Because I like to stay at the cutting edge

Hello everyone. Sorry about that. I have been elsewhere.

It is fair to say that I will be posting a lot less in future though. I have discovered eBay.

This is a joke.

Right – here we go.

(1) A book that changed your life

“How many a man has dated a new era in his life from the reading of a book!” says Henry Thoreau, showing that (a) he has never heard of the question mark, (b) he has not read anything by Germaine Greer and (c) he believes a book can change your life. I’m not so sure. A lot of books have made me think. But I hope I have always thunk, and this doesn’t count as life-changing. I will come back to this one! Right I’m back! (I realise that the passage of time doesn’t translate too well into writing, so have a little pause here… Ready?) I am picking Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser. I think this counts because the way I viewed fast food before and after reading it were profoundly different. I’m not saying that I ate much of the putrid stuff pre-FFN either, but it definitely changed my life! It doesn’t mean it is a good book though. (It is a good book, but it is not is life-changeliness that makes it so.)

(2) A book that you’ve read more than once

We-ell, almost every book I have ever read. Except the shit ones. Sometimes even the shit ones. I sometimes feel I haven’t given them a proper chance, you know? I am changing this one!

(2a) A book that you’ve read again and again

Well, lots, again. I am going to pick Harry Potter and the [insert rest of title here]. Mainly because reading a series as it is being written does necessitate re-reading the old material before a new release. Well, I think it does anyway. That is why when people are reading the new Harry Potter they ask me “Why is such and such significant?” or “When did thay happen?” because I think it is important to know. This is fact #48 that you can use to prove that Chris is anal.

(3) A book you’d want on a desert island

Um, Smith and Thomson’s Guide to Getting off Islands? How about Learn to Swim Long Distance in a Week? Or Making Boats out of Palm Trees For Idiots? It would have to be something long and very re-readable, I suppose… You wouldn’t want to go mad and end up talking to a volleyball. I would choose something that I haven’t yet read so I at least get the first read through as fresh. In fact I would choose War and Peace as it is legendarily long and I liked Anna Karenina so it can’t be that bad.

(4) A book that made you giddy

Hmm. Well manly men like me don’t really do giddy, you know. I remember reading the end of Leviathan by Boris Akunin and having a sudden rush of understanding (not on an important plot point, I should point out, but on a side story!) that made me feel a little vertiginous. Or, maybe Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, which made me so giddy I fell over. However, as I was rushed to hospital about an hour later with suspected meningitis, I feel this is perhaps not so much the book, and more the bright light I was reading it by.

(5) A book you wish had been written

Um, How to Speak to Pretty Girls When You Are a Fourteen-year-old Adolescent, You Freak? Perhaps not. As hard as it is to talk about something that specifically doesn’t exist, I will go for either a Famous Five book where Julian admits he is gay, or a decent sequel to Vurt by Jeff Noon (i.e. one that isn’t the mediocre Pollen). It is the last one that is my serious choice, I think.

(6) A book that racked you with sobs

Well, I refer you to the manly man I mentioned before. Having said that, I have to blush and admit that I do shed a tear at the end of The Unbearable Lightness of Being. I wouldn’t say I’m beside myself or anything, but it is a great bit of writing that makes me sad. It’s doubly incredible that it’s about a dog, and I don’t even like dogs! (Well, I mean, technically it isn’t about a dog, it’s about the human condition and all that guff, but you get the picture.) Pomgirl will no doubt be confused by this choice, but Kundera really is proof that you can be “unbearably” pretentious and still a complete and utter genius. Immortality is even better, but not as tear-provoking.

(7) A book you wish had never been written

No hesitation – Wicked by Gregory Maguire. It is unremittingly awful. It makes all other books look like Immortality! It has so many different bits of story, none of which are connected, by theme or event; the characters behave in a very inconsistent manner; the interesting bits suddenly stop and throw you 10 years into the future, leaving you wondering what the hell is going on; and perhaps worst of all, it claims to be revolutionary in its outlook, making great social commentary, but never succeeds in making a single, coherent point. It is a big old pile of rubbish! Although, (and there’s always an although, isn’t there?!) it did inspire the eponymous Broadway (and now West End) musical, which is really very good, so maybe I don’t wish it had never been written. But I do wish it had been written better/by someone else. Does this count?

(8) A book you are currently reading

The Lord of the Rings – by you-know-who (no, not Lord Voldemort, the other one). I have been reading this for about 14 years on and off. It is… not great! I like the films, I really do, and the story is not itself a bad one… but what made Tolkien think he was a writer?! He has the cheek to claim in his prologue (which itself runs at about 1.4 million pages) that the only criticism he will allow of his magnum opus is that it is too short. Too short! Get a grip, man. It is longer than a piece of string (but only if that piece of string can wrap itself around the globe seven times… It is written dreadfully, with different books containing separate stories and the very bare minimum of effort put into weaving these stories together. Anyway, I’ll stop now, as I know every other person in the world disagrees with me.

(9) A book you’ve been meaning to read

The Age of Reason by Thomas Paine. I have it on order now, so I’ve finally done something about this. Alternatively, A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking, as I’ve always felt I should (and it was given to me for Christmas). Similarly, The Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins, which has just come out in a 30th Anniversary edition, which may be a good excuse. I really must read more by Ann Coulter too. In fiction, I have a burning desire to read Hopscotch by someone-or-other Cortazar (I forget). My birthday is in June. Hint. Hint.

