Book Fashion

I love books. Loving them is one of my first memories. My garage is filled with books none less than 20 years old and some more than 400 years old. My house is filled with books. My son is 5 and has his own library and loves books as much as I do. This is the one area of my life where I am not picky. I will read anything. When I see someone reading in a coffee shop. on a bus, in a waiting room I have to know what they are reading. I collect art and craft books. Oh hell I am such a liar I collect all kinds of books.

My mother is an avid reader, she used to read while cooking, occasionally getting so lost in a book she would take a pot from the stove and place it in the fridge. I have the same ability. When I am reading, I am in the book. I am living the book. Non-readers have no idea the drug they are missing out on. I believe that good readers breed good readers. If you do not read you cannot appreciate the languages you love, for literature and poetry is the highest expression of linguistic passion.

In 1990 I became really ill. I was hospitalized for more than a month. During that time I started going blind in one eye. The loss of my vision was gradual but four years ago I lost all vision in my left eye. My eyes are also genetically different. They are completely different in color. It is not visible to the naked eye but I have seen photos and they are like sisters, similar but very different. At my last eye exam a week ago I was told that my blind eye now has a cataract on it but that I should not worry about it. Unfortunately, and I am sorry if this is bad news that you did not know about, but when you hit 40 your vision starts deteriorating. Very few people escape Presbyopia, it is just part of getting older. If you have two eyes it can be corrected by wearing lenses, one to see far and one to see near. That is not an option for me. I spend a lot of time on the computer so my eye gets very tired, so tired that I could no longer read. I discovered Audiobooks and my life was changed. I still say I read but really I am read to. It makes no difference to me. I buy fewer novels but my love for visual media and old books will never end.

I read everything. It has to be really rotten for me to not give it a bash, so I read Harry Potter, Dan Brown, every murder mystery I can lay my hands on, lots of philosophy and popular science when I get time. Obviously some books are written by writers that really have a gift for writing. Then there are authors who have a real knack for telling a story. I don’t criticize, I do however rave endlessly about my favorites, here are just a few:

The Historian – Elizabeth Kostova

Four Letters of Love – Niall Williams

The Tale of Murasaki: A Novel – Liza Crihfield Dalby

Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden

The Reader – Bernard. Schlink

I am stopping at five, I loved the Stieg Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy Bundle: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played with Fire, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest, Complete Vampire Chronicles (Interview with the Vampire, The Vampire Lestat, The Queen of the Damned, The Tale of the body Thief) and many, many more.

Recently I have notices a little buzz about a Trilogy called Fifty Shades of Grey. You will notice it is not linked. I started reading it last night. Now The Twilight Saga Complete Collection was not exactly a contender for the Booker Prize neither was any of Dan Brown’s books but Twilight was a good story. Dan Brown is not a bad writer and his stories are interesting enough. I love a good story but really the language has to be tolerable.

Fifty shades of Grey is awful, honestly I have read bodice rippers which were written with at least a sense of story and conversation. I would like to quote from a Amazon customer review By DS from LA:

Thanks to the many other perturbed readers who have shared their own choices of the most annoyingly overused phrases in this masterpiece. Following up on their suggestions with my ever-useful Kindle search function, I have discovered that Ana says “Jeez” 81 times and “oh my” 72 times. She “blushes” or “flushes” 125 times, including 13 that are “scarlet,” 6 that are “crimson,” and one that is “stars and stripes red.” (I can’t even imagine.) Ana “peeks up” at Christian 13 times, and there are 9 references to Christian’s “hooded eyes,” 7 to his “long index finger,” and 25 to how “hot” he is (including four recurrences of the epic declarative sentence “He’s so freaking hot”). Christian’s “mouth presses into a hard line” 10 times. Characters “murmur” 199 times and “whisper” 195 times (doesn’t anyone just talk?), “clamber” on/in/out of things 21 times, and “smirk” 34 times. Christian and Ana also “gasp” 46 times and experience 18 “breath hitches,” suggesting a need for prompt intervention by paramedics. Finally, in a remarkable bit of symmetry, our hero and heroine exchange 124 “grins” and 124 “frowns”… which, by the way, seems an awful lot of frowning for a woman who experiences “intense,” “body-shattering,” “delicious,” “violent,” “all-consuming,” “turbulent,” “agonizing” and “exhausting” orgasms on just about every page.

I would love to know how many times Anastasia used the word “Holy …”  I’m sure more than a bishops conference in Las Vegas but not one of the Holy’s where Holy.

I used to have a 50 page rule, if after 50 pages you are not knee deep into a book put it down and stop reading. Life is too short to read books that do not appeal to you. With Audio it is a bit more complicated. I am one “holy crap” away from saying enough.

There is no accounting for popular culture, I do however think that it reflects the lowest common denominator of taste and discernment. It is effortless, if you find the magic ingredient you will have your dreaded 15 minutes and you might make a fortune. When we look back on it, it is almost always sentimentally. Like Fashion what seems reasonable and gorgeous today may be seen as ridiculous and pasé 20 years from now. However, a dress, or coat, that is well designed will be  as beautiful as Beethoven Sonata or a book by Virginia Woolf 100 years or longer from now.

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One thought on “Book Fashion

  1. Pingback: Confessions of a naughty reader « "Say, did you see?"

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