Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Would Somebody Please Force Me To Read More?

I've been tagged for a meme about books.

I don't think I've ever done an official meme on this blog, but the "tagger" was
Simple Blog Writer, and she's beyond cool, so I thought I'd give it a shot.

(and did I mention that it's about books? how can I not do it?)

1. One book that changed your life:
It, by Stephen King
Not because I think it's the greatest book ever written, or even King's greatest book, but because I started to read it and got about a hundred pages in, and lost interest, putting it away for a couple months. Then I picked it up and did the same thing over again...surrendering after a hundred pages. One day I started again from page one and became so engrossed I spent every free minute of my time with that book until I was finished 1,090 pages later. That's the first book of that size that I ever finished. And it turned me into a King fan.

2. One book that you have read more than once:
The Catcher In The Rye, J.D. Salinger
If you don't know Holden Caulfield, you really should. Seriously...go. Buy it, rent it, steal it. Get to know Holden.

3. One book you would want on a desert island:
War and Peace, Leo Tolstoy
No, I'm not saying that to sound pretentious. I figure if I was alone on a desert island, I'd eventually get so bored that I'd have to read it. I've been meaning to for the past dozen or so years, because it's regarded as one of the great literary masterpieces of all time, with reviewers fawning over it, saying that even the most minor characters spring to life. And there it sits...on my bookshelf. Unread. Mocking me. I've tried. I've failed. So push me out of a plane in the Caribbean somewhere with a parachute and an unabridged copy of War and Peace, and then I won't have a choice.

4. Two books that made you laugh:
Anything ever written by Dave Barry.
The guy could type the letter "k" on a piece of paper, publish it, and people would buy it, and laugh. Or at least I would.

Running With Scissors, by Augusten Burroughs
They say that anyone who's survived their childhood has enough material to write about for the rest of their lives. Burroughs can write for twenty lifetimes and still have stories left to tell. He's as good of a storyteller as David Sedaris.

5. One book that made you cry:
You know...I've been mulling this one over in my head for a few days now, and I can not think of a book that made me cry. That statement makes me so sad I just want to...cry.

6. One book you wish you'd written:
Any of the Robert Fulghum books. Maybe some people regard them as fluff, but...his writing is so smooth, and he turns tiny little details into great stories that make you smile, think, laugh. I'd be more than thrilled to have my name on any of those books.

Oh, and of course, the Great American Novel, as well. Cuz who doesn't want to write that, right?

7. One book you wish had never been written:
All of the garbage out there by Ann Coulter, Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, Michael Savage, Bill O'Reilly, and on and on and on and on...

8. Two books you are currently reading:
The Courage To Write, by Ralph Keyes
I'm rarely more than two or three steps away from a book on the writing craft.

Homegrown Democrat, by Garrison Keillor
Keillor was introduced to me only a short time ago...within the last couple/few years. And I owe somebody somethin' for pushing his name into my inbox and my ear so many times that I finally had to see what all the fuss was about. I'm very grateful.

9. One book you've been meaning to read:
Republic, by Plato
OK, maybe this one is on here to sound pretentious. But it's not really, either. Someday I'll slog through it.

Now comes the part where I'm supposed to tag five people to do this meme on their own blog. And I've got a couple specific people in mind who should love a meme like this. (yes, you. and you, too.) But perhaps I'll just end it like this:

If you're a voracious reader, and you visit this blog on a semi-regular basis, you've been officially tagged. If you don't have your own blog, but have answers to most of the questions...please share them in the comments.

"To buy books would be a good thing
if we also could buy the time
to read them."
—Arthur Schopenhauer


  1. You're swell, Gregg.

    I love book talk, and this was fun for me to read.

    About Garrison, sometimes for fun I tell people I'm from Lake Wobegon. No one here ever gets the joke, but it makes me smile inside.

  2. Ahhhh to be tagged... the jittery thrill of misplaced pride and cornering anyone who's not and saying, through pursed lips, "I'm IT."

    Okay I don't know what the hell that meant either. On to the questions!

    1. Oddly enough, the one I'm reading now is certainly making a dramatic adjustment in my perspective, and probably not for the better. In short, Robert Heinlein's STRANGER IN A STRANGE LAND is convincing me I may be a Martian. At the very least, it's convincing me to be more "Martian-like." Prior to that, probably THE SIRENS OF TITAN and SOMETHING WICKED THIS WAY COMES. (nice choice on IT, by the way. that was the first book I'd ever purchased on the DAY OF PUBLICATION and read it in an almost non-stop six day session. that book couldn't have come at a better time; we had just moved from Two Rivers to Milwaukee and I was in dire need of a reminder of the meaning of friendship... IT filled the bill nicely.)

    2. If you piled my reading list up book by book, you'd have the Sears Tower, so I do try to avoid the re-reading habit. The few times this has occured are strange ones... for some reason, Peter Straub's short fiction collection HOUSES WITHOUT DOORS got 2 readings in a row from me. The thing was so psychologically jarring that I had to cranially violate myself twice with it just to be sure...

    3. My "gilligan" book would have to be either The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy because presumably I'll have leanings towards suicide all alone and this book would talk me out of it. The other choice would be the Webelos Scout Handbook so I could actually do things like tie knots and fish, eh?

