Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Required Reading

If I don't consciously make an effort to eat fresh fruit and veggies, go to bed at a decent hour, and brush my teeth - I won't do them at all. Gross, I know. Luckily for my health, I do manage, but it's definitely not second-nature habits.

The same idea translates over to my literary/cultural "health". Don't get me wrong - I read plenty. We go to the library about once a week. But it's always straight to the fiction and the sci-fi sections for me. I aim for the ones with the shiny covers. Yes, I'm one of those people.

But similar to having two weeks worth of dirty laundry spilling out of the hamper and down the stairs, I always start to feel a bit guilty for my unfettered indulgence.

Pre-wedding I used to have a policy: for every silly pulp fiction book, I'd also read something classic or of literary merit. Such books are timeless for a reason, and I often do like them in the end. I think I have to force myself to start them because bigger words and more complex English take more effort. That and the whole thing just reminds me of book reports (the "summarize" kind), which I single-handedly blame as the reason kids don't like to read otherwise awesome stories. Straight regurgitation is so boring.

Anyway, with Star Wars was Pride and Prejudice.
With Sookie Stackhouse was Jane Eyre.
With Hitchhiker's Guide was Ender's Game.
With the Mortal Instrument series was Dune.
Well, not really. Dune was just moving waaaay too slowly and I lost patience while lugging the gigantoid book around.

But you get the idea. The system worked fairly well for me, the fun of light reading paired with something worth reflecting on. But then wedding happened and I stopped reading (well, there were blogs, that counts for something right?). Now that wedding is over, I think this process should resume. I've already tackled the light reading portion, as I'm on book 3 of Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series. (I don't know if I'd recommend, but it's a mix between eye-roll worthy romance novel and historical events. In the least, it has given me an interest in learning about 18th century Scotland, so I consider that merit-worthy.)
Now I need to pick a new English-class-worthy-book.

(source) Not quite what I meant.
Do you have any favorites? I'm partial to lots of adventure and some good old-fashioned love triangles. I also prefer books with happy endings. The happier, the better. My thought is - if I wanted a depressing "modern ending", I'd just read non-fiction. Or watch the news. :P
How do you make sure to get your literary vegetables? Or maybe you're already a vegetarian?


  1. I have not read a book in AAAAAAAGES. I picked up "How To Win Friends and Influence People" last year and never got through it. It sounds ridiculous but actually has some very good principles and things to remember while interacting with people. And I had no idea but it was written in the early 1900s! My all time favorite book is A Wrinkle In Time, and I think it has the best of both worlds - makes ya think and a bit sci fi, you know?

    But I have to admit, I'm prone to chick lit and the occasional Star Wars book!

  2. I am a book junkie. I love books. Pete says I have too many books. Psh - impossible.

    Unfortunately, between work, required reading, research & the blogs - I very rarely get to read a book I like JUST FOR FUN! I actually just completed a book I started SIX MONTHS AGO and plan on giving it a pretty darn good review.

    If only there was no required reading. Damn you required reading!

  3. How IS the Mortal Instruments series? Worthwhile?

    I'm a sci-fi, fantasy, crappy historical fiction junkie, with the occasional spatter of non-fiction Deep Thoughts books. It's too easy to read the fluffy stuff...I have to force myself not to!

    Currently reading Jane Eyre. Other favorites I have (which may or may not fit into the literary junk food category) are below. Maybe some will inspire you?

    Tam Lin by Pamela Dean
    This Alien Shore by CS Friedman
    The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
    The Other Boleyn Girl (book, not movie. Totally trashy, totally addictive)

    Man, I need some literary veggies. On my list is anything by Neal Stephenson. One day...

  4. I don't know if I would consider Ender's Game a classic, it was written in 1985.

    How about Issac Asimov? Some consider him the founder of sci-fi. A classic (1950's) and sci-fi. I enjoyed his Foundation series, starts slow but get better. He's credited in Star Trek. The movies "I, Robot" and "Bicentennial Man" are based on his works. The Foundation series isn't only about robots, it's closer to Star Trek, it about future life.

    Dune got me too. It took me forever to finish it.

    I also like James Rollins. A team of elite "killer scientist" go mission to save the world. It plays out like a video game. But there are educational moments as well as great action. Better than Dan Brown books.

  5. Right on with the "modern ending"! I don't like sad endings to books or movies cause I'm like... real life is sad enough!

    Have you read Wheel of Time?

  6. Maybe try A Tale of Two Cities? There's definitely a love triangle (with two dudes who look the same!), and maybe bloody revolution qualifies as adventure? I think the ending is only semi-happy, though, but it's definitely a great read.

