Booking Through Thursday: Reading

What have you been reading lately?

So I have a reputation for reading like 10 books at a time, and finally, my fiancé convinced me to downsize–sort of. I agreed that as I finished books, I wouldn’t start new ones until I had the stack down to one book, plus any borrowed ones. I’ve got it down to five, not counting my emergency purse book, and they are:

The Lost World. Kind of a letdown compared to Jurassic Park, and to be brutally honest, it feels like a money grab on Michael Crichton’s part. And throwing some middle-school kids into the mix makes it hard for me to suspend disbelief. It’s like when you start involving aliens–it almost always gets dumb.

All Quiet on the Western Front. I read an excerpt in college I really liked, but the book as a whole isn’t as interesting to me as that one passage was. That said, it’s still a good book and a classic that’s worth reading.

The Amber Spyglass. The third of the His Dark Materials trilogy. It’s a really interesting series and it plays with a lot of concepts I really like, but so far, this and the second book just don’t quite measure up to the first.

The Devil in the White City. A serial killer in Chicago in the 1890s. I think I’m just being impatient with this one, because it’s combining everything that went into the World’s Fair with the true story of the murders and I’d rather hear the true-crime aspect than all the business dealings of getting the fair going. I’m hoping it all comes together.

And finally, Jane Austen’s collected novels, currently in the early chapters of Pride & Prejudice. Strangely, I’ve never read it before or even seen a movie adaptation and I’m not far enough in to have much of an opinion, but I will say it’s holding my interest way better than Sense & Sensibility did.

And since it’s been a while, the two I finish so far this year: The Subtle Knife, the second of the His Dark Materials books, and Seraphina, a book my English-teaching godmother told me to check out. It’s a young adult fantasy novel about dragons, but I did quite like it.

Booking Through Thursday: Snow Day

What kind of book do you like to curl up with on a snowy day?

Man, I feel like I’ve given this answer a thousand times to a thousand different questions, but I’m gonna say it anyway–I almost never pick books based on circumstances or seasons or timeliness or anything like that. I just move to the next thing on the shelf like it’s a to-do list. So really, no preference. I just like to tackle whatever I’m in the middle of at the moment and make some progress on it so I can move on to the next one.

Booking Through Thursday: Stylistic

What’s your favorite style of book? Serious? Playful? Humorous? Thoughtful? Action-packed? Moody?

It’s hard to say because generally, stuff like that’s not what I look for the most. I’m more interested in good writing. That said, just thinking about what my favorite books tend to be and what I’m usually drawn to, seems like I lean toward the more serious side of things.

Booking Through Thursday: Guilty Pleasure

What’s your guilty pleasure, reading-wise?

So I was recently listening to an episode of The Naked American Songbook that had Alan Cumming on as a guest, and they talked a little bit about guilty pleasures in terms of music. He reiterated something I’ve heard said before and something I personally believe, too, about guilty pleasures–basically, that he doesn’t believe in feeling guilty about something you enjoy, especially something like music, or in this case, books.

He puts it really well and I wish I could find the exact timestamp quickly and easily, but I’ll do my best with it. Essentially, I reject the idea that there are certain things we should feel guilty about liking, no matter the reason why. There’s no shame in liking what we like, and we definitely shouldn’t make other people feel like there is.

And you know, originally, I figured I’d go ahead and list some things that maybe people think I should feel guilty for enjoying, but as I was sort of putting my thoughts together and started typing, I started to feel like that wouldn’t make much sense for me. I mean, why spend this time talking about why I don’t believe in guilty pleasures only to turn around and single out books I might consider guilty pleasures? It would be hypocritical, in a way, and it would also play right into the very concept I’m sort of condemning right now. I feel like naming something anyway would only be contributing to the idea when I’d really much prefer the whole thing to go away.

So I don’t have any guilty pleasures, and neither should you. Like what you like, and don’t feel bad about it or like you owe people an explanation.

Booking Through Thursday: Recommend

Somebody walks up to you and says, “I need a really good book to read–any genre. What do you recommend?”

What’s the first book off the top of your head?

The “any genre” bit is great, because whenever someone asks for a recommendation, that’s the first thing I ask.

I don’t really have a go-to list of recommendations, partly because I don’t usually have something to recommend that people aren’t already at least familiar with. So I usually think of what I’m reading now or have read recently that really stood out, so going that way now and picking from the stack I’m currently reading, I’d recommend:

  • Bossypants by Tina Fey because it’s funny and a fun look at her career, especially SNL. Reading it now is particularly fun because in the midst of Donald Trump whining about Alec Baldwin’s impersonation of him, I’m reading about Tina Fey’s experiences impersonating Sarah Palin.
  • The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot because it’s an interesting read not just from a scientific and medical standpoint, but also because of issues of race it raises.
  • His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman because for being considering a children’s series, it’s really dark and complex and fascinating.

Booking Through Thursday: Location Part Two

An off-shoot from last week’s question: Do you read books from places you DON’T know and haven’t been as a substitute for actually travelling there?

I guess my answer is kind of similar to last week‘s in that a book’s setting–or since we’re talking location, possibly even country of origin–doesn’t have any impact on my reading habits. As for travel, I think the best way to experience a place is to actually go there, but I totally understand that that’s not always possible or practical, whether it be for financial reasons, safety concerns, other obligations, etc. So in that case, although I wouldn’t personally use it this way, I can absolutely how some people might sort of live vicariously though books in that way.

On top of it–and I know I say this all the damn time, but it’s so often relevant–books are great for reading other perspectives, and I think books set in far-off (real) places are a great example of how we could use them to see the world from someone else’s eyes, especially when you consider things like cultural differences and the number of ways people’s experiences can differ even just due to location.

Booking Through Thursday: Location Location Location

In real estate, it’s all about location, location, location. But how about books? Does where a book is set affect your reading choices? Are you more or less likely to read books set in places you know or love?

The setting of a book doesn’t affect my reading choices, no, but I will say I do love reading books set where I’m from. Pittsburgh doesn’t show up in literature often, and my hometown even less so, so I’m always excited when it does happen. And of course, the most famous example is probably The Perks of Being a Wallflower.