A reading meme!

The wonderfully talented Ella has tagged me for a meme, for which I am grateful, as I would like to post this evening, but am also feeling a little tired from the 46-mile ride I went on today, as well as the three-mile walk I took later, so my previous plan to post on The Math Gene seems like a bit too much work.  A meme is perfect.

What kind of book are you most comfortable reading? I love reading nonfiction, but I’m most comfortable with novels.  If I have the chance to read more than one book in a day, I’ll pick up the nonfiction first, and then turn to the novel as a treat.  I’ll usually read in a novel before I head to bed as a way to unwind from the day.  As for what kind of novel, I read more contemporary ones than ones from earlier centuries, although I love those too and am devoted to them.  In fact, I’d like to think of myself as someone who reads primarily in earlier centuries, but that’s just not true, especially these days.  I generally turn to literary fiction, although I can get bored by it — contemporary literary fiction at least.  When I’m bored by it, it’s time to turn to an earlier century.

What kind of book do you love to hate? I love to hate self-help books because I pretend to be superior to them, but the truth is that I’m not superior to them at all.  I have benefited from some of them and I’m sure I could benefit from others.  I just pretend otherwise.  I don’t like being this kind of snob … I genuinely love to hate religious self-help, though, at least of the conservative Christian kind, The Purpose Driven Life kind.  I hate Christian apocalyptic fiction too.  And I love to hate those personalized Bibles — the women’s Bible, the men’s Bible, the couple’s Bible, children’s Bibles, the Complete Personalized Promise Bible on Financial Increase.

What was the last book you surprised yourself by liking? I’m going to copy Ella on this one and say Ursula Le Guin’s Left Hand of Darkness.  I haven’t read much science fiction, but this book convinced me I’m missing out on some good stuff.  I’ve recently taken up reading lots of mysteries, and I’ve enjoyed it a lot.

What was the last book you surprised yourself by disliking? Elizabeth Bowen’s Death of the Heart.  Bowen seemed like just my kind of author — psychological, character-driven, domestic.  I thought I’d like her as I like Henry James or Edith Wharton.  Instead I found the book dull and confusing.

What book would you take with you if you suspected you might be marooned in the near future? If we’re talking about the really near future, and the marooning wasn’t going to be long, something along the lines of being stuck in an airport for a few hours, I’d take along Sarah Waters’s Fingersmith, as I’m deep into it and don’t want to quit.  What a great read!  If we’re talking something more long term give me all of Austen’s novels in one volume, please.

What forces you to read outside your comfort zone? Other bloggers!  Well, they don’t force me, but they encourage me by making some books sound so appealing I think I might like them even if they aren’t “my thing.”  Book groups do this too.  I never would have read H.G. Wells if it weren’t for a book group or Margery Allingham or Bruno Schulz or Charlotte Jay ….

If this meme looks fun to you, consider yourself tagged!

13 Comments

Filed under Books, Memes, Reading

13 responses to “A reading meme!

  1. Loved your answers. I do the same thing with reading nonfiction first and saving the fiction to read before bed as a treat. That makes it sound like nonfiction is a chore but that isn’t the case at all. Fiction just tends to be more relaxing and nonfiction I have to pay attention!

  2. Well, I guess I’m tagged. Fiction is a “treat” for me, too (especially since my job is basically to read nonfiction all day long), and I’m with you on self-help books. By the same token, I often find myself drawn to them and have read quite a few in my time (maybe the critic in me is constantly looking for fodder or something).

  3. “The Complete Personalized Promise Bible on Financial Increase” made me laugh. Okay, maybe we DO have too many publishing niches today.

  4. Wonderful answers! I agree that Christian self-help is an intensely annoying genre (although of course anything that helps anyone is fine for them). I read mostly contemporary fiction too, and thanks to blogging have read far wider in that category as well as every single other one! Which makes me think I ought to try Ursula le Guin, whom I have never read.

  5. I had no clue there were so many strange Christian books out there (your link to Amazon and further random clicks made me discover a whole new world!), no such thing exists in Europe. I realized that fellow book-bloggers pushed my reading limits too!

  6. Cam

    I thought The Complete Personalized Promise Bible on Financial Increase was a made-up title satirizing the genre. Then I realized it was a link. Oh my God! People buy this stuff? And read it? Bet there are no quotes in there on usury.

    I too like non-fiction, especially if it reads like a novel. That seems to be much of my reading for the last several months.

  7. I enjoy mysteries most, some fiction and nonfiction too. I’m looking forward to The Artist’s Way, a book on encouraging creativity, which I hope to read this summer. The Not So Big Life, another sort of self-help book, had good intentions, but was way too intense for what was advertised on the jacket copy. Ironic that a book on simplifying life was so complex.

    There are some wonderful Christian books out there, like C.S. Lewis’ and Madeline L’Engle’s works, but I agree that the ones that “slice and dice” a theme to death are just shameful and should be an embarrassment to their publishers. Seeing The Purpose Driven everything, Prayer of Jabez books/journals/merchandise, and Power of a Praying Wife/Mother/Husband/Child/Co-Worker/etc. on the shelves leaves me cold.

  8. verbivore

    I’m relentless stubborn about trying books outside my favorite genre (cont lit fiction) but the few times I have taken the plunge have mostly been rewarding – I know I should do it more often, instead I go to the Austens and Brontes and older British or French lit when I want a change. I must be a terrible stick in the mud.

  9. Stefanie — yes, nonfiction is not a chore at all, just not as good a method to ease my way into bed … nonfiction requires a more taxing kind of attention.

    Emily — you’re definitely tagged! Yeah, it’s fun to read books knowing that I will be critical of them. But I suspect we both don’t mind getting some advice from cheesy, overly simple books now and then.

    Ella — ridiculous, right? And yet somebody must by them …

    Litlove — oh, I’d love to hear your take on Left Hand of Darkness — it’s got really cool gender stuff in it!

    Smithereens — oh, a whole new world indeed! There is some horrifying stuff out there, believe me. As Debby points out, there’s some great stuff too, though …

    Cam — I know! Who buys it? And yes, the quotations surely are quite selective. Not too much about giving to the poor, perhaps?

    Debby — The Artist’s Way sounds quite interesting — I’d love to hear what you think of it when you get there! And yes, aren’t books and magazines about simplifying life funny in that they ask you to buy lots of stuff and make things complicated? You’re so right about the wonderful Christian books out there, and I’ve enjoyed the ones you mention.

    Verbivore — I’m much the same as you, certainly. Well — we can’t read everything, can we? :)

  10. If I wasn’t such a slow NF reader, I would definitely read more of it (or more than one book at a time anyway). Novels are a treat, and I am very good about treating myself. I had no idea that there were so many religious self-help books out there, as it is not a genre I’m into. I guess when publishers smell a lucrative market they flood it, don’t they!

  11. verbivore

    “We can’t read everything, can we?” Oh, but itsn’t it fun to try? :-)

  12. I completely agree about bringing the complete works of Jane Austen while marooned. That would be my choice too.

  13. “We can’t read everything can we?” made me snort. The other day my friend said that YouTube gets 10 hours of video uploading every minute or something like that. I responded, “and I plan to watch it all.” That got a good laugh.

    I think self help books are easy to hate because so many of them are tripe that was thrown together to make a quick buck. Of course the rare finds can be good.

    Apocalyptic fiction is an interesting category. I tried to read the Left Behind books, but I had to stop because it was too close to reality. :) Sometimes, when I see what world leaders do, I become convinced that they have some agenda to destroy us all. When they do stuff that creates instability and doesn’t further any decent agenda it drives me nuts.

    Very insightful answers to all the meme questions as usual.

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