  7. For a classic that still has the feel of a modern harlequin novel, I actually really liked Wuthering Heights. Granted, it took me two check outs from the library to get through it, but when I was done, it was really pretty satisfying!

  8. Not sure this qualifies as a classic since it's fairly new, but I just read Isabel Allende's House of the Spirits and it was amazing. One of the best books I've ever read.

  9. I actually felt the same way about "The Outlander" I never really felt like I loved it, but I still ended up reading 6 books out of the 7 out. So many people had been telling me how great they were, but I couldn't help but feel Meh about them.

    As for classics...
    *T.H. White's Once and Future King (one of my all time favorites ^_^ )
    *The Lord of the Ring books
    *The Good Earth
    *Of Mice and Men

    Light and fluffy reading?
    *Anything by Philippa Gregory. Well, maybe not the Wideacre series, I finish almost everything I read even if I don't like it but I couldnt finish those.
    *I also really loved The Song of the Lioness series by Tamora Pierce.
    *Really bad in a fun way The Luxe series by Anna Godbersen.

  10. much to recomment on! love :D

    @glasses - my cousin read wrinkle in time to me when i was went right over my head completely :P maybe i should give it another shot!

    @gator - sometimes you make me feel like a bum for stopping at a bachelor's degree..and other times..not so much XD poor girl!

    @ashwini - haven't read any of your suggestions, will add to my list! and mortal instruments was good, but i felt it wasn't fleshed out enough. there's another book coming out though so maybe it'll get a bit deeper? i can hardly remember the plot now, actually XD

    @neko - nope, ender's isn't a classic, but i would consider it of literary merit/english class worthy. and glad dune wasn't just me XD was it worth it in the end?

    @alvina - have not read wheel of time. will add!

    @laura - i loveeed tale of two cities. morbid intrigue!

    @dockfrock - also loved wuthering heights :)

    @atout - will add, haven't read it!

    @celes - yes, i find myself wanting to slap both claire and jaime from time to time :P it's even a manga now!

    will try some of your suggestions..though i can't read steinbeck since i grew up in his hometown so he was ALWAYS required reading. XD

    and i liked luxe too! haha! sak wanted me to check the books out because he liked to covers *rolls eyes*, but i didn't really dig the ending so much. :P

  11. Right now I'm reading the Millennium series by Stieg Larsson. At first I was skeptical of all the hype, but once I started, I couldn't put it down. Highly recommended!

  12. I'm all about fantasy/sci-fi, but I feel like you (sometimes) and whenever I end up picking up a book that is a classic or bestseller, I end up enjoying it. I love the Dark Tower series by Stephen King! A little dark, but not scary like his normal works like The Shining or anything. And I looooved the Millennium Series, too!

  13. We heard that "The Hunger Games" were a good series. We don't read, so we don't have anything to suggest to you. Except our blog:

  14. First off, I have to say that although the Wheel of Time series is quite good, at this point it's... well, there's a lot of books. A lot of big books. A lot of big, complicated books with big, complicated, interlocking plotlines. I started reading them in '99 and it's only gotten worse since then. A really interesting series? Oh yeah. An easy-reading series? Maybe not so much. You will likely want to devote time to this.

    Another series that I could recommend is the Kushiel series by Jacqueline Carey. One caveat, though, they are VERY sexual. Because of the language she uses, they escape being brutally graphic, but.... if you are likely to be bothered by the main character of the first three books being a divinely chosen masochistic prostitute, these are not the series for you.

    As to more intellectual recommendations... ergh, it's been a while since I took literature classes that weren't Asian-focused. Ever read the Story of the Stone? Also known as the Dream of the Red Chamber. There are some pretty good translations out there, although keeping track of all the character relationships can be difficult. Oh, you might like the Tale of Murasaki, it's a novel about the author of the Tale of Genji. Modern, written in English, so quite easy to read.

    The only non-Asian thing I can think of at the moment would be the novels of Fanny Burney. I read Evelina in college and realized about halfway through it was just a ridiculous romance novel. She was slightly earlier than the Brontes but similar idea.

    And my own question- how are the Star Wars EU novels these days? I stopped reading them partway through the NJO books, forget which one I read last. Anyway, it's been a while.

  15. Hi, I love your blog! I've just finished the Hunger Games trilogy and highly recommend it.

  16. Winter has returned. I do not like because I can not stand the cold. But wearing loud clothes also quite interesting. I look like a cute bear


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