaysus! Too much.
Academy Street by Mary Costello
- A family losing their mother when they’re so young and how it fundamentally changes who they are, who they’ll be and the course of their lives. The little baba being sent off to the unfamiliar surroundings of his aunt’s house. Don’t think about that one for too long…
- The chronicle of Tess’ incredible relationship with her son as a baby and small boy which just morphs into that distance and silence as he matures. How does that happen? How do we avoid that? Can you? Is it just a thing?
We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler
- The experiment in the first place. Did they really think that was a good idea? The end of the experiment. Surely they saw that coming, no? Sibling separation and grief. Heavy themes in a light-hearted book. Heartbreaking.
Unravelling Oliver by Liz Nugent
- The child Oliver – the abandonment, the loneliness, the ongoing rejection while watching the sliding doors of what might have been. Yes, Oliver the man is one big c u next Tuesday but God Oliver the boy. I just want to steal him and hug him til he can’t breathe. Who could he have been in the arms of loving parents?
Maybe it’s a good thing I didn’t read The Goldfinch. That might have broken me altogether.
Have you read any of the above? Discuss, discuss!