Berkeley Trade (paperback), 2004 (ISBN 0425198197)
Books and reading, memoir; 256 pages
First Sentence: Call me Insomniac.
Book Description: "Sometimes subtle, sometimes striking, the interplay between our lives and our books is the subject of this unique memoir by well-known publishing correspondent and self-described "readaholic" Sara Nelson. From Solzhenitsyn to Laura Zigman, Catherine M. to Captain Underpants, the result is a personal chronicle of insight, wit, and enough infectious enthusiasm to make a passionate reader out of anybody."
Comments: I thought this was an appropriate first selection for my Personal TBR Challenge, and it turned out to be a relatively fast, and very enjoyable, reading experience.
Sara Nelson sets herself the task of reading a book a week every week for one year, and keeping a journal of her reading during the period. (This was back in the pre-blogging days of 2002.) She starts out with a plan and a reading list, but quickly finds that circumstances can send her reading choices in completely different directions. By the end of the year, she's done a lot of reading, but not quite in the way she expected to. She's read many unplanned books, and not read quite a few of the ones on her original list, particularly the books in the poetry and nonfiction categories; she had good intentions of expanding her reading horizons during the year, but fiction is her first literary love and just calls to her more often, particularly as she trolls her bookshelves at 3 AM, looking for her next victim. (Hence, the first sentence...)
While there's plenty of discussion of particular books here, and you may come away with your own list of books you want to read, this is a memoir much more than a recommended-reading guide. It very much reflects Sara's personal experiences with the books she read that year, in addition to some of her other personal experiences during the time. Her tastes in reading are informed but unpretentious - no literary snobbery here - and her discussions of the books she loved, the books she didn't like, and the books she didn't finish are accessible and often insightful.
Sara Nelson's eager approach to reading, and her love for it, come through clearly. I liked her voice, and the way she relates to books and reading comes across very much like mine. When she talked about books that I've also read, I found myself wanting to discuss them with her, or at least be able to leave her a comment - this is what blogging does to a person! In any case, I genuinely enjoyed this book, and it's helped to stoke my own enthusiasm for reading.
This week’s question is suggested by (blogless) JMutford:
Sometimes I find eccentric characters quirky and fun, other times I find them too unbelievable and annoying. What are some of the more outrageous characters you’ve read, and how do you feel about them?
Don’t forget to leave a link to your actual response (so people don’t have to go searching for it) in the comments—or if you prefer, leave your answers in the comments themselves!
I think this is a really good question - one for which I'll probably have a delayed response, if I can think of one at all. This is where it would probably help if I read more series books that featured the same character(s). On the other hand, I tend to like "quirky" characters better in supporting roles or in concentrated doses, so I'm not sure I would read a series that featured an overly-eccentric lead character. Sometimes they're fun, but I find that at other times they're overly "written" and just not realistic. That is, you'd either never meet someone like this in real life, or you'd run off screaming if you did.
For much more interesting answers than this one, visit the main post at BTT.