Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Writing about thinking about books does not make a good blog post


"For us, there is only the trying. The rest is not our business." - T.S. Eliot

It's dark right now, at 2 in the afternoon, the skies about to open as they do daily and have done for weeks. Every day the clouds blacken and roll, then crack and dazzle with sunlight, then pitch to black again. This cool summertime June is hardly a summertime at all, and the longest day has passed.


I just got The Wasp Factory for The Increasingly Morbid Book Club. Over the spring we* read The Killer Inside Me and The Collector (taking a break in June for Enduring Love! What??) because apparently one can never dive too deeply or too often into the mind of a psychopath. I clearly need to go in with a Sweet Valley High recommendation soon. But until then, has anyone read The Wasp Factory? Thoughts? I can't resist good black comedy, but I'm a wuss when it comes to the truly macabre.

Ego romp! Romp romp!: The other day I was thinking about posting every single book I read for, I don't know, the next year or so. Not in the sense of giving a review or anything, but more with the intent to see what full disclosure would do to my reading habits. Would my choices embarrass me if they were visible to everyone? (Yes, hi, young adult dystopian fantasy.) Would they embarrass me several consecutive times in a row? (There are six in the series!) And what would they say about me? (I have the attention span of a ten year old and I'm a total poser.) But (maybe) most importantly, would knowing that I had to tell what I was reading change the books I read? Would my vanity drive me to tackle those literary greats just so I can casually list 'War and Peace' in place of 'The Hunger Games'**, all no-words-needed, what's the big deal, Russian lit is how I roll for a good time, I don't even know who Scott Westerfeld IS. That I'd change my usual reading material for vanity is an appalling thought, but one that I must confront nonetheless. And while I'm 99.9% sure I won't actually start this List O' Embarrassment, still...it's personally challenging. If you'd be interested in trying this with me, though, let me know! We can give our experiment a clever name and create a blog badge*** to legitimize it and then we'll pretend like we're part of a literary movement because we're so cutting edge with our transparent lifestyles in today's exhibitionist culture.

On a completely unrelated note, I took this picture in Paris of two girls clearly having a great time together, and it reminds me of me and my sister:

We traded off on the torment fun times once I outgrew her.

Random, but...I'm having a poetry craving. I KNOW. I don't know what happened. It's probably because of this bleak London weather, you know how clouds make a person all moody. And I don't even know where to begin. I just looked in my shelves and all I have is one book by Neruda and Ginsberg's Howl. I also found (how often do I actually go through my stacks?) three copies of Raise High the Roof Beams, Carpenters, two copies of Nine Stories, and one copy of Franny and Zooey. This ratio makes sense: the inverse correlation reflects the order in which I give them away. (Godspeed, Franny. Go! Fulfill!) But anyway. I don't know what to do about this strange and persistent need to find and eat some poetry. Do I indulge it? And if so, with what? Or should I banish the whim altogether with a good zombie romance? Clearly that seems safer.

So I don't know. I need to think on that. In the meantime:

If you're a Vonnegut fan

If you were a voracious reader as a child and you were as lucky as I was to have a mother who took you to the library every week and let you read anything you could get your hands on and this literary freedom made you who you are today. Also, if you love Sherman Alexie.

It must be book day. I should go find mine. (The Wise Man's Fear, Patrick Rothfuss)

Hugs and love,
Essss

*And by 'we' I mean 'they.'
**Which, by the way, is fantastic
***I don't actually know how to do this. And of course you wouldn't need a blog to play. There's also Facebook, or Twitter, or Tumblr, or the Pioneer Woman Cooks.


21 comments:

  1. I posted a poem today on my blog and am going to continue my poetry curated series because of you dear Esss.

    I have begun reviewing - regurgitating books I've read on my blog. I'd say go for it. When you lived here you always had your nose in the spines of interesting books. My confession is that blogs are my current source of reading fodder.

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  2. Read Sea of Poppies first. It's the first. I was glued. Bit annoyed at the end of the second, River of Smoke--not enough resolution, too much left for the next one (and who know when that will be published!), but that's probably because I was so into it! But really great, old-fashioned, rip-roaring storytelling. Swashbucking, pirate-talk, exotic settings and characters. Heroes and villains. Linguistic acrobatics.  Loved it. You can take Sea of Poppies home with you this weekend if you want.

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  3. Game of Thrones now on my list!

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  4. Full disclosure: I'm reading River of Smoke (Amitav Ghosh), and right after that, Tina Fey's Bossypants. I'm going broke trying have something to read on the bus every day, as the library's inconvenient whereas the bookshop is 5 minutes walk from work (and opposite a nice cafe).

