“Our lives unfold like stories, and I’m on to the next chapter. One page at a time…’’
That was the ending of the farewell column I penned for the Orlando Sentinel in June 2005 after 20 years as book critic. The systemic lupus I had battled since 1987 had finally gotten the best of me, forcing me out on disability. It wasn’t just the persistent fatigue and chronic pains of this weird auto-immune disease but the dreaded “lupus brain fog,’’ which made reading difficult and writing nigh impossible. I never knew when the fog would set in and how long it would last, my mind and memory going all misty on me. My attention wanders. I have trouble speaking. My favorite phrase to describe the situation remains “I’m talking with my eyes closed,’’ because that’s the only way to focus.
Skipping ahead several chapters. I still have lupus, am on disability and have bouts of brain fog. But I also have discovered over time that “On a Clear Day I Can Read Forever,’’ or almost. Not as fast (I was a speed demon); not as long (I have to nap several times a day); not as much (I can’t do the book-a-day thing). But I have been reading.
And I miss writing and talking about books. This blog is my attempt to get back in the habit of writing, and not just “in my head.’’
No deadlines. Can’t do those anymore. So I probably won’t post every day, although here at first I’ve stored up a bit while my BBF (best book friend) and tech bunny Rebecca continues my blogging tutorials. I’m self-editing, and I know I’m rusty. Participles may dangle (cringe).
A couple of things. I read mostly fiction – literary, crime, fantasy, YA, chick lit, Southern stuff – along with a few memoirs and essays. Because my reading time is limited, I’m very selective. I’m also erratic. Reading a new book often sends me in search of one I want to re-read. And believe me, I have a lot of books I want to re-read.
I’ll be maintaining an “Open Books’’ policy as to the source of my reading material – if the book’s from my collection, checked out from library, purchased from bookstore, borrowed from friend, or submitted by an author or publisher. I welcome suggestions but please query first by e-mailing me at patebooks (at) yahoo.com
Once a week, I’ll offer “Going, going, gone,’’ in which I’ll list the books I’m culling from my collection and donating to charity or releasing into the wild. I’m going to try to give away at least one gently used book for every new-to-me volume that enters this house. Otherwise, I’ll soon be a candidate for “Hoarders.’’
Now, on to the next page. Join me, please.