Friday, March 2, 2012

Six Books I Am Reading All At Once (In All Their Different Forms and Places)

In no particular order:

Selected Stories - Alice Munro (Paperback, bedside reading)

Last Friday night, I walked around the West Village alone in the rain, and stumbled into a magical bookstore (bookbook on Bleecker Street). It was warm and cozy and small, the sort of place that made you sigh and take off your gloves and settle in for a long, comfortable browse. And that was what I did, slow circles as I eavesdropped on the conversation the two booksellers were having, an intelligent conversation full of cultured names and references. The selection was impeccable, and I found title after title I wanted. In the end I tried to practice a little self restraint. I asked the booksellers for advice between a short story collection of Evelyn Waugh, and this, and they recommended this. I don't know very much about Alice Munro except that she has flattering blurbs and someone over at The Rumpus wrote a nice essay about her. I've read a few short stories and they are nice enough, though I am not very interested in rural Canada, and I prefer reading about the depressed middle class of Richard Yates, and I do not get that stunned sense of awe from her writing like I do with some other writers.

The Lover's Discourse - Roland Barthes (Paperback, bedside reading)

I picked this up at bookbook, too. What do you call the genre of this book? Philosophy? Theory? Literature? This was on my reading list for my Letter As Literature class last semester. Reading books like this makes me feel intellectually stimulated, which is nice when I'm no longer in school. It's structuralism or deconstruction or something, about love, "fragments," definitions, ways of grasping and explaining and explicating. I read one section at a time and sometimes I try to think about what Barthes says and apply it to remembering love, the real thing.

The Sense of an Ending - Julian Barnes (Kindle, subway reading)

I didn't know who Julian Barnes until my Letter as Literature class, too. We read Flaubert's Parrot by him for class and I really liked it, though I hadn't even read Madame Bovary then. He is another one of those playfully intellectual fiction writers, I think, someone who likes theory and story writing equal amounts and plays with the craft, the subject, and the form. But his novels are also just enjoyable to read, and not too long. I've been reading this book on my Kindle in the subway exclusively. It's a slightly strange way to read a book I knew nothing about, but I think I really like it.

The Collected Short Stories of Colette - Colette (Hardcover, bedside reading)

According to Goodreads, I've been reading this since September 10th! Well, it is a very long book, with very short short stories, so I was reading it continuously for a while, then forgot about it, and only just in the past few days remembered it again. I switch between reading this and the Munro stories. I much prefer Colette--she's French, sensual, a bit naughty and wild, but her language is exquisite, her descriptions and subjects utterly fascinating. Colette writes about music hall artists and pretty spirited girls and broken hearts and all the things I love. She is one of my idols and I like switching between her and the distant gritty realism of Munro.

Within a Budding Grove - Marcel Proust (Kindle...imaginary reading)

I finished the first book of In Search of Lost Time relatively quickly and felt quite accomplished. But according to the wise bookseller at bookbook, the second book is about as far as most people get with Proust. Sigh. I haven't given up yet--but admittedly this is just about the last thing I turn to under any circumstance when I have so many other wonderful books awaiting my attention. Someday I will read it all, though. I just need the right environment...a very long train ride with no other books, perhaps? A week without internet in my house? Insomnia?

Confessions of An Advertising Man - David Ogilvy (Ebook, computer)

I've been rewatching Mad Men, and that, along with book, has given me a fiery desire to work in advertising. I realize, of course, that modern advertising is nothing like the glamorous, thrillingly stressful life detailed in this book, but nevertheless. I like Oglivy's straightforward writing style and his business smarts, and I like reading books about business because it makes me feel like I'm really learning something. Good practice for my future career in advertising...maybe!

1 comment:

  1. You also seem to make my book shelf seem insignificant every time I read your posts. You seem to read more books in a day than I do in a week.

    I have to say, right now you are reading an impressive assortment of books. I love the small description you wrote for each book. I am very interested in picking up The Lover's Discourse - Roland Barthes and The Collected Short Stories of Colette - Colette. I am a big fan of philosophy and the collection of short stories just sounds grand. Working around my work schedule and school schedules, these days short stories seem to be the most attractive.