Friday, January 28, 2005

Personal Libraries: The Untold Stories

You can tell a great deal about a person by the company he or she keeps and the books he or she reads. I love perusing other people's libraries. There is great pleasure in discovering new authors and books, and in discovering shared tastes for old favorites on the shelves of both long-standing friends and new acquaintances. Cyberspace relationships complicate matters somewhat, limiting one's ability to sneak over to the bookcase when one's host excuses him or herself for a moment. Sure, you can ask what people are reading, but the likelihood that they'll admit to their literary vices as well as their literary virtues is slim.

So here’s a challenge. Tell me (or post on your own blog and let me know, so I can check it out) about your guilty and/or relatively mindless reading material. Not the stuff you added to the book list thingamabobs—Shakespeare, Augustine, Homer, Thomas Aquinas. Not the stuff you put out on the coffeetable. No. I want to know the stuff under your bed, the books with the chocolate stains on the pages. For this we’re talkin’ Calvin and Hobbes, the Messies books, Tarzan, Louis L’amour, or maybe even those awful Harlequin romances.

Or, if you do read the heavy-duty stuff on a regular basis (and I realize a lot of you do), come clean and ‘fess up the non-intellectual advantages you enjoy from doing so.

Just in case you're curious, I’ll even play fair. My own literary confessions are still online at The Missouri Review’s website from a couple of years back, and they still hold true.


David said...

Here's a whopper of a confession: I spend more time watching television than reading, these days! I read the New York Times, The New Republic, a couple of blogs and sections of The New Yorker on most days. Two or three piles of books lie near the couch or on my desk to remind me of my better self, but I ignore them. TIVO is my current God. I watch "The West Wing," "Joan of Arcadia," "Carnivale," "Unscripted," "Deadwood" (HBO does well by me,) "The Daily Show" (when I can stay awake past 11 p.m.), "Boston Legal," and God help me, the new "Battlestar Gallactica," despite it's association in my mind with the whacko and pernicious cosmology purveyed by Scientology. I also watch movies I rent through Netflix--such as a three-part history of American musical theater, which sits on the dvd player, as I write--so I'm in front of my big-ass plasma t.v. way too much.

Anonymous said...

As you know, it's detective fiction for me! A few years ago, I spent the summer reading contemporary detective books from the library, and pretty much disliked them all. So it's back to the classics. I'm trying to acquire all of the Lord Peter Wimsey books, of course I've got a bunch of Agatha Christie, but Ngaio Marsh is my current favorite -- I just love Roderick Alleyn and wife Troy. Candace Robb's medieval detective stories (Owen Archer) are fascinating. Made myself try Chandler and Hammett just to say I had and didn't like them, as I suspected. (The contemporary women writers creating "hard-boiled" women detectives don't impress either, such as Sue Grafton or Ruth Rendall.) But I do like Erle Stanley Gardner, maybe because I watched Perry Mason for years while growing up. He seems a bit more human than Spade and Marlow.

I have discovered Stephen Lawhead recently and while the quality is uneven over his works, I do like the Merlin series very much. And of course there's always Ray Bradbury, whose works I'm also trying to collect.

Now you no longer need wonder why I can't get anything done over the summers . . . :)


Joyella said...

Cindy, I am not sure I am ready to post this on my blog, hehe, but here are a few of my guilty pleasures, some more guilty than others. Bridget Jones' Diary, "Can You Keep a Secret" by Sofia Kinsella (I haven't read her "Confessions of a Shopaholic" one yet, Bill Bryson, Calvin and Hobbes (of course!), The Far Side, Harry Potter, Real Simple magazine, Threads magazine, and currently absorbed in Peter Mayle's "Hotel Pastis". I also read regularly "I am a Bunny" by Richard Scary (a personal favorite of my youth, and my daughter loves it too). I don't like cheesy romance novels, but I am a sucker for a good love story.

Cindy said...

David--I'm not even going to go into my television/film vices! Now that's dangerous territory!

Beth--I've got to get around to Sayers' mysteries someday. You make me want to. Lawhead, though, is no vice, but a virtue, especially his Pendragon series! (His sci-fi I've found to be another matter. :p )

Joyella--I loved your inclusion of "I am a Bunny", one of my favorites, also (along with "The Runaway Bunny" and "Watership Down" and Beatrix Potter's bunny tales). Children's literature is a boon to this world.