Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Books You Hold Dear

This morning I was listening to Joe Donahue on WAMC talk to author Brock Clarke. In discussing Clarke's new book, Exley, they were saying that they have found that they don't fall in love with as many books as they did when they were children and teenagers. They agreed this was a function of getting older.

Sorry, fellows, I'm not sure I agree.  Yes, I remember getting passionate about The Catcher in the Rye, and The Bell Jar, and The Lord of the Rings. But I still fall in love with books. I don't think I fall in love with books any less, but I don't have the time to read and read and read that I had when I was younger. Now I only have time for reading marathons while on vacation, or on a few weekends here and there.

The books that I've gotten passionate about over the past few years are a pretty varied list: Candyfreak, by Steve Almond;  Eat, Pray, Love, by Elizabeth Gilbert; Operating Instructions, by Anne Lamott; A Girl Named Zippy by Haven Kimmel, and The Orchid Thief, by Susan Orleans. Notice anything? All non fiction. I do like fiction, too, but I don't read it as much as I used to. When I was a kid, I went through science fiction by the bucket load--Ray Bradbury, Harlan Ellison, Ursula LeGuin, and Orson Scott Card. I do still love, love, love, Terry Pratchett, who is like tiramisu, in book form.

Joe (I feel like I can call him Joe) and Mr. Clarke also said they were hesitant to re-read their beloved books from long ago, afraid that they wouldn't hold up. I am lucky to be able to talk to kids every day about the books that they read, and so I get to share the excitement that they feel when they start reading a book or author they are crazy about, without having to take the time to re-read the books myself. Thanks, kids!


  1. I LOVE Zippy. From her fabled tail to her desire to sniff gas til she "was retarded", just genius!

  2. The next book is good, too. I haven't tried any of her fiction.

  3. I agree that as we get older, have families, reading takes a back burner to other things on the boil. This summer I read Cormac McCarthy's The Road. It's was the only cover-to-cover, have-nothing-to-do read for the year.

    I found it terribly interesting the reportedly steep decline in fiction readers. I love fiction, and yet I find myself engrossed in memoirs ... David Sedaris, Augusten Burroughs are among some of my favorite writers of late. Others are Zadie Smith and Roald Dahl. And while I've found some fascinating, I've found them confounding as well. "Reading Lolita in Tehran," by Azar Nafisi, for example, seemed more unbelievable to me that anything embellished in the stories of Sedaris or Burroughs.

    If you are interested in local memoir, I highly recommend Amy Biancolli's "House of Holy Fools."

  4. That sounds interesting. Is it possible, too, that we are reading more non-fiction because it's really good? A lot of recent best sellers have been non-fiction.