Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Elegant Sentences

I've decided that I am going to begin keeping tabs on what I read. I am an eclectic reader, often having three or more books going on at the same time. I have them in different rooms of the house, with another one on CD in my car. What I pick up to peruse depends on what mood I am in and what else I have going on at the time.

There are books for bedtime, books for bathtime, books for thinking big thoughts. There are stories that make me laugh, make me weep, make me rage and those that turn me shy. I love a well turned out sentence and am absolutely enchanted when a writer (whether of non-fiction or novel) can truly transport me into a different time and place.

I've read so many books they all sort of run together in my head and I begin to forget them. So I'll keep a running list of what I currently have going over in my "Books I'm Reading Now" side bar, and then move them down to the "Books I've Read" for the ones I finish all the way.

Yeah, sometimes I get part way through and just lose interest... (as I did recently with Jane Smiley's novel "Moo". I made it half way through the book and realized I didn't like ANY of the characters, didn't like the setting and was alternately bored or annoyed with the whole thing. I finally pitched it in favor of some thriller mystery about an extreme skier caught up in a world of bad stuff that my husband had been reading..."Fall Line" by Mark T. Sullivan. It was a whole lot more fun.) Other times I get way busy and there are long gaps between when I start and when I actually make it to the last page.

Every now and then I'll find one that I absolutely CANNOT put down, and on one occasion was known to call in sick to a job just so I could lie in bed reading the last delicious pages of a book I was enthralled with, yet oddly enough cannot even remember right now. (it was a long time ago... I remember the bed, the blankets, the choice, just not the book. Strange.)

The other side benefit I hope to get by keeping a record of what I read is that it will push me to be more deliberate in my choices of reading material. Sometime I go in spurts, as in when I read almost nothing but science fiction for three solid years. I still very much enjoy Sci Fi, but a steady diet feels woefully unbalanced to me. So I want to be sure I mix and match - reading some fiction, some nonfiction, some fluff, some weightier stuff...

I'm quite open to recommendations. Have you read any good books lately? What would you suggest?


Jaquandor said...

I wrote about a few really good books here, if you're interested.

Marie said...

A recent favorite was The Master and Margarita by Bulgakov, a crazy novel that was banned for years in Soviet Russia. It's about what happens when Satan comes to Moscow and wreaks havoc on a society that doesn't believe in Satan (or God). It's pretty bizarre, quite funny, and searing commentary on corruption and materialsim.

And in recent news, a few weeks ago a Russian museum dedicated to Bulgakov was almost completely destroyed by an fanatic who thought that the author was attacking religion (the Orthodox Russian church once called The Master and Margarita "The Gospel of Satan"). People who say such things either haven't read the book or haven't understood it.

Another wacky religiously-themed book I recently discovered is The Man Who was Thursday by G.K. Chesterton. Takes on government and terrorism and God, and just when you think which way is up, it flips you over again. Even quite moving at times. Good stuff.

I know what you're saying about Jane Smiley. I read The Secret History by Donna Tartt because she was acknowledged as such a Great Writer, but when none of the characters are sympathetic in any way, there's no point in even the best writing. If you don't like any of your traveling companions, it's time to find a different journey.

And I'm glad to see you're reading Anna Karenina. I tried to read it twice when I was in college -- I was an English major and figured it was my duty to read it. I failed both times, struck numb with boredom. But then just a couple months ago our Relief Society had a book club and the RS president recommended the Pevear/Volokhonsky translation. And wallah! It's suddenly a page-turner. I loved it.

papa herman said...

I am currently reading "City of Joy" by Dominique Lapierre

Belladonna said...

Hey Papa H,

I LOVED City of Joy - read it the first time as a required assignment for an anthropology class many moons ago during my undergrad years. Read it again in my 30's and then again just this pasat November.

Let me know what you think of it, ok?

Spoke said...

Anything by Douglas Coupland or Donald Miller....

Marie Starr said...

This post made me smile.

I used to have notebooks full of the titles of books I had read with quotes from them and impressions or thoughts I had while reading them (sometimes whole poems or essays sparked by them) or if they were bad what I didn't like about them or what just didn't work. Sometimes, I wish I still did that. Hell, why wish, I think I'll just start doing that again. Thanks for the inspiration!

By the way, I recommend: By the Light of My Father's Smile, by Alice Walker; I Know This Much is True, by Wally Lamb; Ishmael, by Daniel Quinn (or is it Reed, I can never remeber); Beloved, by Toni Morrison; and Illusions, by Richard Bach. There's so many, many more but these are a few of my favorites.

Also, there's this cool site, I think it's called Library Thing, where you can catalogue all your books and post a link to it from your blog showing random books from your library. I don't remember the exact URL, but if you check out one of my blogs it has it & you can get the link from there - if you're interested. Happy Reading!

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