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  5. Have you joined Goodreads? That's where you can post the books you've read, are reading and want to read. And your friends who are connected to Goodreads can see the whole lot, including your reviews. It definetely has changed the way I read books. Although a little Sweet Valley High never hurt anyone, and they just released the adult version (I only know that because someone on my Goodreads list just posted it as "read." Anyhoo, hope the sun comes back out for you soon!

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  6. ha! I loved it, too!! I can't wait for the movie to come out. I'll see it right after that foreign documentary all the critics are raving about... * totally *  

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  7. I just read Bossypants! I * hearted * it. Adding River of Smoke to my list now! Danger danger about the nearby bookshop--I have been broke on those before. All those pretty new covers! In your personal library! And with a 3 for 2 deal, who can resist?? (Oh, wait. That's my nearest bookshop.)

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  8. Omigosh!! I forgot I had a Goodreads account! I'm going to go play on it now--what fun!! This is exactly what I needed.

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  9. What's even worse than a bookstore nearby is a Kindle. They send you books instantly when you click that 'buy' button. It's ridiculous.
    But I also loved The Hunger Games and am currently absorbed in Game of Thrones...yeah. But I did take a break from it for Bossypants, which was hilarious. Going to look up some of the other recommendations--my book club disbanded and I am in desperate need of a new one!

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  10. I read the Hunger Games, too. Sort of like Nancy Drew in Maximum Lockup. Still, pretty good stuff for young adult material (my granddaughter loaned me the three books).

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  11. I just finished book one of Game of Thrones last week! HOLY. COW. I have book two in hand and I'm like, 'Read something else in between, Rona! Pace yourself.' But really, I can't stop thinking about it. Must. Start. Book. Two.

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  12. How funny--your granddaughter is the one who recommended them to me! Bless her. I should ask her for a new recommendation now!

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  13. Sharona, this is one beautiful blog post. I love it's honesty and humor. The T.S. Eliot quote is one of my favorites because Natalie Spar wrote it down for me. Also, never be ashamed of anything you read. Reading is entering into someone else's creative existence. That is a magical thing.

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  14. p.s.  my favorite inn in Portland Oregon has rooms named after authors.  I stayed in the Sherman Alexie room, which was terrific, by the way, though I've never read any of his books, sad to say.

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  15. I've read The Wasp Factory.  But for some reason didn't find it as disturbing as maybe I should do...I just remembered the main character being very evil to wasps, small animals and having a friend who was a dwarf...Then again, I did grow up reading a lot of Stephen King and 'Point Horror' books. 

    I quite like Carol Ann Duffy's poetry and Wendy Cope for more light-hearted stuff.  A good book I've read recently is One Day, but possibly because I relate to it so much.  I also quite liked Solar by Ian McEwan, but again, I work in academia so I found it hilarious!  (I find Ian McEwan books so variable - I loved Atonement, but was confuzzled by A Child In Time and Enduring Love).  I could recommend a load of other books and authors, but I'll drown your comments section!  I still haven't read Franny and Zooey - that's on the list after about 10 other books I have at home yet to read, but I promise I'll get to it soon!!!

    I've come across a lot of the "Top 100 books to read of all time blah blah etc etc" lists on FB and newspapers.  But then a lot of the books on those lists, I've tried reading but just never really clicked with - like Crime and Punishment, which I had to give up because I couldn't remember all the character's Russian names and ended up in a big confused mess!!!  I've tried many classics and a lot of them I've always ended up wanting to throw out of windows due to sheer frustration or boredom!!!  I'm ashamed to say I gave up on The Pickwick Papers because I just didn't get the humour...

    I don't think you should ever be embarrassed by what you read (hey, at least we read!) and I don't think people should ever judge you about it either.  Personally I use it as a form of escapism from my oh-not-so-interesting-life and the bleak "summers" of London ;P

    xx

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  16. (This makes me happy.)

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  17. What inn is that?? That sounds great! Was the Sherman Alexie room littered with empty liquor bottles and Indian blankets? Want...to stay...there.

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  18. This is wonderful stuff. I have One Day on my list for a book club and I've recently been eyeing Solar in the local bookshop--I will now take the plunge on both!

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  19. It's not our fault that so many good books right now are written for the young adult audience, right?

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  20. That picture of the two girls totally reminds me of you and I AND my two girls! So funny - sisterly "love"! LOL

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  21. It's rather funny, I'm not embarrassed by the books that I like, YES, I loved "The Hunger Games". But then feel that I should be embarrassed by the "adult" books that I've never read and never will.
    So PROUD to be that mother! 

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