Friday, June 22, 2007

Booknote: So Many Books, So Little Time

Nelson, Sara. So Many Books, So Little Time: A Year of Passionate Reading. New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons, 2003. ISBN: 0-399-15083-8.

Genre: Nonfiction
Subgenre: Books and reading, memoir/personal narrative

I hate to say this, but this was a book that could do without the book selections. While Sara Nelson does provide a good number of observations on readers and their habits, her book selection leaves a lot to be desired in my humble opinion. Then again, to many readers out there, my book selection may leave a lot to be desired (readers can always see what I may be up to by looking at the sidebar when visiting my blogs). Let's say her tastes run somewhere between high brow and what some call "chick lit" and leave it at that. My tastes range from science fiction to some light stuff to a few other things. Here, just look my reading list from last year if you really want to get a sense. The problem with me was one of tone. At times, she is interesting and insightful, and at other times, she is just plain whiny. For example, when she whines because she gets paid to read (she is a professional reviewer):

"I know. I know. You're [the reader] not very sympathetic. Why would you be? I am living out your fantasy: I'm getting paid to read, I have (or have access to) all the books in the world and I have the time to read them. So what's the freakin' problem?"(78; emphasis in original).

That would be my question exactly, so get on with it. The premise of the book is that Sara Nelson will be discussing and writing about what she reads every week for a year. Like many readers, including me, she starts some things. She drops some books, finishes others, and often has a big pile of to-be-read items. Don't we all? Like many book lovers, she has her quirks and her habits, which I think is what makes her appealing to other readers: a sense that she shares our experience. However, at times this gets a bit too extreme, or maybe obsessive would be a better word. I certainly know when to put the book down, so to speak.

An interesting observation she makes is the one about friends passing books to each other. Passing books to just acquaintances or strangers is one thing. Pretty easy to tell someone like that, "hey, I read this, you may like it too." Telling a friend can become a test of that friendship. The recommender takes a risk in mentioning the book since the friend may judge the person by their book choice, "you read that thing?" may be what the friend thinks, resulting in the friend thinking a bit less of the recommender. The story takes place in the chapter for March 15. The book is divided in chapters by weeks. Overall, not exactly the best book about reading I have read. There are others a lot better out there.

So, I would not leave people hanging, so here are some other things I have read that you may want to read instead of Nelson's book (links are to my notes on the books):

Daniel Pennac's Better than Life.
Lawrence and Nancy Goldstone, Warmly Inscribed.

1 comment:

jjnell said...

That sounds like a very good book to check out, i think i will go to the library some time and check it out