Choice. That Was The Thing.

It’s Friday and it’s Valentine’s Day and here, have a picture, relevant because I just read the book this quote comes from and I love it a little a little a lot:

I miss the whole ‘Friday Photo’ thing I used to run on here, it made me happy. Perhaps I should start again with that.

I can’t believe it’s the middle of February already. Somehow, I never cease to be amazed by the passage of time. It’s been a funny old year, so far.  We’ve had a loss in the family this week, which whilst hasn’t touched me directly, it has had a major impact on people I care very deeply about and it’s made me realise, again, how precious a thing life is; how we mustn’t take anything for granted; and above all how important it is to say ‘I love you.’ The weather has been dull and cold, and somehow that post-festive slump seems to be dragging on longer than usual. That said, I’ve spent a few lovely evenings with my friends, helped my best friend choose a wedding dress, been on a couple of coffee dates with my boyfriend and had front row tickets to the Strictly Tour. It’s absolutely not all doom and gloom, it’s just, sometimes things make you sit up and take a long hard look you know? Make you reassess what’s important.

Whilst babysitting for my favourite 4 year old last night (which involved singing songs about lions and doing mermaid jigsaws and hiding out in her bed) I finished reading Sherman Alexie’s The Toughest Indian in the World, which is well, it’s awesome. [It’s going in the post to you next week Jen, if you’re reading this. I think you’ll like it.] It’s a short story collection, each story a standalone but all bound together by a common theme: identity. It’s insightful and clever and sort of brave. It’s angry, and funny, and horrifying and beautiful. Some of the imagery is gorgeous, and some of the language so beautiful it almost hurts a little:

Those were the days before the first color televisions were smuggled onto the reservation, but after a man with blue eyes had dropped two symmetrical slices of the sun on Japan. All of it happened before a handsome Catholic was assassinated in Dallas, leaving a bright red mark on the tape measure of time, but after the men with blue eyes had carried dark-eyed children into the ovens and made them ash.

Her husband had been dead for ten long years, years that hung like lace in the attic…

I will always be a sucker for anybody who uses words like that, makes them beautiful and makes them hurt. Language is amazing, isn’t it? Anyway, I shall not go off on a tangent, not today.
The stories in this book are all exclusively about Indians. That doesn’t make it a book about race though, except at the same time it kind of is. It is a book about race, and about minorities and that’s a very important feature and one we shouldn’t shy away from but more than that it’s a book about people, about life and about human nature. There are dystopian stories and historical stories; stories about sex and love and about loss and about discovery; stories told from the point of view of a woman, and of a man, of a lover and of a child.

I read it because of that quote up there *points* because I saw it on Pinterest and it resonated with me. I hadn’t even heard of Sherman Alexie and I had no idea what to expect. I’m really glad I searched him out, and really glad I read this book, if for no other reason than my enjoyment of it totally validates the hours of my life I waste browsing and pinning. Or so I’m telling myself at least.

In other news, think 2014 might be the year of the reread. I’m planning a Harry Potter read through (again) for the back end of the year; I’m tempted to revisit The Book Thief because of the film (although I still think that maybe I love that book too much to be brave enough to open it again) and a conversation over the past week has had me wanting to go back to Farenheit 451 and Children of Men. I also want to read Oryx and Crake and The Year of the Flood so I can finally read MaddAddam. It looks like 2014 might also be the year of the dystopia. Ha.
I feel bad sometimes, reading old favourites when I have so many new and undiscovered books on my to-read pile, but then I kind of think that when it comes to my reading habits I don’t owe anybody anything. Nobody cares but me whether I only read one book for the rest of my life, or whether I read a new book every day. If I want to go back to old bookloves then what have I got to feel guilty about? Except, Ian maybe cares, from a space saving point of view. That self imposed book ban really isn’t going all that well, and, I think he probably wants to cry a little bit every time he sees me with a pile of new books on the shelf and a well-worn Prisoner of Azkaban in my hand. Whoops. I shall probably, in the words of  Lemony Snicket, die surrounded by a pile of things I was meaning to read. I care not. Sometimes a familiar story is just exactly what you need.

Happy Valentine’s Day people.