Thursday, August 23, 2007

The confessions of a moody reader...

Ok, ok, yes, I have plenty to write about other than high heels and other miscellaneous mindless burblings. So here we go...

The WONDERFUL and kind BookFool sent a Books-A-Million gift card my way for graduation, and I decided to put that puppy to good use this morning after my 8am class. BAM was having a buy 2, get one free sale on selected books, and I had every intention of taking them up on the offer. However, as I perused the sale table (which was woefully smaller than I'd expected), nothing really jumped out at me. There were memoirs by Augusten Burroughs, plenty of chick lit, and only a few "literary fiction" offerings. The one book that caught my interest was The Know-It-All: One Man's Humble Quest to Become the Smartest Person in the World. It's about the author's attempt to read his way through all the volumes of the Encyclopedia Britannica. A quick flip through the book revealed an entertaining enough read, but I decided, since it hadn't really grabbed me by the nosehairs, to put it back and attempt to Mooch it.

With no luck at the sale table, I began at the very first book in the Literature and Fiction section in search of the perfect books to add to my already wavering piles. One of my first finds was a display of Oxford classics that did grab me by the nosehairs. While I've begun to mooch most of my classics, there are occasionally some books that I still have a hard time getting hold of. Recently I had my heart set on a copy of O Pioneers!, by Willa Cather, but the sender never came through.

After browsing through the classics, I decided to limit my choices until I was done perusing the other fiction. I settled on a copy of *20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (Enriched Classics), because 1) I've never read it 2) the little bit I read grabbed me 3) it sounded fun, and it's one of very few classics that I've never even contemplated picking up.

A quick trip through the rest of the Lit/Fiction section didn't yield any results, so I decided to go with this sudden urge to read classics by picking up a very inexpensive copy of O Pioneers!. It's a Mariner Books edition, a beautiful trade paperback, and it was only $7.00! I'll definitely be picking up more of the Mariner classics for such great prices, and they're pretty. What's not to love?

My sudden itch for classics has gotten me thinking (so rare). I'm not sure if it's a byproduct of my recent graduation and lack of current class taking, but every time I look at a piece of fiction that's not 1) classic 2) written by one of my favorite authors (Auster, Hustvedt, Roth, etc.), I feel sort of a gaping lack of interest. Admittedly, and quite sadly, despite my two degrees in Literature, I feel woefully underread in the classics. I'll be the first to admit that I'm a mood reader--a finicky, picky, stubborn mood reader. I can't even tell you how many books I didn't finish in college. I got a little better in grad school, but I should still probably be ashamed of myself for all the reading I didn't do. As a result, I now feel the urge to catch up.

Part of my renewed interest in the classics also comes as a result of a Yahoo discussion group I recently joined: Thematic Classic Reading Challenge. This group is particularly perfect for me given that picky reading nature I mentioned. I continually fail to read books on time for book groups because it feels too darn much like an assignment. At Thematic Classics the only guidelines for reading are monthly themes. Members are free to interpret those themes as they like and pick a book that goes along according to their own logic. Voila! A reading group I might actually READ FOR!

If you're feeling the itch to read a few classics, come on over and join us. So far we've had a great time, and voting is currently in motion for our first theme.

Listening: "Supermassive Black Hole" --Muse
Watching: CNN
Should be: Writing freelance articles!!!

*This isn't the exact edition that I bought, but Amazon doesn't want to recognize the ISBN


  1. Good luck with your Classic reading. I know it's been good for me. You can't help patting yourself on the back when you get through books like War and Peace and Crime and Punishment. Or even some shorter ones!

  2. I think I'm gonna tackle something big and Russian after I whip up on Wuthering Heights. That book has been my archnemesis for years, so I can't wait to put it in the "read" pile. :)

  3. You've reminded me I really need to get back to The Brothers Karamazov. Like you and House of the Seven Gables, I've started it, really liked it, and somehow just never finished. Same with An American Tragedy (I *heart* Dreiser--have you read Sister Carrie?)

    Also I saw you're listening to Muse--hooray, one of my favorite bands! Although Supermassive Black Hole didn't quite blow me away the way Absolution did, it's great and I love it. They're coming to Dallas in September and I am uber excited.

  4. Jen, I LOOOOVE Sister Carrie! I read it for a class a while back, and now I would count it among my favorites. In fact, I just added An American Tragedy to my BookMooch list yesterday!

    I've just become a fan of Muse and the song Supermassive Black Hole really grabbed me. I'll definitely check out the Absolution album. :)

  5. I think it's always good to stick with the classics. I got Everyman off the 3 for 2 table. And, get this - this is how much trouble I'm having with concentration - when I decided to go ahead and go for the 3 for 2, I snatched up the three books very quickly. Apparently, I didn't look. I got the book BESIDE one of the titles I intended to pick up. I can't believe I did that. My husband, however, said he was not the slightest bit surprised. "You're a mess." And, sure enough, I went to pieces this week - hubby has done the chauffeuring duties for two days. He says what I do is "insane" and "miserable". Too bad he'll have forgotten by next week. LOL

    Have fun reading. BTW, I've read 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. It's a very slow read, but I learned a lot about geography, believe it or not. I'm glad I read it.

  6. We read Wuthering Heights last year. It wasn't what I thought, but I'm glad we read it.

  7. P.S. We read An American Tragedy last year as well. I liked it but it kind of went on and on and on. I hear Sister Carrie is better. I have it in my stacks. Someday I'll get to it.

  8. BF, I'm glad to hear hubby has taken on some of the duties. You've had a grueling schedule that makes me tired (and hotttt) just thinking about it.

    I'm looking forward to starting 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea...and we'll see how far I get with it. lol

    Kristy, I'm actually enjoying it this time around (surprise!). Hopefully that feeling will continue and I'll actually finish this time.

    And I haven't heard a whole heck of a lot about An American Tragedy...just that it' one of Dreiser's most famous. I really really enjoyed Sister Carrie. I hope you'll give it a try and that you like it more than American Tragedy.

  9. I'm reading The Know-It-All right now and it's a VERY entertaining read.
    I'd recommend it.


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