That list of 10 scifi novels everyone pretends to have read

Oh lists, how I love you. Anyway, apparently there are people going around “pretending” to have read books they have not, in fact, read. Insert something about our increasingly conformist, status-hungry society… you know my themes. The books in this list are apparently Important so I guess people feel like they should have read them, and are too embarrassed to admit they haven’t. Well I’m not. A book you haven’t read is a book you haven’t thrown across the room in disgust or tossed in the donation bin at Goodwill. I’ve read a lot of books, some of them over and over. I’ve even read some of the books on the list. Here is my list:

1.Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson. I’ve not read this. I looked through it at the bookstore and it just didn’t seem like my cup of tea. Still doesn’t.

2. Dune, by Frank Herbert. Oh come on. Who pretends they read this book? I was unaware that having a movie and a miniseries made from a book turns it from a cult classic into a Must Have Read (So Chillax With These Cliff Notes). Anyway, I’ve read it. I even reread it a couple of times. But sometime ago I lost interest in the whole Dune thing. Still, guess what my fave part of the book is: The footnotes, chapter quotes, and appendices just like in a “real” scholarly work only they refer to things inside the novel (as in, they all refer to not real things). I just love that kind of shit. But Jack Vance does them better.

3 Gravity’s Rainbow, by Thomas Pynchon. I have never read this and never will. Pretentious arse-wash.

4. Foundation, by Isaac Asimov. I read this in high school at the behest of a guy friend I ate lunch with. It was okay, but already seemed dated (one of the few female figures, as I recall, was the wife of some official, who the hero promptly won over — he was looking to get funding or something yawn INO — because he gave her some kind of high-tech gizmo that gave instant pretty dresses at the press of a button.

5. Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, by Susanna Clarke. This book was a big disappointment to me. I couldn’t finish it. It started off delightfully, with fully drawn interesting characters and a unique situation. But it bogged down in the middle like nothing I’ve read. This was some serious bog time. Everyone in the book just seemed to stop in their tracks and go off into reminiscing mode. I can’t even say this was a big block of exposition or speechifying or any of the other things that ruin a book. I can’t say what it was actually, that slowed the story down so much that it felt like time really was slowing down. There were just too many scenes of fairies and their captive humans dancing dancing dancing.

6. 1984, by George Orwell. Nope, not read it. I mean to though. I did flip through a copy and found a scene where Winston has found a book with blank pages, and decided to start writing a diary. His first effort is so much like the first blog post of someone who has gotten into blogs for the first time that I laughed and laughed.

7. First and Last Men and Star Maker, by Olaf Stapledon. This is very early scifi and is weird up the wazoo. I’ve read First and Last Men, can’t recall if I read Star Maker. You can find them if you go to Gutenberg e-text, but be prepared, because those old guys had really strange hobbies.

8. The Long Tomorrow, by Leigh Brackett. I’ve never even heard of this thing. I’ve read some other Leigh Brackett stuff. In any case, this would not be some of it, because in general I avoided and still avoid post-Apocalyptic novels. I just can’t. No one who is not my age or older remembers what it was like living under the constant fear that one or the other of the principals involved in the Cold War would eat a piece of bad fish, or break up with their girlfriend, or something, and then PHOOM it’s all over. Also maybe back then it was New and Now but eleventy-umpteen years and novels with interchangeable plots involving wandering across a post-nuke landscape and encountering religious crazies (always Christian or Christian-derived cults) and my phaser is set to “avoid as thou wouldst a band of ravenous radioactive mutants.”

9. Dhalgren, by Samuel R. Delaney. Nnnoooo thanks. I’ve read a couple of Delaney novels (Babel-17 and Tales of Nevèrÿon) but was never attracted to his more arcane stuff.

10. Infinite Jest, by David Foster Wallace. I’ll pass, thanks. For one thing, I was traumatized by reading one of his short stories about a couple who accidentally boil their baby. As for this one, reading the plot is enough to keep me away. I have no patience with the constantly reiterated obsession Americans have with Daddy and celebrity.

Anyway, there you are. Some of them I’ve read, some I haven’t but plan to, some I haven’t and never will.

