Saturday, July 18, 2009

Dear Friends

The BBC came out with a list of 100 book titles and presumptively suggested that most of the great unwashed have only read SIX of these 100 titles. Becuz were so stupidz.

Well, BBC, I read 42 titles. Take that. Yes, I just zig-zag snapped in your face. Umm-hmmm.

I'm now inspired to share with you a few of the titles that made me smile. Captivating books that I absorbed, loved, and almost regretted finishing, because it was so hard to say goodbye to these dear friends.

Catch 22 - Joseph Heller - Never before did I have to work so hard to understand a book. I think this book, along with the writings of Chaucer and Shakespeare, built my sense of self-efficacy. I realized that I could read challenging things.

The Kite Runner
- Khaled Hosseini - Yes, it has moments that are melodramatic. Yes, it was book-clubbed nearly to death. Yet, it is worthy. When writers write, they do more than express themselves. Hopefully, they turn stereotypes into breathing, living people. People that you care about. The world needs all sorts of shades---especially more shades of gray. So, thank you, Khaled Hosseini.

Memoirs of a Geisha
- Arthur Golden -I remember reading this book on my honeymoon. (Yes, I know. I shouldn't have brought books to my honeymoon, but we drove from AZ to Northern California. It was necessary.)

We were zipping down the Pacific Coast Highway, and while the book was good, the view was better. I put the book down and saw a black, shiny...something. We pulled over to see an elephant seal emerge from the salty spray and flop itself onto shore. It was gorgeous in its lumpy awkwardness. We walked closer, and along the way met a marine biologist, who took the time to lead us to another cove. There, we saw a gathering of elephant seals, probably fifty or more of them. They trumpeted, waddled, and sparred just inches from our delighted faces.

Memoirs of a Geisha was a good book---I finished it later. But what makes it a dear friend is that I was reading it at the start of a new marriage, in a beautiful place, where serendipity lurked everywhere.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nightime - Mark Haddon -I remember this book being very British, with references to Wellies and The Tube and, even, I think Robbie Williams. (I may be confusing the British stuff with another excellent author, Nick Hornsby. If I am--apologies.) The narrator was a young boy with some kind of Autism-Related Spectrum issue (It's never named or officially diagnosed). I imagine it was a challenge to write respectfully and authentically from this perspective (the author does not have autism), and I marvel at Haddon's sensitivity and craft.

And finally, A Confederacy of Dunces, by John Kennedy Toole.--I loaned this book to a Spanish teacher friend of mine several years back. In retrospect, I'm not sure what a highly conservative Mormon woman made of Ignatius Reilly, the book's perverse, pompous and slothful anti-hero. Set in New Orleans, this book is brilliant. Go buy a copy. And then loan it to me. You see, the Spanish teacher never returned the book, but instead gave me a Book of Mormon.

Not a fair trade.

If you're interested in seeing the BBC's entire list, drop me a line. We'll do a book-off. It's like a walk-off or a dance-off, except much, much less exciting.


Becky said...

Funny, I just bought Kite Runner at a yard sale today for a quarter. (I also bought Logan a pair of jeans, shorts, warm-up pants and a large pad of Color-Wonder, Toy Story themed paper. Total spent: $1.05). I love to read, but can't seem to do anything else when I am reading. I can't put a book down till it's finished. Therefore, I rush the book and my family is neglected for a day or two.

Anonymous said...

ooh, send me a copy of the list. I want to see if I read the 6, so I can feel ril learn-ed n'at!

Nancy Campbell said...

Becky, you are my new hero. $1.05? Impressive.

dek said...

I can't believe you zig-zag snapped the BBC. I think the Queen just said, "Oh no you didn't!"