Tuesday, December 12, 2006

I'm Not Apologizing

I have a master’s in English. I graduated with a 4.0, and I can write a 5 to 10-page literary criticism paper with my eyes closed. I’m not trying to impress you (I wouldn’t be impressed with that), I’m leading up to something.

I have a library full of Norton Criticals of the literary canon. I admit that I treasure my Riverside Shakespeare from my seminars. And I am grateful that I got over my fear of poetry and actually like it now.

However, I’m not in school any more, and I get to choose what I want to read. And most of the time, I choose not to read anything that will make me think as much as I had to when I was in school. Oh, every now and then I want to be challenged, so I might go to my list of those books that I really should read or something that won the Pulitzer Prize. But, honestly, I’ve found that many times I can’t get through the books that have won those awards. I think I’ve developed some kind of reading ADD. How many times on the third page of scenery or character description have I put the book down with a moan and say, “Get on with it!” I’ve said that with many of the “woman overcoming something” books, too. Lately, I just want to escape when I read.

This is a great disappointment to my friend A (I told you about her, she’s the one I see when I go home). A’s book choices puts Oprah to shame. If she doesn’t cry while reading a book, it wasn’t any good. So when she asks me, “Are you reading any good books?” I wonder if I should lie and tell her I just read the latest Mitch Albom or be honest and tell her I just read another Rebus mystery (because I’m trying to catch up).

Even worse to her would be what I’m reading right now. I put aside Donna Tartt’s The Little Friend, which seems like it’s going to be a really good book btw, because the library called to let me know that a book by Charlaine Harris that I put on hold was in. And this book is, well, it’s its own category, that’s what it is. The Denver Post says it’s “A delightful Southern, vampire detective series.”

Yep. That about covers it. Only it’s not just vampires, it’s werewolves and fairies and shape shifters (oh my!). Plus a little romance thrown in. Apparently, vampires have a voracious appetite for something besides blood. But these aren’t the erotic stuff of Laurel K. Hamilton’s vampire hunter series; it’s pretty tame and kind of sweet, actually.

They’re about barmaid Sookie Stackhouse (I swear, that’s her name), living and working in northeast Louisiana, which is part of the appeal for me because I lived in the Bossier City, Louisiana, and the towns around there are part of the books. Anyway, Sookie lives in a world where vampires have come out of the shadows and are part of our world. There are many other otherworldly creatures, but they haven’t made themselves known, choosing to wait and see how the vamps do first. But Sookie knows they exist and is even friends with some of them. Her boss turns into a dog, she has a fairy who is a kind of guardian angel, she dated a vampire, and her brother was bitten by a werepanther, so now he turns into a panther with the full moon.

You know, I type these things like they are every day occurrences and perfectly normal. But that’s the nice thing about the books. She’s created a wonderful and fascinating fantasy world. And they’re pretty good mysteries, too. There’s usually a few story lines going on at the same time, but it’s not so much that you get confused.

Also, Alan Ball (who wrote American Beauty and created Six Feet Under) has bought the rights to turn the stories into a series for HBO. I may have to expand my cable. *thinks about it* Nah. Cable’s too expensive already, and everything comes to DVD anyway.

So, I’m reading Definitely Dead. Each title has the word “Dead” in it, by the way. The first book is Dead Until Dark, then Living Dead in Dallas, then Club Dead. . . well, you get the idea.

My friend A would be so disappointed in me.


Betty said...

Did you know that Charlaine Harris lives in south Arkansas? I've been reading her Lily Bard series and really enjoy it.

susan said...

Don't tempt me! I told myself I can't start any books this month, I have too much to do and if I start one book I won't put it down,then I'll reach for another one... and you get the picture.

I love your new banner! I wish I could figure out how to change mine...the one disadvantage to Wordpress so far

Gracey said...

I think you should read whatever suits your mood and if it's vampire detective books, go for it all the way!!!

BTW, I'm pretty impressed with your stats! :)

Jay said...

One of the few advantages to growing up is that we get to read, listen to and watch whatever the hell we want.

And somehow when I started reading this post I knew we were going to end up with vampires and various other "undead" creatures. hahahaha

Chelle Y. said...

I have read any "thinking" books in such a long time. Is it embarassing if I tell you that I am reading the first "Harry Potter" book now? I have never read them, and I hear they are good.

I won't be putting that "Book I Am Reading Now" up on my blog. :)


Peggy said...

Have you ever read the books that were the runner up to the Pulitzer? They might be good too. I try those poor titles that have been pipped at the post. Also, try looking at a different literary award list. The Booker prize here in the UK generally cranks out some good reads.

OR you could go back to the classics that you read in high school or should have read, but bought the Cliff Notes instead. Catcher in the Rye - Pride and Prejudice (my favourite and read every year) Kidnapped - A Separate Peace, Walden's Pond, Don Quixote, Catch 22, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Iliad, Count of Monte Cristo (excellent vacation book if ever there was one) Drag out the Dickens! It's Christmas. He wrote other stuff besides the Scroogy thing. (I do find some of the women in Dickens to be annoying and helpless)

This is just a helpful suggestion. What do you think?

Kell said...

Betty--Yeah, she lives around Texarcana, I think. I knew she wrote other mysteries, but I haven't read those yet.

Susan--At least I can post on your blog. Blogger seems to be punishing us non-Beta users by not letting me post on those blogs. They have no idea how stubborn I am.

Gracey--Thanks, that's what I think. And I have no problem putting a book down if I'm not enjoying it. Life's too short and there are too many great books out there.

Jay--You know me too well ;)

Chelle Y--I love the Harry Potter books! I'm actually going to reread the last two so that I'll be ready for the 7th when it comes out (hopefully) next summer or whenever. And don't be embarassed. My hubby decided to read the first one because he wanted to see what all the fuss was, then he read the rest of them and enjoyed them. And he's a big manly, macho, military guy. If he can admit to reading them, anyone can.

Peggy--Some of those you mentioned are my favorites--Pride and Prejudice, To Kill a Mockingbird, Homer, and I usually read A Christmas Carol every year. And I do have a list of all those classics that I should have read or read closer in school. Every now and then, I pick something off it (I reread The Great Gatsby). Oh, and I have looked into the Booker Prize and there are several on my list of books I'd like to read--Ali Smith and Julian Barnes, specificaly. Those are all good suggestions. Hmmmm, runner ups. That's a great idea! I should look into that.

Ch3ll3 said...

Real friends love you for who you are and all the little quirks that make up you.

Real friends do not make judgements about your reading preferences.

Even if you value her opinion on other things, I ask you this, "Who cares if A thinks the books you love are silly?" I mean it. Do you really care? And if you do, ask yourself why.

Newt said...

I LOVE the Sookie stories. I have fallen behind, I think I only read the first three but I read them in one sitting (each). They are SO much fun.

If you like the vampire/supernatural stuff but don't like the erotica of Laurel K, I have found three series to be excellent:
Dhampir by Barb Hendee
I Vampire by Michael Romkey
Of Saints and Shadows by Christopher Golden

It would be so much easier if we lived close. We could just trade books left and right!

Kathryn Usher said...

Sookie sounds interesting. I'll have to check out the books.