Every so often I have dinner with 4 other women, ostensibly to have dinner and a chat and catch up. (I like to think of these meetings as opportunities to have dog time because there are dogs involved.) Originally we set out to have a book club—something I loathe, but one of the women makes great lasagna so I'm powerless to resist.
Perhaps I hate book groups because it brings to mind the parts of graduate school I didn't like, reports and pontification, instead of helpful information on how to assimilate "Jude the Obscure" into you thought process so you can continue on your happy trail!
And it adds an element missing from graduate school, untrained readers—people who actually enjoy books because they simply enjoy them, not because of all the characteristics a life of study teaches you to look out for. This could be refreshing, but since I have been reading books "professionally" since I was a child it's simply annoying that people don't have the same vocabulary to discuss. And this isn't to say I don't enjoy books, I do, I wallow in them all the time, but I'm talking about the discussion of books right now. (I have simply never been able to read a book without a critical eye. I remember in second grade when the teacher would read Raggedy Ann and Andy books to us before we went home for lunch, I would hang back, narrowly missing my bus, to query her on various plot points and inconsistent character points between the various books in the series.)
All this said, books are part of our experience, the stuff we take in and can't shake off (like "Jude the Obscure") and the best of books do color how we see and react to the world and how we make our place in it. Sometimes, in moments of stress, they help us cope. "Farhenheit 451" doesn't just help us remember the temperature at which paper burns, it asks us, "which book are you?" and what type of world do you want to live in and what type of person do you want to be? Best to think about all these things in advance of need.) So for a group of women I like to want to talk about books, well then, if lasagna is on offer, I'm going to comply.
And, in deference to all our busy schedules we no longer try to read a set book. Instead we talk about the books we are reading—a sort of general recommendation to each other, making a case for the wonderful book we just put down.
At this last dinner a couple weeks ago the titles flew fast and furiously and promises to send a "list" were exchanged. And it was in the execution of the promise that I realized how blogging has changed my life and made me an even more obnoxious (previously not thought possible) correspondent.
As evidence, and for your amusement, I provide exhibit A, below, the email I sent to the four women, long after I had received their own concise and to the point missives. It seems I have exchanged my verbose explanations of the "why" of a predilection for something, for a cross-reference to even more information. The internet is like a drug for those of us who love cross-references or footnotes. The whole world can be one massive footnote, like a Flann O'Brien novel. Nirvana.
Sorry this is so late in coming over, but I have been away from the computer much of the week. The following are books I'm currently reading or just finished, in no particular order.
Wm. Kent Krueger mysteries, just finished "Red Knife." Start with the first and work your way through if you decide to go for them. Set in Northern MN. Skip the non-Cork O'Connor mystery.
Louise Penny Mysteries, "Still Life" is first and I'm on the second. Some quirky bits in her writing, but I'm OK with them for the characters.
P.J. Tracy, "Monkeewrench." Very well done mystery.
"Badlands Saloon," novel with illustrations (not a graphic novel) by Jonathan Twingley—just starting.
"French Milk," a graphic novel by Lucy Knisley, very fun, just started. Young girl goes to France for several weeks with her mom and she illustrates the trip with the PENTEL POCKET BRUSH PEN.
Which I use all the time e.g., Gert, Adam Goldberg.
"Eleven," short stories by Patricia Highsmith, rereading.
"My Life in France," Julia Child with Alex Prud'homme—next on my list, and table.
Two books by Lars Jonsson the bird painter. Read my review on my blog.
I'm pretending to read "Infinite Jest" by David Foster Wallace, because everyone is supposed to read his books.
Charles Reid, Painting by Design (I've read all his others I believe, see the post about the others.)
A book on the Pre-Raphaelites, see my blog post with details about the exhibit and the book.
There are two romances there too, to read so Linda and I can discuss them, but I won't bother with titles as I got the impression no one would pick them up.
I also have a book by a Disney artist, but I can't find that right now, which is sad because I was going to write a review about it on my blog.
You're all intelligent and well-read ladies. Check out the contest Coffee House and the Loft et al. are holding. If you win a prize let me know!
The stack is deep, I'd better get back to reading!
Now I ask you, would you continue to feed lasagna to such a friend? And by "pretending to read" I mean that David Foster Wallace's book has been on the table for months and I pick it up and read the first paragraph and then put it down, simply because everyone has told me how brilliant it all is, and perhaps I would rather discover that for myself, but not now, not today. I have more hyper-linking and crossreferencing to do.