I actually finished 4 books this weekend, and I’ll have lots of books done to turn in at the library at the end of this week. Currently I am reading The Shelf: Adventures in Extreme Reading, by Phyllis Rose. This lady is doing a reading challenge very similar to what I am doing, though she is only reading one shelf of her library. She is, however, going more in depth with her reading, hunting down more translations of the Lermontov books she’s checked out so she can get a better idea of what the books are about and why they are so popular with young Russian men, watching all the old films of Phantom of the Opera and reading fan pages online before reading Leroux’ Phantom of the Opera, etc. I actually do a lot of similar outside research while I am reading- I always look up relevant posts on tumblr and pinterest, and read about whatever history and cultural stuff catches my interest- but I don’t tend to read multiple translations of the same book.
Besides Rose’s book, I am also reading 2 fiction books right now, and I’ll be starting another one soon. I just finished reading Flight, by Sherman Alexie, which reminded me very much of Jenni Fagan’s book The Panopticon. Both of these books are the sort of ‘YA’ novels I would have benefitted from as a teenager. They portray life as I understood it, where kids are pretty much on their own, the leftover kids whose adults are unable or unwilling to act like responsible guardians, let alone loving parents. These books are rarely labelled ‘YA’ because they are gritty and harsh and use cuss words and talk about drugs and violence. But, for kids who grew up in a harsh world, the YA books where teens spend their days worrying about dating and dances and dresses seem so fake that it is hard to swallow the idea that those books resonate with anyone. Surely everyone cn see how silly such books are? Well, in fact for many teens dates, clothes, grades and socializing are the very fabric of life, and they can’t imagine that anyone finds stories like Alexie’s Flight or Fagan’s Panopticon realistic. I suppose that’s a good thing for those teens, but for the rest of us the gritty stories where kids somehow find ways to survive and even get out of their nightmare lives without killing or being killed- those are books I should have been reading as a kid.
The rest of my reading is maybe a bit less controversial, though I tend to pick out books that deal with ‘real’ problems rather than romances and ‘women’s lit’. I’m reading The Diary of a Madman still, a book of short stories bt Nikolai Gogol. And, I just started Farewell to the King, by Pierre Schoendoerffer, which is set in Borneo during WW2. The book I’m starting this evening – Collision, by Jeff Abbott, another book-version-of-action-movie novel with tough guys and guns and lots of action. This genre is just the ‘male’ version of the romance genre, and in both there is a stock list of elements, guns and chase scenes and captures and escapes and damsels in distress in one, stormy first meetings and conflicted attraction and kissing and sex and a conflict that threatens to curtail further sex and then more sex in the other. In between, in the good ones, there is a plot and settings and characters worth reading. Does Collision have the good stuff, or is it just another rendition of the stock action book? We shall just have to see.
What are you reading? Anything good?