(10) Recommend a happy book for Pomgirl

Yes Man by Danny Wallace
The Consolations of Philosophy by Alain de Botton
House of Sleep by Jonathan Coe (oh no wait, I’m too late)
Pest Control by Bill Fitzhugh
Jeffrey Archer: Stranger than Fiction by Michael Crick

for various reasons. Some are funny, some are gentle and amusing, some are ridiculous. They aren’t all amazing, by any stretch, but that isn’t what you asked for. In some ways I recommend Jeffrey most of all. You will laugh your actual arse off, and so will be allowed to use LMAO, and will really learn to be smug that he got sent to gaol. For a recommendation, look no further than “I hate this book” which you will find on the front cover. (Quote courtesy of Jeffrey Archer.)

Hope that was instructive. Really it breaks my First Law of Blogging, which is not to make any post take longer than three minutes to read, but hey. If you managed to make it this far, why not reward yourself by playing with my new pet bat. He eats flies if you wake him up. (Want one yourself? Visit my links box!)


15 thoughts on “Because I like to stay at the cutting edge

  1. Hey Chris, glad you are back and thanks for recommending me some happy books. I like the sound of the Jeffrey Archer one best of all. I have If On A Winter’s Night A Traveller (which you recommended) out from the library but haven’t started reading it yet. I haven’t read Immortality yet either. I cried so much when Karenin died in T.U.L.O.B (tulob? that sounds like it should be a word).

    Bruce is a good name for a bat.

    Your middle column is very small! Are you having “issues”?


  2. glad you came back….shall come back myself and fill in your questionaire, even though i try to avoid such things, i feel i owe you one for my obituary 🙂

    right, gonna go have breakfast, and think books…

  3. btw, if you can remeber that poem you left in my comments…well, i’d like another read…


  4. Pomgirl: Chris will just moan at you about having bad resolution so I thought I’d warn you! Apparently Bruce was too big for the old side bar so it had to be made wider. That is why the middle is now very skinny.

  5. I read People magazine recently and believe I should be IN it (not writing it). There should be a stunning pictorial of me snuggling up with George Clooney, announcing our plans to run off together and live giddily ever after.

    I just can’t seem to find any books with George on the front….!

  6. PS Cheers Pommy. You won’t regret If on a winter’s night, trust me. (Well, you might not like it, of course, that would be your prerogative!)

    I can’t decide if you are impugning my manhood. If you are, please stop! Welshy will blush.

    Do I get to meet you on your World Tour, by the way?

    Inconsequential; firstly, I have just realised what a long word that is to type. Secondly, fantastic, you are my first taggee. I hadn’t even meant to tag anyone. I look forward to it.

    The poem… Er, can’t remember it, but can try to reconstruct it…

    Rhyming poetry
    makes it harder to express
    my love of orange.

    Hmmm… but I can’t swear it is an exact replica.

    It is shit, of course, and not even a proper haiku, but we will gloss over that. As stated before, I have a love/hate thing with haiku which I will post about at some point when I have the time. (It will be a long one, not necessarily in length, but in preparation time. So yes it will be a macrocosm of a haiku… how complicated.)

    Cheers for explaining so I didn’t have to, Welshy. It is true that people who complain should get new monitors!

    I’ll leave with another haiku:

    Haiku en francais.
    Il est difficile parce que
    je ne le parle pas.

    Fun fun fun.

  7. 🙂
    1) it was a maths text book at school, when i was 8.
    it made me observe something that change? or revealed something, about the way i saw the world.
    so, although the content may not have meant much, but the result altered my perception…

    2)count zero, by mr gibson.
    2a) enders game, orson scott card.
    3) hitch hikers guide.
    4) forth mansions by R A Lafferty,
    it fell off my shelf, it’s hard backed, and i gained a mild concussion when i stumbled backwards and fell, twatting my head resoundedly on my ‘puter monitor.
    5)how to not be fucked up in the head and still be me.
    6)oddly, the same book as you.
    different reason though.
    in fact, just looking at it hurts.
    7)the bible.
    8)count zero, re-reading…again…
    9) i didn’t have anything concrete for this, but now i’m actively hunting c s lewis’s great divorce
    10) voltair’s candide? candice?
    it’s the best book in this the best of all possible worlds…

  8. Chris, I must say, I dont know what to think about ‘Wicked’. My friend Tom bought it for me for a birthday. It’s a little odd, and yeh it jumps around lots, and that awful bit in the philosophy club- yuck yuck yuck, it’s horrid- for that part alone, I have decided never to read Wicked again. But thanks for the recommendation for the Musical!

    Lord of the Rings- if you get past the bit in Rivendell, it gets a lot better- that bit goes on for faaaaar too long! I started reading it when I was 8, and got really bogged down by that bit, gave up and went back to it a couple of years later, skipping the Rivendell bit and loved it!

    I do like your number 3, it is very funny!

  9. Well done Welshy. Got to love Google.

    I really prefer “Agnes Grey” though!

    Thanks for that, Inconsequential (or as people seem to be calling you, “Inc”) – always glad to find another member of the TULOB fan club. Tell me more about how you wish the Bible had never been written. I like a bit of controversy.

    Kezzie, ah! Someone who persevered through Wicked! Mind you, if you like LOTR, patience is clearly one of your virtues!

    Yes, the scene in the Philosophy club is bizarre, a little unpleasant, and wholly redundant. Normally in a novel this dull I would have been crying out for a bit of sexual deviancy to brighten the day up, but it just fell a little flat.

    Seriously go and check the show out. It on at the Apollo Victoria, and if you’re quick will have Idina Menzel in who is insanely good. I know you’re a local, so you can nip for some of the last minute cheap(er) tickets, and it won’t cost you a million squids. What are you waiting for?!

  10. We should. You are cruel to that poor bat. He wants a relationship with his new daddy, you know? Merely telling your readers to feed him is not meeting his basic needs! I shall be reporting you if you don’t come back soon!

  11. Thanks for the tip! Will try to go. By the way, Wicked has now wended its way into the bag to go to the charity shop, so some poor soul somewhere will find it!

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