Friday, March 06, 2015

Reading Jam on I-1

I know that many of you tend to read several books at once. I do as well. I tend to do 3: 1 at work during lunch hour, and 2 at home. I'm usually able to keep the three moving relatively well but this week I've hit a major book jam and seem to be getting nowhere on anything. I started 4 books, and I'm enjoying them all. But this week involved major grading work at school, and an unexpected flood of research reports to evaluate. It's hard to make progress on 4 different books when you get to read maybe 15 pages a day. I'm hoping to complete my mid-terms this weekend and get back into some reading. Fortunately in one way, and unfortunately in another, I've already seen nearly half a dozen new books published this week that I'd like to read. That's not counting the hundreds and hundreds on my shelves already that are waiting their turn.

As for what I'm reading. Here they are:

1. How The West Was Written, Volume 2, by Ron Scheer. This is a nicely researched book on the history of western fiction. This volume one covers 1907 to 1915. This is not a book you sit down and read straight through. You want to take time to study the various sections on writers such as O' Henry and Clarence Mulford.

2. The Jungle, by Upton Sinclair. One of those classics I should have read long ago. Generally slow but interesting. 

3. The Hours, by Michael Cunningham. I'm enjoying the writing in this one but I really dislike most of the characters. That may be why I'm reading it slowly. 

4. You are Now Less Dumb, by David McRaney. Lana read passages of this to me and I thought the guy was very insightful so now I'm giving it a try. So far, very good.

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24 comments:

Sarah Hina said...

I don't think I've ever read more than two books at once. And even then, I usually stick to one novel and one non-fiction.

I liked Michael Cunningham's writing, too, but I really expected to like The Hours more than I did.

Good luck with all that grading.

RTD said...

Charles, when semesters are underway, I try to limit my "recreational" reading to one title while I am locked into reading for my classes (i.e., I never trust my memory of previous readings, so I reread all the assigned material along with the students).

I recall admiring _Mrs. Dalloway_ much more than the "sequel" by Cunningham (_The Hours_). And I recall read _The Jungle_ in high school but have been reluctant to revisit the slaughterhouses of Chicago for fear of being forced to become a 100% vegetarian.

And, as I ponder your reading about western fiction, isn't it odd that there haven't been more authors and titles from that genre making the cross-over to so-called mainstream/literary markets? Western fiction is a bit like crime/detective/mystery and S/F in that way. I should note that most of my colleagues in English departments over the years are total snobs about so-called genre fiction. I have no patience with their prejudices. Hey, writing is either well done or it isn't, and the "genre" label is irrelevant.

So, while we're on the subject, can you think of any hybrids out there: westerns that also qualify as crime/detective/mystery fiction? I would be interested in considering a few for my ABC's of Crime Fiction Challenge at Beyond Eastrod.

Finally, isn't it something the ways in which teaching can dominate our lives at times. We really need to be better compensated. What other profession has such relentless demands upon a person's time outside the office and beyond the 40 hour week?

Charles Gramlich said...

Sarah, I particularly don't care much for Mrs Brown in that book, although I'm not finished yet so maybe it will improve.

RTD, you said it about the time demands. I can go weeks with very little break, although then things can slack up dramatically. As for crime/western crossovers, I'll have to give it some thought. I know L'Amour did a series about a western detective. I think the character was Bowdrie. I'll have to check.

RTD said...

Charles, regarding my recent comment regarding westerns, I think this is interesting (especially Ishiguro's comments about westerns):
http://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/08/books/review/kazuo-ishiguro-by-the-book.html?_r=2
This is what I call a lovely coincidence. A question arises, and an unlikely source weighs in with an answer. Ishiguro is probably the last person in the world I would have picked for being a reader of westerns.

Brian Miller said...

ha. i need to check out that last one...i like some insight...i feel i have read The Jungle...

i am reading a rather trash novel right now...china takes over the US...the guy writes quite awkward though...

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I know, no matter how fast I read, more keep coming out. I Admire that you can juggle so many at once.

Cloudia said...

Thanks for the tips



ALOHA from Honolulu
ComfortSpiral
=^..^=

Cloudia said...

I have a bunch of half-read and half-reread books. Does that count?

Charles Gramlich said...

RTD, nice when it comes together.

Brian, I like trashy novels. No reason they can't be well written, though.

Alex, i'm not juggling them too well at the moment,

Cloudia, thumbs up. and yes!

Richard said...

Not surprisingly, I have several books "going" at a time. I usually am reading two novels, working away on whichever I'm in the mood for at the time, as well as a handful of short story collections I jump around in; one or two science fiction, one or two mystery.

I used to be a hard line one-at-a-time reader, but then if I lost interest in a book, I was stuck: finish though I didn't like it right then or declare it a DNF and dump it, but maybe go back someday, or get rid of it, or? Still, I only let a partially read book sit for so long and then I give it up and move on.

Oscar said...

I usually read two books at a time, plus all the daily blog material I can squeeze in. Can't keep up with all the new ones coming out.

Charles Gramlich said...

Richard, when I lose interest I always start another book, but I generally still finish the first one even if I do speed read parts of it.

Oscar, I know, but I guess it's better than running out of material to read.

Chris said...

I always have at least two going, usually three; one will be an ebook that I read on my phone, one will be a physical book, and then one will be a collection of stories, or an anthology, or a collection of essays that I try and read one/day of. Even then, an occasional 4th book might slip in there.

Prashant C. Trikannad said...

Charles, I find myself forever in a "reading jam" — more books in hand than I'm actually reading. I enjoyed reading volume one of Ron's book, by way of reference rather than "straight through," as you mentioned.

Bernard Lee DeLeo said...

That is quite a variety. :)

Charles Gramlich said...

Chris, I do a lot of anthologies like that myself. Ron Scheer's book is like that. I can read one entry at a time.

Prashant, yes, it works good in that way, especially since you need to study on some of his points.

Bernard, variety keeps me happy.

pattinase (abbott) said...

I usually read a collection of short stories and a novel at the same time. I remember reading THE JUNGLE as a teen but never since.

Charles Gramlich said...

Patti, the Jungle is pretty slow.

sage said...

I've read the Jungle and it has always stuck with me--Ron's book sounds interesting.

G said...

Good luck! The Jungle is on my should-read list too. I've been reading 2 books for the past couple years and haven't been able to finish either yet: Basic Auto Repair for Dummies and Essential Haiku.
- Greg

Charles Gramlich said...

Sage, it's pretty potent in the imagery department.

Greg, It was like that for me with Moby Dick.

Riot Kitty said...

I've read #2 and #3. Interesting choices! I'll be curious to know what you think of those.

G. B. Miller said...

I usually stick to one at a time.

I made an honest attempt at reading Upton Sinclair back in high school (read about him in American History) but I don't know if I actually finished it or not.

Charles Gramlich said...

Riot kitty, eventually I will review!

G. B. I'll finish it but I don't know how much I'll enjoy it.