Jared asks, “Are there any interesting books you have in mind to read in the new year?”
Jerome Weeks, who is the Book Daddy, blogs on literary-styled Reality TV:
My new reality TV-book pitch? Hide a literary agent with a lucrative publishing contract on a jungle island. Crash land a group of troubled young memoirists there (with a camera crew) and release some unspecified monster that starts killing them gruesomely (copy editors or book critics might volunteer for this role). The trick? Each memoirist has been given part of a coded map that can lead them to the agent. And only the agent knows how to kill the monster, plus get a movie option. All this will require teamwork, obviously, because the longer it takes the writers to find the agent, the more time he has to spend the advance and screw up the movie rights. And maybe eat the only food on the island, something unimportant like that.
Nancy Pearl, author of Book Lust and More Book Lust, has a community site (if that’s the right term) for readers and book lovers. Her book recommendations are given throughout the site, including a page for what she’s reading now, and there are several pages of lit blog links. Could be an interesting site. I don’t know that it will have influence in the world at large than the literary blog network Metaxucafe.com, but how can we compare blogs objectively? Site traffic? Pshah!
From an article on Thomas Pynchon comes this description of a fan.
Tim Ware, who runs the Web site thomaspynchon.com from Oakland, Calif., recalls having a hard time getting through “Gravity’s Rainbow,” at least the first time around.
“I went back and looked again at the first page and everything just sort of snapped into view, and I thought, ‘This guy is a genius,’ like those who walked the Earth in the 19th century,” says Ware.
“And I got rather messianic about it, and I wanted my wife to read it. I started creating an index of all the characters, because there were so many and it was so hard to keep track of them.”
Maybe this is the wrong day for me to read something like this, but with so much going on in our shrinking world, giving yourself to the ardent fandom of Thomas Pynchon seems like a waste.
Interesting quotes from people on the Killjoy Express by way of The New Yorker: “Our wasteful consumer society buys, reads, and discards more brand-new hardcover fiction in a single day than the rest of the industrial world combined. I find that statistic staggering.”
Now, I don’t understand this man testimony: “People don’t seem to care where they start or stop in a book nowadays, so long as they’re reading. . . . And the minute they finish one novel they toss it aside and start another. I’ve seen people on the freeway flip through a novel to the dénouement, read it, and throw the book out the window. Then they’ll swing by a bodega, buy a new novel or two or a dozen, and be on their way. No one bothers to pick up the old novels, so they’re scattered all over, as we know, backing up in storm drains. The excess of it appalls me.”
Where does that happen?
Bryan Appleyard says, “Reading almost all books currently being published is even worse for your soul than watching home makeover shows or eating Yakult. People should not read more, they should read better.”
Frank Wilson agrees in part, saying we should read better writing and more carefully.
What do you think? If you agree that we should read better writing, how do you follow that advice?
Sherry of Semicolon has a good post on Banned Books Week, which echoes my thoughts on the subject. She starts with some facts on what’s banned in other countries and then states that we don’t ban books in America.
I attended library school and heard librarians say, with a straight face, that when they chose to not purchase Nancy Drew books or comic books, the process was called “selection,” but when parents or citizens tried to voice their opinions about what should or should not be purchased by the libraries that they support with their taxes, it was “censorship.” Librarians were an elite group of educated professionals who knew how to “select ” library materials; others were yokels who were out to keep information out of the hands of the people, book-banners. . . . The only difference is that the librarians are assumed to have good motives, to provide as many materials as possible to the lbrary’s patrons, and the public citizens are assumed to have bad motives, to keep materials out of the hands of others.
Today, I learned The Kenyon Review has a blog. I have a good impression of this literary journal, but still have yet to subscribe. My impression may be unfounded, perhaps being drawn from my good impression of poet Jane Kenyon who doesn’t have anything to do with the college.
Anyway, the KR blogger Liz Lopatto is complaining about books for which she’d like a refund. Among them:
Everything Jane Austen has ever written, but especially Persuasion. I’ve never been fond of Austen’s ridiculous style, and while David Lynn has tried unsuccessfully to convince me that she’s really parodying the characters she writes about, she spends so much loving detail describing every second of their boring lives that I can’t believe him. I threw Persuasion across the room several times when I had to read it for my English comprehensive exercise, but especially when our heroine Anne, who has no flaws except that she might be plain (this changes as the book goes on, however; her beauty blooms again!), discovers Captain Wentworth really does love her. I threw the book and stomped on it when her spurned suitor, her cousin, turns out to be a “villain.” Because our Anne couldn’t possibly break the heart of someone who’s decent–oh, no, she’s too good for that. I understand Austen is considered a classic but I still can’t figure out why.
