Sunday, February 18, 2007

Book recommendations

It's always a bit of a crapshoot when you read a book recommended by someone else. I touched on this before in this post (Jan23-06) where a friend was reading a book by an author I recommended. I anxiously awaited his opinion – but – it never came. I was upset and annoyed. I've come to terms with it, but now I find myself in a similar situation.

For those who don't know me, I love reading. In the past, I'd read anything I could get my hands on; newspapers, magazines; fiction, non-fiction; even the backs of cereal boxes, in a pinch. I read everything from entertaining fluff to philosophy. There were very few books that I could say I absolutely hated. The optimistic side of me could always find something positive in what I read, even if it were a "been there, done that" and don't need to read him again.

As it turns out, I've become a little more selective in my old age. I've developed more interests and seem to have less time; and I get the horrible feeling that I'll never have enough time to read all the great books and authors I want to read; thus necessitating a more directed approach to choosing my reading material. I search out booklists and people's favourites – something I've always done – but now with an added determination. I'm also challenging myself with some authors and tomes that, heretofore, I've been reluctant to tackle.

One such challenge is Thomas Pynchon's, "Gravity's Rainbow". It was highly recommended by people I respect and after some warm-up runs with a few of his earlier works, I plunged in. I miscalculated the concentration needed and floundered, but I persevered. It took me three tries before I could get into it, but I now find myself almost half-way through and quite grateful for my never-give-up stubborn streak. It's been a wild ride through Pynchonland and will comment more when I finish it. But for now at least, I can honestly tell those who recommended this book to me that I'm reading it and like it.


donny said...

I know what you mean about being a little more choosy about the books I eventually pick up. There are after all, so many hours in a day, and so many days in our lives.

Gee did that sound depressing.

Well, having said all that, I realize that it doesn't stop me from buying all the books I don't know if I can get around reading.

ell said...

donny, I can't help myself either. If I eventually read all the books on my shelves, I'll be very happy.

Hay said...

I started to read Gravity's Rainbow a while back, but the way it was written and to many of the words he used were not familiar to me. Perhaps it was because I couldn't concentrate on it or because I don't like using a dictionary when I read, but after 20 pages I wasn't exactly sure what was going on, so I put it away.

I'll look forward to hear what you have to say about it. A good review and I might try again.

ell said...

Hay, I'm not sure you're supposed to know what's going on in the first 20 pages!

I just kept going and tried not to get too analytical about it at that point. Now that it's coming together for me a bit better, I flip back to earlier pages to remind myself of the context of various characters. Not an easy read, by any stretch.

Joy said...

I haven't tried Pynchon but have been curious and will read him soon. I'm interested in reading what you think. After him, I might attempt James Joyce past Dubliners and A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. Ulysses and Finnegan's Wake seem overwhelming. Just listening to Joseph Campbell's tapes about Joyce were hard to understand.