The other day I was in the lunchroom at work. I took out my food from my lunch bag and then rummaged in the handbag for my ever-present Current Lunchtime Book.
Oh, no. I must have taken out my book last night when cleaning out the handbag and forgotten to put it back in! What to do?
I know that my book obsession has gotten out of control. I have books on the floor, books in the bathroom, books in my bed, and my car is so packed with books that I have dubbed it The Bookmobile. I scatter books when I walk. I always have several books that I am reading at the same time: The Bedtime Reading Book, the Bathroom Book, and of course the already-mentioned Lunchtime Book for my purse.
There are times when I have been so poor that I have had to choose between buying food and buying books (I’m talking about hard-to-find books, not books I can easily get at the library). The books usually win. I have spent weeks eating peanut butter sandwiches for lunch so that I can save up for a book I really want. If I am really enjoying a book, I rarely notice what I eat anyway.
Anyway, the employee lunchroom at my workplace has a built-in bookcase filled with books that other employees have brought in. I call it the Lunchroom Lending Library (to myself, not my bosses). I have in the past looked at these shelves, but nobody seems to ever put anything really interesting there. Except me, of course. I have contributed many interesting books to these shelves, to justify my taking an occasional book home.
So I forlornly studied the shelves. There are the usual Tom Clancy and Anne Rice titles, in which I admit that I have no interest, along with the dozens of romance novels. I have nothing against romance novels, but since the only romance author I really like is Betty Neels, there is nothing of interest.
Finally I spy a copy of Cornelius Ryan’s A Bridge Too Far, which has been on the shelf for years. I know that it is supposed to be a really good book, but since I have never really had that much interest in World War II, I have always ignored it. I also have never read Ryan’s classic or any of his other books, and shouldn’t I read about the war in chronological order? And it’s a LONG book. But I like history, so I decide to try it.
A Bridge Too Far was Ryan’s last book, written while he was dying of cancer, and it mostly takes place in September 1944. It is about the FAILED Allied invasion of Holland, Operation Market Garden, which I had never heard of before. When I started reading it, I was sure the Good Side had won. We didn’t win this battle, although of course we did win the war, which is more important.
I haven’t finished it yet, but I will say that it is INCREDIBLY detailed and that Ryan must have done years of interviews and research. It is really good. I had to laugh at one American officer who became exasperated with the British for not moving faster: “They were always stopping for tea.” Even during a critical invasion!
When I finish this book, I think I’ll go to the library and check out Cornelius Ryan’s other books.