Friday, April 11, 2008

Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read.

~Grouch Marx

Once upon a time I was an English major. (as in literature, not grammar. Just throwing that out there so maybe, maybe, jparks will finally shut up when I miss a comma.) During this time I was also a bookstore employee, so it's safe to say that I enjoy reading. It's also safe to say that I enjoy lemon squares with a light dusting of powdered sugar, but that's off topic. I've got a pretty diverse palate when it comes to books; I enjoy all types of fiction, children's lit, biographies, nonfiction, and the occasional trashy romance novel (kidding. I'm just not into heaving bosoms. Well, other than jparks'). But lately, when I look at my overflowing bookshelf, nothing appeals to me.

It's like I'm experiencing some kind of reverse writer's block, a reader's block, if you will. Jparks and I are both in the habit of buying books as soon as we see them, instead of buying them when we are ready to read them, so I have a large back stock of things that I know I wanted to read at some point in the past, but not so much right now.

I think the reader's block is growing from really missing the reading assignments that were given by my English professors. I attended a "classics" high school so a lot of the books and authors we read in my college classes were new to me and I instantly fell in love with many of them. I was the student that bought my books before the semester had even started (the professors always posted the book lists on their doors) and would try to plow through as many of the novels as possible before the start of class so I would have a good base for rereading during the semester.

Yes, I was a dorky teacher's pet, why do you ask?

Anyway, the point of this meandering post was that I'm wondering if you've read anything good lately that you might want to tell me about. It doesn't have to be fine literature, it can be crap fluff literature and I won't judge. Or it can be nonfiction, I'm an equal opportunity reader. Maybe it's not something that you've read lately, but your favorite book that you can reread and never tire of. Oooh, or do you have copies of your college English class syllabuses that you want to share? Come on, stop bogarting the authors and share with the rest of the class.


  1. The thing I keep throwing out to people is Roger Ekirch's "At Day's Close," about the social construction of night in the Middle Ages. Accessible and engrossing. I also endorse Connie Willis's "Doomsday Book" and "To Say Nothing Of The Dog." I would mention Good Omens or the Neal Stephenson stuff, but I presume you've hit it already. And obviously anything Herbert Asbury ever wrote (i.e. Gangs of New York and its sequels).

  2. A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini.

    Book club fodder, but one of the best books I've read in years. Actually one of the most memorable books I've ever read. Once you read that, read his first book, The Kite Runner.

  3. "The Sparrow" by Mary Doria Russell. Character development. It's going to be in the sci-fi fantasy department, but don't hold that against it.

    Also, along the lines of sci fi and the the short story, Harlan Ellison.

    Also Sergei Lukyanenko - Day Watch, Night Watch and Twilight Watch.

    Get busy chickie, I'll come up with something else when you've finished these.

  4. I suffer from the same problem. I gave away a bookshelf of old books to the local library before Katrina, the hurricane killed a quarter of what I had left, and I still have three bookshelves of books. I'm getting out of my book buying habit these days.

    A great book I'm reading right now is Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy. It has all the absurd violence and depravity that reminds me of Post-K Nawlins'. Another great book is Fiasco by Thomas Ricks. Fiasco is nonfiction and about the blunder that is the Iraq war.

    Invariably, I like to free read comics at B&N when I have the time. I still have yet to get rid of my last box of comics and I don't have the space or money to get any more.

  5. Heh, I have the same problem, so many books, so little desire.
    One of my favourite books ever is The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett. Also love The Handmaid's Tale by Margret Atwood. (althogh I read that in Uni, so you may have too.)

  6. I've been enjoying _The Monsters of Templeton_ by Lauren Groff.

  7. Hey, ummm. I would suggest that you read the Hour of the Star by Clarice Lispector or her other book The Passion According to G.H. She is a really wild Brazilian author with Jewish Slav ancestry. My reason for suggesting the novel is merely because that is the last two novel that I read!!!!!
    Hour of the Star is really bizarre. It is about a narrator who attempts to tell the story of an insignificant woman who works as a typist.
    Passion According to G.H. is about a woman and her encounter with a cockroach (no kidding).
    BTW, I have many fond memories of you from way back when ...

  8. because I have suffered from readers block many times...

    Jane Austen A Life by Claire Tomalin

    and, for trashy summer reading, anything by Diana Gabaldon....

  9. I escape from my college reading w meg cabots grown up books plus I love jasper ffordes books -the eyre affair books and the nursery crimes books - oh and I love all the books by the shopaholic author - she has written under two names both escape me right now

  10. The Poisonwood Bible. Read it. Read it NOW
    Girl with a Pearl Earring (don't see the movie)
    Memoirs of a Geisha (ditto)
    Snow Flower and the Secret Fan (in the oppressed Asian women category)
    The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay (wait, read that one NOW, then Poisonwood Bible)
    Saving Fish from Drowning

    Also, I kept most of my Norton Anthologies we had to buy in college, which you are welcome to borrow.

  11. The book I am reading right now is _The China Study_, which is basically an overview of nutrition research over the last 50 years. It is actually very fascinating, and if anything will convince you to be a vegetarian this will. Or at the very least to never, ever drink milk again. :)

  12. Cool- I'm reading several in spurts. So busy.