by Kaye | 2/10/2014
" I just finished How to Buy a Love of Reading last night. I've got to say, nowadays in between my "tight" work schedule and my tendency to procrastinate and my short attention span and my sudden impulses to just lie around and do nothing, it's a miracle I finished reading a book in less than a week. Lately I've been finding it increasingly hard to sit still and read without my mind drifting off, going places and wondering when will I actually get there. It's hard to sit still when there is so much to do, and yet you know it's not enough. It's hard to sit still when you know you are lagging far behind, and that you're way too behind to catch up. It's hard to sit still when there are so many things you want to do, so many things you want to be, and yet you can't do, you can't be, all at once; you have to let things happen one step at a time. And that's the problem. Because once you know you can't do, you can't be, all those things all at once, you start to slack off and revert into a world where you've done and you've become all those things, without actually doing or becoming those things.
But I digress.
How to Buy a Love of Reading by Tanya Egan Gibson tells the story of Carley Wells, an overweight social outcast who hates books as much as she loves Hunter Cay, her alcoholic bibliophile best friend, the most popular kid in Fox Glen. As a birthday gift, her parents decide to buy their daughter the love of reading by commissioning a struggling writer, Bree McEnroy, to write a book that will make Carley love reading. Although she's not entirely excited about the idea, Carley hopes that this will give her and Hunter something to share, something that will take Hunter's mind away from drinking.
To tell you the truth, I don't usually like books that are too "literary." I mean I love reading and all, but I'd normally go for "pop literature," like Harry Potter and The Da Vinci Code and Twilight (lol!) and all those legal thrillers by John Grisham. I love action more than the description (which, by the way is the exact opposite of Twilight where all Bella did was to go on and on about how beautiful Edward was. Duh). Anyway, I like novels where things happened, and happened fast. Movement catches my attention more than details, and I guess it's got a lot to do with my hyperactivity.
However, How to Buy a Love of Reading is as pop as much as it is literary. Pardon my poor allusion given my limited scope in the different genres of literature, but it's like a cross between Special Topics in Calamity Physics and The Time Traveler's Wife. It's got the wit and humor of the former and the depth and literary beat of the latter.
The story is told from different angles, never settling on one character's point of view. I mean the story is told in a third person point of view, but the perspective always shifts from character to character. You are treated to different points of view, which gives you a wider understanding of the the characters and their actions, their hopes and their pain.
There is so much pain in this novel. Not hardcore pain, but the kind of pain that is profoundly beautiful and touching. Carley knowing that she doesn't fit, longing for the approval of her mother and later the love of her best friend. Hunter seeking the approval of everyone by being different, and drowning out his vanity and his shame of it by drinking. Their pain is mine as much as it is their own. My heart ached with yearning as I read the book, wishing things were better for the protagonists, but knowing that if they were the story wouldn't be quite as endearing.
The ending of the book is a bit tragic, but I guess I should have seen it coming, I should have read it between the lines, I should have foreshadowed. But I was too hopeful that there would be there would be some sort of salvation for the characters, it didn't occur to me that the way they're stuck as deep as they are, it would take something drastic to change their lives. Everything adds up to that climax, and it caught me by surprise that it made me want to cry but I can't, because that tragedy spelled redemption for everyone.
When in his review, author Glen David Gold claimed that "you can buy a love of reading yourself, very easily, right now," I suppose (actually, I'm quite sure) that he is being literal: Buy (and read) How to Buy a Love of Reading, and you will actually acquire a love of reading. It made me want to devour books again, to be that kid who lived in the world of make believe, a world as real as it is in my head.
But more than that, the book actually made me want to write again, as in write write, not the sort of write like when I update my tumblr as if it's a diary. For the record, I never kept a diary even when I was younger, I just found it too cheesy. Yes, I had a lot of notebooks where I would write about the stuff that came into my head, but those were just snippets, ideas, that I would later write as an essay and not as a journal entry. I did not begin my entries with "Dear Diary,..."
On second thought, maybe my tumblr has actually become my diary. No, I still don't write "Dear tumblr,..." But I digress again.
To close it off, I strongly recommend that you read How to Buy a Love of Reading. It is a story that will touch you in ways that you cannot imagine, even if you think you've read everything there is to read and there is nothing that can surprise you anymore. "