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Literary Barometer

Musing Mondays2

Do you prefer deep, intellectual, “meaty” books… or light, “fluffy” books? Why? Give us an example of your preferred type of book.

Not necessarily intellectual meaty books—but at least they shouldn’t be mindless. It should be literature and not just any fiction. Between long stretches of literary fiction I punctuate some fluffy reads, especially when I’m on vacation. An example would be my last read, Great House by Nicole Krauss, despite the fact that it’s flawed and overworked. The writing is richly poetic and the language velvety. Speaking of the writing alone, however the book itself is over-wrought, scattered, and unfocused, Krauss’s style is up my alley. It’s almost like reading Toni Morrison’s Beloved. One book that is highly intellectual but never loses focus on the big picture is Molly Fox’s Birthday by Deirdre Madden. In one day’s time, the book plies the well-guarded nutshells of her three characters, the three friends, who are connected mostly deeply through their emotionally charged moments, in which they comfort, console, and communicate one another in career bumps, failed marriage, unspoken affection, and family tensions. The writing of Molly Fox is like pockets of information popping out of the screen upon a touch of the finger. Flow of the book is never compromised by the non-linearity of the narrative. A coherent novel full of convolutions is The Meaning of Night by Michael Cox. It ponders on how inherited wealth and privilege have trampled implacably on the claims of common human feeling and family connexion.

18 Responses

  1. Nice idea. I’ve recently been thinking about the number of ‘fluffy’ books I’ve been reading and have come to the conclusion that I enjoy them as much as the bigger meatier types – in fact it’s been a long time since I’ve read anything.

    It’s sometimes hard to distinguish between the fluffy and the meaty also with this whole genre of ‘literary fiction’ being seemingly subjective.

    • My problem is I tend to get bored by fluffy books, unless the plot has to do with dogs or any subject that is close to my heart. I read more mystery than fluffy books.

  2. I read Molly Fox last year, and this is the first time I’ve seen it anywhere but my list!

    I’m also going to check out The Meaning of Night.

    Happy Reading!

    • Unofrtunately I cannot find Madden’s other works, and I have to special order from England. The Meaning of Night is what I call a literary thriller. I just got the other book, which is also his last one, since he passed away in 2009, The Glass of Time.

  3. Ah, good stuff, as always. And obviously, love the nod to Molly. :O)

  4. I have wanted to read Great House and Meaning of Night for a while now…I am glad to hear you recommend them ( with some reservations)!

    • I’m still open to reading Nicole Krauss even though I don’t highly recommend Great House. She’s capable of better works than Great House. 🙂

  5. I love both genres, though I tend to read more fluff 😀

    • I tend to get bored by fluffs because I’m over-analytical! I need to learn just to enjoy a great story., not to take the words too seriously. 🙂

  6. I’d say both, but my current read, A Prayer for Owen Meany, is of the meatier variety, and I always feel so much better upon completion of those books than the fluff books, but I do read both in approximately equal number.

    It’s like the books are the road, and being an avid reader is like having a high performance car. You enjoy navigating the difficult & winding roads in the hills to flex your driving skill, but you also enjoy the flat straightaways, where you can set the cruise control and just enjoy the ride.

    • What a beautiful and thoughtful put for reading lighter books. I need to learn how to enjoy a great story, no matter what the writing style is. A comfort read would be a treat after some obscure, convoluted literary fiction.

  7. I like an even mix. Sometimes, particularly after I have read a few fabulously deep and meaty books, I need some light fluff to ease the brain cells.

    • I picked up a couple “beach reads” for my vacation once but ended up seeking books that were more substantial in scope. I find comfort reads the best companion for a long-haul flight.

  8. Is this a meme because I just saw this question elsewhere as well. I like a mix and I also like a mix of genres. I get bored somewhat reading the same thing!

    • I guess I read a diversity of world literature within the same genre rather than varying genres. I should explore more the different genres under fiction.

  9. I like to read books that provoke me to think about the world in new ways. So definitely no fluff for me. It seems more popular these days to say that there’s no such thing is literature and everything is subjective, but I disagree. When I’ve read and enjoyed something meaty, I know it. When I’ve wasted my time with fluff, I know it too. Genre fiction isn’t necessarily fluff, but it needs to transcend its genre and say something new or be spectacularly well-written.

    • I feel the same way about wasting time on fluffs, and that is why I bias against them when I shop for books. There exists that subliminal message that I want to spend money on novels that reflect diversity of culture and human condition, and fluffs aren’t the right place to begin with.

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