I just finished a book and it was good, but I'm so glad to be done with it that I won't name it out of almost boundless respect for the author. That's not how the author would want me to feel. It's certainly not what I want to be feeling. How can a good book be something I'm so relieved to have finished? How can it have taken me so long to get through? Doesn't that mean there is something wrong with the book or with me.
Of course it doesn't.
There are times when a book just works this way. There are books that I just read this way. It isn't anything wrong with the book or with me. It's more like wearing shorts when the weather turns too cold. The shorts are perfectly comfortable otherwise but today it's just too damn cold for them. (As I write this it is seventeen degrees and I am in long pants, sweatshirt, and wool socks. Still I'm cold.) This was just one of those books.
And I know what to do when this happens: Dive into the next book. I have Diane Ackerman's One Hundred Names For Love and can't wait to begin. Well, I can wait long enough to write this short piece about reading, finishing things, starting the next, and finding that about all I need in this life are good books, strong black decaf coffee, the love of my family, and something with which to write.
Was the book I just finished a good book? Yes. Yes, it was. I'm thinking of it now and realizing the marks it has left on me. I may have gone through it so slowly because every fourth page or so moved me to write some new idea. Sometimes reading pushes me away from reading toward writing or living. That can be good. I'll know more about whether the book was good for me in a while. These things don't always come immediately.
In the meantime, I'm going to find out what Diane Ackerman has to tell me about love's one hundred names.