She doesn’t like Dickens or Moby Dick either. To each his own.
No, I’m not going to type “to each his or her own,” because it’s awkward. English speakers should understand that implication and avoid petty language politics.
The Australian National Memory Test has taken in surveys from almost 30,000 Australians and concluded that watching too much TV and drinking too much drags down your mind, making it difficult to remember whatever it was you were trying to remember when you started, say, writing a sentence. On the other hand, people who read fiction, ate fish regularly, and worked crossword puzzles tended to have better memory.
Neuro-psychologist Nancy Pachana said, “TV can be a really passive activity, while reading is active, and any active activity is better.” So a little TV as part of an active day won’t harm your memory, and active TV viewing can be good for you.
Orange Jack on Don Quixote: “The ironic thing to me is that this book is about 1000 pages, and on the first page the author tells me the main character goes mad because he read too much!”
Laura Demanski on a book she’s read several times: “A friend recently told me that he’s reading Pride and Prejudice for the first time, and I realized that this is a condition I aspire to. In other words, I wanted for a second to claw his eyes out, but the second passed and I masked my jealous rage nicely, I thought. It used to be every Christmastime that I read P&P. Now my readings are further spaced out, every three or four years instead of every single one as I try (without hope) to regain a state of innocence vis-à-vis this particular book.”
Kevin Holtsberry quotes Athol Dickson on writing too fast: “I recently got into hot water with some writer friends by crying out for a slower, more thoughtful pace. Although I hate it when people are unhappy with me, I’m not backing down. Many popular Christian authors are in the habit of putting out three, four or even five or more novels every year. Such haste strikes me as a risky proposition.” I remember Mr. Dickson saying the same thing in his Novel Journey interview.
Mark Twain said a classic is “a book which people praise but don’t read.” How true is that for you?
Just got an e-mail from St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, Kingsville, Maryland, informing me that my novel, Wolf Time, has been chosen as their Book of the Month (scroll down the page about three-quarters of the way). They state that I’m gaining “a bit of a cult following among Lutherans,” which is a surprise to me, but I won’t complain. I’m not entirely sure what it means to have a “cult following,” but my impression is that artists who’ve produced cult works generally live in their cars.
Anyway, thanks to the folks at St. Paul’s.
On Friday, while my brothers and I were working in my back yard, one of my neighbors came over and invited me to stop by for his birthday party, Monday evening.
I thanked him for the invitation, but didn’t figure I’d attend. My brothers, though, informed me that I was obligated to show up at least for a few minutes, in order not to offend the neighbor.
I really don’t get these social obligation rules. Never have. I’ve never been able to understand how anyone would be anything but relieved if I didn’t show up at their party.
Anyway, Monday evening rolled around, as Monday evenings are wont to do, and it found me genuinely terrified. I almost didn’t go at all, but I finally commended my soul to God, picked up the card and gift certificate I’d bought, and went over. I wished the neighbor a happy birthday, handed him the card, said I couldn’t stay, and rushed home as quickly as I could on shaking knees.
I suppose that wasn’t good enough. I suppose I took a year off my life and still offended my neighbor.
My advice to you all: Don’t develop Avoidant Personality Disorder. It doesn’t add much to your personal fulfillment.
As a partial response to a suggestion from searider a few weeks ago, I ask you, a reader gracious (or perhaps unfortunate) enough to glance at this humble blog, why do you read literature? Why do you read good fiction as opposed to cheap or pulp fiction or non-fiction?
Here’s an answer from Proverbs 25:11-13.
A word fitly spoken
is like apples of gold in a setting of silver.
Like a gold ring or an ornament of gold
is a wise reprover to a listening ear.
Like the cold of snow in the time of harvest
is a faithful messenger to those who send him;
he refreshes the soul of his masters.
England’s uber-blogger Adrian Warnock has a list of books which he believes every Christian should read:
- ESV Bible
- God is the Gospel by John Piper
- Humility – True Greatness by C.J.Mahaney
- Living the Cross-Centered Life by C.J.Mahaney
- Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood
- Spurgeon’s Sermons
- Systematic Theology by Wayne Grudem
- C.H.Spurgeon, The Soulwinner
- What is Reformed Theology?
The list is certainly weighted toward certain authors, but the books look to be contenders for required reading. What do you think?
Please pray for Adrian’s health and that the Lord would give him grace to perservere through his sickness. He has shingles.