Thursday, June 25, 2009

The things we read

I haven't written about books since the June before I got married. You can read it here - I lifted it from its myspace blog purgatory and stuck it into my 2008 lineup (small aside - I had to wade through my old myspace blogs - many of which weren't bad - to find the one I'm referring to. At the top of the page was a banner add for Trojan, reminding me again why myspace is not my preferred method of social networking.)

Anyway. I know I write about my books, but I also avoid talking about the stuff I read.

Thing is, I've suffered from literature peer pressure. Or maybe that's not the right phrase. Let me put it this way - the book everyone's talking about, the beautifully written, potentially tragic character drama? I'm generally uninterested. The beautifully written, moving/heartbreaking story about something that happened, in a third-world country? Completely uninterested.

And I'm sorry. I know that my overall disinterest in Three Cups of Tea is a character flaw. It's not personal; it's just not my thing. I checked out The Book Thief, and don't think I ever cracked the cover. I think I got through a page of John Connolly's The Book of Lost Things. I don't know that I'll ever touch The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society with a ten-foot pole.

Oh well.

In my defense, some of the things I've avoided are because of WWII content. I'm sick to death of WWII. Seriously. The Nazis have been done, and unless they're showing up in Argentina years later (a la Notorious, you know, with Ingrid Bergman and Cary Grant), I'm really done with them. I did the research. I've seen the concentration camp. I wrote a report that so sickened me in college that I found myself watching American Idol to recover (never watched it since).

This is not to say that I don't read the occasional impressive book. Loved Timothy Keller's The Reason for God, Anne Lamott's Bird by Bird. I read Blue Like Jazz before it was a cliche. I'm trying to think of impressive fiction that I've read without a gun or a grade held to my head, but drawing a blank.
Thing is, I think I got it into my my head as a child that reading was fun. I'm fairly certain that's what the posters in my elementary school's library said.
Because of that, I read fun books. I read YA fiction, Meg Cabot's Princess Diaries and more recently her Airhead books. Michael Buckley's Sisters Grimm: Fairytale Detectives books are delightful. For all of their faults, I read the Twilight books with incredible speed. Susannah also got me onto the Luxe books.
I feel slightly better about myself if the fun books are British. Hester Browne's Little Lady Agency books make me appreciate my own flatmate. Sophie Kinsella's heroine of the Shopoholic series had me at her packing list. Seriously. Kinsella managed to write a character who packed more for a weekend trip than I dreamed (then found a way for the luggage to go elsewhere, but never mind).
I love books with food in the story. Garden Spells, The Sugar Queen, The Matchmaker of Perigord, Chateau of Echoes, The Last Chinese Chef, Sweet Love, Sandra Byrd's French Twist books, Tender at the Bone, most everything by Ruth Reichl, really, Kissing Adrian, Serving Crazy with Curry, and Kate Jacobs' Comfort Food.
I love books about books (this doesn't count if the books are being read during WWII) - Geraldine Brooks' The People of the Book, Diane Setterfield's The Thirteenth Tale (which has the best medical prescription ever written into book), Tolstoy Lied: A Love Story and The Bronte Project.
Haven't even mentioned The Princess Bride or Gilbert Morris' All That Glitters, but at this point I think you're getting a decent portrait of my habits.
I know some people read to challenge themselves. I am not that self-actualized. Why should I be challenged by my reading when my writing, my home, my laundry, grocery shopping, traffic, empty gas tanks, bills, carpet stains, clutter, publishing, photo editing, marriage, all the forces of the earth move to challenge me. Why would I willingly add something else to that list? I'd rather have a good laugh. Go somewhere exotic. Get recipe ideas. Be swept up in a romance. Maybe learn about another culture or time period, think about an intriguing concept.
What do you think? What are some books you love but, possibly wouldn't advertise your affection for?
P.S. With any luck, I should be able to post the final cover for Plain Jayne shortly!

1 comment:

  1. I completely understand what you mean. I spend most of my day at work reading (I'm an editor) so by the time I get home I just don't always have the energy to read something good for me. I try to vary it by reading one "good for me" book and then one entertainment fluff book. Also, I've been getting into essays as there's less commitment involved.


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