Saturday, April 17, 2010

Saturday Book Notes

Through Semicolon I discovered this site listing the top ten best selling books, year by year, of the 20th century. It's interesting how few of them from the first half are ever read or even remembered any more. But I like re-discovering a neglected masterpiece, so I'll probably research some of these titles and pick one or two from the first five decades anyway. The list for the second half of the century is far less interesting to me.

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Lately I've been wandering around the library fiction shelves looking for such forgotten or neglected novels. They'll have nondescript library bindings, and they will not have been checked out for a decade or two. With no gushy praises on the covers, the only thing commending them to you is perhaps an intriguing title or a vaguely remembered author. Well, anyway, that's one way to choose what you're going to read. That's how this week I discovered the amusing Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House (a best seller back in 1946), which really cracked me up at times.

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I'm also reading Michael Chabon's Manhood for Amateurs, a book of personal essays about fathers and sons. Chabon can be very insightful, although he has the modern wiseguy prejudices about "the God of Abraham." Still, his chapters on his own boyhood are terrific. His chapter on the uses of (and the need for) "wilderness" in childhood is brilliant and needed.

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I'm intrigued and a little amazed by book bloggers. I just did a Google blog search for "manhood Chabon," looking for reader reviews, and discovered a few more of these blogs dedicated to chronicling the blogger's reading history. They're mostly written by women, it seems, and these people are Olympian readers. They set all kinds of reading "challenges" for themselves and they seem to read dozens of books at at a time. They also provide more reliable book info than the traditional review sources, it seems to me. One such reader blog is The Captive Reader.

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Oh, and speaking of neglected books.

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And finally, Reformissionary featured a wonderful poem by Ted Kooser, called Grasshoppers. That's a poem I'd like to have written!

3 comments:

Standfast said...

There is a Cary Grant/Myrna Loy/Melvyn Douglas film of "Mr Blandings..." from 1948 that I enjoyed enough to buy. It was a laugh out loud experience for me the first time I saw it. You might like it.

Bob said...

Oh I'm definitely going to get that. I love Cary Grant anyway, so it's a shoe-in!

Claire (The Captive Reader) said...

What excitement to be described as an "Olympian reader"! Thank you so much for the mention, it's always great to know that people have found and enjoyed my little blog.