Saturday, October 06, 2007

A Few Words About Reading



What a nice surprise! Matthew of Common Misadventures tagged me for an interesting meme about reading. Then, of course, I put off writing it for a few weeks because it actually took some thinking. But here goes...


My Reading: I used to be a voracious reader. When I was in high school, I read at least a book a week. I devoured as many of the classics as I could get my hands on, including things I would never read now (like Dostoevsky!) Despite thoughts of majoring in history or political science in college, I ended up majoring in English Lit -- so plenty more reading ensued.
Once I got out into the working world, though, I turned away from the classics. I pick one up occasionally, but I really prefer to read high-quality but easily readable recent fiction.

Although I read French fluently, I don't read in French that often. I think reading is a good way for me to keep in touch with my native language, and I also find much current French fiction soupy and too self-consciously intellectual. I will make an exception for one of the five books on my list below, though. I also know that I have just made a sweeping generalization, and anyone who wants to suggest a list of great recent French novels to read can feel free to do so!

Total number of books owned: Probably several hundred, but I don't buy all that many books -- other than cookbooks, which are a guilty pleasure! I had quite a collection of classics sitting back home in the USA but got rid of them a few summers ago.

Last book read and bought: The last book I read was Under the Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayes. I enjoyed the cultural observations, but had to skim over the endless details about house renovation.
The last book I bought was The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami -- but I haven't read it yet.

Five meaningful books: Not necessarily favorites, just books that have meant a lot to me and that come to mind...

Les Jeux Sont Faits by Jean-Paul Sartre


Ensemble, C'est Tout by Anna Gavalda

Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingslover

Now for who to tag -- how about the last three people who have commented on And So Forth?
That would be Rachelle, Christina and Katie...




7 comments:

Matthew said...

Thanks for playing! I too read a lot of classics some years back and find myself reading contemporary literary fiction now. The classics are still on the shelf and I mean to read them but...

I don't know too many French authors but I would love to read Camus in his original language. A friend recently told me about the Goncourt Prize so there may be more French fiction in my future.

Funny I did the same thing with Tuscan Sun--sometimes the details were just too much to bear. Murakami is one of my favorite authors. If you like Wind-Up Bird Chronicle then you've got more great fiction to look forward to! I also love Kundera--I've read Lightness of Being a couple of times.

Have a great day!

katiez said...

Ooooh, Betty, I'm going to have to give this some thought.... I'm a book whore so...
Very interesting meme and fun to see what people are reading besides cook books!

The Late Bloomer said...

I haven't read a classic in years, and sometimes I feel guilty about that (recently I've been wanting to get my hands on Women in Love and some Nabokov anyway -- maybe I should make the time) -- but I've concluded that life is simply too short (as clichéd as that sounds) and that I need to spend it reading the books I really enjoy and WANT to read. Which also means that if I start a book and am having a hard time getting into it, I no longer feel guilty about stopping and picking up something else -- unless of course I've spent a bundle on it!

The Unbearable Lightness of Being is one of my all-time favorite books too! Along with several Murakamis, namely Norwegian Wood. Wind-Up Bird Chronicles is an excellent read, definitely worth it.

I feel kind of ho-hum about Ensemble, c'est tout, and I can't quite put my finger on why... I enjoyed it, I guess, but I wasn't mad about it.

I love posts about reading!

Betty C. said...

You're right, Bloomer, reading should NOT be about guilt! Neither should blogging, for that matter...

Rachelle said...

Thanks for the tag, Betty! I always love to hear about other people's reading habits and choices. The only other thing I like to talk about as much is food!

I've yet to read the Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, it's on my shelves, and Matthew, if you can read Camus in the original, it's well worth the effort!

Sarita said...

Go read the Wind Up Bird Chronicle. It is one of my favorites! As well as the Unbearable Lightness of Being. That is one I could read over and over.

I am working my way through Ensemble c'est tout right now....I really like it!

spacedlaw said...

I love cooking books too. I have two entire bookshelves dedicated to them in my kitchen area. I even bought one in Portughese once and I don't even speak the language!

I love books by Barbara Kingsolver and Anna Gavalda too.