“Eighth Day” reflects a love of reading

By Carol / February 28, 2022 /

“Let’s be reasonable and add an eighth day to the week that is devoted exclusively to reading.” – Lena Dunham

After reading my post on struggling to read and write, my friend Jean Balser shared her book review column Book Notes from an Eighth Day Reader, inspired by Dunham’s suggestion.

While I enjoyed a vacation from Iowa snow and cold this past month, I reveled in a month of Eighth Day reading. Even if I didn’t know to call it that. I spent days devouring books with a love of reading I hadn’t felt in many years. Here are some of my choices.

Banning Books?

Local and national discussions about banning books are hot, so I began reading books targeted in Iowa, starting with The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie. Told from the perspective of a Native American teenager, this graphic novel describes alcohol, poverty, violence, sexuality, and profanity – all integral and appropriate to the story. This is a book I’d give to my 13-year-old granddaughter. Read it, Discuss it, Don’t ban it.

Mystery lover?

I’m not generally a mystery reader, but a friend encouraged me to try Louise Penny’s Armand Gamache series. Once I started, I couldn’t stop. I read whichever ones I could get my hands on, and checked off novels 3, 4, 10, 12, 14, and 15 in a series of 18. The characters are rich and sometimes quirky; the plots complex, interweaving at least two main storylines, and the pacing excellent. I particularly appreciated how each novel stands on its own, with just enough detail from past novels, and repetition of key character traits, so readers are grounded but don’t skip because they’ve read it all before. 

Everybody recommends it?

Richard Powers  The Overstory has been on my list for a while. In spite of so many recommendations, I’ve hesitated. At 512 pages of fairly small type (and with a lethargic mindset), I couldn’t bring myself to make the time. During my Eighth Day month I could read all day. Once I settled into this novel about trees, activism, and the future of our world, I understood why so many recommend it. Powers interwove the stories of people who came to love trees by vastly different routes and did it in such a way that readers feel and see how we’re all together in this world, and we need to care for each other and the trees as the trees care for each other and for us.

Historical Fiction?

My book club chose The Dictionary of Lost Words by Pip Williams to read this month. Esme, a child/young woman/adult over the course of the novel, grows up loving words because first her father, then she herself, works with the team assembling the first Oxford English Dictionary. She discovers that only words written down by respected individuals (mostly men) in respected formats (at the time not even newspapers) are included. She sees that this approach disrespects and dismisses the lives of women and the poor, and she begins to collect their words. Her life and work parallel and intertwine with the women’s suffrage movement in England. An engaging story, well-told, and topical even though it’s set more than 100 years ago.

I found reading these books – and others – in so short a time invigorating, inspirational, and fun. These books helped me recapture my love of reading.

Do you have an Eighth Day for reading? How do you incorporate reading into your life? Which books top your list of recommendations?


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  1. Elfrieda Neufeld Schroeder on February 28, 2022 at 3:55 pm

    Carol, of the books you have mentioned, the only ones I have read are the Louise Penny, mystery series. Penny is a Canadian, but she has done something quite remarkable by collaborating on a book with Hillary Clinton called State of Terror. It really helped me to understand more about the American political system.. It’s actually quite a scary book as there is the threat of deploying nuclear weapons, something we are facing now in Ukraine with Russia as the aggressor.
    Yay for an eighth day of just reading! I mostly read in bed just before I fall asleep, so an hour or two a day. A whole day sounds marvelous!

    • Carol on February 28, 2022 at 4:11 pm

      The friend who recommended Louise Penny was reading State of Terror when she made the recommendation. She agrees with you that it was scary. But so good she couldn’t put it down, so I expect I’ll get to it at some point.

      It was only when I was away from the everyday demands of life that I could accomplish a full day of reading. It was, indeed, marvelous.

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