I’m not gonna lie, it’ll be a stretch to say I’m super pumped about writing today.
Let me clarify one thing first. I feel a strong need to write. I want to write about the two books I’ve read in the last four days and how they’ve made me feel after finishing each of their final pages. This is, without a doubt, the topic I’d love to discuss, but I can’t.
My mind won’t let me, it keeps taking me back to the one
slow moving book I cannot seem to finish, but I feel devotion towards obligated to.
The Paris Wife by Paula McLain left me wanting to dive into Ernest Hemingway’s life, but I can’t make myself post about it right now.
Then I read the Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory, it left me sick to my stomach for Tudor England, yet it motivates me to read another Gregory novel soon. How come I can’t find it within myself to talk about a book I finished last night and woke up thinking about today?
I’ll tell you why, because I have a third book which holds my attention and not in a good way.
I’m a devoted reader. I know I’m not alone when I admit that I can easily fall into a book’s story. I connect with characters far too easily, and it is not uncommon nor unusual for me to go looking for those characters long after I’ve finished. I’ve even been known to ponder people on the street, possibly in the car next to me, as I’m driving down the road to work. Could they be my favorite character? I transport myself into a book and if I haven’t done so by the third chapter you can rest assured that I’m not thrilled with my book choice, but I tend to finish them anyway.
I finish them because I have to know how it ends. Anyone seen that episode of The Big Bang Theory where Amy tries to rid Sheldon’s closure issues? Yeah, that’s kinda me…
Most people would say that if we don’t like the book we’re reading we should put it down and find another. I have a friend, Wendie, she’s an avid reader as well and she’ll tell you that a human being is capable of reading 22,000 books in their lifetime. And how many books are published a year? Almost 329,000 books are published just here in America, so with this information I should walk away from every book I do not like by the third chapter. Surely if it isn’t knocking my socks off by the middle…it’s a lost cause, right?
So why am I hanging on to this choice in front of me? I started the book in question before the 664 page Boleyn book, and I still haven’t given it up nor have I started reading it again. I should clarify that I started it around 11am Saturday morning, went to lunch, then came home around 3:30, walked right past it and began reading the Boleyn novel which I didn’t put down until it was finished, 8 hours later. I look at my book today with such desire. I want to read this book. The name alone could send me into a bit of a flutter, in other words it get’s my nerdy side’s pulse a movin’.
The School of Night by Alan Wall is a book about a man’s pursuit of The School of Night. I mean come on…it’s Elizabethans…it’s Sir Walter Raleigh…it’s William Shakespeare…and all their friends. Hello, Christopher Marlowe, for all that is shocking and full of scandal, you must agree that it is, most assuredly, a dreamy place to be. I almost need to reapply my lipstick to even begin reading a book, where the contents contain a story revolving around a strong male character and his best free-thinking men.
I’m serious. (Okay, not really serious…)
Forget it, let’s just get to why this particular book is holding me prisoner and unfortunately, has me unmotivated to pick it up and finish it.
Why do I need to finish The School of Night?
Is it because I fell in love with Shakespeare during high school English? No.
Is it because I secretly imagined a life with a cute professor back in college, who was teaching me (or the class, I guess) the History of the English Language? No. (Now that’s kinda a relief cause he was accused of killing his wife a few years later…)
My need to be reacquainted with this subject matter and my continuous need to finish this book is because of a well written series I began reading about two years ago. I can honestly say I have always been interested in the time period and the writers who came out of it, but my reading of this time period went from 50 to 100 because of one woman and the second book in her All Souls Trilogy.
The book is called Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness. She is a brilliant story-teller and possibly put on this earth to do nothing more than write for my enjoyment. I can tell you without a shadow of a doubt that she is on the right track and quickly becoming my favorite fantasy author. I didn’t grow up reading fantasy fiction and I must say that until 6 years ago, I was adamant that I hated fantasy books. I considered fantasy to be science fiction and if science fiction included Star Wars, then I wanted no part of it. Looking back I can see now how judgemental I was, since then I have continued to confess my lack of faith towards fantasy books to everyone who writes and reads this genre.
Harkness takes everything I enjoy and puts it in her novels, writing, libraries, old books, Salem Witch trials, mystery, philosophy, ethics, friendship, family, Elizabethans, history,
scientists really smart people, and then tops it off with old vampires, which I don’t even need in a book that contains all this other awesomeness. Anyway, I’m invested in the characters in this series. I am patiently waiting for the third book to come out so I can devour Harkness’ intelligence once more.
She has written a series that I cannot get enough of and it’s created this fire in me to learn more about the School of Night. I am envious of how she writes her character’s relationships and she’s provided an open window to a time period I’ve always desired to be transported to, even if for just a short while, even if it means through well written fiction.
This is the root of my issue with my current book, The School of Night. I blame Harkness for uncovering my need to learn more about this school, but more than that I blame her because now I’m educating myself on all things School of Night, and her characters are nowhere to be found….in any of it.
I get it. She wrote fiction, but I fell hook line and sinker for all of her beloved characters and her version of Elizabethan London. I can’t imagine them not actually living during that time. I’m lonely without Diana and Matthew’s presence in the School of Night. Harkness implies that Matthew is the Anonymous writer from the School of Night…I haven’t seen him anywhere in Alan Wall’s book, shocker I know.
I’m feeling torn. I want to read more about The School of Night, but how do I get someone else’s fictional characters out of my mind to enjoy Alan Wall’s fictional characters and his story/vision on/for this elusive school?
What’s worse? Reading non-fiction literature on this subject, Harkness’ characters aren’t there either.
I know, it’s all a bit funny really. Laughable, for sure, but it’ll keep me up again tonight.