Friday, May 13, 2016

Reading, Justin Cronin, and Chemobrain

Sometime back in 2010, I was listening to the radio, and I heard an interview with this author Justin Cronin.

At the time I didn't know who he was, had never heard of him before. But the interview hooked me in. (I think the interview might have been Terry Gross, but I'm not 100% sure).

Cronin was talking about how his new book, The Passage, came to be. He would run while his daughter biked and they talked books and plots and what they should write about. His daughter was nine and naturally wanted a book where a nine-year-old girl was an important character. And so The Passage was born.

I knew it was a horror book. I knew it had vampires/zombie things in it. I knew that wasn't quite what I was reading about at the time. But when I heard that interview, I was sold. I needed to read this book that I was hearing about. Mostly because I was sold on the father/daughter creation of it.

Plus, we had a big trip coming up - a train trip from Chicago to Boston and so I would have a lot of time to kill. The Passage, when I looked it up, was a huge book and would be perfect for the train. So I downloaded it onto my new e-reader and dove in.

I. Loved. That. Book.

I couldn't put it down. I'm pretty sure my family got annoyed with me saying, "just let me get to the end of the page and I'll be there!" When it ended, I wanted to cry. I needed the second book right then. Of course, the first book had just come out, so the waiting game began.

Then April 2011 hit. And cancer hit. My own personal nightmare, which had nothing to do with vampires or vampire-like creatures, or anything you find in a horror books played out in front of me.

During treatment, I all but stopped reading. I was physically incapable of reading - the meds messed with my eyes very badly and words looked like they were dancing across the page. I tried some audio books. I was mentally incapable of reading. I couldn't remember anything they had just said. I basically gave up on reading.

This was hard, I've always been a reader. Books, more than once in my life, had been my best friend. Reading was a vital part of my life - I was always reading.

But treatment ended and my eyes got better, so I decided to try to read again. And the chemobrain raged in full force. I just couldn't do it. I couldn't concentrate. I couldn't remember the line I had just read. I couldn't remember which character was who.

Again, frustration hit.

It was suggested that I go back and start to read children's books. And I did. And I could keep track of them better, and I worked my way up to books aimed at middle schoolers. And the books were good, but not exactly what I wanted to be reading. I know middle school is tough, but one more bad lunchroom scene and I was going to lose it.

So I kept trying to go back to "adult" books and I just couldn't. I couldn't keep up with them. It was too much for my brain.


The Twelve, part two of the series, came out late 2012. And I was going to read come hell or high water.

I can't tell you how many times I restarted that book. How many pages I had to read, then reread, then reread again. How I would sometimes google characters names to place them in my head when I forgot who they were.

But I was in love with the series, and the second book, despite me having lots of trouble reading it, didn't dampen my love for the story or my desire to know what happened.

It took a long time, but I read, finished, and remembered what happened in The Twelve.

For me, this series will be a direct measure of what I could do before cancer, and what I could do after cancer.

The first book I sailed through. The second book almost felt like it was in a language I didn't know very well. But, when I got through it? I felt so accomplished. Take that cancer. Take that chemobrain. I finished a book!

Which takes us to today. In a week and a half, the third (and final) book comes out. The City of Mirrors. I have already ordered the book. I can't wait to get my hands on it. I plan on reading nonstop until I finish. Okay, I can't actually read nonstop because people in my house need to be driven places and fed and have laundry done and all that jazz, but I'm going to read it as nonstop as possible.

But tomorrow, I'm heading into the city to attend BookCon.
And Justin Cronin will be there.
And I'm going to do try really really hard to get his autograph.

He doesn't know it, but his book, about an apocalyptic time in America was perfectly time with my own personal apocalypse. The first book will always be what I read before cancer. The second book will always be what I read after cancer with really bad chemobrain. And I'm hoping the third book will be the book I read after the chemobrain is a lot better.

One book series to help map what I could do, what I couldn't do, what I could work hard to do, and what I could do again.

And I can't wait.

Books for me have power. There is power in them, whether it's a light beach read, a heavy dark novel, an account of history, fantasy, fiction, nonfiction, whatever is written on those pages? It's powerful for me. I love books. I love reading books. As I get older, the types of books I read grows and grows. I make a point to read every single day.

So when I think back to the time that cancer stole that from me? It's so hard. To know there was a time when I walked away from reading because it was too much? That's a hard time to remember.

But coming back to it, no matter how hard? That makes me feel good.

So tomorrow I shall walk around all day, surrounded by books. I can't wait to see all there is to see and I can't wait to meet authors that I've read before. But, I'm really looking forward to seeing Justin Cronin. His books holds a special place in my heart.

So wish me luck, send me get-Cronin's-autograph-vibes-but-don't-scare-him-with-your-enthusiasm-vibes.


No comments:

Post a Comment

Seeing your comments makes me smile! Thank you so much =)