Last week was movies. This week its books.
1. What was the last book that you absolutely could not put down until you finished it?
for this, I have to reference this. I am such a book nut that I archive everything I read. I started doing this years ago, noting down books as I read them. Now that I have probably a hundred catalogued, I find it a very useful resource. Plus, allow me cop to the fact that it is a bit pretentious. It sounds like something Sting would do. To me, Sting sets the bar for pretension. But, it is practical. I read a lot, about a book a month. This helps me keep it straight in my mind, and go back to find authors that I loved.
Now, back to the question. The last book that just rocked my world was an audiobook… so that could constitute cheating. It was ‘Lamb’. This was the most amazing book. I believe it is one of the best and most important and amazing books ever written. Note (again, Sting alert here) I have a degree in Literature, so I know of what I speak. Lamb was amazing, life changing! I put it up there with Alice in Wonderland. If you are a reader here, then you know my devotion to that book. If you are not a reader here, what are you doing reading here, huh? You got some esplainin’ to do.
Allow me to tell you a tiny bit more about Lamb that might shed light on the truly religious experience it had on me. When I listened to it, I was driving by myself across the desert on Christmas day. I had not slept in 4 days, so I was literally loopy. Also, I am a recovering Catholic. This means I believe in Jesus and most of his story, up until he died. I do believe there was a Jesus. I do believe he was a leader, and I do believe he was murdered for that. I don’t believe he came back to life.
I didn’t mean to be listening to the fictionalized story of Christ on Christmas day. Nor did I mean to be driving through the desert by myself whacked on sleep deprivation when I did. Those are all just amazing co-incidences that made it a very seriously powerful experience for me. You must read that book. Religious or not. It is incredibly thoughtful. it is not satire, or humor. It is at least as accurate as the Bible, and I am dead serious about that. Both were written by men who were nowhere around when it happened. At least Moore cops to it.
There you have it. I have officially not written that much about a book (besides Alice in Wonderland) since college.
2. Do you have a difficult to read author/book that you really want to read/finish?
I did. There have been many books I meant to finish. Many books that felt embarrassed that I had not read or finished. Finally, though, I realized life is too short to read boring books. Here is an example – Gabriel Garcia Marquez wrote ‘100 years of solitude‘. It has been regarded by about every scholar as one of the greatest books ever written. Entire college courses are taught on this book. So, being as though I am a lit guy, I should read it. I should know it. I tried. I really did. a bunch of times. Here is my educated literary analysis – holy fuck is it boring. See, it is 500 pages. So, your first 60 pages are just about setting the scene and introducing characters. I couldn’t get past page 25 ever. So, this book is shelved. I am not even going to try anymore.
There is a really great article/infographic about this very topic. Btw, full Sting disclosure here. As much as I truly enjoy talking about books, I did not pick these questions. These came from my editor, who is my close buddy who turned me on to blogging ten years ago.
3. If you had to pick a genre that your read as a favorite, what is it?
non-fiction memoirs, and neurology. I am a freelance neurologist. Go ahead, google it. Just kidding, you can’t. I just made it up. Ok, that was a little Stingy. Allow me to explain that reference. Sting put out a movie of him playing lute and discussing literature with guys with bears and tweed coats. Doing those things doesn’t make you a douche, but putting out a movie of you doing those things sure does.
4. If you had to help someone who “doesn’t get into reading” what would you suggest to them to light their fire?
start light. Comedians often write great and super funny books. Here is one I read fairly recently. it is really enjoyable, and super fluffy. Also, I strongly recommend Alice in Wonderland. it is not too long, amazingly well written, and totally absurd. Here is an even better one. This book, Animal Farm, is super entertaining, and incredibly thoughtful. it is also so short you can read it one night. Classes have been taught about this book, too. Hell, Pink Floyd made an album about it.
5. What are you reading right now?
Nothing, actually. I just finished this last week, and am in between books. I am pretty sure I am going to get a couple books on Russian history. For now, though, I am on brain vacation and just reading my magazines (Rolling Stone, Playboy, Popular Mechanics, and Psychology Today). Both of the Russian history books are over 400 pages each. I am a bit intimidated to get into something that thick and thinky, but it is a fascinating tale. Like, if you asked anyone on Earth who the worst person in history is, most would agree Hitler. Lemme tell you, when it comes to body count, no one comes CLOSE to Stalin. Stalin makes Hitler look like a youth league volunteer for charity by comparison.
I go back and forth between really thinky stuff, and fluffy memoirs. Oooh oooh! I just thought of another great book you should read. Adam Carolla has a couple terrific memoirs out. I am a big fan of Carolla’s podcast, and listen almost daily. Start with this one, and then do this one.
* since we are talking about books, and Alice in Wonderland, I have an update. I finally scored the holy grail of books. This is the book I have been wanting for 25 years. It is scarce, and believed by many to have never even existed. Alice in Wonderland illustrated by Ralph Steadman. I haven’t even cracked it open yet. I have too much on my plate to really lose myself in it like I want to.
So… who turned you on to the book, Lamb? Was it a Christmas present or something?
The book was handed to me in a parking lot in Phoenix, AZ wrapped in tin foil. Nothing weird about that, eh? As for the who, it was you, James. Reminds me of those ABC after school movies. Ragey dad comes in and yells at his son “where did you pick up this smoking and drinking and swearing from?”
YOU, dad. I got it from YOU (wipes tears)