Wednesday, 16 March 2011

The Weird Bunch

So, I was staring into space and I noticed that the middle shelf of my bookcase is a strange mix of genres (click twice on the photo for a better view). Over on the left it's mainly fantasy books that I've had since I was a kid. I used to have a lot more but I gave them to charity. I just kept the ones I really loved, although I don't read them any more. Fritz Leiber's Fafrhd and the Gray Mouser series. Michael Moorcock's Elric, the baddest hero ever (won't catch him saving any cats). Two Narnia books — A Horse and His Boy is certainly my favourite, not sure why I kept Prince Caspian. Some very well-thumbed Tolkien.

I also have quite a few odd books. The novelisation of Harold and Maude. Cruel Shoes by Steve Martin from when he was doing silly stuff not suitable for the New Yorker (a sample line: These were not the average "contented" cows. They were cows born for trouble.) The esssential Lenny Bruce which contains transcripts of all his routines. I got that back when finding comedy albums of dead American comedians in English record shops was no easy task. Of course, not so hard now with the internets all over the place...

I also have quite a few classics. Not only James Joyce's Ulysses, but also a book about Joyce, because I was clearly loooking to impress Lit nerds at some point in my life. Ulysses is quite a hard book to understand especially if you don't happen to be an Irishman from the turn of the last century. Joyce often complained that people told him how brilliant a book it was, but nobody told him how funny it was, which had been his main purpose in writing it. Well, Jim, maybe if you had used slightly less obscure references more people would have got the jokes. There's also a copy of Homer's Odyssey, the book Ulysses is based on. I would say The Odyssey is the slightly funnier of the two.

The copy of Nicholas Nickleby by Charles Dickens (bound in red) was a school prize for French. I have no idea how I won it since I was never that good at French. C’est la vie.

Adventures of Tom Sawyer I think I read once as a child. Don't remember much about it and what I do remember is probably more from cinema. I also read Huckleberry Finn at some point but don't remember much about that either.

The Black Arrow is the only Robert Louis Stevenson book I've read. I remember it very fondly. It has a classic girl has to pretend to be a boy plot. And of course the hero falls in love with him/her. Had homoerotic subtexts been invented back then?

Harper Lee, Vonnegut, Salinger are all solid. I have no recollection of how The Shrimp and the Anemone by L.P. Hartley ended up here. Quite a few short story collections: Irwin Shaw, Ray Bradbury, Amy Hempel, P.G. Wodehouse, Ethan Coen (remember getting this because it was by one of the Coen Brothers — don't remember any of the stories), and Philip Roth. I tend to prefer reading short stories by the great American writers. There's only so much 'middle-aged intellectual disappointed by his penis' that I can take.

Nausea by Sartre I've never completed. The Gay Science by Nietzsche is neither gay nor about science. Milan Kundera's The Unbearable Lightness of Being is a very beautifully written, very boring book. Ira Levin's A Kiss Before Dying is really well plotted. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest is probably my favourite book. Syrup by Maxx Barry is highly recommended. 

Like I was saying, a very odd bunch. I was talking last post about maybe choosing a book and taking it apart to see what makes it tick. What I might do is take one of these books on my middle shelf and just dissect its first chapter, see what techniques are being used, what rules are being broken. First chapters are pretty important so it might be a useful exercise (might not). Now I just have to choose which one...



18 comments:

Ben said...

I have that Self-Editing For Fiction Writers edition. I have to say it confused me more than anything else.

Dan said...

"Well, Jim, maybe if you had used slightly less obscure references more people would have got the jokes." - and quotation marks, James. Quotation Marks.

I had a fantastic book collection before my divorce, but afterward I moved a lot, and made some questionable decisions, and my great, quirky collection dwindled to maybe a few dozen. Now that I'm settled again, I'm slowly working my way back up.

Steph said...

My bookshelf is the same! I have hit up a couple book sales where I purchased boxes of brand new books for $20. I didn't put a lot of time into my selections, I was almost manic with the excitement of such a good deal! I am slowly going through it. It's a great excersice for me to read all differnt types of books!It's great though, like having a library at my fingertips! With all this blogging though, I will need to find more time to read!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Mine are all organized, with the hardback Terry Brooks and Preston & Child displayed front and center. Guess there's something wrong with me...

Donna Hole said...

Well, just don't start with Ulyssus or Odyssy. I don't think my tired brain could keep up - though I have a writer friend who think those are the best books ever. Weird. I may have read on paragraph and didn't understand it.

I have weird stuff on my book shelves too - and on the floor, and in the closets and. .

I've started collecting books just to have them. Books I haven't read. So weird.

Now I have a Kindle and I see at the Kindle store there are loads of free downloads. More books.

I think I'm hooked :)

...........dhole

Brent Wescott said...

I'm impressed that you've read at least most of most of the books on your shelf. I'm with Donna above and have too many books in my house to even read. Buying books takes very little time, and reading books takes so much time. I want to read them all, but I know I never will. It's sad, really.
It Just Got Interesting

Austin James said...

I always look at a person's bookshelf when I go somewhere... and judge... and if they have no books, I'll ask them why they don't read... it's terribly rude, but I find it fascinating.

I like you mish mash of books.

Addy High said...

Where are HP Lovecraft, Kelly Link and Kaaron Warren?

Terry Pratchett once told me I should change my name, as it made me sound like a bad romance novelist. I might even do it if I thought it would make anyone read "Names".

mooderino said...

@Donna - don't worry, it certainly won't be Ulysses.

@Austin - I judge people by their books too — because they can't stop me (and it's fun).

If anyone feels like posting a picture of their shelf please let me know, I love to be nosey.

@Addy - I think Adelie is a lovely name.

sammy said...

Hey great blog. As a kid, A Horse and His Boy was my favourite CS Lewis book too. People seem to think it's a weird choice, yay for someone with similar tastes.

(I'm judging you by your middle shelf now and I'm very impressed!!)

Clarissa Draper said...

I'm reading Douglas Adams for the first time this year. But, many have said he's amazing so I'm looking forward to it.

Girl Friday said...

Nice eclectic collection :) And you made me laugh very hard about 'American middle aged men and their penis' :D so true.

Stina Lindenblatt said...

LOL I looked at my middle shelf and realized it was sagging.

This is a great idea about analyzing first chapters. I did that when I realized mine not only needed a major overall, it needed to be deleted.

Thanks for feedback on my opening this morning. I've made it (hopefully) better thanks to all the great feedback. :D

Munir said...

I have a few "how to write" books, but do you think use any of them. when you want to write you want to get your word out. I wrote a book on how our health care is going down the drain, made a mistake of getting it published through Lulu, some people got angry at me and some congratulated me for predicting our future. So if you want to write just go ahead and write.

Heather Henry said...

Great post! I like your collection, very eclectic. I also, have an odd assortment of books. I love to read and wish I had more time to do so. My goal is to find all of the books I love and buy them and hopefully find time to read them all. I also enjoy perusing the bookshelves of other people, it's a great way to get to know a little bit more about someone.

jbchicoine said...

Oh My Goodness! They novelized Harold and Maude!?
...and what an eclectic selection you have :)...hmmm....

mooderino said...

The book came first I think, although both book and film were written by the same writer.

Rebecca Dupree said...

Love the bookcase! Looks like mine!

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