Monday, August 20, 2007

Book meme on the 'Fly

He didn't actually tag me, but I'm the pushy sort, so I grabbed it and ran:

What are you reading right now?
I'd like to say I'm reading Summa Theologica, but really, I just have it out so I can try and convince myself I'm reading it. In fact, I'm not reading anything new, but I am re-enjoying Thomas Howard's Splendor in the Ordinary before I give it to my mom. (I have my own copy, but the one for her is in the car, so it's closer.)

Do you have any idea what you’ll read when you’re done with that?
Probably not Aquinas, alas. I'm waiting on a shipment from Powell Books in Portland (which is where I hope to go when I die) that has an out-of-print Donald Westlake book and a couple by Orson Scott Card. I'll probably read the Westlake first; it's called Dancing Aztecs and it's the funniest he's ever done, I think. I last read it about twelve years ago.

As for first-time reads, I'm really looking forward to Rachel and Leah, which is the third in Card's "Women of Genesis" series. I already have Sarah, haven't yet read Rebekah, and the third was the only one that was available cheap at Powell's. Card is a devout Mormon, and his retellings of Old Testament stories bear that out, but if you ever get a chance, you have to put that aside and read Stone Tables. It's the best Exodus rendition I've ever seen, bar none.

What magazines do you have in your bathroom right now?
My wife has whatever the current issue of Sunset is, and I have a few re-re-re-read books lying around. We're not really magazine people, as we (okay, I) tend to sign up for subscriptions and forget to pay them.

What’s the worst thing you were ever forced to read?
I forced myself to read The Da Vinci Code to see what all the yelling was about, and it sucked like a White House intern. Bad writing, bad plotting, and enough historical howlers to make me chew off my leg to get away from it. I finished it, but when I tried to read the prequel, Angels and Demons, I just couldn't do it. I not only put the book down but actually punted it across the room when Brown mentioned in passing, that Copernicus had been executed by the Catholic Church. Really. It wasn't an element in the story, mind you; it was just background, in an everybody-knows tone. Had the man some tinge of letters or of wit, he could easily have found out that Copernicus died at the age of 70, retired from teaching astronomy on the Church's payroll. That was the last time I tried to read something by Dan Brown.

What’s the one book you always recommend to just about everyone?
I'm a huge fan of Lewis' The Great Divorce, and I've been known to recommend it to strangers on the sidewalk. Thomas Howard's On Being Catholic is one I like to recommend, too, but it's harder to find.

Admit it, the librarians at your library know you on a first name basis, don’t they?
Yes, but it's a small town. Mostly, they know my oldest daughter, who used to hang out there after school just about every day when she was little. (And became the first girl to climb onto the library roof, I learned later.)

Is there a book you absolutely love, but for some reason, people never think it sounds interesting, or maybe they read it and don’t like it at all?
Several. George MacDonald Fraser's Flashman books are a source of continual delight to me, yet nobody else ever seems interested in them. A couple of others by the same author go begging as well. But the one book I've never, ever been able to get someone to read is Manly Wade Wellman's short-story collection John the Balladeer. (The whole thing is online here, if anybody's interested.) Wellman created an entire mythology out of Appalachian folklore, inserted a soft-spoken hero, and made magic such as I've seldom seen on a page. The speech cadences, the resurrected legends, all of it is so addictive that I can't help talking like the characters after I've been reading them. Yet somehow nobody else ever gets caught up in them.

Do you read books while you eat? When I can get away with it. I have a big family, so reading tends to be on stolen time.
While you bathe? This sounds silly, but at six foot three, I don't fit into the bathtub. And reading in the shower has proven disastrous in the past.
While you watch movies or TV? Sometimes I watch my wife's shows with half an eye while reading.
While you listen to music? Can't concentrate when I do. I'm like a poster child for adult ADD.
While you’re on the computer? Not really. Although my computer chair is the only place to sit in our bedroom, so I'll alternate sometimes.
While you’re having sex? If I ever really, really wanted a skull fracture, that might be an efficient way to get one. (Who on earth stuck that question in here?)
While you’re driving? In Moses Lake? We never have enough traffic backed up for me to do that. Although I confess I used to in Seattle, twenty-some years ago.

When you were little, did other children tease you about your reading habits?
Boy howdy, did they ever. In Little League, I used to take a book into the outfield with me, which affected my popularity with my teammates no end. In fifth grade, I dodged every bit of schoolwork, while reading pretty much the entire contents of five (yes, five) sets of encyclopedias. Not cover to cover, but cross-referencing from subject to subject like you can do with mouse clicks on Wikipedia today.

What’s the last thing you stayed up half the night reading because it was so good you couldn’t put it down?
Empire, by Orson Scott Card. Not his best, but still better than most of what's out there.

I'm not going to tag anyone either. If you take it up on your own, let me know inthe comments.

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