Monday, November 22, 2010

Books to Read Right Now! (Get out of the Bathroom, Go Get These Books!)

The bathroom is a glorious place. It's a place of freedom, joy, creation. Ideas are born in the bathroom. Within its (usually) white walls, the incubator of inspiration pumps out the oxygen of possibility.

Okay, fine. Sound a bit ludicrous? Possibly it is. But that's what the bathroom is for me, a place of book-reading and teeth-brushing and cleansing and feeling rejuvinated and being ready to start a new day.

So, this is how badly you need to read the following books: if you're in the bathroom, reading a great book already; or if you're in the bathroom, allowing the bristles of that delightful toothbrush to breathe life onto the walls of your teeth; or if you're in the bathroom, feeling the hot water surround you like soemthing incredibly hot and all-surrounding...then leave NOW and go get these books.

Both are by author Kathryn Erskine, and both are incredibly, irresistably, beyond-words cool.

Mockingbird tells the story of a young girl named Caitlin who has Asberger's. Caitlin must cope with the grief of her father, and the grief of her school, and yet she cannot feel the way most people naturally do. As Caitlin struggles to make sense of the emotions that surround her, she learns what she can offer--the beauty she has to share.

The Absolute Value of Mike explores the life of a boy whose father can't share how he loves his son, and who doesn't see his son for who he really is. Mike is thrust into a fantastically strange and wonderful community where he has to learn to become the person he is, rather than the person his dad wants him to be. In finding his own voice--through turns hilarious, moving, and all too true to life--Mike also helps others to find theirs.

Both books moved me to tears.


I'm talking about the kind of tears where you close the covers of a book, hold it in your hands, look at it, and have a short conversation with the book that goes like this:

You: Book, wow. I mean, really, Book (sniffle, wipe tears, sniffle) wow.

Book: I know.

You: No, I know, but I mean, like, wow.

Book: Yes, I know. After all, I am the one who is holding all these words. Trust me, I've gotten pretty familiar with them.

You: Yeah, but, I mean, wow as in WOW. I just (sniffle, cry, sniffle, deep breath) you know, I know?

Book: Exactly. I know exactly what you mean. You're lucky, though. You have eyes, and tear ducts to go along with them! I've got to hold all these beautiful, poignant words, but if I even tried to cry--I mean, if I so much as tried to squeeze out a tear--I would get nothing but paper cuts.

You: Good point. I never thought about it like that.

Book: I know. That's why I am glad we're finally having this conversation. Throughout our entire relationship, I've had to watch you reading my words, and I have endured your crying and thinking and saying hhmmm in that deep, serious kind of way that you do. But now, I can finally share with you how lucky you are to be able to do that.

You: Yeah, I hear what you're saying.

Book: I'm glad.

You: Me, too.

Book: Let's have this conversation again, okay?

You: Okay. I promise. I'll read you again, and we'll have this same conversation. I swear.

Book: Great.

And indeed, these two books are the kind of books with which you'll want to have that conversation again, and again, and again.

Mockingbird, in deserving fashion, even just won the National Book Award.

It's a great joy to read a book and so deeply love it, and then to see it held under a light, as if others, too, are saying, Word up, Home Slice.

Yes: read Mockingbird and The Absolute Value of Mike by Kathryn Erskine. Both, I promise, will dig deep into your heart.

And if you read them, could you e-mail me the conversations you have with the books afterward?