Saturday, February 12, 2005

book learning

In January 2004 I made the only NYresolution that has actually worked. I resolved to either read a book from cover to cover and enjoy it or put the thing down and choose another. No more literary sluttery. I was tired of the pile of books beside the bed. I was tired of not really remembering the books that I had 'read'. I was feeling cheap and used, washed up and adulterous.
So just over a year ago I changed course. It worked. Now I have another problem, (the path of the righteous is never easy). I am approaching the end of a great book "Armageddon" by Max Hastings. I am trying to think ahead about what I should read next. I have read non stop since the age of six. I always face this curious dilemma. Elizabeth has suggested "Testament of Youth" by Vera Brittan. We both agreed that after reading an account of the Allied destruction of the Third Reich I should lighten up a bit. Perhaps I'll read a detective novel set in Botswana? I liked the sound of "The God of small things" until I looked closer. I need Bowles appropriate stuff, light but thoughtful. I've just trudged across Western Europe and defeated the nazis.
Any ideas? recommendations?

13 comments:

ms.bri said...

If you are talking about the Botswanan detective novel I think you are, (McCall Smith) then I highly recommend the series. They are not reguolar detective novels at all, but I love the characters and it makes me want to see Africa in a way I didn't before.
I tried to read the God of Small Things, similarly taken in by the reviews and the cover - the look and feel of the thing. I was unable to get into it, though.
I, too, am trying to figure out what I really want to read next. I have all these nonfiction tomes and that damn Letham book I can't quite get into. But none makes me want to turn the TV off hours early to get into bed and read - that's the feeling I'm always looking for.

Mondale said...

Yeah, I may well have to dip back into the ladies detective agency. Rip roaring reads and big skies. Just the thing for a cold New York winter's day and subway escapism. I only got through the first two and then spring arrived, thus neutering my senses with warmer days and increased energy. As a passing point I found one of the few books that I have ever read twice in my bathroom, "reasons to be cheerful" by Mark Steel. I was tempted. I'm thinking about "the problem of pain" by CSLewis, "A heartbreaking work of satggering genius" by Dave eggers. Both live on my shelf. Both unread. We keep meaning to sort the shelves and create an 'unread but still inter' section. This never happens, the inoxerable yet delightful clutter of Bowles towers reigns supreme.

ms.bri said...

Ugh - that sounds like a librarian's worst nightmare. If you'd ever like to borrow, I have all the Ladies Detective sequels - my mother-in-law brought me the latest (the 6th, I think?) back from London at Christmas.
Eggers' HWOSG is one of my top favorite books ever, but many, many people strongly disagree with me.

weasel said...

Read the bloody books I sent down, why don't you? Hurmph.

If you are looking for an interesting short read "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nightime" is rather splendid. I agree with Mrs. Bri; knowing you the way I do I know you'll love the Eggers.

weasel said...
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Listmaker said...
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Listmaker said...

you can never truly call yourself a hipster until you've read eggers! and even then, not really.

mas said...

I read that "Curious Incident" recently too and really liked it - you can't go wrong with that or Eggers.

Mondale said...

I never said i was a hipster. A hip young gunslinger, yes. Hipster, no.
Weasel, I will get through the books you send but I need to step away from war and international intrigue, just for a day or two.

weasel said...

The history of Wymondham and Barak Obama's tales of smoking weed in Hawaii are hardly war and intrigue old boy. You make me sound like a militia nut or Daily Telegraph reader.... Bangkok 8 is a cool buddhist detective story bursting with lady boys and killer snakes- give that one a shot.

I just re-read "A Kid for Two Farthings" by Wolf Mankowitz which is well worth seeking out (well, maybe only if you had my paternal grandfather).

jamie said...

a couple recommendations for a bit lighter non-fiction:

"The Professor and the Madman" by Simon Winchester. Mainly concerns a mad Civil War general and his contributions to the Oxford English Dictionary.

"Banvard's Folly: 13 Tales of People Who Didn't Change the World" by Paul Collins. The stories can be read individually and are all quite interesting including the story of the guy who had the original plan for a NYC subway consisting of car pushed through tubes by pneumatic pressure. (Note: Dave Eggers' approved selection).

youthlarge said...

recently read Curious Incident (purchased at Heathrow during a long long delay) as well - clever and interesting, but i'm not sure i loved it. i enjoyed it though. i just started Another Bullshit Night In Suck City by Nick Flynn. it's essentially a memoir, centering around the author finding his estranged father in a homeless shelter. the new yorker had an excerpt a couple months ago.

henryabbott said...

I don't read a lot of mysteries, but by far the best one I have read in years was Motherless Brooklyn. It's wildly hilarious, especially in that it will make you think you have Tourette's syndrome.