BTT: Reading History

When is the last time you read a history book? Historical biography? You know, something that took place in the past but was REAL.

I read history regularly, but mostly it has been American History.  I was on a Civil War kick for awhile, which included fiction and non-fiction, as well as Ken Burns and Professor Blight’s course on Academic Earth.

I’ve read a bunch of history on American presidents, the most recent being Presidential Courage.  It was a book highlighting decisions made by several different presidents.  I blogged about it briefly here.

I also love a good memoir, regardless of the time period in which it is set.

At my last book club meeting, someone asked what percent of fiction vs. non-fiction people read.  I figure that I am right at the 50/50 mark, but maybe I should tally that up sometime.

BTT: Book Reviews

This week’s Booking Through Thursday question was:

Do you read book reviews? Whose do you trust? Do they affect your reading habits? Your buying habits?
I do read book reviews – generally from whatever source is reviewing a book that catches my eye. If a headline pops up in an online periodical, like the Chicago Tribune or USA Today, I will probably read it. I have the New Yorker’s Book Review in my Favorites, but I don’t read it religiously.

My new habit, and it isn’t a good one, is to look up the book on Librarything and check out the collection of reviews garnered from members. This can be really dangerous in that there have been several popular fiction books that I have read and actively disliked – The Time Traveler’s Wife is a good example.

But in general, Librarything reviews balance each other out until I can get a reasonable idea of whether I will enjoy something.

BTT – Age Appropriate you read books “meant” for other age groups? Adult books when you were a child; Young-Adult books now that you’re grown; Picture books just for kicks … You know … books not “meant” for you. Or do you pretty much stick to what’s written for people your age?

This is funny because I regularly lament the lack of age-appropriate books in my childhood.  Apparently, until there was Harry Potter, there was no money to be made in publishing tween books.  So I was reading Stephen King in the 5th grade.  And don’t get me started on V.C. Andrews.

While I read the Potter series, I have not picked up Twilight, The Hunger Games or anything by The Golden Compass guy.

There are just too many books to read and I need a compelling reason to go back to the YA genre.

However, I have been reading books with my nephew Alex, age 6.  More than a few Scooby-Doo mysteries.  Abe Lincoln’s Hat (pictured), which I may have mentioned before, was awesome.  Oh!  And the Duck books.

I can’t wait to start debating the merits of S.E. Hinton with him.

BTT- Coming Soon to a Theater Near You

This was the Booking Through Thursday question that I couldn’t answer last night because I needed to run around my own books before making a final decision:

If you could see one book turned into the perfect movie–one that would capture everything you love, the characters, the look, the feel, the story–what book would you choose?

After debating with myself for over 24 hours, I have come up with a Top 3. But first, I must Side Note one of the debates, because it will amuse my mother:

Self 1:  Rhett Butler’s People
Self 2:  That’s asinine. That wasn’t even a Great Book. It was a (Qualified) Good Book.
Self 1:  Don’t care. The question read “one book turned into the perfect movie”. It didn’t say “Great Book”, but it did say “perfect movie”. “Perfect movie” would involve Clark Gable reprising the role of Rhett Butler, and there isn’t anything under Heaven I would rather see on screen.
Self 2:  Dude, Gable’s been….
Self 1:  Shut. Up. It said “perfect movie”. As in Dreamland! As in Any Actor I Want!

    So. Here is where I landed.
  1. Wicked.  Not the musical.  The actual plot of the actual book with the sad, scary Land of Oz and the politics and the Animals and the psychological profile of the villain.  I have heard rumors that someone is going to try it.  And I suppose that if Peter Jackson could do LOTR, someone might do Wicked.  But that Perfect Movie might be better in my head.
  2. The Vampire Lestat.  Yeah, yeah.  Forget the Tom Cruise movie for a minute.  First, The Vampire Lestat was a better book than Interview with the Vampire.  The reason it was never made into a movie is Hollywood used its one brain cell and determined it was impossible.  It is epic.  I can’t conceive of the cast to do it.  I can’t imagine how one would harness the scope of it.  But if that Perfect Movie could be made, I would be in my Vampire Costume for the midnight premiere, Baby.
  3. Devil in the White City, by Erik Larson is my non-fiction pick.  (I hear Spielberg is doing Team of Rivals, and I am not ready to talk about that, yet.)  Chicago, 1893, World’s Fair, serial killer.  This movie can be done and I can’t imagine why no one has tried.

BTT – Cover

The Booking through Thursday question was:

Can you judge a book by its cover?

I recently read a thought by a writer – I want to say it was Salman Rushdie – that there is a way to judge a book by its cover.

If the author’s name is larger than the title of the book, then the book isn’t worth reading.  The assumption seems to be that if the marketing people are trying to sell the book on the strength of the author’s popularity, something must be wrong.

If you think about the darlings on the Bestseller Lists, there is a lot of truth to that.  However, as I look at my own TBR pile, I find it needs some qualifiers:

  1. If the name is larger because it has more letters than the title, it doesn’t count. Maybe there is a Font Size standard.  On my copy of Salman Rushdie’s Fury, for example, his name stands out more than the title, but the font is the same size.  This led to;
  2. If the book is in its upteenth printing, and the author’s name is in larger print, it gets a pass.  How the marketers choose to sell a later edition is going to be different, particularly if a publisher has the rights to a whole bunch of one writer’s work.  I am looking at my Ward Just novels, here.
  3. In fact, since most paperbacks are second printings, the rule might apply there, as well.
  4. There is absolutely no reason for an author’s name to be larger than the subject of a biography.
  5. Shakespeare doesn’t count.  Even the “histories”.
I wonder how much control the authors have over this concept.  Because while I am not sure this idea is a deal breaker when I am looking for books, but I am certainly judging by it.  

BTT – Visual

I have the great fortune of a room in my house that is..85% dedicated to books.  The 15% is that its closet holds most of my clothes.  And all of my chargers are in there, too.  
However, because this is a spare bedroom, it is on the second floor and thus “tucked away” so I am hardly showing it off.  Since I still have those old V.C. Andrews and V novels, I consider this a good thing.  
Further, the bookcase that holds my To Be Read books is in my bedroom.  You couldn’t see the books anyway, because in front of them are..more books.
I don’t think so much about whether anyone else can see my books.  I think things like, “Do I really want to have to run downstairs at midnight when I want to find something?”

BTT: Cereal

Booking through Thursday – the question was:

What’s the oddest thing you’ve ever read? (You know, something NOT a book, magazine, short story, poem or article.)

There is a pizza place in Chicago called Gino’s.  I would call it in the Top 5 of Chicago pizzarias.  Besides the good food, Gino’s is know for allowing patrons to write all over.  Everything they can get their hands on – the walls, tablecloths, chairs, benches.

So I have to say that the weirdest thing I have ever read was the red pepper shaker at Gino’s.  Someone took out a Sharpie and wrote..something.  I forget.  It wasn’t Shakespeare!