Monday, May 17, 2010

Scrawling My Heart Out: A Different Kind of Bookish Love?

Well, it worked. I finished The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo in time for the meeting and had a better experience than I thought I would.

I owe it all to active reading. When I was close to quitting and knew that I could NOT show up at the BOOKLEAVES meeting without completing the book that I had suggested, I decided to give active reading a try. I would "have a conversation" with the book and its author.

Writing in my books -- even a soft, penciled underlining -- is something that I just do not do. My goal as a book owner is to have people ask me if I've ever read a particular book because it looks so pristine. My friend Faulkner Guy annotates to beat the band and laughs at my looks of horror.
Early last week when I was reading Flirting with Pride & Prejudice, one of the essayists wrote that she wasn't getting on well at all with one of the Austen books -- it was either Sense and Sensibility or Pride and Prejudice -- so she was ready to throw in the embroidered dishtowel, but one of her friends suggested that she try active reading and she ended up loving the novel and going deeper into it than she'd ever imagined.

I won't go so far as to say that I loved The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, but I was engaged. As a result, it feels as if I really know these characters and I really know the story. It's like I've almost been inside of it, like in The Eyre Affair. It's a strange and exhilarating feeling.

My plan was straightforward: If I was going to write in a book, I wouldn't hold back. As far as active writing went, you wouldn't be able to shut me up. I backtracked to page 67. That first marginal comment, the open marriage stuff is so offhand -- WTF? was torture, but then I was off and running:

God, Blomkvist, you're such a stinky ass! Beckman's the one who probably got you in legal trouble because you're doing his wife!

Millennium subplot...zzzzzzzzzzzzz

"[Salander's] anorexic figure made a career in modelling impossible." Bullshit.

Vanger: "I'm going to tell you a story in two parts." Ooooh noooo...

Blomkvist to Vanger: "I'll give you exactly 30 minutes more to tell me what you want. Then I'm calling a taxi and going home." That's how I feel about this book! Why can't I call a taxi?

Vanger: "But my story is long and complicated." No shit.

Vanger: "It was no secret that [Harriet] and I had a special relationship..." Creepy, or is it a translation thing?

After a lot of mundane detail about Blomkvist's day: OMG...killing me with too much detail...while you're at it, why don't you mention his poo stops?

Blomkvist had many cold miserable days when the temperature dropped to -35F. Oh please! You're Swedish! Don't you know winter? You wuss!

He's referring to the main characters by their surnames...hard to feel involved with them, except for Salander.

"Bjurman was on his way to being a Major Problem." You can handle him, Salander -- you're a LOT smarter than he is!

Millennium subplot: Who cares? I want Salander! What about Harriet?

"He made/she made/they made/ they ate sandwiches" (this happens about every ten or so pages or whenever someone gets hungry) I've got an idea for a drinking game. And: New English title: People Who Love Sandwiches.

"Blomkvist was reading the evening papers. Nothing much of importance was happening in the world." OK, if you say so.

Blomkvist reads a Sue Grafton novel, a Sara Paretsky novel and The Mermaids Singing: Dude's a reader. Larsson's shout-outs to the female detective writers are sort of endearing.

Too obvious! You don't have to hit readers over the head! We're not stupid!

OMG! Has Salander cracked the case? I hope so. Not Blomkvist! HA!

Let's kick some ass!

There's more, of course, but I am not a Spoiler.
Now that I've let out this dark side of myself, I want to write in every book I read from now on! I even want to read books that I don't like -- books that would otherwise be in my DNF file! It's like I've found a great pair of seven-league boots and been given a vitamin B-12 shot -- I can read anything! I'm SuperBookWorm! My pen is a machete! Bring on the sequels! Bring on my nemesis Atlas Shrugged!

I haven't had this much fun since I discovered that the Marvel Universe is connected.


Anonymous said...

That was fun. I would like to write more comments, but I'm also one of those people who can't stand to write in books.

Isabella K said...

The Marvel Universe is connected?

I love this exercise! I should do this! I do it in my head, of course, as I go along, but it's pretty much instantly overwritten.

I'm glad you found a way to connect with the book.

Jenny said...

People Who Love Sandwiches -- oh man that made me laugh.

I did NOT enjoy this book. Glad to know I'm not alone!

raidergirl3 said...

You're such a rebel!
I enjoyed the book, but I have a different standard when I read mystery books. I read really fast and probably miss lots of annoying lines. You did a MysteryTheater3000 treatment to the book. (I think that's what it is called - done with movies?)

Sam said...

I'm like you...writing on the pages of one of my books just seems wrong. I've never been able to make myself do that. I stumbled upon a book rececently in a used book store that was filled with the thoughts of one of its readers - and some of what she had to say was both fascinating and funny. I suppose we could add a lot of "character" to our libraries if we dared do this to every book we own...wonder what our children and grandchildren would learn about us after we're gone. Hmmm...

Care said...

yes! WRite in the book for future generations! oh, yea. That's what this blogging thing is for.
Great fun here. Glad you finished it.

nat @book, line, and sinker said...

hilarious! so glad to see you got readily involved in your book, even if it does mean *eek!* writing in it!

i bought TGWTDT for my mom for christmas but she hasn't finished it (so it hasn't tricked down to me yet!). maybe i should tell her about your method.

Unfocused Idiot said...

I'm glad to know you liked Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. I should really read it. I know his book agent. Hope Peter is making lots of money:)

Charles Montgomery said...


I read in a different comment list, the opinion of a bilingual that the translation was lame/flat.

Although I happened to like the book. Despite it's rather incredible tendency to list things (like what is eaten).

BTW... that lined background makes reading pretty sketchy...

Finally.. that writing/NOT writing on book things is a disagreement between Yvonne and I. She won't touch a book.. I feel like I'm getting into it ("active reading" as you call it) with a book whenever I annotate (so much better to say than call it book-graffiti) one...

Chrisbookarama said...

haha! How about the next one gets titled: The Girl Who Ate All the Sandwiches.

Literary Feline said...

I wasn't familiar with active reading until I read your post. Although, now that I know there's an actual term for it, I realize that sometimes I do do it. Or rather, I talk back to the books. It sounds like a great exercise, especially when you are struggling through a book. I am glad it worked for you.

Jenny said...

I am fascinated and intrigued. I am not an in-book writer but I am beginning to think that I should give it a try. I'm going to try it in a book I don't expect to care for, and see how it goes.