I’ve been able to read a couple of books lately. This is either a miracle or I’m staying up later and getting less sleep. Or both. But it feels good to have the time again to read a book. I don’t read ’em as fast as I used to, but I cannot sacrifice books. Ever. I remember during 6th, 7th and 8th grade reading the Spenser detective novels over and over again. I had a whole library of them and I would read them. Sometimes I would read them 2 or 3 times because I didn’t have any more books to read in the house. Or I was grounded and couldn’t get the library or whatever.

Anyway, two books that I’ve read recently are Bill Bryson’s “Life & Times of The Thunderbolt Kid” and Meredith Hall’s “Without a Map.”

The Bryson book is typical Bryson – hilarious. In this one, he waxes nostalgic about growing up in Des Moines, Iowa in the 1950’s. As usual with Bryson, there are a couple of passages that literally made me laugh out loud. A lot. I mean it. One was in regard to his never-ending quest as a pubescent boy to see a naked woman live. The other, and probably the biggest laugh of the book for me, was about model glue. You know, that stuff for model cars and model airplanes? If you built those as a child, and I did by the dozens, you will laugh until it hurts at this passage. If you’re just a casual reader, any of Bryson’s books are total keepers.

Meredith Hall’s memoir is a much different and much darker one. I had heard about this book on NPR over the summer and by some strange and fantastic miracle, remembered the title. This happens once a decade for me. Anyway, Hall was sixteeen and living what seemed like a very normal, loving life with her family in New Hampshire when she got pregnant after a tryst at Hampton Beach in 1966. The story is about how the community and her family responded to the news. The response can only be described as horrific and sad. The resulting years were not good, but the adventures she had are worth reading in the same way that you stare at car crashes. You can’t help but be interested. She does re-connect with her family and I can’t give away any more of it – it’s not expertly written and the chronological jumping around can be disconcerting, but it does really make you think about a lot of things, such as your own upbringing and relationships with family, past and present.

Both books very highly recommended.