Blogging Has Changed My Life: Or How It Has Made Me an Even More Obnoxious Correspondent

August 10, 2009

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.

  1. Reply

    Roz, I too dislike book groups. What’s most bothersome to me is that I always have a stack of books ongoing, and don’t need another book to be compelled to read just for the sake of discussion.

    I had David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest next to my bed for months, and could never get past the first 10 pages. Eventually sold it in my bookstore. Sometimes I regret it. I SHOULD read it after all.

    On my bed table now are The Art Spirit (Henri), Libra (Dellilo), Undaunted Courage (Ambrose), Home Work (Kahn), and Drinking the Rain (Schulman). With all of this crazy reading going on who needs a book discussion?

    By the way, I meet with 4 woman friends every 2 months. Sometimes we talk about books, sometimes life. We call ourselves the Big 5.

  2. Reply

    I have nothing to say about book clubs, never having belonged to one, but after reading your post I do feel a bit better about the fact that I have approximately 30 barely started or not started at all books sitting around the house. And every day I hear about some other book I am tempted to buy!

    • Roz
    • August 11, 2009

    anna maria, just reading this week’s New Yorker I have an additional 10 books to add to my list for books to bring home!

    • Christina Trevino.
    • August 11, 2009

    Roz, I have stacks of books that I want to read right away. I have bookshelves full of of books that are waiting to be read. I have all kind of books. I read constantly, I always have a book with me, so if I have to wait in line, wait at an office, wait for a light to change (just kidding), I read; but am afraid I will leave too many books unread when I die.

    • Roz
    • August 11, 2009

    Don’t worry about leaving too may books unread—they’ll be passed on to someone else to read. Just be sure you’re happy with how you’re using your time.

    (If I’m going to be someplace for awhile I’ll add a book to my pack, but mostly I just have my journal and I sketch when I’m in line or waiting at an office. Consequently I have a lot of sketches of people waiting in lines and offices!)

  3. Reply


    I’m a mass of contradictions. I can’t cope with the idea of book club but am always happy to recommend books and love reading the reviews of others. I must have stacks of unread books in the house or else I throw a wobbly even though I’ve given up reading novels unless a friend has written them!

    Now I mostly read art books which are great because you don’t have to read them in the order they are written and you are allowed to use them as text books and reference books and get them out for a specific purpose and then put them back again.

    Plus I get to hyperlink a lot afterwards which satisfies another need!

    PS I loved the way the Pentel Pocket Brush Pen was identified in capitals! 😀

    • Roz
    • August 12, 2009

    Katherine, Hyperlinking is so satisfying isn’t it!

    The all caps for the PPBP was in part because it rate it and also, two of the women getting the note aren’t artists and the other two use the PPBP and it was one more way to be obnoxious. See, I told you…

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