Book Recommendations · reading · Reading & Writing

Four Simple Rules For Reading A Little Life

…Hello?  It’s me.  I’m in New Hampshire dreaming about who I’m meant to be.  A blogger?  Maybe.  But first I have to show up to the computer keys.

And now I’ve totally butchered Adele.  Sorry love!

It’s been nearly a month since I’ve written an update.  And here’s my issue: I’m a staller.  Google is telling me that “staller” isn’t a word, but what I mean by that is “one who stalls.”  There, those were all actual words but I think you got what I was trying to say anyway.  The reason why I was stalling?  Because I’m a horrible book club member.

We started a Book Club at work.  While a big part of me was excited about it (reading books with friends!  Having someone to talk to about what I’m reading!  All good things!), another part of me was filled with dread.  I have an issue with reading things that I’m supposed to be reading, which is a big reason why being an English major would have been very bad for me (the biggest reason is that I’m not a particularly talented reader, but let’s stay away from the self deprecation for now).  So I knew that actually participating in the group was going to be a real challenge for me.  And then we picked the first book:

A Little Life.

Honestly, my stomach sunk a bit.  I was avoiding this one, big time.  Over the summer, Ia-little-life followed several people reading it and there was a clear consensus: it’s painful.  It’s gut wrenching.  “why am I reading this?” was a common plea.  And I didn’t want to touch it with a ten foot pole because I’m perfectly capable of burrowing into a hole of melancholy on my own.  I don’t need help from the The Most Depressing Book Ever (TM).  I mean, just look at that cover!!  —>

So I avoided the book.  And avoided it.  I wouldn’t even read anything else because I knew I should have been reading the book but couldn’t bring myself to actually pick it up.  And then I sort of decided that I wasn’t going to read it and would sit out the first book club meeting.  It’s a long book – 720 pages – and the first meeting got pushed back a week because most people hadn’t finished it in time.  And that was when I decided I was going to finish it.   Although many of my coworkers weren’t quite finished with the book, most were raving about it; they echoed much of what I’d read online – very painful to read, but worth it in the end.  I didn’t want to be a poor sport and seem like I was just pouting because I didn’t want to read the book chosen.  Suck it up, buttercup.

Over the next week I immersed myself in the world that Yanagihara painted and barely finished it in time for our meeting.  And then I stalled in writing this blog post because – how do you write about this book?  How do you talk about it?  There are tons of other blog posts or book reviews that go over the general plot of the story.  In essence, four friends meet in college and somehow remain friends their entire life.  Their friendship revolves around one of the foursome: Jude.  Jude’s life is slowly shared with the reader, which is a good thing because too much of it at once would surely incapacitate a person.

Trauma.  His life was ensconced in trauma.  From the time he was just a few days old until the day that the man left the planet, he was wracked with trauma.  This trauma penetrated his very existence and never left him, despite everything else in his life that was extraordinary.  I wish I could sit down with you, have a cup of tea, and really talk about this book.  I have all kinds of theories and was amazed by the author’s ability to portray trauma and its effects in such a real and incredible way.  Her imagery and foreshadowing were unbelievable.  Her understanding of how a person becomes indoctrinated in the lies told to them about themselves was so well done.  I wondered a lot about the author and her experience with trauma, either personally or through someone she loves.

If you’re trying to decide whether to read it, here is what I would say: if you understand and have been trained in trauma, then you should definitely read it while following the rules listed below.  If you haven’t been trained in trauma and you don’t have children: then yes, strongly consider reading it while following the rules listed below.  If you haven’t been trained in trauma and you do have children: stay away until your children have grown into adults and you know that they’re okay.  And then read it while following the rules listed below.  If you’ve personally experienced trauma and are still feeling its effects in especially painful ways, please proceed with extreme caution.  Don’t read this alone.  Consider talking to a therapist or a trusted loved one to help you weigh out the pros and cons of reading this.  Saying that it’s painful and difficult is an understatement and I promise that I’m not being dramatic.

Rules for reading A Little Life:

  • Don’t read in the winter when the days are short and sunshine is limited.
  • Don’t read while Donald Trump is in office, especially around the time of his inauguration.
  • Try to find a friend that has either already read it or is willing to read it with you.  You’ll want someone to debrief with.
  • Make sure your doctor is aware of your endeavor and would be willing to prescribe an anti-depressant (or increase your dosage) in case of emergency.

 

4 Simple Rules for Reading...

14 thoughts on “Four Simple Rules For Reading A Little Life

  1. Well said, Katie. I loved your 4 Rules, clearly distilled from a harrowing personal reading experience! Reading it in the midst of Trump taking office was definitely difficult, I agree. The good news is that people may soon be able to read the book again without that particular drawback. (One can hope!)

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I hope you’re right!! If it wasn’t for you and others at work, I probably would have never finished it. And I AM glad that I finished it… but Trump definitely made it more difficult, ha!

      Like

  2. Well said, Katie. I loved your 4 Rules, clearly distilled from a harrowing personal reading experience! Reading it in the midst of Trump taking office was definitely difficult, I agree. The good news is that people may soon be able to read the book again without that particular drawback. (One can hope!)

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I hope you’re right!! If it wasn’t for you and others at work, I probably would have never finished it. And I AM glad that I finished it… but Trump definitely made it more difficult, ha!

      Like

  3. Yep, I’ve seen so many reviews of this book, and commentary from last year’s Tournament of Books fans, that convinced me that this is not a good fit for me. I understand why someone would want to read it, though, with all of the high praise. Kudos to you for sticking with it!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It was so, so, so good. But it was also so, so, so hard. In the end, I am glad that I read it and it will probably be one of my favorite reads of the year. But without the support of a book group, there’s no way I would have survived. But it’s definitely not for everyone and rest assured with your decision that it’s not a good fit. If in doubt, skip this one!! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Yep, I’ve seen so many reviews of this book, and commentary from last year’s Tournament of Books fans, that convinced me that this is not a good fit for me. I understand why someone would want to read it, though, with all of the high praise. Kudos to you for sticking with it!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It was so, so, so good. But it was also so, so, so hard. In the end, I am glad that I read it and it will probably be one of my favorite reads of the year. But without the support of a book group, there’s no way I would have survived. But it’s definitely not for everyone and rest assured with your decision that it’s not a good fit. If in doubt, skip this one!! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

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