Just when I believed all books were out to depress me, along came a beautiful jelly bean book that restored my faith in the ridiculous.
I’ve been perpetually overwhelmed recently, which I expect relates to my inability to say no to pretty much anything. Except seafood. I’m quite happy to say no to seafood.
This has had several consequences. First, my brain has decided 4am is the appropriate time to wake up on the weekend. I’ve spoken sternly to it, but it insists. Hence I get to read for an hour or two in bed before I get up on Saturdays. I also get to spend the whole day exhausted.
If you’ve been following me on Twitter you will have heard my laments about not being able to have a second coffee. This is why I need it.
Second, I’ve had trouble getting excited about the books I’m reading. Actually, this may be entirely unrelated to being overwhelmed. Some books are not that exciting. Currently I have three or four books that I’ve abandoned at 75% because I couldn’t summon the energy to finish them. Some were very good books, too.
The latest was The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood. This book is deservedly a classic. It’s thoughtful and beautifully written, and is probably making all kinds of statements about human nature and modern society.
The problem is that so far it’s been incredibly depressing. I love to feel emotions when I read, including fear and dread, but I can only take so much black hopelessness at a time.
Dear characters, the world has turned into a total toad-fest, I get it. Now DO SOMETHING TO FIX IT.
I will come back to this book, I think, but last night I had to escape. I went on Twitter and got some great suggestions for books with considerably more levity. Kate Fitzpatrick (@scifikate) suggested I try something by Rachel Sharp (@WrrrdNrrrdGrrrl). I found The Big Book of Post-Collapse Fun and had to read it.
Best call I’ve made in a long time.
(Thank you, Kate! You’re my hero. And thank you Rachel for writing this awesome book.)
The blurb begins, “Mab is an unemployed feminist blogger with a philosophy degree, a deathly allergy to bee stings, and the real-world experience of a domestic rabbit.” Then the end of the world happens and Mab is accidentally left behind in an empty city. In the zombie apocalypse, people who turn (into zombies) leave behind their stuff, but the people in Mab’s city took everything. Poor Mab.
Mab is a bumbling hero with a hilarious sense of humour, and I have to follow her. I’m only a quarter of the way in, but I’m pretty sure she’s going to make it to the end of the book. I’m not sure if I will, because I might die laughing first.
End of the world? Yes.
Depressing? Certainly not.
I wrote a post once about broccoli books, those books you don’t enjoy, but read because you think they’re full of vitamins and fibre.
The Big Book of Post-Collapse Fun is the opposite. It’s a jar of jelly beans. And not just the usual yellow, red and green jelly beans. The exotic ones that include white with brown speckles, and have names like “Granny Smith apple” and “caramel popcorn”.
I’m not saying the book is empty laughs. It probably has substance, but I’m too entertained to see it, and that’s exactly what I need right now.
Sebastian would probably have some very good explanations for why I’m enjoying this book so much. Don’t over analyse it, Sebastian. I’m enjoying it because it’s fun to read.
The comparison between The Handmaid’s Tale and The Big Book of Post-Collapse Fun reminds me that there are many reasons we enjoy books, and even light-hearted books can change the world. Or the world for a person.
Sometimes I feel frivolous for writing fantasy with dragons and happily ever afters when other people are dealing with big issues like racism, bullying, and shoes. I’m not going to feel bad about it any more. Maybe in the future a dragon will be having a bad day and my book will be just the thing she needs to regain her faith in the world.
What do you think about describing books as items of food? What types of food would your favourite books be?
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