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My Kind of Books

Musing Mondays2

This week’s musing has quite a long but contemplative question:
I once knew a man who read about WWII. He read everything he could get his hands on on the subject. He had a whole wall of books that were all about WWII. It amazed me. How could he continue to find one subject that engrossing? My mother, on the other hand, loves to read best sellers. I’ve known other people who read science fiction to the exclusion of everything else; for others it was philosophy, self-help, or history.

So, to the questions:What kind of books do you like to read?
Why? Provide specific examples.

I pursue a wide range of interests in fiction: contemporary China, history of England, moral confusion, and self-enlightenment (character study). I don’t always read the same subject matter but I almost always read literary fiction that delves into these humanity issues. Although literature is unsystematic, comparing to disciplines like history, psychology and philosophy, literature mobilizes all our faculties of knowledge at once: not just our ability to analyze the outer world but our introspection and intuition as well. Literature is where different cultural faculties and perceptions converge—by perusing literature across geographical barriers, we obtain an understanding of diversity. Literature is the great school of motivation: it teaches us how, out of the complex welter of impulses churning within us, we make the choices that define us and seal our fate. That said, the following list of books truly outdo themselves in such purpose:

Shadow without a Name Ignacio Padilla
The Master and Margarita Mikhail Bulgakov
A Separate Peace John Knowles
The Brothers Karamazov Fyodor Dostoevsky
Giovanni’s Room James Baldwin
The Name of the Rose Umberto Eco
Death with Interruptions Jose Saramago
The Painted Veil W. Somerset Maugham
Maurice E.M. Forster
The Go-Between L.P. Hartley
Beloved Toni Morrison
To the Lighthouse Virginia Woolf
East of Eden John Steinbeck
Fingersmith Sarah Waters
The Remains of the Day Kazuo Ishiguro

I have not included any books read this year because some of them will appear on my Best of 2011 list, to be announced later.

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2 Responses

  1. oh jeez i’m kind of glad i missed this musing- it would take me a year to answer. i like literary fiction as you may know but i go through phases with nonfiction. i once spent a year reading about the former yugoslavia and then developed an interest in judaica. next year it will be something else!

  2. I read so many different genres. Nonfiction feeds my hunger for learning. I’m particularly interested in history mainly but not limited to British and American History. This year I read Ladies of Liberty and Founding Mother’s by Cokie Roberts. I also read the Booker Prize winning historical fiction Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel. Because I have tween I also read some YA (ie. Hunger Games Trilogy). I’m also a lover over poetry and spent this year reading through poems by Kay Ryan and Mary Oliver. Before this year I basically read classic poets but gained an appreciation for more contemporary poets and have fallen in love with contemporary poetry. I also read some current and past best sellers. There really is no rhyme or reason to what I read. So much intrigues me and I can’t read enough. My husband on the other hand likes to read mainly New York Times Best Sellers. Mostly memiors and biographies but some fiction as well. Out home has it all covered I think. The one area I want to expand more on (especially after reading your post on Faulkner) is more difficult literary fiction. The sort of fiction that intimidates me. I was able to hear Toni Morrison speak at this years National Book Festival and I’d love to read her but I’ve always been intimidated by her and the likes of Faulker. This year maybe I should make that my literary resolution.

    Great topic!

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