I’ve been taking a week off my Mock Newbery reading. Yes, I took The Rock and the River and a couple others home for the holidays, but I also took Eugenidies–The Thief, The Queen of Attolia, and The King of Attolia–in anticipation of the arrival of the arc of A Conspiracy of Kings. (Thanks, Monica, for the head’s up.)
The Thief was a 1997 Newbery Honor book, but I didn’t get to it until 1998. I’d missed reading it when it came out in 1996, and by the time it had won the award, I was starting my first term ever on the Newbery Committee. I set aside The Thief for when I was done.
I sure didn’t know what I was getting myself into for reading that year, but boy, did I need a book like The Thief when I was done. There is no time in a Newbery year to read anything that is not eligibile (at least not for slow readers like myself). As the year progresses, my reading brain got more and more analytical, critical, focussed on the Newbery criteria. In the last couple of months, I was mostly just re-reading books for the second or third or fourth time. My brain was honed, practiced…and it was hard for me, physically, to sit down finally with a book and not reach for a pencil and post-its. I felt like it must feel to someone quitting smoking: twitchy. My brain was nervous, flightly, uncomfortable at just relaxing.
But Megan Whalen Turner is the kind of writer that wholly capitivates my mind. I had a few days off at home after returning from that Midwinter conference. I sat down one morningto open The Thief, quickly rehabilitated myself and finished it in one gulp….that night. Then: I sat with it on my lap for about half-an-hour…turned it over, and started again, going slower this time.
I’ve been hooked ever since. So has my husband, who is a much faster reader than me. When one of us catches the other reading the series, the other joins in. If he starts first, I can wait for him to finish The Thief (doesn’t take long at all), then I take it as he moves on and we do tag-team reading. However, if I start first, I have to bring home an extra set from the library, since he constantly overtakes me.
So it was a little stupid of me to supply myself with only one set over the Thanksgiving holiday, since I wanted to start first. I was a little contentious at times, but we’re both through the three, and I’m now in the middle of A Conspiracy of Kings, which I’m just kind of hoping he hasn’t noticed arrived on Monday. I’ve got him in David Copperfield now, and that should keep him until I’m done. (Which will be very soon, and then I’m re-reading Almost Astronauts).
So here’s a toast to the current Newbery committee members, who may not have had much of a Thanksgiving…who may be as we speak writing justifications for their final nominations, then sitting down to read several dozen books yet again…here’s to the best reading you’ll ever do, right now, and to the most enjoyable read you’ll ever have–whichever title it may be–when you are done.