Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Reading and Learning

You always hear how great writers are also great readers. Well, I haven't been abiding by that law for some time. It has always been a great scape of mine to read; I actually read my way out of my worst depression ever, and before having kids I used to read as much as five books a week. Admittedly, I did little else but read; I was single, on vacation (a half-year sabbatical), and with no friends in the city... so, things have changed... a little.

In previous posts I've told you all about my present hectic schedule and I'm not THAT crazy to believe I'll be able to make even a book a week; no, my goal is much more attainable: twelve books per year.

Of course I don't start january first: ready, set, go. I take it slowly and get 'party season' out of my system first, but eventually, I make my way to it. Now, another matter that can grind the whole thing to a stop is the selection of books. I gave it a lot of thought and after reading, twice, each Twilight book last year and nibble "The Host", unsuccessfully I must add; there were no "in" books that attracted me that much. So, this year I decided to start with the classics. You see, I'm Mexican, meaning I know something about Latin-American Literature but very little about English Literature.

There, I had my road plan. I started around end february with Jane Austen's "Pride and Prejudice", followed by Richard Matheson's "Hell House", back to Austen's "Sense and Sensibility" and presently I turned gears to J. K. Rowling's "H.P. and the Philosopher's Stone" in french. I figured, as long as I'm reading, I might as well go ahead and make my french teachers happy.

Four books... well, three books and a half, so far... not too shabby! I have to say, though, I'm finding Austen's stories not as compelling as I imagined them to be. I don't want to upset anyone but after hearing a lot about them, I found them a little slow. Too much beating around the bushes for my taste, and in the case of "Sense and Sensibility", not rewarding enough. However, I may have chosen exactly those who cater worst for myself and to get a better sense of her style, I'll read a couple more, or maybe all of them... call me a purist.

As for Matheson's "Hell House", I liked it a lot. I might be antiquated, but I happen to love classic haunted houses and ghost stories. This one gave me a couple of restless nights and in general was VERY entertaining. Since I'm a sucker for everything paranormal, I'm more or less up to date to the latest 'science' of investigating ghostly apparitions. This might have actually hindered my enjoyment of the story. It was written in the mid 70's and relies quite heavily on medium seances and 'ectoplasmic' production. Since these methods have long ago been proven a hoax, I found its constant presence a bit of a turn off and somewhat hard to block from my mind. Anyway, I hadn't came across a book that gave me nightmares since Stephen King's "The Shining" and it's a gratifying feeling.

What's next? Well, this is my plan as of today. After Harry Potter I'll go back to the english language with "Dorian Gray's Picture", probably Matheson's "Stir of Echoes", "Harry Potter and the Chaber of Secrets" (back to french), another Austen work, "Wuthering Heights"... and I'll figure where to go from there.

There are hundreds of books to chose from, and sometimes the amount of possibilities makes it real hard to take a decision. For this reason, whatever advise you could give me would be greatly appreciated. Remember, I'm trying to get a crush course in English and American Literature but I'm not an over-educated snub and my taste might be a bit too simple: great stories, simply written and great finales... Isn't that what we're all expecting? =D

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