|Four Books, causing some serious Sophie's Choice moments for me
||[Aug. 16th, 2011|12:06 pm]
I mean, you know what my worst nightmare is? Being stuck anyplace with a book. I will hurt my back carrying books on a trip out of fear that I'll run out of something to read -- a week's vacation is about 5 books. I'll probably only read four, but what if I don't really LIKE one of them? (Yeah, yeah, Kindle, e-books, great for business travel, but for vacation? One of the few times I BUY a book I haven't read yet. Because it's got to be able to withstand having its pages dog-eared, drinks spilled on it, being used as a coaster, its spine cracked and several face-downs on beaches, dirt, wet grass and car floors. |
No amount of time is too short to start panicking that I don't have something to read. I have read SHAMPOO BOTTLES and CEREAL BOXES just to allay the panic.
So, this, narrowing down to four?
I went with books that opened doors to whole new ways of thinking about something.
1. The Oz Books. Not “Wizard of”, but all the rest of them. Oh, I wanted to be Ozma, even though she had a horrid name and even looked a little big like Marie Osmond, which was creepy. But summers, laying on my bed, the sun coming in through the windows, opening up packages of Smarties and lining them up in the spine of the book, slowing working my way through the book and the candy. It was the perfect refuge for a geeky, chubby, mostly-friendless brainiac of a girl – an entré to a whole world where things were different, where there were whole systems, whole other ways of living/being/imagining. I wanted to create my OWN. The Narnia books tapped that feeling of wonder and excitement, as did Shari Tepper’s Grass and China Mieville’s Perdido Street Station, but they came later, so the Oz books, while not nearly as perfect or even wonderful, have to get the slot. Plus there were Smarties. And I can’t eat a Smartie without thinking of Jack Pumpkinhead or Shaggy Man. Winkies!
2. The Silver Palate Cookbooks. Flavors. Flavors. Oh, my goodness, flavors! I grew up with a lot of wonderfully cooked food, but very basic – roast piece of meat, flavored with salt and pepper, vegetables boiled, seasoned with salt and pepper. Sauces were either tomato sauce or gravy. So, it was like a gateway into an unexplored country. I have hundreds of books and most of them are better – from a technical and practical standpoint – but these packed the most punch and were the springboard. Here I won’t mention any others, because the list is too damn long.
3. Stone Age Present. The first evolutionary psychology book I read. Some flaws? The book? Or the discipline itself? Yes. But really opened a whole window of thought around evolution as something that affected more than just morphology. Honorable Mention to Wilson and Holldobler’s The Ants, who cracked open the door to the complexity of a single tiny critter and flamed my natural affinity for critters into a full-on blaze that includes even gross critters. Parasite Rex by Zimmer would have taken that place (who doesn’t love TAPEWORMS!?!) but I read that later.
4. The Stand. The Shining. I don’t know. Four is a stupid number. But for me to rip through a really long book, it has to hold me, be interesting, be compelling and if it’s horror, that’s even better. I have to give Mr. King credit for, on a page for page basis, the writer who has held my attention for the longest amounts of time. Books aren’t always about being high-brow. Ripping good read is a worthy category and yeah, I will join my friends -- won’t even date someone who doesn’t love books and reading. But also am highly suspect of someone who’s only got Lit’rature on their shelves. You need books in your life where you want to lock the front door, unplug the phone (heh, I’m old. For you youngsters, that would be turn your phone off) and don’t come out until you’ve finished the damn thing. And I’ve held onto this post for a while – what, no Christopher Moore, for his wacky characters? No Bill Bryson for making me love travel writing, which I would have sworn was impossible? No Interview with a Vampire? Powers’ Stress of Her Regard? But I have to draw a line. And I have read The Stand and the Shining more than once – which is really saying something, for me.