I’m a reader. I like to read. I just never really thought it would get like this. Sure, it started with a magazine or two, like Los Angeles Magazine and Sports Illustrated . . . plus a book on the side, fiction or non-fiction, it didn’t really matter. I just liked to read. As I was thinking about what to write my year-ending blog entry, something caught my eye. This year I began placing the books that I’ve read on a dresser top between two newly bought bookends. So, I started counting the books. Wow. I then began to notice all the wildly divergent titles. Double wow. Then I remembered a few books deemed too large for the dresser top that I had moved to the hall bookcase and I also noticed a few more on the shelves of the entertainment cabinet. Uh-oh. Plus the two e-books I read using the Kindle app on my iPad. Holy Gutenberg! I am addicted to reading! In fact, I usually read at least two books at a time.
What I’ve noticed is that I most enjoy books that I pick out for myself. I usually don’t enjoy books recommended to me. In fact I dread when a close friend says, “Here, read this book. You’ll love it!” I quietly gasp inside. What if I hate it? What if I wonder, “What in hell they were thinking when they recommended this to me? Is that how they see me? As someone who would enjoy reading this?” It’s happened before. I guess reading is more personal to me than I had imagined. My tastes are unique not just to me, but also to me in the moment. How I feel at a certain time likely affects how I respond to a book. I now have no compunction about placing a recommended book to the side and get to it when I feel the time is right. That works much better for me.
But, you see, among my personal compulsions is that I must finish what I’ve started. I’ve never walked out of a movie theater; only once turned off a rented video before the end; and once I start to read a book, I MUST finish it. I don’t care how bad it is. I . . . must . . . finish . . . it! ARGH! There are, of course, worse compulsions. Right?
Thinking about this compulsion made me drudge up a long-repressed memory about the one and only book I ever stopped reading. I don’t remember the title or the author or even who had recommended it. It was a fantasy novel about some enchanted forest kingdom concerning the exploits of a princess-yet-expert-with-a-bow-and-arrow-type who was also part elf. I have no idea what genre this is, and I don’t want to know. Anyway, as my compulsion dictated, I plodded through her nomadic “Middle-Earth-inspired” adventures and discovered, that aside from making strange and often vulgar friends, and kicking some demonic ass, at the end of every other chapter, this elf princess inevitably had great sex. I say “great sex” because the author found it necessary to describe it all in minute detail . . . for pages on end. This princess was getting laid all the elf-ing time! So I stopped reading the book halfway through. I don’t know how it ended, but I’m pretty sure the princess got laid again.
Anyway, I thought I’d share with you the books I have read in 2011 in the approximate order I read them in:
Magnificent Desolation by Buzz Aldrin (2009) Autobiography.
The Laugh Makers by Robert Mills (2009) Memoir of comedy writer for Bob Hope.
Tragedy and Farce by John Nichols & Robert W. McChesney (2005) Media.
Empire of Illusion by Chris Hedges (2009) Media.
The Secret History of the World by Mark Booth (2008) Non fiction.
Waging the War of the Worlds by John Gosling (2009) Media.
Invasion from Mars: A Study in the Psychology of Panic by Albert H. Cantril (1940) Media.
World War II on the Air by Mark Berstein & Alex Lubertozzi (2003) Media.
Edward R.Murrow and the Birth of Broadcast Journalism by Bob Edwards (2004) Biography.
14 Radio Plays by Arch Oboler (1940) Radio plays.
Oboler Omnibus by Arch Oboler (1945) Radio plays.
Gandle Follows His Nose by Heywood Broun (1926) Fiction.
Chasing Aphrodite by Jason Felch & Ralph Frammolino (2011) Non fiction.
Reel Tears by Beverly Washburn (2009) Autobiography.
The People, Yes by Carl Sandburg (1936) Poetry.
Truman by David McCullough (1992) Biography.
Dracula by Bram Stoker (1897) Fiction.
The Gathering Storm by Winston Churchill (1948) Memoir of 1918-1940.
Thomas Jefferson by R.B. Berstein (2003) Biography.
So Far, So Good by Burgess Meredith (1994) Autobiography.
An Actor’s Odyssey: Orson Welles to Lucky the Lephrechaun by Arthur Anderson (2010) Autobiography.
I, Kowtower by Patrick Ratchford (2011) Fiction.
For those of you counting, that’s twenty-two books. There are worse compulsions, right? Right?
So what am I currently reading to inaugurate 2012? Two books: Benjamin Franklin: An American Life by Walter Isaacson (2003) and Trust Me, I’m Dr. Ozzy by Ozzy Osbourne (2011). I’m not kidding . . . you can’t make this stuff up!
I’m just saying…