Princess Muse

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Musings about Books (in general) and Reading

  As most of you know, I like to read.  Okay, that's a little bit of an understatement.  Like saying the Atlantic Ocean is a small body of water.  I read like most people breathe:  it has to be done in order to sustain life.  Not to brag (oh, alright, yes, I am), but by third grade, I was reading on a college level.

I have some friends who have children going into High School, and needed to get some required summer reading done.  They posted to FaceBook, looking for copies of the books to borrow.  Of the three they were asking for, I had.... all three.  And I read them for fun, not because I had to for a class.  (If you're curious, the three are:  The Once and Future King by T.H. White -- yes, the White of Strunk and White grammar fame--(oops, my friend, Melia points out that it's E.B. White who was the White in Strunk and White!  Thanks, Melia!),  Bullfinch's Mythology and Edith Hamilton's Mythology.)  One of them remarked, "I should have figured you'd have all these books, Missy, and just asked you if we could borrow them."

I got a Nook for Christmas a couple of years ago.  I have almost 350 books on it-- and I've re-read a lot of them.  One of my friends has stated that she'll never get an eReader, because she likes turning the pages too much.  I'll admit, I was a little reluctant to get an eReader for that reason, but I have a lot of books.  One could say that I'm about to drown in books (oh, but what a way to go!), and I'll admit that it was getting hard finding places to store them.  I haven't really missed turning pages.  I have a cover for my Nook that makes it look like a hardback book (kinda), and it feels like a book.  Now, I have a hard time reading a "real" book.  There are still a few problems with electronic books...mostly they're formatting glitches--I get a lot of ???? where a hyphens or commas are supposed to be.  Sometimes, words are broken up in weird ways--if you've used auto-correct, you know what I'm talking about.  But, oddly, they haven't bothered me that much.  Now, if these were print books, I'd be ranting about bad proof-readers.

I like to read the Classics (but not Thomas Hardy, but that may not be his fault.  I'll explain in a minute.), Jane Austen is my favorite.  Haven't tackled the Brönte Sisters yet, and Moby Dick was painful (but the professor for whom I read promises me that it's better the second time around.  So far, I'm taking his word on it--I haven't had the nerve to try again.)  I loved Dante's Inferno.   If you went to Colonial Heights High School in the 70s and 80s, and you took the course "Going Down, Please," then you had Mr. Bailey reading the Inferno.  I liked it so much, I read it on my own in college.  Thanks, Mr. Bailey!  Tried to read Purgatorio,  but I realized that what someone said was true:  it's more fun to read about people who are getting their just desserts, but Good Pagans just aren't as much fun.  Had to read The Mayor of Casterbridge in high school, but I didn't enjoy it.  Like I said, it may not be Hardy's fault:  for once, I had decided to only read the assigned pages.  It took forever to read that way, and I swore never to do that again.  Sometimes, it's hard being the only one (or one of a few) who knows what's happening in a book.  In another class, I ended up being the only one reading the book out loud.  (We had a student teacher who didn't realize that if you don't force people to read a page or two out loud, one person ends up being the only one reading the book.)

Mostly, I like to read Science Fiction and Fantasy.  The first Science Fiction book I knowingly read was Citizen of the Galaxy, Robert A. Heinlein.  I was baby-sitting for an Army dentist when I lived in Germany.  He lived so far out on the Economy (I don't know why we called it that, but it just means that he didn't live in Army Housing), that he didn't get AFNTV (Armed Forces Network--only one channel, but I digress).  I hadn't brought enough to read, so he gave me his copy of Citizen of the Galaxy.  The first fantasy story I read was The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien.  Actually, I read the chapter "Riddles in the Dark" from the reader we had, but I liked it so much, I went out and read the book.  The rest, as they say, is history.  I guess what I like the most about this genre is the adventure.  The setting may be unfamiliar, but that's half the fun.

I also like to read Romance novels.  Usually when I'm stressed out, but sometimes I'll read them anyway.  There's something comforting about knowing that, no matter how bad it might get, the protagonists will find their way to "Happy Ever After."

In the basement, there are probably 1,000 books.  Most of them are mine.  Some are my husband's.  There are a few (maybe a 100) that I haven't read, but I mean to someday.  As soon as I finish all these other books.  Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to aMuse myself with a good book.


  1. Mr. Bailey's English classes! Wow, he was a real bright spot for me in high school. I want to say he was my favorite English teacher, because I LEARNED so much from him, but I loved Mrs. Blaszak's zany personality so much that it's hard to choose. Suffice it to say that I always tried to sign up for any course that either one of them was teaching.

    I took the Dante course from Mr. Bailey, and also something about plays that I loved (can't remember the name). I particularly remember painstakingly t-y-p-i-n-g my paper on "Cat On A Hot Tin Roof" at our kitchen table - typewriters are one technology that really deserved to be thrown on the trash heap of history - feeling very nervous about using the word "homosexuality" on a school assignment in 1979 Colonial Heights. But it seemed essential to the analysis, so I used it. My affection for Mr. Bailey knew no bounds when I saw the big "A" written on the front of my paper, and it continues unabated to this day. Thanks, Mr. Bailey! And thanks, Missy, for reminding me of one of the very best things about CHHS - their English Department!

    P.S. Wasn't the "White" in Strunk & White E.B. White, who wrote "Charlotte's Web"? I love that book so much. When I learned that he had written that book as a tribute to his wife, Katherine, an editor of the New Yorker who died at a somewhat early age, I was so touched. What could be a better compliment than this: "She was in a class by herself. It is not often that someone comes along who is a true friend and a good writer. Charlotte was both."

  2. Yep, same're right....I got my White's mixed up....E.B., T.H....J.R.R. ..... can't anyone use a real name? (lol) I'll have to go back and fix that...thanks for the catch...

    Mr. and Mrs. Bailey all but adopted me in my Senior year...Mom joked that she was glad someone else was willing to help finance my college career...because of Mr. Bailey, I never got anything below a "B" on a paper I wrote in HS, college or grad school....but I still cannot explain the difference between a misplaced modifier and a dangling participle....he tried, but I figure as long as I can spot the mistakes and fix them, that's the important part....

  3. So Mr. Bailey was a true friend who helped you be a good writer...I think E.B. White would have approved.

  4. If I ever can hope to call myself a good writer, it's all because of Mr. Bailey.
    "Tell me what you're going to say, say it, tell me what you said." Works for every kind of paper I've ever had to write!