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TMI: Summer Reading Lists

I love to read.  The printed page is one of my true passions in life.  Language, words, syntax, a turn of phrase… for me it is movement, music, poetry and dance.  That’s why I was only too happy to answer this week’s TMI Questions.

Questions designed to reveal Too Much Information

This week's topic: 
Summer Reading Lists

What are you reading this summer?
I plan on finally finishing ‘Three Junes’ by Julia Glass.  I am just finishing the second portion, so one more ‘June’ to go.  She is a ‘literary’ writer, as opposed to a simple story teller and I find her style and voice a tad off-putting (snobbish, classist), placing distance between the page and the reader.  I don’t find her characters particularly well-drawn or believable (emotionally).  It’s an ambitious story pivoting on an interesting literary device.

Then it’s on to Janis Ian’s autobiography, ‘Society’s Child’, which I expect to devour in short order.

I have stacks and stacks of books that are begging to be read and that I plan on getting to in the next 30 years.  So even though I truly love books, I really wish I would stop buying books.  I feel like I am slighting the ones I already own and plan to read, while doing a great disservice to the new arrival, for they will inevitably end up sitting on the pile for some time to come.  Those damn piles make me feel awfully guilty, but I am a very slow reader.

Is your summer reading material different during the summer then from the rest of the year?
Different?  No.  Though I tend to do much less reading in the summer.  During summer, I am typically outdoors and lack time to merely sit.  When travelling, I will take a book along with me and never crack a page.  People tell me I am ‘scattered’ and that is particularly true in summer.  For me, reading requires quiet and stillness, and summer is a time of noise and movement.  By autumn, I start drifting back into ‘school’ mode and am much more apt to read (and write), a habit I have always attributed to my love of academia; its structure and discipline having been indelibly etched into my morphed DNA.  

What are your favorite genres?
Biographies, character driven novels (usually written by women), and the classics.  And BAD BOOKS.  I love reading horribly written books, because I learn so much from them.  James Patterson is my go to guy in this category, although there are a number of authors whose work is so bad that  I cannot seem to read beyond the first few chapters, mainly because I keep re-reading the same paragraphs over and over again, trying to discern exactly what the hell they are trying to communicate.  Dean Koontz springs to mind.  His writing also gives me headaches and makes me nauseated.

Do you have a favorite author?
Among them:
·         Anne Tyler
·         Faye Weldon
·         Sue Miller
·         Charles Dickens
·         Edgar Allan Poe
·         Stevie Smith
·         Sylvia Plath
·         Emily Dickenson

Do you have a favorite book?
I have a book I consider to be ‘the best written book of modern times’ that I cite as my favorite: ‘The Confederacy of Dunces’ by John Kennedy Toole.  It is brilliant and I think everyone should read it.  It’s a pity the author took his own life, because he was very gifted.

Others I would like to note:
Ferdinand the Bull by Munro Leaf
Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss
Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh
Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
I am disappointed that you did not ask us about books and authors we loathe.  So, forgive me for spilling blood, but I have to vent.  ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ reads like something a Fifth Grade girl would write while learning how to masturbate.  It is a horrible book; poorly written and badly edited.  The fact that it is one of a series of three boggles my mind.  Stephen King and Anne Rice both need to allow their publishing houses the opportunity to edit their books; their early work (guided by skilled editors) is quite good while their latter works suffer from word diarrhea and excessive ego/adolescent myopia rendering them unreadable. James Patterson and Dean Koontz should not be termed writers so much as typists.

And there is another category I wish you asked us about – books you have attempted to read but could not make it all the way through.  Typically, I commit to finishing anything I start and have trudged my way slowly through a number of really tiresome novels.  That said, ‘The Cider House Rules’ by John Irving vexes me.  I have attempted to read it three times.  Each time I get to the middle of the book and develop a strange kind of amnesia, as in, I forget I am reading it and never finish. I like John Irving, but cannot manage to get through ‘The Cider House Rules’.

Where is your favorite place to read?
My bed.  Which you would think would be reserved for sex, but no.  In fact, my bed is the one place I never have sex. But I do read there.  It is the only activity other than sleeping that is allowed there (well, also thinking and dreaming).  I have a window behind the head of my bed, which I love to crack open so that a breeze wafts over me as I read or sleep.  There is a giant lilac bush (currently in full bloom) right in front of the window and, this time of year, the fragrance is subtle and lulling. 

