Wednesday, October 6, 2010

A thought.... and book readers.

So ....

not so much stuff about books sticking up on my blog lately -- partly that's because I've had NO TIME -- partly because I don't have any interesting books (or at least, interesting enough to me at the moment books ) to post about.

On the other hand, I READ some very interesting blogs (book-wise and otherwise nearly every day).

Chris Lowenstein of Bookhunter's Holiday has a nifty article about some comic dust jackets that she recently picked up: see here.

And just yesterday, Robin McKinley has two posts which caught my fancy.  The first was about being pigeon-holed into a particular genre / sub-genre as an author and how that can have interesting repercussions that go on for years: here,

but she also made one of those throw-away statements that just struck me -- since it was about something I have done over the years off and on.

In the above post (regarding being stuck in a certain type of fiction come h#ll or high water), she makes an off-the-cuff statement at the bottom in her footnotes. Here:  "and I’m an evil cow with a bad attitude, and I throw more books across the room than I don’t."

For several years when I was very impressionable, I went to catholic school (capitalize catholic?  not sure... it's not a proper name).  We were told very severely NOT to deface books, mark books, break the spine of books, damage books in any way shape or form.  In  my mind, that pretty much included throwing them indiscriminately.

Later though, teachers ENCOURAGED students to write in their books (of course, these were the books that the student didn't have to turn back in at the end of the year).  I didn't do it. I couldn't. The training had sunk in. I did find myself becoming more liberal about the damage / defacement options -- and had found that I would NOT be struck by lightning if for some reason a book was accidentally injured. (this really is leading somewhere...just slowly).

In high school we were not only encouraged to read (as if I wasn't already reading through classes that I should not have) but required to read a "CLASSIC" of our choice.  I honestly don't remember which year it was, but probably junior year.  I have NO idea why I picked Gone with the Wind (Margaret Mitchell), but it might have been due to the fact that I was a regular viewer of the Carol Burnett Show and at some point, fell on the floor laughing at her famous Tara skit featuring the curtains (and curtain rod -- designed by the fabulous Bob Mackie).

So I read it.  I read the WHOLE book (as it was a requirement and had to do a report on it).

I found several things.  I loathe (yes, more than one notch above general dislike or hate) I loathe the character of Scarlett O'Hara.  Rhett Butler was a self-absorbed nincompoop. Frank whatshisname, her on-again-off-again beau / crutch should have walked away forever. Instead, he was as co-dependent in his behavior as Scarlett was.  ( I know I'm putting myself in hot water here because some of these characters are, for people, icons of classic writing,etc.  Well, not for me. Sue me.).

The end of that book made me so mad I did something I had never done to a book before.  I threw it across the room with a resounding thump, then watched it slide down and lay in a forlorn puddle on the floor.  Big book. RESOUNDING thump.

I hated that book.  To this day, "I'll think about it tomorrow"  is just as likely to have steam coming out my ears now as it was then.

I KNOW that I was young and I am SURE I missed some, if not most of the sub-text going on in the book, but I am not about to try to re-read it now just to make sure.

That was the first book I threw across a room in protest, but it certainly wasn't my last.

In self-defense, I'm not really a thrower. I try not to get myself into such a state that throwing is the only option left, but that book really did it to me.

The other book that made just as deep and abidingly bad impression was Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte.  (Gasp! ).  If I hadn't been in a crowded, swaying van on the byways of  Belgium, with no lunch in me and no prospect of food forthcoming (and if you know me, not having enough food is a sure way to set me off to begin with), I would have thrown that book as well.  That book gave me a headache.
( I was 19 at the time, and again I probably missed contexts, etc. but I was a SciFi reader from way back... I appreciated characters who DID something about dismal situations -- better yet, I had already read Robin McKinley who featured young women / girls in situations that were dire and still managed to not be doormats.)

So the question of the day for readers......

What book did you throw across the room?

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