Tuesday, September 04, 2007

In The Crannies And The Nooks There Are Books To Read

I ran across this article on MSNBC last week, and it just screamed to be blogged about. I have no good explanation for why I have not gotten around to blogging about it until now, so without further ado - here we go.

An AP-Ipsos poll released last Tuesday shows that just a little over one out of four adults in this country, 27%, did not read one single book last year. Not a single one. The poll shows that the average reader got through four books last year. If you factor out the people who didn’t read any books last year, the average for readers goes up to seven.

I think that’s sort of sad. Actually, I think that’s really sad - but then again, books were my first babysitters. My mom tells me that when I was very young, she would put me to bed in my crib with a stack of books, and there I would be, reading - or perhaps just holding them in my hands and pretending to read, who knows - when she came in to wake me up.

So I’m biased. I love to read. I’ve got oodles of books. When we moved out of our apartment, my buddy Steve helped us, and he said this during the part of the move when we were carting out boxes full of books: “John, stop reading!” (Moving boxes full of books is not fun - they are big and bulky, especially when I pack them.)

And wouldn’t you know it...I keep a reading log. Believe it or don’t. Hard to believe I could ever get girls to associate with me, right? Anyway...after I read that article, I checked my reading log to see how many books I finished in 2006. Turns out it was 42, which does not include the handful of books (6) I started and did not finish (most of which were ones I started but had to return to the library before I could finish them because they were on hold for someone else) and also does not include the small number of books (3) I was in the middle of at the end of last year but did not finish until this year.

So...want to know which books I read last year? (Okay, probably you don’t, but this is my blog, right? Hahahahahaha!) In order of when I finished them, they are:

The Chronicles Of Narnia - C.S. Lewis
Evolution - Edward Larson
Lunar Park - Bret Easton Ellis
Hemingway’s Hurricane - Phil Scott
Who’s Looking Out For You? - Bill O’Reilly
Cell - Stephen King
The Osama Bin Laden I Know - Peter Bergen
The Mysteries Of Pittsburgh - Michael Chabon
Private Parts - Howard Stern
The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
Acquired Tastes - Peter Mayle
Finding Darwin’s God - Kenneth Miller
To The Limit (The Eagles) - Marc Eliot
Playing For Knight - Steve Alford
Have A Nice Day - Mick Foley
Like A Rolling Stone - Greil Marcus
About A Boy - Nick Hornby
A Good School - Richard Yates
High Fidelity - Nick Hornby
Going All The Way - Dan Wakefield
The DaVinci Code - Dan Brown
The Rackets - Thomas Kelly
The Truth (With Jokes) - Al Franken
The Wishbones - Tom Perrotta
Chain Of Command - Seymour Hersh
Harry Potter And The Half-Blood Prince - Jo Rowling
An Inconvenient Truth - Al Gore
The Year Of Reading Proust - Phyllis Rose
A Year In Provence - Peter Mayle
Christine - Stephen King
Terrorist - John Updike
Factotum - Charles Bukowski
Running With Scissors - Augusten Burroughs
Letter To A Christian Nation - Sam Harris
iWoz - Steve Wozniak
The Last King Of Scotland - Giles Foden
The Discomfort Zone - Jonathan Franzen
Lisey’s Story - Stephen King
Wetback Nation - Peter Laufer
The Worst Person In The World - Keith Olbermann
Dreams From My Father - Barack Obama
Little Children - Tom Perrotta

Fiction - 19 books (45%)
Biography/Memoir - 10 books (24%)
Other Non-Fiction - 13 books (31%)

Nine of those are books I read so that I could take them to Half Price Books and and pretend that I hadn’t wasted my money on them in the first place (except for the Bill O’Reilly book, which was a gift). Every now and then I go through a phase where I think I need to get rid of some of my books - there are plenty of books on my shelves that I have read once and will never read again and plenty of others I will likely never read even once. And yet they still stack up.

The best of the bunch?

The Kite Runner
• An immensely sad and moving novel about friendship and redemption. Not as controversial as people made it out to be. High literature the likes of which the Grishams, Crichtons, and Clancys of the world can never produce. The best novel I’ve read in a long time.

To The Limit
• A terrific biography of the best American rock band of the 1970s, and maybe of all time - and they only cut six studio records (the seventh is due soon or has perhaps already been released - I don’t know, since it’s only available at Wal-Mart, which means that I will never buy it).

Like A Rolling Stone
• Yep, a whole book about one song (the second-greatest rock song ever recorded), though I suspect such a story has a very narrow audience.

An Inconvenient Truth
• Had the will of the American people been allowed to stand in 2000, when Al Gore was elected President, global warming would not have come to an end; but the White House would not have ignored it for six years, either.

Wetback Nation
• We need to stop discriminating against people who aren’t white. The stories in this book are why.

Little Children
• The second-best novel I’ve read in a long time. Tom Perrotta has a gift for exploring human nature, and is getting better at it. The film adaptation was a disappointment, however - even taking into account the fact that the movie is never as good as the book (except for The Shawshank Redemption and The Godfather).

I have 34 books down for this year, so far - with four months still to go.

Okay, now it’s your turn. Hit me with how many books you read last year, which ones were great, which ones weren’t - which ones you’re reading now, which ones you’re going to read next. Anybody done any Kurt Vonnegut reading for that Year Of Vonnegut business? (I’ve read Hocus Pocus, Mother Night, Fates Worse Than Death, and Deadeye Dick. The best of those four is Hocus Pocus.)


primemover74 said...

Books I read in the last year:

Garfield 30 - Garfield dies of old age

And I'm only halfway through that one. The problem I have with the majority of books being published now is that either 1) they are biased, like Gore's book or 2) they just don't hold my interest. This compounds the fact that I'm back in school, which means I've been reading so much worthless crap that my eyes are about to bug out and burst all over my desk.

About Gore's book. Gore left out two really big scientifically proven weather phenomenons (I can't spell anymore), the little ice age and the midevil warming period, which makes his hockey stick graft completely wrong. After hearing my brother's stories on dealing with Al Gore from '94 - '00 at the Department of Transportation I got really skeptical of 'ol Gore. Especially when he refuses to debate anyone on certain "facts" of his movies. Global warming is just something the Democrats are hoping will scare people into voting them into the White House, just like Republicans are with Terrorism.

As for your other books:

To the Limit: Is that about Rush?

John-O said...

I'm skeptical of pretty much all politicians, though I was hoping Barack Obama would avoid being drawn into the campaigning game. He's the real deal, but having to run for President is going to kill his desire to BE the President.

To The Limit is about the Eagles.

Thanks for checking out my blog. Out of curiosity, how did you find me?

primemover74 said...

We have a common friend. And it isn't Rush, it's a certain German movie theater manager who lives in Fishers. Fun to read your stuff by the way.