Blog Two: Books and I… Me and Books… Whatever

I told you that my blog would be different from my professional writing, and this is a good example. I’m not actually sure which title above is completely right, and I don’t care.

The bottom line is it’s my blog so I don’t have to worry about getting it right, just getting it so that you can understand what I’m trying to say. (Yes, I have an MBA so phrases such as “bottom line” show up in my personal writing sometimes – just ignore it if it irritates you. It irritates me too sometimes but I still do it.)

Now, given my attitude about the title, you’d think grammar doesn’t matter that much to me on a personal basis. You’d be wrong. I actually cringe when people use “like” when they should use “such as” and I absolutely refuse to buy any product when the advertising uses the word less when they should use fewer. (For those non-grammar-geeks, use less if you can measure it, fewer if you can count it – so less calories is simply wrong.)

Anyway – back to the title of this blog – Me and Books. I am a book nut. You may notice that I don’t say bibliophile. That word implies a level of erudition that is far beyond my fundamental book addiction. I guess I really should say reading addition. It doesn’t have to be a book, although I love books. Magazines, pamphlets, brochures, posters with quotes on them, whatever. I have to read pretty much anything that comes my way.

Books are not unlike my personal security blanket. When I travel, I’d better have a book or two, or three, with me. Generally I bring used paperbacks and then just leave them somewhere when I finish them. No matter how terrible my day has been, or my life is at the moment, I can escape between pages of a good – or mediocre – book and be just fine when I lift my head up in an hour or so. Better than Valium – better than alcohol – better than just about anything for helping me survive.

Now here’s the thing. I am an English major. (I know, the correct phrase is “I was an English Major,” but for some of us it’s a thing, not a description of a degree we got in the past) But I don’t always want to read the really good books. It sounds strange on the surface, but I’ve figured out the reason. (or rationale, don’t get all psychological on me now.) With the really amazingly-well-written fiction books, I am totally caught. I enter their world and it’s hard for me to leave. That means that I am stuck in someone else’s world, whether I like it there or not. And it takes a while for that to wear off. So I don’t read Stephen King much, or Dean Koontz. (No, they don’t produce great literature, but they tell amazing stories in amazing ways, and you get lots of points for that in my world.)

I once read a book by Jonathan Carroll thanks to an introduction by my friend Jim. It was kind of creepy, and that book followed me around for weeks. There were certain phrases that kept running through my head. It’s mostly gone now – that was years ago – but I have a vague recollection of the phrase “little man” that still makes me uncomfortable.

On the other hand, I am a staunch believer in re-reading. I can’t understand loving a book and its characters and not wanting to re-visit them on occasion. To me it would be like having lunch with a great friend and totally enjoying myself and then saying, “Well, that’s over. I never need to see him or her again.” Not the same, you say? Yes it is.

Now in general when I talk about re-reading I mean fiction. I have actually been known to read a book and like it so much that when I finish it I just start reading it all over again. Immediately. However, I am finding that some books of non-fiction deserve a second look, or a third. The one currently running in my mind is Maya Angelou’s Letter to my Daughter. The woman is smart and interesting and really wise in so many ways. She is also one of those authors whose prose reads like poetry. Her word choice is that good. So this book, which I just finished, is back in my “to read” pile. I think it will be staying in the circuit for a while.

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4 thoughts on “Blog Two: Books and I… Me and Books… Whatever

    1. I hope you realize what you’re doing by getting me started. I go by authors. I am particularly fond of well-written fantasy, and Mercedes Lackey writes a series known as “Elemental Masters” about a world where magicians exist – well done, good characterizations and absorbing plots. I also enjoyed the “Discovery of Witches” trilogy for the same reason – it’s more fun when there’s some paranormal stuff hopping about, and even better when well written. For historic fiction, Jennifer Chiaverini has a number of books set in the Civil War. My favorite is the first one: “The Union Quilters” – about a group of women coping with life in one community during the war. Another favorite author is Sarah Addison Allen. Start with her first – “Garden Spells.” Once again a taste of magic – very mild and charming. None of these qualify as great works of literature, but I had enough of that when I was in College – now I read for the pure pleasure of it and these authors’ books meet my criteria for well-written value as well as pleasure. If you’re interested in an older book, let me recommend “Spoonhandle” by Ruth Moore. It may be hard to find as I think it’s out of print, but worth the search. Charming, insightful and interesting. Set in Maine which I love. I search out her books whenever I hit a used book store as pretty much everything she’s written is out of print. Have fun and let me know if you enjoy these or discover any favorites of your own. You’ll notice a tendency toward women authors here – not a requirement, but I have to admit I enjoy a book more when it has a female protagonist or at least strong female characters. Go figure.

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