Look out the window. It’s bleak and it’s wintry and it’s February. You want to go out in that? Are you crazy? Soaking in a hot bath sounds positively dreamy to me. Include a good book and I’d wonder how I got to heaven. Then I’d check for a pulse.
Alas, who has time for such an indulgence, right? Well, you do. You’re a grown-up, remember? You get to call the shots. Schedules can be rearranged, commitments can be postponed, and the world won’t end if you skip the laundry. You don’t need permission.
You need a nice, long soak in a luxurious bubble bath for an hour or three. To avoid feeling guilty, you can multi-task. How’s that? Immerse yourself in a book at the same time — you’ll double your pleasure. Unless you’re like me and drop the book in the tub. Then, quick as a flash, your book absorbs half the bath water and swells to Infinite Jest-sized proportions. sproing
Oh, calm down. It isn’t a toaster, it’s a book. You’ll survive if it falls in the water. The book’s a goner, but you, you’ll be fine. A little pruney, but fine. And squeaky clean.
Need suggestions for reading material?
The Goldfinch — Donna Tartt
You can’t go wrong with Donna Tartt. It’s impossible. She’s only written three novels, but each is a perfect gem. The Goldfinch is her latest. There’s an art theft and a bombing, a boy loses his mother and struggles to find his way. It’s sad and funny and touching.
Pattern Recognition — William Gibson
I heard what a brilliant writer this guy was, so I checked him out. He’s categorized as science fiction, which is misleading. Pattern Recognition (first in a series) is a gripping thriller about today’s technology in today’s world — no zombies or space aliens or grim, desolate landscapes. It’s almost too good.
Berlin Noir — Philip Kerr
World War II Berlin, plenty of Nazi intrigue, an atmosphere of fearful paranoia, a few atrocities, and a wiseass detective named Bernie Gunther. It’s a trilogy of three novels, each one better than the one before. But Bernie? He’s among the great characters in modern fiction, in my opinion.
A Stillness at Appomattox — Bruce Catton
I’ve read a number of books on the American Civil War, but this one’s my favorite. Hands down. And should be required reading in every American History class. It details the final days of fighting and Lee’s eventual surrender to Grant at Appomattox Court House. I don’t know why, but this book breaks my heart.
Good Omens — Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett
Here’s the story of the Apocalypse and how it all goes sideways after a flaky satanic nun misplaces the Antichrist. Okay, with a premise like that, how can you go wrong? You can’t. It’s a hoot and a half, maybe a hoot and three-quarters.
Straight Man — Richard Russo
Need a good laugh? They say it’s the best medicine, although penicillin is hard to beat. If you don’t have a full spectrum antibiotic on hand, try Straight Man. Richard Russo has a gift for creating delightful characters and Hank Devereaux, Jr., chairman of a wildly dysfunctional English department, might his best. Not to mention funniest.
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea — Jules Verne
There’s a water theme and a submarine and it’s a classic, which makes it totally appropriate for Read in the Bathtub Day. I haven’t read it, myself, but don’t let that stop you. I’m sure it’s fascinating. Probably.
Well, time to pull the plug on this one. Ahoy, boys and girls.