The Book's The Thing

In the case of good books, the point is not to see how many of them you can get through, but rather how many can get through to you.
~ Mortimer Adler

True confession time: I am the equivalent of a literary junk food junkie. I read stuff with no socially redeeming value at all. Either the cliche-dly(Is that a word? It is now.) named “chick lit” or more recently, the wretchedly titled “cozy” murder mysteries. (I have no damn idea why those things are called "cozies." 'Tain't nothing cozy about damsels finding dead bodies on a regular basis.) All disposable, all readily available (there’s a reason I’m an Amazon Prime member) and all imminently forgettable. Honestly, I couldn’t tell you the plot or title of the last ten books I’ve read. They provide me with a nice simple uncomplicated way to slip into that bedtime/sleep mode. The chick lit leaves me with that “aw” feeling one gets at a happy, romantic ending. And the murder mysteries always wrap up nicely, with the detective/snoop always identifying the culprit before she herself ends up in too much peril. Hooray.

While my current literary choices are nothing to be proud of, at least they’re a step better than that of my good friend, who reads what I call “bodice rippers” and what her husband calls “women porn.” I draw the line at reading stereotypical romance novels with heroines named Destiny and heroes who must spend more time on their hair than I do and medieval settings and supernatural shit and other equally irritating nonsense.

I do have standards, you know. You’d never find such ridiculousness in a Jackie Collins novel.

I think you are all going to have fun with the characters -- especially my Russian hookers, who I had so much fun writing!
~ Jackie Collins

Realizing that the ingestion of such literary tripe is probably turning my brain into a vast wasteland, I made a New Year’s resolution to Read Better Quality Books. Sure, it takes a bit more effort to process something of substance than something of fluff -- but just as fiber is better for you than cotton candy, so are books with a point of view and purpose.

I’m starting off by reading Barack Obama’s The Audacity of Hope. And midway through the first chapter, I can tell that this was a good place for me to begin. Not only is it well-written and entertaining, it has something to say. The author has points he’s making, opinions he’s sharing. And, as a lovely serendipity, I happen to share, at least from what I’ve read, those same perspectives. So this should prove to be good for me on a lot of levels.

I’ve also just picked up A Royal Affair: George III and His Scandalous Siblings, which looks to be a bit of a real life historical soap opera. I figure I can get my fill of the zesty stuff and learn a bit about history in the process. Yay!

Also on my nightstand are L.A. Confidential and The Black Dahlia, both of which came highly recommended to me. I’m kind of working up to reading them, because I want to cleanse my palette from all the fictional junk I’ve been reading so I can fully appreciate the writing, story and nuances of Mr. Ellroy. I’m rather excited about these two, because it’s been a while since I’ve read what could be considered good literature.

And my dog-eared copy of One Hundred Years of Solitude sits patiently on my bookshelf, complete with markings from both undergrad and graduate school classes. Might wait until the weather’s a bit more balmy to indulge in that symbolic treasure of magic realism.

The great thing about a resolution like this is not only is it attainable, it’s painless, entertaining and actually good for me. I’m not sure, though, if I’ll be able to find people in my regular everyday life with whom I can discuss Senator Obama’s book. I was reading it at the hair salon today, and got some really interesting looks as people tried to figure out what the book jacket was representing. Oh well. That’s not going to be a deterrent. If anything, it’s an incentive to keep on reading.

I can feel my brain thanking me already.

Read the best books first, or you may not have a chance to read them at all.
~ Henry David Thoreau 

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