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A Guy's Moleskine Notebook

Thoughts and reflections on works of fiction and literature. Pondering of life through pictures and words. Babbling about gay rights. Travelogues and anecdotes.

  • [1] Annie Proulx: Brokeback Mountain
  • [2] Arthur Golden: Memoirs of a Geisha
  • [3] Yu Hua: To Live
  • [4] Alan Hollinghurst: The Line of Beauty
  • [5] Colm Toibin: The Master
  • [6] Carlos Ruiz Zafon: The Shadow of the Wind
  • [7] William James: The Varieties of Religious Experience
  • [8] Charles Higham: The Civilization of Angkor
  • [9] Graham Greene: A Burnt-Out Case
  • [10] Dai Sijie: Mr. Muo's Travelling Couch
  • [11] Alan Hollinghurst: The Swimming-Pool Library
  • [12] Mikhail Bulgakov: The Master and Margarita
  • [13] Colm Toibin: The Blackwater Lightship
  • [14] Alan Hollinghurst: The Folding Star
  • [15] Ross King: Michelangelo and the Pope's Ceiling
  • [16] Fyodor Dostoevsky: The Brothers Karamazov
  • [17] Jonathan Franzen: The Corrections
  • [18] Colm Toibin: The Story of the Night
  • [19] John Banville: Shroud
  • [20] Leo Tolstoy: Resurrection
  • [21] Peter Hessler: River Town, Two Years on the Yangtze
  • [22] Ian McEwan: The Atonement
  • [24] Gabriel Garcia Marquez: Love in the Time of Cholera
  • [25] Ignacio Padilla: Shadow without a Name
  • [26] Umberto Eco: The Name of the Rose
  • [27] Richard Russo: Straight Man
  • [28] Fyodor Dostoevsky: Notes from Underground
  • [29] Alan Hollinghurst: The Spell
  • [30] Hermann Broch: The Death of Virgil
  • [31] James Baldwin: Giovanni's Room
  • [32] Ken Kesey: One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest
  • [33] Xingjian Gao: One Man's Bible
  • [34] C. Jay Cox: Latter Days
  • [35] Harper Lee: To Kill A Mockingbird
  • [36] William Shakespeare: The Taming of the Shrew
  • [37] Daniel A. Helminiak: What The Bible Really Says about Homosexuality
  • [38] James Baldwin: Tell Me How Long the Train's Been Gone
  • [39] Kenji Yoshino: Covering - The Hidden Assault of Civil Rights
  • [40] Italo Calvino: If, On a Winter's Night A Traveler
  • [41] Arthur Phillips: The Egyptologist
  • [42] George Orwell: 1984
  • [43] Michael Warner: The Trouble with Normal: Sex, Politics, and Ethics of Queer Life
  • [44] Andrew Sullivan: Virtually Normal
  • [45] Henry James: The Wings of the Dove
  • [46] Jose Saramago: Blindness
  • [47] Umberto Eco: The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana
  • [48] Dan Brown: Da Vinci Code
  • [49] Kazuo Ishiguro: Never Let Me Go
  • [50] Ken Follett: The Pillars of Earth
  • [51] Leo Tolstoy: War and Peace
  • [52] Michael Thomas Ford: Alec Baldwin Doesn't Like Me
  • [53] Jonathan Franzen: How To Be Alone
  • [54] Jonathan Lethem: The Fortress of Solitude
  • [55] Matthew Pearl: The Dante Club
  • [56] Zadie Smith: White Teeth
  • [57] Fyodor Dostoevsky: The Double
  • [58] Jose Saramago: The Double
  • [59] Andrew Holleran: Dancer from the Dance
  • [60] Heinrich von Kleist: The Marquise of O & Other Stories
  • [61] Andrew Holleran: In September, the Light Changes
  • [62] Tom Perrotta: Little Children
  • April 28, 2006

     

