It is 3 degrees.
I should go to the gym.
Instead, I am sitting in bed under 30 pounds or so of flannel sheets, blankets, comforters, quilts, and two cats. When I get up to make a cup of tea, it is strenuous to get out from under the covers. It equals, say, 5 minutes on the elliptical.
In weather like this, I love reading in bed. Not any old thing. Library books.
Meaning books I like to read but will never buy.
I thought about walking to the library in several layers of modish coats, a muffler, ski mask, and mittens, but I emailed my husband instead.
“Will you pick up mysteries by Robert Barnard for me? Thanx!” (I didn’t really write “thanx.” I am making fun of the culture.)
My husband has a car and often stops by the library. He picks up dozens of books for me.
When I go through a “library book” phase, I binge on good pop books. The thing about library books is that they’re “lite.”
Sometimes I want Golden Age mysteries. Sometimes I want out-of-print science fiction books by Pamela Sargent.
I have read and enjoyed Robert Barnard’s mysteries over the years, but I can’t remember which I’ve read. I’m pretty sure I’ve read all the ones with “death” in the title. Death of a Mystery Writer, Death of a Literary Widow, etc.
I convey this to him via email.
Hours later, he comes home with a stack. “I got all the newest ones. He’s written about 100.”
And here I am in bed, delighted with Barnard’s engrossing novel, A Murder in Mayfair, which my husband picked out because I am going to London, and Mayfair is in London… and that’s all we know about Mayfair and London. Certainly I take note when the narrator goes to a Chinese restaurant near King’s Cross station, and the neighborhood is full of prostitutes. He hopes it will change when the new British Library opens. (Did it?) “Don’t eat Chinese alone at King’s Cross,” I mentally note. My guidebook already described the area as dicey. But it’s not in Mayfair, is it?
It is going to be a bookish holiday. I don’t want to see the Changing of the Guards, the Tower of London, or Westminster Abbey. I am much more interested in books, bookstores, and literary tours, and gasped when I realized that if only I had booked my vacation earlier I could have heard A. S. Byatt on March 1 at the LSE Space for Thought Literary Festival.
What a pity I won’t be there!
But there are doubtless other literary events, and I have booked one ticket for a reading, which I may or may not go to, depending on whether I feel like getting on the train, and I very well may not. (I may be doing my laundry that day and reading a book by the author instead.) There is something so charmingly boring about a good literary event. Growing up in Iowa City, a UNESCO City of Literature, prepared me for all manner of literary boredom.
And now excuse me, but having written 568 very silly words, I must go finish my library book.
And please tell me about your favorite library binge books and your favorite literary festivals.