Monday, December 1, 2008

Read it and Weep

I just heard an NPR commentary by author Ann Patchett (Bel Canto, The Patron Saint of Liars). I have a kind of schizoid fondness for Patchett; she repels me even as she pulls me in. Today's commentary I didn't mind. Patchett, in the course of speaking about a book-loving friend of hers, proposed a special category of books: "Books I Read for Men." These, she admitted, tended to be thorny, tortuous, and LONG.

AMEN! I wonder if each of us has, secreted somewhere in our hearts, a list of Books We've Read for Men (or Women). Below, an expurgated version of mine:

The Unbearable Lightness of Being
A Clockwork Orange
Still Life with Woodpecker
The Brothers Karamazov (ATTEMPT)
Shogun (most of it; unfairly thrust upon me when I was puking my guts out and couldn't lay hands on anything else)

Ugh! Feel free to pass along a few of the dragons you bearded in the name of love.

Still, I don't want to seem too negative. Reading is reading, whomever you do it for. And reading for love (or lust, or friendship) is a generous act, a way of sharing, if only for a few hours, your mental space with someone else. Besides, the Kundera wasn't all that bad.

Patchett asserts: "A friend with whom you can read -and reread- The Ambassadors cannot be replaced." Sure, I have people in my life who love me. But I find it sad -almost unspeakably so- that I have no one in my life at the moment who would read a book for me. Or better yet, with me.

Sniffle. I'm taking applications!


Samantha said...

I only have a few, but they're kinda doozies.
The History of Sexuality, Foucault
Sophie's World, Gaardner
Stranger in a Strange Land, Heinlein
Air-Conditioned Nightmare, Miller, attempted.

Admittedly, I liked some of them. And being able to say that I read the Foucault is just so many nerdy points that I'm ok with it. But you want to talk about thorny, tortuous, and long? Oof.

Anne said...

Your list is hilarious. Why do men always want you to read Heinlein?

Samantha said...

Because his men are manly, and his women are accommodating? I dunno.

Andrew said...

Because he's awesome???

Kivie said...

All you said was that you wanted something long. I give you 1200 pages, with samurai and ninjas as a bonus of awesomeness! There's just no pleasing some people.