Posts Tagged ‘personal’
This post comes from a prompt at Booking Through Thursday. The prompt is as follows:
“What book(s) do you find yourself going back to? Beloved children’s classics? Favorites from college? Something that touched you and just makes you long to visit?”
So, what books do I go back to?
I will start with One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez. I think I have been through the book four or five times at least, and I never lose my sense of wonder for it. Every other year or so, I just know that it is time to go back to Macondo. For me, this is one of the best books of all time, period. There are so many stories, so much imagery, magic, and history that you can’t catch it all by reading it just once. This is a novel that is truly immersive. By the way, I read this in original Spanish, but for our English language friends, there are good translations available.
Next, I will add Mario Puzo’s The Godfather. This is kind of comfort food for me. While I do like the films, especially the first one, as is often the case the book is better than the film. In addition, the film leaves out quite a few things from the novel. I don’t reread this as often, but when I get in the mood, I go spend some time with the Corleones and their family values.
Around Halloween, I return to Gotham City with the graphic novel Batman: The Long Halloween. The first time I read it was during the month of October. Though it can be read any time of the year, the ambiance and the story just seem like a good fit for October and Halloween. In this story, Batman has to deal with Holiday, a killer who commits murders during holidays, starting on Halloween.
A nonfiction book I return to is A Passion for Books. I very much enjoy reading books on books, reading, the book trade, and bibliophilia. This particular book is a collection of quotes, essays, vignettes, and other short pieces on books, reading, and collecting. When I want something for comfort, something light, on a topic I enjoy, I reach for this book. I have read it cover to cover, but now I usually browse and pick out favorite pieces to reread here and there.
There are a few others that I have read that I would like to reread. However, life and new books usually keep me from those other books I would like to read again. Maybe if I do get to them, I could share them in a future post. Overall, the books I’ve listed now are the ones I always return to at some point.
These few additional thoughts on being a reader were prompted by a blog post at Booking Through Thursday on the topic of “Being a reader.” I have to say that I cannot imagine not being a reader. Since the days when my mother placed my first books in my hands, I’ve been reading. I cannot imagine any life without reading, nor can I imagine a house without books (even if they can be a pain to move).
The curious thing, if you can call it that, is that not many people in my life read, and that does include librarians in and out of my workplace. Contrary to popular belief, not all librarians read, or, I should say, they do not read more than the absolute minimum required by their jobs–memos, an article now and then, a paper on occasion. I’ve written on that before, as I think it diminishes our profession when librarians admit, some with pride, that they do not read. But that’s them. I read because I enjoy it. I read because I am curious, inquisitive, and I enjoy learning. I often get many solutions to problems from reading books. In addition, I get pleasure and entertainment from reading. So I make it a point to always have a book or two nearby.
As for my relationship with others, it depends on who it is. For the most part, my family, with one or two exceptions, are not readers. They know that I read a lot, and some may acknowledge I am a bit more knowledgeable about a few things because of my reading, but we really don’t talk about my reading or about books. I can talk books with a friend or two and with a librarian or two now and then. However, I will admit that most of my book talking and discussion happens online via my blogs or my social sites online. There are a lot of people online who read books and enjoy sharing their reading experiences. I enjoy meeting them, even if many have different reading tastes than me. It’s interesting to me learning what others like to read. Granted, sometimes I do wonder about some reading choices people make, but as a librarian, I try to abide by the old laws of every book its reader and every reader its book. Besides, who knows what they think about some of the things I read.
Via The Daily Beast, we get a question on why people buy cookbooks. In an age when you can access all sorts of recipes online, and you can do so with an iPad or some other tablet computer, why buy a cookbook in print? Naturally, that question goes back to why buy any print books at all, but let us focus on cookbooks at the moment.
The author of the article provides some explanations such as cookbooks being objects of art and for some people the cookbooks are status symbols. But she goes on to make the argument that culture of cooking from cookbooks and recipes is moving online. To her, very often, cookbooks are given as gifts. Let me then look at why we buy cookbooks.
