Friday, April 3, 2009

Book him Danno.

I've noted that a common question designed to suss out your character is to ask what sort of books you like reading, especially with things like social network sites and personality surveys. Even the profile bit on Blogger asks for our literary pecadillos, and I'm not convinced that they offer any genuine insights into our underlying psychologies. Saying that, I tend to stop taking people seriously when they list "The Bible" and "Mills & Boon" as their favourite tomes.

So I was having a good old think for 5 minutes about what I like in the book department. I do like reading. Generally, I'll give anything a go as long as it's got words in it. That includes take-away menus and papers with pictures of nominally-clad ladies in.

I'm currently working through Richard Dawkins 'Climbing Mount Improbable', which is an enjoyable tuition on the evolutionary pressures species face which force them to develop such amazing adaptations such as eyes and wings. Next on my shelf is a book discussing modern concepts of physics, including quantum theory and relativity, which I'm sort of expecting to be a little like putting caviar in a marshmallow. The good stuff will go in but it won't do anything, and will be a bugger to get out again.

Prior to that, I read the second in Peter F. Hamiltons enormous Void trilogy, 'The Temporal Void', which despite being 800-odd pages long, flashes by like a particulalry good soap opera. Only in space. With all aliens and spaceships and that. A lot of people seem to frown on science fiction, particularly my more literate friends, who think of it as not much more than a graphic novel and not something that will tax the intellect any. I don't find this, as it makes me use my brain whilst providing enjoyable escapism, which is what fiction reading is all about isn't it?

I enjoy outdoorsy things like survival manuals and wildlife guides, and take my "Food for Free" book out with me whenever I'm camping, although I note the irony as I flick idly through the pages on edible bullrushes whilst enjoying a steak and kidney pie in a pub.

Other stuff? Biographies are hit and miss with me. Some celeb ones are good, written at the end of a fulfilling career in sports or entertainment, but it's just odd when they're about 18 year-olds who's life story consists of getting born, developing acne, going on X-factor and then becoming famous.

Those Tell-All books about horribly abusive childhoods with titles like 'Daddy, NO!" and "The Vicar's Sin" just make me squirm. Jane Austen just doesn't appeal to me in the slightest as I can't seem to find any sympathy for aristocratic sex-starved heroines who are down to their last house and five servants and deemed to be down on their luck. Biting social commentary or not, it just doesn't get me going.

Newspapers seem to be getting more and more fictional all the time, as less journalists strive to write more column inches, which means I never buy them anymore.

At school, I liked Lord of the Flies but not A Kestrel for a Knave. Military romps are okay but, as I'm reading a breakdown of the intrinsic parts of an L115A3 long-range rifle, I'm acutely aware that the author is pandering to my masculinity by describing the intrinsic parts of an L115A3 long-range rifle.

So, what does that lot say? I think my tastes are pretty standard fare for the modern unreconstructed male really, and don't reveal too much of my inner psyche.

Whilst in my GPs waiting room a few weeks ago though, I couldn't help but notice the title of this childrens book, and the fact that I thought it inappropriate suggests I'm reading far too many blogs which are warping my mind lately:

Now that probably does say something about my inner workings, but I realy don't want to know what.


  1. I thought from the title of the post that you must have read Jack Lord's autobiography. Great stuff, especially when he kicked the shit out of Sean Conney on the set of Dr No. Dicky Dawkins is a fine writer when he stops pontificating.

  2. Yes, an interesting title for a children's book. My mind must wander too.

    I also judge people by their books. If they have any, that's a good sign, but I loathe chick lit. I tend to go for history books, in an effort to look effortlessly intelligent. Works a treat. And any books on polar exploration. I like feeling cold.

  3. I guess that I am very much eclectic in my tastes of reading material.

    I'm quite happy to sit on the train with a reliable Thesaurus, or a solid autobiography from someone who has actually lived. Sir Ranulph Fiennes for instance.

    I'm equally happy with the sports pages of the Daily Record.

    I once left a biography of one of those awfy 19 year old Big Brother banshee's on the seat of a train where I found it.

    It had not been read, and had obviously been left my a multitude of passengers before me.

