Read Lots Of Books
I probably read ten or so books a year, not that many. If I started when I was ten and read until I'm ninety, I guess that's eight hundred books or so. Not a small number, but miniscule compared to the number of books one would like to read. Each time I pick up a book, I'm symbolically putting down thousands. If you want to live that kind of paranoid life. I should count them though, or else I might be a little more generous in my own opinion of myself (a writer, after all) than the actuality implies.
I read an article that said the average intellectual, whatever that is, reads only five books a year, whereas a hundred years ago the average intellectual read fifty books a year. Intellectuals haven't gotten dumber (and I don't think this implies that the more books you read the more intellectual you are), it's just that now books are competing with movies, CDs, television, magazines, telephone calls, etc, and now also with webpages, video games, etc. And they're losing. Some people might say it's because the world is declining, but it's most likely just that they're not as successful at entertaining as these new things. And it's always been about entertainment. What will your eight hundred books be?
Books I Like Enough To Recommend:
Books I Wouldn't Recommend:
Books I Never Finished:
Total Count: 12 finished books, 5 unfinished. And only 3 and a half months to go.
I finished this book last weekend. I read it because I saw that everyone else was talking about it, and had been talking about it, and it had a neat cover. What finally did it though was that I saw Ben Brown had read it, and I got competitive--mostly because I don't like it when it appears that people I know (however distantly) are more "well read" than I, even though it's a plain fact that I'm a really slow reader and most of the books I say I've read were never actually finished. And that competitive spirit was only fueled by the fact that Zadie Smith herself is only a year older than myself, and I have only just begun writing a book. Inadequacy, guilt, and low self-esteem were the primary factors in my decision, then. I read a couple interviews with her and they were interesting. She talked about how she doesn't like writing workshops and other writers because everything always feels like a self-help session, when really writing workshops, and writing itself, should be the exact opposite: self-destructive. And she said something else about nothing in the book being autobiographical. That the Smiths could never live up to the Jones'. She's a Smith, they're the Jones. Good ol' Archibald Jones.
The book itself is a little too long, I think. Or at least, I felt most intimidated by her at the beginning at the end. The whole time I was reading it I was thinking, "Yeah, I can do that" when I thought I could do that and, "Well, I couldn't do that, but I wouldn't want to because..." and then I'd come up with a lame excuse whenever she did something a little better than I think I could. I liked the end, not because any of the resolutions were that meaningful, but just because of all the loose ends that came together. It's easy to create a world where all kinds of interesting things happen, and it's difficult to bring a purpose (either plotwise, theme-wise, or otherwise) to the story at the end. She did a good job I think. And in the interviews, she said that she was ready to write something completely different next, which I will definitely read.