Sunday, April 14, 2019

Reading in Bed by Brian Doyle

In between mysteries, essays are just what I need. Brian Doyle's collection, Reading in Bed, was
entertaining and interesting for someone who is a reader. I bought it for several friends who are writers as well because there is so many ideas in this book with the subtitle "Brief headlong essays about books & writers & reading & readers".

Have you thought about how one book leads to another, or aren't you that type of reader? I'm that type, until I wear down, especially when I'm reading nonfiction. Doyle talks about that in "On the Habit of Reading." He discusses reading in cars, and, with that title, naturally, reading in bed. I loved his essay about reading other people's bookshelves when visiting. It's a great way of avoiding the party when you're an introvert. In "Smelliterature", he discusses those books whose writing is so strong, it will evoke the scent of the setting.

Doyle was an advocate for Portland, Oregon. He praises so many authors from there, and, in several essays expresses his love of writing by Ursula Le Guin, Beverly Cleary, Ken Kesey, Whitney Otto. In fact, he gives an entire paragraph in one short essay to Beverly Cleary, and is convinced Ursula Le Guin was one of the best writers, ever. How many times do you pick up a book in which an author raves about other authors? Mystery readers will appreciate his essay, "Mr Hillerman".

If you thought about an odd topic related to reading or writing, Doyle may have written about it in an essay. He also tackles writing, including that dreaded question, "How Did You Become a Writer?" He credits his father's advice, "If you wish to be a writer, write", along with other solid suggestions, such as "Read everything."

I can open Reading in Bed at random, and say, oh, yes, that was a fun essay, or run my finger down the table of contents and pick an enticing topic. As someone, though, who knows my posts here and my book reviews elsewhere are not of the quality of actual writers who review, I loved "The Dark Joys of the Book Review". Here's a few sentences from the last paragraph of that essay. "So why, if well-made book reviews are so important, do such lowly ink-stained wretches as me attempt them? Well, you get to keep the book you review, which is pretty cool...but most of all for the simplest reason of all - books are fun, and poking into new books is more fun, and discovering and celebrating great books is the most fun. It's the reverse of that feeling we have all had as readers, of slowing down as you approach the end of a great book, because you're reluctant to leave that world you can only enter for the first time once; the grail for reviewers is the dawning realization that the book in your hand is extraordinary, something that matters, something that will hit hearts. Now that's cool."

Reading is Bed by the late Brian Doyle is cool.

Reading in Bed by Brian Doyle. Acta, 2017. ISBN 9780879466534 (paperback), 182p.

FTC Full Disclosure - I bought a copy of the book.


Jeff Meyerson said...

Great review, Lesa. Now I really have to get it. Beverly Cleary just had her 103rd birthday! I've seen the late Tony Hillerman at a Bouchercon and he was hilarious, telling "dumb criminal" stories long before it became a thing.

Lesa said...

Isn't it hard to believe Beverly Cleary is 103? It's hard to believe anyone is 103. I never had a chance to see Tony Hillerman. From what his daughter and Barbara Peters say, he was wonderful. And, according to Doyle's book, he was kind and so appreciative of his wife.

Gram said...

I had to go to the statewide library catalogue to find this one. Thanks.

Lesa said...

You're welcome, Gram. I hope you enjoy it!