Do you like to reread books? Which one(s)?
Never.  It spoils the experience, tampers with the memory, destroys the magic.  If I reread, it becomes a textbook or a manual (which are the only books I have ever revisited). 

Can you read while in motion?
Not in a car.  It makes me nauseated. On a plane?  No problem.  And people that read while running on a treadmill?  Wow.  That is an amazing skill.  Unfortunately, due to balance issues, I am doing well if I manage to remain upright when running on a treadmill. 

The debate continues: paper vs. electronic.
No debate here.  I love books.  I love their covers, their pages, their smells, their typeface, their bindings, their thickness, and their weight.  I love to see them in stacks or on shelves.  I like touching them.  Libraries fascinate me.  It’s like works of art you can touch and caress.  Someone bought me a Kindle for my birthday two years ago.  I was touched, but made them return it.  I knew I would never use it.  I read enough crap on the internet on my laptop.  I don’t want the romance and affection I feel for literature to become associated in anyway with that experience, not that those feelings are transferable. 

Growing up, books were a great source of safety for me.  I hid behind them (learning everybody’s secrets). Libraries have always been sanctuaries for me (in fact, I believe I spent all of 7th Grade in the library).   

Do you get off on trashy novels? Recommendations?

Define ‘trashy’.  Well, this is my definition:

  • The Sookie Stackhouse Series (True Blood) by Charlaine Harris
  • Anything written by Fannie Flagg
  • Any book that got published because it reminded an editor of ‘Sex and the City’. 
I don’t dig books about werewolves and vampires.  I think Anne Rice killed whatever enthusiasm I might have once had for them. But Charlaine is different.  Her writing is simple and plain.  That said, I tried to read some her other series, but found them lacking.

Fannie Flagg just has a nice flair for nostalgia, small town life as we wish it were, and great spirit.

‘Sex and the City’ rules.  I love slutty bitches in high heels. And all those knock-offs by other authors that followed?  I love those, too.  They are like eating potato chips.

And for the record, I love those naughty homo pulp novels they sell at dirty bookstores.  They are not well written, but then it's pretty hard to pay attention to proper tense and word usage when reading and turning pages using only one hand!


Queer Heaven said...

What a oool post! I seem to agree with a lot of what you said. My all time favorite book?
Giovanni's Room by James Baldwin

SEAN said...

1st - I love the extra answers. I always post the questions on Tuesdays so if you read them and have suggestions, suggest away!

2nd - I wish I could read on a treadmill but I could never keep my place. No balance issues just one of vision.

3. I loved the Sookie books, even with luscious breasts, dripping womanhood or huge, engorged penises being mentioned every page. It was a great read on the beach.

4. Yes, King and Rice do tend to get bloated but they are great story tellers.

whkattk said...

Love your "extras."

Loved the Sookie Stackhouse books. Loved Fannie Flagg's stuff that I've read.

I do re-read books - The Hobbit and LOTR and The Silmarillion. Oh, and The Foundation Trilogy. One other sci-fi that borders on "trashy" is a book titled "Dahlgren" which I love for the threesome and man-on-man sex.

And, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention that I read my buddy's book, "(Marvin's) World of Deadheads" more times than I can count to help him proof and edit.

50 Shades is an abomination. The publisher and author (if you can call her that) are sadly laughing all the way to the Swiss bank.

On the other hand, if I'm in the mood, I enjoy reading a good sex-filled, raunchy story that makes my dick get hard and drippy with precum! LOL.

O!Daddie now at said...

... what THEY said

ummm, 'Great Expectations'- I've read the book at least 3x. Have seen just about all of the movies and TV adaptations. Completely fascinated.

Same with 'A Christmas Carol'.

My grandfather was a typesetter. We had sets upon sets of books on every subject and a 'Complete Dickens' was my favorite. Books were my refuge and my escape from my own harsh reality 'growing' up.

Koba said...

I read mostly in bed, too, though this time of year, the sun porch is great as well. Love the lilac image (and the fragrance). Ours are on the tail end of their blooming. Last biography I read was Catherine the Great by Robert K. Massie - I recommend it, excellent read. My fave book is The Brothers Karamazov, which I've read at least 3 times. Have a great weekend, my friend!

BlkJack said...

I loveto read. I, too, love the feel & smell i get from books.

My favorite author is Anne Tyler. I have enjoyed reading her entire follection. I was saddened to read that;; "A Spool of Blue Thread" will be her final.

I can read anywhere. Favorite place is actually in the car on long drives (as a passanger).

Thanks for a great post.