    4. There's this dude named Mark Leyner who wrote a book, if you can call it that, entitled "Et Tu Babe." It's the most raw, profane, yet brilliant gathering of words I've ever read. Hiassen can make me giggle in public places as well.

    5. Recently, Dean Koontz's ODD THOMAS choked me up at the finale, which surprised the hell outta' me for a number of reasons, the least of which being that I normally hate Koontz. The guy scored a homerun on this one though.

    6. There's a series of books by Jim Butcher about a private eye in Chicago named Harry Dresden who also happens to be a wizard. I'd toyed with this type of idea for a number of years; thankfully Butcher did the work for me.

    7. "The Bridges of Madison County" and anything by that insufferable hack Nicholas Sparks. Also I'm quite glad I didn't write MEIN KAMPF, y'know?

    8. Just (finally) finished STRANGER IN A STRANGE LAND by Heinlein and will probably be finding my way into Big Steve's new book DUMA KEY by the end of the week. Can't wait! New King is a time to rejoice!

    9. This may sound odd but I'd love to sit down and read The New Testament cover to cover. Being raised Jewish, my exposure to that particular book, is, to say the least, minimal. But I wish to do it on my terms, not because someone is forcing it down my throat (which a few devout friends concerned about my damned soul have tried to do from time to time.)

    If you wish me to keep my comments brief, sir, do NOT bring up books ever again!!! Just think how bad I'd be in person...!

  3. Crap I was supposed to put that on MY blog wasn't I? Sorry... this meme/tag stuff confounds me to no end....

    But I know how to make a really good omlette so, y'know, all things balance out.

  4. On Edwin McCain’s live concert DVD, Tinsel & Tap Shoes from the House Of Blues – Myrtle Beach, he’s telling a story before performing “Gramercy Park Hotel” about being at a record industry kiss-the-ring type dinner (in which he had to go out and buy clothes for) and sitting at a table that consisted of Jessica Simpson, Nick Lachey, Robb Thomas, John Mayer and himself. McCain said all that he could think of was, “in of these things is not like the other ones…”

    My attention span is as strong in some areas as it is weak in others. I can easily become engrossed in a nine inning baseball game (with or without alcohol, so stop yourself) or keep track of four basketball games at the same time, every two and a half hours from 11:00 in the morning until midnight the first weekend of March Madness or be perfectly content watching nine straight hours of the NFL Draft coverage, (big Steven A Smith) however...when it comes to books…

    I’m afraid I wouldn’t even be able to compile such a list as you folks. In the last 10 years (not counting the last seven), I’ve read THE MAJORS (John Feinstein), The History of ESPN and two biographies (The Mannings (as in Archie, Peyton & Eli) and James Taylor).

    But I will say that through some sort of osmosis I do feel smarter just having read this blog entry…now how do I get back to the football blog???... :)

  5. This was a great post Gregg, am sure you didn't have me in mind as a tag, but I did it anyway....

    you can check out the results at:

    Great Fun

  6. Great post! I actually did this meme on my blog sometime last year, otherwise I'd participate too. As for a book that made you cry, haven't you ever read Where the Red Fern Grows? I rarely cry at books or movies, but that book made me a blubbering mess. And I couldn't agree with you more on The Catcher in the Rye. It's one of my all-time faves, In fact, I once flirted with the idea of naming my first born son Holden! (Then I realized I'd doom myself to being called a phony adult by my angsty kid for the rest of my life. One must consider these things. :)

  7. Where the hell is Mitch Albom's name in all of this...???




    All excellent reads. Trust me on this one.

  8. SBW...A summer home with lake frontage on Wobegon wouldn't be the worst thing to have, would it? :O)

    Jeff...I was counting on you to ramble on this one, and you most certainly didn't let me down.

    The Webelos Scout Handbook would be quite effective, but oh so boring.

    "Et Tu, Babe" has me curious.

    TheKid...Tell ya what, I'll keep rambling to you about books, and you can keep rambling to me about sports, and before you know it, we'll both be truly brilliant human beings.

    Wait, that's not true. You know more about sports than I do about books, so I'd feel like I was stealing, or something. (I'll throw in a dozen wings.)

    Scott...Actually, I did have you in mind for this meme, and if I would have listed five specific people, you'd have been one of them.

    I know you're tech-y, and I know you're music-y, but I wasn't sure if you were book-y. (I need to stop with those.) Then I read your results and saw your link to the book post you wrote smack dab in the middle of NaBlahBlah, and I wonder how I missed it. Or maybe I read it, and just didn't remember you were a book nut.

    Either way, thanks for showing up! Now I know you're tech-y, music-y, and book-y. Whoo hoo!

    Mrs. White...I should have known you might have already participated in memes involving books, but yes...you were the "yes, you" in parentheses at the end of my post. I'll have to do a little digging and find your answers.

    And I'll look into the weepy book, too.

    You phony adult, you. :O)

    Brad...I'm a big Albom fan. I've read the first two, and own the third, but haven't gotten into it yet. It's on my to-read list. But that list is soooo long.

  9. I'm answering your question in person: pussywillows.

    Oh dear. I won't get banned, will I?

  10. *gasp!*

    That sort of language will not be tolerated on this blog!