Okay, folks -- I have three days left in this year, and I only need to read two books to hit my 50-book goal for the year. The day before yesterday, I wouldn't have thought it possible, but then yesterday, I read two entire books. Here's what happened:
We were still down in Clovis, where Reasonable Man's family lives, visiting for Christmas. The kids were staying at the house of my in-laws, but Reasonable Man and I were staying at a motel nearby. The night before, I finished The Subtle Knife (very good and I'm looking forward to reading the last book of the trilogy), and I woke up about 4 am, after a disturbing school dream, and couldn't go back to sleep. At 5, I decided to get up and put on some clothes and go downstairs to the lobby to find some coffee, and I took a couple of books and a magazine with me. I ended up reading close to half of Raising An Emotionally Intelligent Child while I was sitting there, before I went back upstairs and went back to sleep for a couple of hours. Then I read then end of it when we were driving home. I still find it amazing that I'm able to read in the car -- it always made me so carsick as a kid. So that was one book.
(As for the book itself -- as with the other book I read earlier this year to give me some insight into Enthusio's issues, The Highly Sensitive Child, I have mixed feelings about it. Some of it was very insightful, but as for what it suggests about what you need to do to promote emotional intelligence in your child, I feel like they're kind of splitting hairs. For instance, they tell you not to grill your child when he or she is upset, but all their sample conversations include a lot of parent-asked questions. Where do you draw the line between grilling and asking non-grilling questions? The book also assumes you're going to be able to get your kid to talk to you when he's upset, which is by no means a given, and is dismissive of the idea that you should put a lable on your child's basic temperament, which pretty much in direct opposition to what you read in the Highly Sensitive series. I guess no book is going to give you all the answers, huh?)
My mother-in-law gave us a box set of The Chronicles of Narnia, and once I finished book 47 yesterday and saw that I actually do have a chance to hit 50 before the end of December, I thought thinking about those books. They're pretty short, and I've only ever read the first one, so... Now, I know that's kind of a cheat -- I definitely always had it in the back of my mind that I wouldn't choose short books to boost my numbers. But I thought -- I'm so close, and if I read maybe the whole series, which would be seven books when I only needed three, that would kind of make up for the cheating kind of aspect of it, right?
Well, it doesn't matter, because I put away The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe last night, and there's no way I'm reading anymore of them. Not to trash a beloved children's classic, but... I didn't much like it when I read it as a kid, and I liked it even less this time around. The characters aren't well-developed for the most part (I liked Edmund, the kid who goes bad for a time, better than any of his three goody-goody siblings), and the plot is stupid. Aslan comes and goes, and the only reason the White Witch has taken over and made it miserable for everyone is that he hasn't been around for a while? And all he has to do is come back and the perpetual winter melts away? Well, what's so great about him, then? Where the hell has he been while all the creatures in Narnia have been suffering?
And the final battle is written very strangely. It begins off-stage, and it's over in about two long paragraphs -- at one point it says "The Lion and the Witch rolled over together but with the Witch underneath," and in the next chapter it mentions the Witch is dead, which makes me think, so what? All that, and she's gone? Don't get me wrong -- I'm no fan of long, drawn-out battle scenes, but one that makes up what I consider the climax of the story seems like it would deserve a couple of pages at least. Am I right?
Of course, you could argue that the real climax of the story is the scene where Aslan sacrifices his life and then rises again, and that certainly does get more page-time.
In any case, I didn't find the way it was written very satisfying at all, and I'm not planning to read any of the subsequent books in the series any time soon. The question now is this: what to read? Do I pick a couple of books I could probably put away in the next few days? Or do I just charge ahead, into the new year, and give up the goal that I do have a chance of reaching if I cheat a little and intentionally choose shorter books? Hm...