Monday, October 5, 2009

As a Bookseller, I give myself an F!

I've discovered a new form of bookseller guilt, or "new to me" at least.

Usually my colleagues and I feel terrible when we read backlist books for pleasure when we should be reading those that are soon-to-be released.

What could be worse? Um...NOT READING!!!! Unfortunately, for the last 13 weeks I've read all of maybe 400 pages, total. That's about a book and a half, folks. A book and a half in 13 weeks (3+ months). As a person employed in the book industry, that's unbelievably pathetic, and I feel like I should be shunned from the bookselling community. I should retreat to my little apartment in Amherst and not come out until I've read at least 15 of the big fall books. I should be made to write readers' reports and give a book talk to my bosses.

Unfortunately, every time I pick up a book, the words leap off the page in a way that makes my head spin and my sense of balance collapse.

Yup...I'm pregnant.

My husband and I couldn't be happier that we're expecting, but I never thought I'd have to temporarily give up my favorite thing even before the child was born! (I'm thinking of adequate punishment for when the kid comes. Tickle monster seems appropriate.)

Luckily, I'm nearly at the end of my first trimester and I am anxiously awaiting my second trimester burst of energy when I can do more than sleep, work, and attempt to keep down food.

So, what is the ONE book I read in full during these last few months you ask? It was Awista Ayub's HOWEVER TALL THE MOUNTAIN: A DREAM, EIGHT GIRLS AND A JOURNEY HOME. In 2004, less than 10 years after the Taliban took over Afghanistan and three years after the attacks on the World Trade Center, Awista Ayub (a native of Afghanistan who moved to the States when she was two-years-old) brought 8 young girls from her home country to the United Stated to learn how to play soccer.

While I felt the writing could have used a little bit of work, the stories of these eight girls and of the author herself are so moving that a few imperfect sentences don't take away from its overlying message. Many of these young girls grew up in one-room huts, weren't allowed to go to school for long periods of time under the Taliban's rule, and had to walk through streets/fields that still had unexploded bombs buried underground.

Yet, despite these their everyday struggles and terrors, these eight girls and their family members (many of them women) have such strength and wisdom in them that you're left in complete awe and amazement of their ability to simply keep moving forward. For anyone interested in sports, women's issues, and the state of Afghanistan today, this book is well worth a look.

Emily Russo Murtagh

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