• Bridge Ladies

    Bridge Ladies Sometimes I think a meteor could strike the earth and wipe out mankind with the exception of my mother’s Bridge club — Roz, Bea, Bette, Rhoda, and Jackie — five Jewish octogenarians who continue to gather for lunch and Bridge on Mondays as they have for over fifty years. When I set out to learn about the women behind the matching outfits and accessories, I never expected to fall in love with them. This is the story of the ladies, their game, and most of all the ragged path that led me back to my mother.
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Chapter Two I Think I Fell In Love With You

Getting ready for the London Book Fair. This entails begging the dry cleaner to do my slacks same day, begging my pharmacist to fill my meds same day, begging the shoe repair man to heel my boots, yes, same day. I also need to put the finishing touches on our agency list of titles we’re working to sell abroad. Get the jackets and quote sheets for my folder. Type up my schedule. File my taxes. And finally, most important, decide what to bring on the plane to read. I want to take the Bolano but it weighs about seven pounds. I think I might bring it anyway. I am so lost inside this book. Like a great drug.

Choosing what to read on a plane is one of my great pleasures. I start to ponder weeks in advance, start to pull books from shelves, make piles, read a few pages here and there. Put some books away, drop into Posman’s in Grand Central, cruise the tables of new books, fiction and non-fiction. I’m curious about The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, and I already bought Elif Batuman’s first novel, The Possessed.

How do you choose what to read, purely for pleasure?

15 Responses

  1. It’s all for pleasure. And often it chooses me.

    Except for Twilight, which I finally borrowed from the library this week, out of a sense of pure obligation. Have to say, I’m not going into this very open-minded.

  2. On planes I read the lightest stuff I can find. If I have some money to burn, I’ll hit up the new fiction table and look for something that catches my eye. Other times, I will save up that delicious paperwork someone gave me or I bought awhile back and read that. I’m also a big fan of NY Mag and US Weekly on planes (okay, fine, all the time).

  3. Oh Betsy I’m so jealous. I ordered The Possessed from the U.S. as soon as I read the NYT review . . .it usually takes books we order (I work in a bookstore) about 3-4 weeks to get here, so I’ve been hungrily anticipating . . .alas, a colleague/friend checked for me a couple of days ago, and rather than hoping the book will arrive soon, I now have to face the fact that it is BACKORDERED from our supplier.

    So be a nice girl, take IT with you on the plane, then pop it in the Royal Post before leaving London, okay?

    Just finished Hans Fallada’s Alone in Berlin which was amazing — and bizarrely funny in places. How can an author bring humor into a novel of ineffectual Nazi resistance?! But he did it and it totally worked. Not to mention the guy would have fit in with this crowd — substance abuse, stays in mental institutions, and lots of prison time.

    Love picking books for planes and always bring too many for fear of not having THE RIGHT ONE. I once had to cut a vacation short because I hated the only book I had and had no hopes of finding anything to replace it with. (And no I don’t read Slovenian so don’t say I was being closed-minded.)

    • I feel your pain, Kim! I moved to Europe with 40 boxes of books. It is so hard to find good, contemporary literature in English. I almost bought a Kindle when they made downloads available in my area. I did come to my senses before actually purchasing one but it’s always taunting me. I’m in the States now stockpiling. My carryon always weighs too much because it’s the one piece they don’t check. Screw toothbrushes and underwear if they lose your luggage. You can buy those anywhere. But not books.

  4. Oh, the many ways we pick books!

    Let’s see – I follow certain authors and usually get their new releases; I’ve now started following agencies whose clients I like and find their blogs and client lists a good place to find new titles; I love browsing the bookstore and am ashamed to say a good book cover might charm me into at least considering a book; I try to pepper my reading with classics and authors I think I “should” read like the Man Booker, Pulitzer, and National Book awardees, though not as often as I’d like; I’ll read books suggested by friends; and I wholeheartedly agree with Rebecca that during travel, lighter fare is better.

    Oh, and I use Swaptree, which is a great tool for trading books online.

    Now I’m just waiting for someone to start a Netflix for books. I’d pay to have more consistency then I have at my tiny corner library (though I do love the musty smell of that sad little place) …

    Have a good time in London! We’ll look forward to reading about it …

  5. The only -pure- pleasure is PG Wodehouse–all other pleasures are alloyed.

    Has anyone read Scarlett Thomas?

  6. I read backcovers with the assumption that I won’t like the book. When the premise moves me from the belief that I won’t like the book to the desire to read the book just to know how the author handles it, I read the book.

  7. Hope the volcano ash clears. I don’t particularly like flying. Being stuck on an overnighter in a confined space while sleep deprived doesn’t do nice things to my mind. Therefore, I choose not so deep stuff so I don’t start analyzing my life and making deals with a higher power every time the plane hits turbulence. Things like The House at Riverton, The Secret Garden and The 13th Tale make good plane reading for me.

  8. Funny….I just finished THE IMMORTAL LIFE OF HENRIETTA LACKS–fascinating book…I’d take that one with you.

  9. Bernie Gunther series by Philip Kerr…..the latest, If the Dead Rise Not…..gets me across the ocean….first trip to China, the Bourne books got me there!!!

  10. Open the book.
    Read the first page.
    And if I cannot stop myself from turning to the second page, I buy the book.
    Simple, painless.

    (And I don’t ruin the story by reading all about what I’m about to read…by reading the back cover…what a spoiler!)

  11. Imagine if you had Bolano inside your little Kindle…

  12. When I took a train trip from Dallas, Texas, to San Miguel de Allende in Mexico, accompanied by my girlfriend, to visit a good friend who lived there, I took along a serious-minded book, the first volume of _Remembrance of Things Past_ (literally heavy reading because it was hardback). I read some of it on the way to Laredo. Across the border, on the Mexican train, I got worried that the machine-gun-armed soldier on the train seemed a little too interested in my blonde girlfriend. Then, in San Miguel, I got caught up in my friend’s life among expatriate writers, artists, and assorted crazies. Then I came down with typhoid fever.

    Never did finish reading Proust (yet). Now I take whatever I happen to be reading anyway, unless it’s another piece of literally heavy reading. That kind of thing just doesn’t fit in my carry-ons–almost all my travel is carry-on-capable travel.

  13. I just received “Drawing in the Dust” by Rabbi Zoe Klein — $5 for a used book from http://www.betterworldbooks.com — how could I resist ??
    Has anyone read it and what did you think?
    Looks like a good Chick-Jewish-Lit book, for plane or beach …

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