My husband sleeps with two pillows, one under his head and one over it. It’s beyond me how he breaths like that, but it is a useful survival technique for our marriage. Why? Because if I am in the mood to read, I will not put the book down until 4 am.
I am not sure when this willingness to forgo sleep to satisfy my voracious appetite for reading began, but I have distinct memories that trace back to forth grade at least. In middle school I would read in the summer months until the sun was coming up (consequently I would also sleep until three o’ clock in the afternoon, something I do not have the luxury of doing now). I would go through a book a day. I still do that at times.
Books are an escape, they can satisfy any mood. I will read just about anything that can hold my attention. Sometimes that means I pick up a book that forces me to think, one of my favorites being Atlas Shrugged. Sometimes my love and passion for cooking has me flipping through cookbooks or reading a biography on a famous chef or restaurant. Sometimes it means I give into my love for historical fiction; I have read and reread Pride and Prejudice, Gone With the Wind, and Anne of Green Gables among others. Sometimes I want total fluff so I can shut off my brain for a while. And sometimes it means I want a long story, one that takes me through many adventures with characters I feel as though I know personally. I do love a good series.
I have read the Shopoholic books (which satisfies both the fluff and the series categories in one fell swoop), I love Harry Potter, and recently I read the Percy Jackson series. I think for young adult fiction, the concept of Percy Jackson was interesting and the author, Rick Riordan, knew the (not-so-secret) secret to keep a reader hooked (end every chapter as a cliff hanger). While I don’t believe that they were the greatest works of young adult fiction ever, I did find it to be an captivating read. The plot followed a typical hero fiction formula, but given the success of the formula one can hardly fault the author for that. The book series follow the adventures of a young demigod, Percy, and his friends, fellow demigod Annabeth and satyr Grover, as they go on various quests and worry about the fulfillment of the great prophecy that was predicted by the Oracle of the Delphi. In reading Percy Jackson I found myself wracking my brain, trying to recollect the stories of Greek mythology that I learned once upon a time. I tried to recall the roles of the characters before he reveled their tales (I was not very successful). My oldest sister used to tell my brother and me the stories from mythology, the adventures of Persephone, Aphrodite, and Echo and Narcissus. But like most stories one learns in youth, the details have gone by the wayside, replaced with more relevant thoughts (such as the ratio of butter, flour, and milk to form a bechamel sauce) and I found it entertaining to be reminded. It was also interesting how Mr. Riordan incorporated the gods and goddesses of ancient Greece into modern America, weaving their existence into the fabric of Western society. Olympus is perched above the Empire State building, Hades, appropriately enough, is below L.A, underneath America stretches the vast and dangerous labyrinth. Percy and his friends face the usual hardships: the questions of loyalty, the bickering amongst each other, the overwhelming odds, the wayward character that gets redemption, and the necessary adolescent romantic uncertainties. In the end, however, while I was interested enough to read into the wee, small hours of the morning, I had a hard time seeing these stories as unique from others in the genre. There again, perhaps that is why they are successful.