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December 10, 2010

Are You Are What You Read?

These are the books I read for pleasure (I read lots more for research) this year. Do the books you like define you? Would two people with the same tastes in literature naturally get along? That sounds like a stretch, but the bookstores and libraries seem to be full of people looking for their similars. Or is that just my fantasy? I learned a poem by Ogden Nash when I was a boy:
"Boys never make passes,
At girls who wear glasses."
Yet there are folks wearing spectacles, instead of varsity jackets or Barbie outfits, and each would have her/his own list of the volumes that sucked them in temporarily. Or that they dove into willingly. Each escape an adventure. Alley-oop.
A Thru-Hiker’s Heart, Ray Echols
A Walk in the Woods, Bill Bryson
Ambrose Bierce and the Ace of Shoots, Oakley Hall
Ambrose Bierce and the Death of Kings, Oakley Hall
Ambrose Bierce and the One-Eyed Jacks, Oakley Hall
Ambrose Bierce and the Trey of Pearls, Oakley Hall
Beyond the Post-Modern Mind, Huston Smith
Blix, Frank Norris
Confessions of a Barbarian, Edward Abbey
Gutted, Justin Chin
I’m a Stranger Here Myself, Bill Bryson
Into the Wild, Jon Krakauer
Kosovo/Kosova, Mary Motes
Mama Grace, Dana Bagshaw
Mutt and Jeff are the Funniest Guys on Earth, Mutt and Jeff
National Audubon Society Field Guide to California
Negotiating with the Dead, Margaret Atwood
On Teaching and Writing Fiction, Wallace Stegner
Orchid Territory, Mary Motes
Sarah Canary, Karen Joy Fowler
Song-Writers on Song-Writing, Paul Zollo
The Alienist, Caleb Carr
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, Michael Chabon
The Blind Assassin, Margaret Atwood
The Confessions of Max Tivoli, Andrew Sean Greer
The House of Arkhangel’sk (unpublished), Jane Kindred
The Human Line, Ellen Bass
The Optimist’s Daughter, Eudora Welty
The Western Writings of Stephen Crane, Stephen Crane
The Year of Magical Thinking, Joan Didion
The Yellow Wallpaper, Charlotte Perkins Gilman
Wit’s End, Karen Joy Fowler
Writing from the Inside, James D. Houston
So here I am, and here you are. Your list may be longer or better than mine, but it's not the same as mine. My list, my thrills.

Is one a superior person because one reads books? Nah, come on. In fact: DON'T READ ... unless you like to. Then don't let the cotton candy of life keep you away from healthy real food.

Happy trials, Martin

Mutt: Shakespeare walks into a bar and asks the bartender for a beer. "I can't serve you." says the bartender. "You're Bard!"
Jeff: One day an English grammar teacher was looking ill. A student asked, "What's the matter?" "Tense," answered the teacher, describing how he felt. The student paused, then continued, "What was the matter? What has been the matter? What might have been the matter... ?"
Mutt: I used to be a teacher, but found I didn't have enough class.
Jeff: Old students never die, they just get degraded.
Mutt: Old deans never die, they just lose their faculties.
Jeff: Well, yeah, but speaking ill of the dead is a grave mistake.
Mutt: Yes, but as you know the pun is mightier than the sword.
Jeff: And as the great Jedi English teacher said, "metaphors be with you."