At home, The Better Half is a cookbook collector. We don’t really buy big, sumptuous, oversized cookbooks. We do buy a variety of cookbooks from practical ones to a few on various ethnic cuisines. I will add that I do collect, in a small capacity, some cocktail recipe books. Anyhow, part of the reason we get them is aspirational: we hope to make some recipes from the books. The Better Half and I do make some recipes out of them though probably not as many as we could in order to get the full potential. She particularly enjoys buying small and local cookbooks, the ones put together by local groups, churches, or community organizations. You probably won’t see those on Amazon or the bookstores, but they are part of her collection. Cookbooks are one of the areas she enjoys collecting and reading. Plus it makes me happy to make her happy when I can add another one to her collection. And while we do go online, we cook out of books when making a recipe. Having a laptop in the kitchen is not really an option for us, and we are not into tablets at this point in time. So, at least in our household, we still buy cookbooks.
Besides, cookbooks do not require power, a battery, an Internet connection, and unlike e-books, we actually own then and can do with them as we wish.
This post was prompted by this blog post at Booking Through Thursday. I should note that I wrote this before I heard the news that GoodReads was selling out to Amazon, so I will probably have more to say on that topic later on.
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I keep lists of books I want to read in a few places. I have a large folder of clippings and handwritten lists. I started it as a reader’s advisory tool, and I still review it and add items to it now and then. In addition, now and then I jot down titles in the personal journal or in my small pocket notebook (one I carry to use for when I can’t get my hands on my personal journal). Those then I move to the folder, or I put them in GoodReads.
Once I discovered GoodReads, it became a great tool for me. I use it quite a bit to track books I want to read. I also use it to keep a record of books I have read. I even went back through old journals to find notes on books I’ve read and added them to GoodReads as well. I still make notes on books I’ve read in my personal journal, but this has always been for books I really want to remember. Now with GoodReads, I record every book I read, then I expand any brief review I think is worth noting into a larger review and note for one of my blogs or for my personal journal.
Finally, I keep another running tally of books I want to read here in Alchemical Thoughts. I basically make the lists from reviews that come in on my RSS feeds. I do include links to the reviews on the blog posts here.
Now, this may seem fragmented, but it gives me different places to browse for ideas when I need to find the next book to read.
I read an interesting post in May of last year over at Book Riot on the topic of “Abandoning Books With No Remorse.” Reading this prompted the question for me of whether I abandon books or not. You bet I do, although not as often as I should. Here is how some of my reading process works. Very often I do skim books. If I skim enough of the book to get a good sense of the book and its content, then I do consider it read. I look at it in terms of the fact that I did inflict on myself a big chunk of a bad book, so it counts. Now, if I leave a book unfinished with no intention of getting to the end, that’s abandonment, and I do that as well.
Over the years, I have refined my art of skimming just enough to call a book “read.” I really got it down during graduate school. Given the amount of novels and essays I had to read in short periods of time, one learns to skim to get the basic point. The fact that a lot of those “classics” were books I came to loathe just added the incentive to skip and skim as needed. In the end, all I needed was knowing enough to be able to discuss the book in an intelligent way in class. I am sure others did the same, even if they would not admit it as readily as I do. I think with that life now behind me, I can write about this with more freedom.
As for the books I fully abandon, I don’t really have a rule. The number of pages I give a book to get my interest varies from a few pages to about 40 to 50 pages. Some may say that is not enough to really know a book. To those people I say, besides an “I don’t give a fuck,” that if I abandon a book, the book was not worth knowing in the first place. I don’t think that reading a book you hate for the sake of completion makes you a better reader or some heroic figure. If you are one of those people, either you are masochist, or your whining about how heroic you were because you slogged through some long, not so good book (that may be classic, trendy, by some “literary” author, etc.) is just for show like Pharisees bragging after praying. The latter reader is just full of it.
So, yes, I abandon books. Life is way too short to waste it on a book that simply does not engage me. There are many other fine books out there to explore. I don’t feel guilty about it at all. To quote Dewey from Unshelved, I read irresponsibly, and I encourage others to do so.
Read freely. Read what you like. Read what engages you and moves you. There is a great world of books out there, so go exploring and leave the crappy books behind. Follow your reading bliss.