    I cannot reveal her full name, but I think it started with HELEN ADAMS.

  4. Jules,

    I think all our minds wandered on this title. Perhaps it was written some time before the word evolved into its modern day meaning.

    In any case, I'm leaving you to your own inner workings.

    I enjoy fiction and history (I know strange combination). Fiction captures my imagination and history grabs my heart.

    Have a great weekend.


  5. That little pervy kids' book at the end of this post was such an unexpected surprise! Like taking a long contemplative walk in the woods, and just as you near the end of the path, a happy naked midget runs past and dances a jig.

    The Jules, you make me laugh.

  6. that's funny when i saw the book at the end i thought it was about cute little animals stealing things.

    ohhhh, i love how things can get lost in translation.


  7. Mr Bananas - I shall have to read Jack Lord's bio then. Wasn't he the first choice for Captain Kirk?

    Mdme DeF - Do you have a public bookcase in your living room, with all clever titles on it, and a secret box full of sensationalist crap in your wardrobe? I don't. At all.

    Jimmy - That made me laugh out loud. If only there were some way to represent that rapidly using text.

    The U - You're right about history. I also like Alternative Histories like Harry Tutrledoves collections. They're the ultimate in "what if" scenarios.

    Steamy - It's all fun and games until the naked midget gets a fine for indecent exposure and you have to pay half of it for encouraging him by clapping. Some responsibility on these blogs please.

    Miss A - You're right. The theivery meaning of the title didn't even occur to me!

  8. I don't think you've really given Austen a go, or you'd know that all her heroines (well, except for Emma) are social climbers, not aristocrats. Is it the satire that eludes you? Or the overly dry wit? I find that they get funnier with each read, kind of like digging around in your mom's closet and finding things you never knew were there.

    I stopped reading the papers, too, and started reading blogs instead. Much more entertaining way to start the day.

  9. Nate's Mom - You could be right. I'm quite prone to not getting past the first chapter though. A friend of mine says he had to wait till he was in his 40's till he enjoyed Austen.

  10. I had to look up "A Kestrel for a Knave" to see whether it was a real book, or something you made up to throw Americans off. Turns out it's real!

    So, no "Angela's Ashes" then?

  11. Vic - I have actually read it, and thoguht it was okay, but the hardship was only the same as both my parents and parents-in-law had in the Midlands of England, and the only baggage they have from it is a tendency to put half-an-inch of jam on their toast, cos they still can't believe they're allowed to.

  12. I would have been more concerned if you had been at the gynecologist's waiting on your wife when you saw that children's book.

    I happen to like historical novels, which is another way of saying fictional history. Some are poor but others do try to just fill in what might have been said and what might have been the motivation in an honest fashion.

    But tell your piggish elite friends who look down on Sci-fi as rubbish that they are, well, elitist pigs. But do it more politely.

    I rarely read the "classics" because I usually find them tedious and boring. Dickens puts me to sleep faster than barbiturates.

  13. Douglas - I know what you mean. Even the much lauded names in Dickens seemed too contrived to me.

    Bah humbug.

  14. I'm, with you on most of these observations. My advice to anyone is avoid anything described as 'a saga' in the blurb. I have 'Food for Free' too, although I've eaten nothing from it but a puffball and ground elder (both fried in butter). Currently reading 'Spud', by John van de Ruit, which I recommend.

  15. I used to read a lot of fascinating "higher-minded" books and have accompanying in-depth conversations with friends about theories and concepts and new ideas.

    And then I had a colicky baby and now can manage about 1.75 sentences before falling asleep. So, these days I stick to reading cereal boxes and the back of the shampoo bottle in the shower.

    Everyone keeps telling me it will pass. :) I asked the doctor if I could possibly be narcoleptic and he said, "No, you're just a mom."

  16. Guys, I'm in no way a priggish elitist but please give Dickens a try. They're not all Mr Perriwinkles and Mrs Cludgethumper. I like Sci Fi and history and what not but Dickens was truly a social champion and Steinbeck-quality descriptive author. It's really good. Honest! Try A tale of Two Cities and feel the dirtiness of revolutionary Paris.


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