    Book Snob That I Am

    An article on SF Weekly talks about how it doesn't matter what we read, as long as we do. Karen Zuercher is identified by her sister as a book snob - she doesn't talk to her sister about books because she assumes her sister is some "lower" kind of reader. Hmm...I can relate! I think I've got that "book snob" so written on my face. I second Zuercher's frank opinion about how anyone who reads a romance novel would enjoy a conversation about some obscure title the The New York Times Book Review has recommended. I've always read a lot of contemporary fiction, to name a few that most register my mind, for one reason or another: Yu Hua's To Live, Carlos Ruiz Zafon's Shadow of the Wind, the 2004 Booker Prize winner The Line of Beauty by Alan Hollinghurst, Jonathan Franzen's The Corrections, and The Atonement by Ian McEwan. As I'm basking in these contemporary best-sellers, I develop a scruple for drifting away from the classics. I know it can be difficult, and sometimes dry, to keep up with books like Mikhail Bulgakov's The Master and Margarita and Hermann Broch's The Death of Virgil, and sometimes you just want a breath of fresh air, a quick read, something fluffy, as Zuercher notes, "a palate cleanser between heartier dishes." Now with all the law suit and movie hype that are going on with The Da Vinci Code, which I own but have yet read, I can relate to many people's belief that snobbery can impede one's reading pleasure. I flipped through the 2-dollars hardback that I acquired from the goodwill store and immediately saw why even people who aren't book lovers read this book. I found the reading compulsive although I have cringed at every awful sentence. No wonder I've experienced a snobbish hesitation to reading it! I do not pick my reading materials out of the best-seller lists because (excuse me for saying this) there's so much crap on the New Books tables. Nor would I have trusted completely what the blurbs say. This month has seen very heavy, thought-provoking readings in gay rights titles like Covering: The Hidden Assault of Civil Rights, The Trouble with Normal: Sex, Politics, and the Ethics of Queer Life, and Virtually Normal, none of which is fluffy or palate cleanser but for sure a change of reading taste. I don't think I can ever lower my literary values with some C grade pocket fictions or romance. What a book snob I am!.

    11 Comments:

    Blogger Robert said...

    You ARE!!! hahaha! Moderation is all things I guess. Read the 'bad' ones to appreciate the good. Enjoy what you read, and read what you enjoy. I think you're there!

    As for Ms. Zuercher not wanting to talk to her sister about books, maybe her sister doesn't want to hear it in the first place! And I'm sure Karen had tried! :-)

    4/28/2006 10:53 AM  
    Blogger matty said...

    Ah, I love Robert's attitude. I wish that I could "feel the love" like that.

    I am a total art snob, but I do my very best to never let on about that. I will chat with people (whom I do not know very well) about "airport novels" like that DA VINCI thing but I have not read any of them -- funny thing is that those folks never seem to know I've not read those books, too.

    How many traveling business men chatted with me about THE FIRM and the other books by that writer. I would be reading FIGHT CLUB or CHOKE or GEEK LOVE --- and, if they ever glanced at what I was reading I would get looks. So, in a since --- they were snobs, too. And, they didn't even try to hide it.

    However, I am far worse when it comes to film. I find it very difficult to chat with someone about the merits of a Mission Impossible movie.

    And, regarding music. Enya. Please don't take me there.

    4/28/2006 12:14 PM  
    Blogger Matt said...

    Rob,
    The last bad one was The Egyptologist by Arthur Phillips, I cannot believe I trusted critics' puff-up reviews on the book. I knew the author was trying to act smart with an unreliable narrator in the middle of the book. I think my "book-dar" is better than gaydar!!! Haha...

    Matt,
    I like your writing-so trimming down to the bone! Trust me, on two different long-haul flights, I've witnessed a The Lovely Bones-crowd and a Da Vinci Code-bunch...while I was slowly plowing through my Literary Criticism book!

    Actually "Fight Club", "Choke", "Geek Love" are all not bad. I read "Everything is Illuminating" as well.

    I find it very difficult to chat with anyone who merits Tom Cruise movies! LOL What Asian movies do you like?

    4/28/2006 2:01 PM  
    Blogger Matt said...

    Matt,
    I cannot stand Enya - at all! That Amarantine song is more than annoying, I have to turn off my radio or get the hell out of the earshot of her music...haha!

    4/28/2006 3:26 PM  
    Blogger matty said...

    The signing of Enya to a major label was probably was the first sign of the end of the world as we know it. Like Ben Affleck -- I fear she is Satan spawn and must be destroyed.

