Just so you don’t think I limit my mental stimulation strictly to film watching and reviewing, I have decided to favor you with a few book blurbs this month. Not only will this provide you with something to read while you are waiting for your movie to download, but since I only read books I am sure I will like (I may have two hours to kill on a less than stellar performance by Jennifer Aniston but no way am I spending several days on bad book) these comments will tend to be more on the positive side than my film critiques. That is not to say I am above reading books of poor quality. Rather, I simply refuse to read those that are sub-par in their genre. For example: I love a little mystery now and then, but I hate a badly written mystery. It’s like going to McDonald’s for a McPlastic Cone when you could just as easily go to Pizza King—our local source for frozen yumminess—and getting a scoop or two of divinely crafted dairy. Neither one is good for you, but if you are going to eat something bad it might as well be good quality bad, right? Still I don’t often confess my penchant for pulp fiction, especially given the crowd my spouse tends to attract. So on a recent dinner date with Jim’s fellow philosophers and their wives I was relieved to have been reading something more substantive.
Inspired by a recent sermon from our excellent pastor, I determined that I should read more non-fiction. I think Pastor Bob meant for us to read more non-fiction of the Christian variety, but not wanting to cause too great a shock to my system, I decided to start off with Tom Wolfe, a writer of both non-fiction and fiction so he seemed like a good fit. Plus, the man is too dapper for words. Anyhow, I choose Hooking Up, read what I assumed to be the first chapter and then began plowing through chapter two. I was a bit confused as to how the first chapter on the over-sexualization of American youth related to the second which appeared to be a history of the development of the micro-chip but the man’s a genius, right? I was sure there was a brilliant connection coming my way, though I did mention my mystification to our dear friends in the department. I hadn’t told Jim of my recent resolution and later that night he asked me how I was enjoying Wolfe’s collection of essays. Say what? Suddenly the incongruity of Wolfe’s topics became crystal clear. So much for appearing well-rounded.
Don’t you just love when you are reading something in an attempt to appear, or better yet, actually be more intellectually well-rounded and the attempt blows up in your face? Perhaps this never happens to you because either (a) you really are intellectually well-rounded therefore you don’t have to pretend to be or (b) you know better than to try to fake it. Sadly, I am neither (a) nor (b); thus I made an absolute idiot out of myself which probably won’t come as a complete surprise to many of you.
Despite this setback, I am still going forth in my pursuit of knowledge. I’ll just make sure I first read the book summary on Amazon this time. And since I can’t see, read or hear anything I consider interesting without sharing it with others ad nauseum, I plan to share the fruit of my labors with you. So here is your first fruit: Tom Wolfe’s collection of essays Hooking Up is excellent. I must confess to having only read the first three or four essays but they are breathtakingly balanced between informative and entertaining. He somehow spins the history of the microprocessor into a page turner, full of insight and intimation, without beating you over the head with arguments or forcing you into a corner until you agree with him. I also like that it is a collection of essays (now that I have that part figured out). Somehow I feel less pressure to read because I know I only have to reach the end of the essay (rather than plowing through 400 pages) to see how things turn out.
On a lighter note, I would also like to recommend my book club’s selection for this month—Island of Saints by Andy Andrews. Definite beach reading, but good beach reading. A few scenes were a bit forced, but overall worth the bits of observer discomfort. I learned some things regarding WWII and have quoted Andrews’ points regarding forgiveness more than once.