Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Reading Habits

Our move to Stormville entailed a killer commute for Mrs Vache Folle, most of which is on a Metro North train. This provides Mrs VF, already a prodigious reader, with lots of reading time. She reads three books or so at a time: her train book, her bed book, and her living room book. She has sent a couple of real winners my way recently: Out of the Flames and The Volcano Lover. She has a pretty good sense of what I might like.

I usually have two books going: my bathroom book (currently McCullough's John Adams) and my bed book (this is my main book and the one I take on aircraft with me when I have to travel). My current bed book is God's Playground, a history of Poland to 1795, by Davies. I am also rereading Daniel Dennett's Consciousness Explained but temporarily misplaced my copy.

My tastes are fairly eclectic and range from history to science to literature. I have only in the past couple of years discovered good contemporary fiction. I have been working my way slowly through the award winners (National Book, Booker, Pulitzer) and have not been disappointed. I kick myself that I went so many years without exposure to writers of the caliber of Chabon, Franzen, Sonntag, and so on.

One of my greatest pleasures is historical fiction. I wept when I finished the last Patrick O'Brian Captain Aubrey novel. I moved on to Horatio Hornblower and wept again when I finished that series. Richard Sharpe, Bernard Cornwell's Napoleonic era rifleman, has provided a lot of entertainment, and there is always the hope of yet another installment to fill in the gaps in his military career. Cornwell also has good series set in the 100 Years' War and in Arthurian Britain. I could not get into his Civil War series for some reason. Mrs VF turned me on to Sharon Kay Penman and her historical novels about the English royal family in the middle ages.

The top three books of all time in my life (in no particular order):

Goedel, Escher, Bach - mind blown, a must reread.
Life of Pi - surprising impact on me spiritually.
Swiss Family Robinson - read 5 times in one summer when I was about 12.

Things I regret having read because I will never get those wasted hours of my life back:

All those Ludlum spy novels.
Tom Clancy novels.
Anything by George Will.

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