    Oh, I love film so much! And, Asian cinema! Well, both Miike Takashi and Kim Ki-duk are my cinema heros. Right up there with Fassbinder/Kubrick/Altman. ...but, I think I most loved SURVIVE STYLE 5 (am dying to see what this director will create next!!!) and OLDBOY more than any other Asian films in recent years.

    I'm currently reading "Twilight of the Superheroes" by Deborah Eisenberg, "Pulling Taffy" by Matt Bernstein Sycamore and "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly" by Jean-Dominique Bauby. Not far enough into any of the three to have an opinion yet.

    4/28/2006 11:49 PM  
    Blogger Matt said...

    Matt,

    "I fear she is Satan spawn and must be destroyed."

    *sigh* I heard some religious (cult) gathered to pray upon her music. Something about her voice chills me out and makes me cringe...I mean...you can listen to one song maybe two..,but then it's like diarrhea in that it starts to run through you. LOL

    Oh...Miike Takashi is 三池崇史! I saw Ichi The Killer...a collaborative effort of Japan, Korea, and HK...I think the film was based on a manga, this slightly dim young man who under hypnosis becomes a killing machine. Finally he comes up against a masochistic gang boss. That was Masochism to the extreme.

    Are you going to any films featured in SFIFF?

    4/29/2006 7:30 AM  
    Blogger Robert said...

    Say, you both live in SF. Why don't you guys get together?

    Or maybe that you guys have already. ooooh! :-)

    4/29/2006 10:03 AM  
    Anonymous Dawn said...

    I'm not sure how I found this post, but it seems appropriate that I would find this today. You see, I'm a book snob, too.

    I'm nearing completion of Hemingway's FOR WHOM THE BELL TOLLS (I don't know how to underline). And I've been recently smitten with Hemingway, but I don't want to devour his body of work all at once. So, my dilemna is deciding what to read next. Because what can compare to Hemingway?

    So, I was browsing a Border's store today, on my quest to find my next book. I wasn't ready to tackle WAR AND PEACE just yet, but I could not find anything that sparked an interest or had any promise of fulfilling my need for the same kind of experience that Hemingway gives me.

    I picked up a book which was a pulitzer winner. I canot recall the title. I sat down and just randomnly read short passages, skimming the page to get a feel for style and depth. I was looking for depth, guts, substance, genius. I didn't find anything. I called my husband over, grimmaced, and remarked to him, "How could this have won a pulitzer when it has NO style?!" He glances at the back of the jacket, says that it's being praised as being artfully crafted, opens it and reads as I had. He agrees. "It's funny," I said, "You can think that Hemingway has no style if you compare him to someone like Hardy who wrote in long, flowing, descriptive language. But then you read this stuff and you realize that he has A LOT OF STYLE." It's deceptive. It's not visible at a glance, but it's there. It's there in the depth of meaning, the depth of characterization, the psychology in the long internal dialogues that remind me of Shakespearean soliloquies.

    So, yeah. I'm just rambling on and on to say one thing: I'm a book snob, too. I just can't read something that is neither insightful nor imagnitive. If I wanted my reading material to lack anything of value, I'd do just as well to turn on the television.

    4/29/2006 1:29 PM  
    Blogger matty said...

    Wow! The Moleskine Notebook is written in San Francisco! Cool!

    I do hope to go to a few of the showings at the SFIFF. We'll see.

    Robert -- Don't believe what people say about me, I haven't been with every guy in the city. That is a cruel bit of gossip spread by those who are jealous of my hot looks and dazzling personality!

    4/30/2006 12:32 AM  
    Blogger Greg said...

    To some extent, we're all book snobs. We each know what we like to read and can become very protective of it. I know how downhearted and upset I can sometime be when someone doesn't like a book/author that I like.

    I also try to vary what I read, going out of my way to pick up books that I ould normally avoid. Except for those Harlequin romances. Avoid those like the plague.

    5/02/2006 8:54 AM  
    Blogger Matt said...

    "I know how downhearted and upset I can sometime be when someone doesn't like a book/author that I like."

    Greg, I'm the same way too, owing to the special bondage that I have developed with what I read. A blogger on my blogroll discredits almost all my favorite reads! While I welcome his oppsing views that are not unreasonable, I still have downhearted about what he have to say about my favorite books!

    5/03/2006 1:01 PM  

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