Saturday, August 13, 2011

Celebration of Reading

Well, my book-reading binge has slowed down quite a bit. DCs oppressive heat wave has subsided - somewhat - and there's more to do outside. It's strange when a 90-degree day provides noticeable relief and we can all breathe easier.

So, the common thread in the books I've read so far is DRINKING, and lots of it. I started Strangers on a Train and the two opening characters were sloppy drunk and I thought, I just can't handle this right now. In Breakfast at Tiffany's, they drink for fun; in Gray Flannel Suit, they drink out of habit; and in Peyton Place, they drink in basements for weeks on end and only come up and outside when the alcohol runs out. We all know that drinking during meetings and at work was common during the 1950s but, interestingly enough, there was no alcohol at all in the UK's To Sir with Love. Sure, Braithwaite was a straight-laced kind of guy and all of the American writers were serious alcoholics, but what does this say about American culture in general?

To give the whole 1950s literature challenge a temporary break and expansion, I've picked up a book on architecture (Architecture of the Islamic World) and added the Cairo Trilogy to my reading list. All three books (Palace Walk, Palace of Desire, and Sugar Street) were also published during the 1950s. I wonder if the characters in these books drink alcohol? I do know in Egypt you can't buy alcoholic drinks in restaurants but they will deliver alcoholic beverages right to your door and probably serve alcohol in clubs. What were the topics of concern during the 1950s in Egypt? We shall see.

So, in Celebration of Reading, I've created my own meme and hope you will link back and answer the questions. Please post a photo of your own bookshelf if you do participate.

1. Do you read for pleasure daily, in spurts, or rarely?
I read when I don't want to think. I've just realized that. I read three books back to back over one weekend when my grandmother died. I read quite a bit during the summer of 2008 when I didn't want to think about buying a condo, and I always like to read when I'm on vacation. I also read to pass the time when I have a long commute or bus ride. I don't have the ability, unfortunately, to read on an airplane. I feel too distracted by the fact that I am way too high up in the air and have a huge vacuum of space underneath me.

2. What kind of books and magazines do you like to read?
I like fashion and interior design magazines but will confess, I don't really read them. I read fictional novels and art books. I don't like celebrity biographies, how-to books, or modern-day horror fiction. I do like gothic novels, though, and vampires stories. I read crime fiction and mysteries when I'm tired. They don't require a lot of mental focus.

3. Who are your favorite authors?
I'm going to say Willa Cather and Thomas Hardy right now because I've read multiple books by both authors and, after a great purge of books, still have their novels on my bookshelf.

4. How do you organize your books?
By subject matter or genre, then by country of author or topic, and then by size (height and depth). One shelf - the top one - is all fiction, the next shelf is all cookbooks, the third shelf down is for art books, and finally the lower shelf is for history, including genealogical research documents, and Elle Decor magazines. I'm getting ready to move my reference books over to the top of my desk to make more room for art books and have stacks and stacks of books around my house right now in anticipation of another major purge. It's crazy that when I move I have one box of dishes, three suitcases, and 15 boxes of heavy-ass books. (Getting ready to move, you ask? Not this year, but maybe next. More on that in tomorrow's post.)

5. Have you made the transition from printed material to e-books?
No, I'm resisting it. It makes sense having all of my books in one place and portable, especially if I decide to spend a lot of time out on Eric's boat, but after having worked in publications for years, I like how a printed book feels. I like turning the page and touching the weight of the paper. For now, I'm sticking with traditional.

I am tagging Evil Pixie, What She Said, Vacant Lot, Shining Lotus, Siobhan, Kevin's Stills, Do These Shoes Match this Purse, and Tourist Cup. Remember to include a photo of your own personal library if you post! Let's see how far my little meme can travel ...


soyon said...

It's funny how you say that you like to read when you don't want to think, since reading is thought of as an intellectual activity. But you're right, unless you're reading some drab report for research, literature offers great psychological escape.

Hariklia said...

Nice to have you 'back' Leslie! I will write up my bookish answers in the next few days.

Evil Pixie said...

Groovy... I'll post my responses right now. :)

Vacant Lot Design said...

Thanks! Fun!