100 Not Really Best First Lines From Novels

Oh, me and internet lists, here we go again. Anyway, something called “American Book Review” has decided these are 100 of the best first lines of novels. Let’s just say I don’t… entirely agree with all of them. Also, a warning: I haven’t read a lot of these novels. So I will be coming at most of these as someone who is picking up these books for the first time and deciding on whether or not I’ll read on. Let’s go:

Continue reading

Not a judge no not me

Okay, I was reading this website (on Livejournal, so I can’t really call it a “blog” because apparently calling LJ sites “blogs” kills puppies or something) that I enjoy because the writer of it is snarky and fun and then I saw where she said “I am not a book reader” in one of her posts and now I don’t know. My first thought was “Oh, that’s why you have all that time to watch and comment on television shows” but I got into this writer not for that but because she did a great sporking of Twilight the book not the movie. So I’m confused. And eh, I don’t know.

See, one of the reasons I don’t watch tv is I’d get antsy and always need a book on my lap because sometimes the images/words coming at me from the box felt like an assault and I’d need to take refuge in nice, quiet print. Computers are different — the reason I can handle the internet is because, to an extent, I control the information coming at me. I don’t like information overload and television seems like that to me. Also, I’d start reading and lose the thread of the show and that was frustrating in the days before cable and vcrs and endless repeats every day and sometimes twice a day as well as episodes hacked and put on Youtube the minute they appear on screen almost. When I was a kid you had to pay attention because this was the only time you’d get to see this episode until summer, and that’s only if you haven’t been dragged off on vacation to some boring beach by your parents or your sister insists on monopolizing the tv that evening (the evening of the Repeat Of The Show You Missed) so she could watch tennis or some damn thing.

Anyway — I seem to have lost the thread of this — I don’t get how you can say “I’m not a book reader.” I can see saying you don’t like to read books your favorite tv shows are based on or vice-versa (this thing was in a post about some tv show or other). Or you’re dyslexic? But a lot of people with reading disabilities or eye problems do read, they just use audiobooks or e-readers where you can change the font size or something like that. Anyway, I think I’ll just assume she meant she didn’t read books associated with tv shows. For my peace of mind.

Reading and possible future reviews

For some reason WordPress.com kicked me out. It does that periodically, I don’t know why. Or did I accidentally click the log out thing? It’s easy with this laptop touchpad to hit things by accident.

Anyway, I’ve been trying to catch up on my Kindle reading. I found and downloaded a few free e-books and some not so free and will try to get them read and reviewed. Right now I’m working on a light-hearted mystery with slight paranormal overtones, fortunately written for people with a higher reading comprehension level than the usual one assumed for YA readers. So far it’s engaging and fun but there are a few elements that worry me. One: the heroine mentions how she hates rodents. (She’s in a dark basement of a burnt-out building and thinks she hears a rat or something.) I realize that a lot of people, male and female, really do have a rodent-phobia, but it’s become such a hoary old cliché that I can’t believe it still gets used, especially when the character it’s used for is female. I don’t know, it just bugged me. Just once I want to read about a female heroine who has a pet rat, or relaxes when the mysterious noise in the dark cellar is “only a mouse.” There are some other things that annoy me about the story, like the rival boyfriends (current and ex-) who keep trying to “protect” her. Current BF even puts her in a jail cell in one scene (he is a policeman) which elicited from me instant RAEG. So right now I’m hoping the happy end of this thing includes her dumping the guy, or his groveling apology. However, this is an American book so I doubt I’ll get that.

Two non-American works I finished recently were two Jules Verne classics: Mysterious Island and Twenty-Thousand Leagues Under The Sea. I’ll say more about those soon but I thought I’d just mention I am now in love with Captain Nemo. Seriously, he is my fictional dead husband. What’s not to love? Smarter than everyone, afraid of nothing, told the entire world to fuck right off and went to explore the briny deep and unknown places like Antarctica in the submarine he invented himself… Okay, so he went through a kind of weird space for a while with the whole sinking the ships of the British Empire for revenge for losing his kingdom in India, but that doesn’t make him a bad guy. He got better. Marry me, Captain Nemo! I don’t care that you’re not real. In fact, that makes it a perfect match.