Last night, the unthinkable happened again. I finished one book without having another ready at hand. Without a book to read, I feel like a farmer, upper limbs wrenched off in a violent combine malfunction, phantom pains shooting up his stumps. I used to read classics, both good (Age of Innocence) and bad (Middlemarch), wonderful novels (Gilead, Peace Like a River, Bel Canto), so-so novels (The Time-Traveler's Wife), truly bad but allegedly good novels (Mrs. Dalloway), truly good but allegedly bad novels (Gone With the Wind). Now, I need a quick fix. I don't have time for character development or flowery prose. Skip the pontificating, give me action, action, action. I have sunk to the depths of the crime thriller. Not quite to the depths of the romance novel, but down to the serial killer series. There are a number of them- Stephen White, Michael Connelly, Jeffery Deaver, Jonathan Kellerman, etc. They all seem to feature a brilliant forensic mind, usually on the outskirts of law enforcement, because otherwise they couldn't break in places and find incriminating evidence, with a sidekick not quite as brilliant, within the ranks of law enforcement to give them access to all those official databases and such. There is the quadriplegic with the detective girlfriend, the psychologist with the stodgy detective friend, the psychologist with the stodgy gay detective friend. The problem with the serial killer novels is that you become totally inured to violence. After enough stabbing, impaling, gunshots, kidnappings, you become habituated to the idea and start to think if you saw body parts in your driveway you'd just sweep them up and put a little club soda on the bloodstains.
I'm realizing I can't quite justify these as reading material in light of Philippians 4:8 which tells us to dwell on things that are honorable, true, lovely, etc. Lovely these books are not. Maybe there is a series of mysteries centering on fast-paced floral design or a group of pastors who have a variety of sneaky ways to memorize more verses than the next guy. No, seriously, I am just going to have to give up feeding my brain the nutritional equivalent of large spoonfuls of coagulated lard and start at least moving up to literary Cream Cheese and Chives Wheat Thins.