Yup, I Read Now


Booking Through Thursday

btt2 What words/phrases in a blurb make a book irresistible?

 

I’d consider any book touted as “surreal” and “hilarious” a godsend. Lately though, I’ve been finding that any time the back cover blurb mentions that a book is in any way comical, I end up feeling gypped. We all have a different understanding of what “funny” is, I realize that, and even when a book is said to be “hilarious” or “hysterical,” I’m not so naïve—or easily deceived by marketing gimmicks—to believe that I’ll be busting a gut as I flip through its pages. But if the book fails to make me crack a smile or even think, “Ah yes, now that sentence was rather humorous” as I adjust my monocle, then I’d say that that back cover blurb failed to deliver on its promise.

What I usually find most useful in selecting books are those little author endorsement quotes. If another writer that I like has said that he/she enjoyed the book then I’ll probably buy it. I know that writers share publishers and publishers ask more established/successful writers to provide these sorts of quotes for up-and-comers, but I doubt anyone would ever cosign something that was horrible.

The thing that I find slightly baffling these days, is the use of Twilight to market classics (something that I’ve brought up before.)

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Wha…?
October 14, 2009, 4:32 pm
Filed under: Book Adventures | Tags: , , ,

adventures (red version)Rainy days are bookstore days and so, after a quick stop at Le Wal-Mart to pick up sacks of Peanut M&Ms for my Oct 31. 24-hour Peanut M&M-Binge-O-Rama, that’s exactly where I was yesterday afternoon. The Young Adult Fiction of this particular chain bookstore is a kind of showpiece for the place; it’s right in the middle of everything, no doubt owing to the recent teen vampire craze. Now, I have no beef with the Twilight series or Stephenie Meyer but I will never read any of these books. Morals or principles or standards don’t factor into it. Reading a Stephenie Meyer book is just one of those things that I don’t ever see myself doing, just as I don’t ever see myself running the Boston Marathon or eating a praying mantis. I did see the Twilight film and was mainly unimpressed, but still, I have nothing but the most out-and-out sort of ambivalence when it comes to the franchise. Well, perhaps I should say had nothing but the most out-and-out sort of ambivalence because I saw something yesterday at the bookstore that shook the foundation of my staunch irresoluteness.

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Et tu, Austen-e?

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Juliet, Naked

juliet-naked-hornby

…was finished in two days. I suppose it wouldn’t have been too difficult to read in a day but I’d rented the Emmy-award winning Little Dorrit miniseries early last week and the pull of those first two discs was astonishingly strong. (My Nick Hornby fanaticism’s primary ingredient, it would seem, is weak sauce.) Andrew Davies is responsible for this incredible adaptation and after some light googling I discovered that he also adapted the Colin Firth, A&E version of Pride and Prejudice—which is, of course, the adaptation that all other Pride and Prejudice adaptations are measured against. Judging from the bit of Little Dorrit that I’ve just watched and the one other thing of his that I’ve seen, it would appear that Mr. Davies can do no wrong.

After watching the first half of the miniseries I turned back to Mr. Hornby’s book but all of those wonderful Dickens characters lingered in my mind. Although I was reading a decidedly modern novel wherein much of the conflict revolves around the internet(s), thoughts of all those soot covered Cockneys persisted.

Dickens appeals to my most primal entertainment needs, this very basic desire to experience a great story—one with twists, turns, romance, humor, and debtors’ prisons. Everything about his work takes me back to this really innocent place. For a start, my earliest contact with his world was via Oliver and Company and then in 9th grade when we did Great Expectations, much of it was read aloud in class.

No one reads aloud anymore!

I don’t know but for me at least, there’s just something very wholesome about reading aloud (even when what’s being read aloud involves elderly shut-ins catching on fire).

As I made my way through Juliet, Naked, I was already plotting my next read. Dickens(!) My plans were only solidified when one of the characters in the Hornby book turned out to be a Dickens fan.

So I finished the Hornby quickly. It was good. Not mind-blowing or anything, and definitely not as enjoyable as High Fidelity, but it wasn’t a total disappointment—my (dubious) allegiance to Hornby remains unaltered (or something). (I will say this, though: Because one of the three protagonists is a self-doubting artist type there were some meta undertones and I couldn’t help but think that Hornby was using this book as a way of preemptively justifying any of its shortcomings.)

Anyway, that was on Thursday and my next move was to purchase David Copperfield or Bleak House or whatever. But Jesus, those books are thick. With no grade on the line I don’t know that I’d have the motivation to finish one. I’m going to need a little time for mental preparation, to build up my reading endurance before I tackle one of those bad boys. Or maybe I’ll just chuck the idea all together, finish the last two discs of Little Dorrit, and then go see the new Jim Carrey 3D version of A Christmas Carol next month.

Eh…

I’m currently reading Motherless Brooklyn by Jonathan Lethem and I already like it more than The Fortress of Solitude. My initial impulse was to attribute this to its more traditional structure; it’s more straightforward and feels less ambitious than the other one, so it’s easier to get wrapped up in. But that’s not fair. I think it’s just as ambitious as Fortress but that ambition is less transparent.