It's no secret I'm a big fan of lists. I've done countless (ironic, eh?) different ones, mostly about films. So when I saw the list "7 Of My Dirty Reading Secrets" by Casey Crisswell on the blog, Cinema Fromage, I had to chime in with my own. This is not a strictly "horror-based" post, in fact, most of it is just off the cuff. But I love reading insights into others' choices and reasons for who they have become, so here are some of mine.
1) When I was a kid, I discovered two Hemingway novels - For Whom the Bell Tolls and The Old Man and the Sea - on our bookshelf. Even back then I held them in my hands with such reverence, even though I had no clue whatsoever what they were about or who the hell Hemingway was. Somehow I just knew they were important. However, now that I look back, I have no idea how they came to be on that bookshelf, as the only thing my mother ever read were those old gothic romance novels or Mary Higgins Clark. And my dad? Well, let's just say he's had a subscription to Sports Illustrated since the year Seattle Slew won the Triple Crown (that's 1977, folks.) So I have to assume the Hemingway magically appeared on the shelf, delivered by the sacred book gods for me to discover and soon realize there are actually other authors besides Stephen King, and they have equally as important things to say.
2) My favorite book as a young child? The Velveteen Rabbit, by Margery Williams. It is this book (soon followed by Charlotte's Web by E.B. White and Black Beauty by Anna Sewell) that forged my life-long love of animals. The story of a battered stuffed rabbit who yearns to be real still has the ability to tug at my heartstrings (yes, people! I do have them!) It is the first book that I can remember making me FEEL something. The thought that the boy loved the bunny so much but then forgot him so quickly made my heart break. That said, it has a stellar magical ending, so all hope is not lost. But books like the three above really got me - and still to this day, if an animal dies in a book (or in a movie, on tv, in real-life - whenever!), it just makes me feel ill - and ALWAYS brings a tear to my eye.
3) I bought a Kindle around 9 months ago. Yes, I use it. And yes, I like it. It is convenient, more than anything. BUT IT DOESN'T SMELL LIKE A NEW BOOK. I have an overwhelming love of printed papers glued together with binding, so sue me. There's this little book store in a nearby town that I have to go to at least a few times a month. Even more than the Borders (that recently closed, fuck you very much) I used to frequent, this store smells like BOOKS. That musty, inky, papery (is that a word?) smell I love so much. Nothing is more exciting to me than walking through the doors of a bookstore - any bookstore, truth be told. I can spend hours in a book store.
That being said, a Kindle is an terrific piece of electronics to have when you want to be inconspicuous while reading Little Birds by Anaïs Nin. So when the guy at the eye doctors sits down beside you, a couple of clicks and you're back to reading Jane Eyre.
4) Speaking of Jane Eyre. Much as I love it and countless other classics, I'm not a pretentious book snob. I can't be. I read waaaay too much fluff, random fiction, and paranormal/fantasy novels. Although, there is a lot of really well written fiction out there that doesn't have the name Dickens or Austen on the cover. And much as I may want to revolt against saying it, I love a good vampire love story. There it is, I've said it. And no, I DON'T MEAN TWILIGHT. This admission also doesn't mean I don't like a horrific vampire novel where the bloodsuckers are beasts from the depths of hell, because I do. (For instance, I'm currently celebrating the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic by reading "Carpathia", by Matt Forbeck, which is essentially Titanic mashed up with 30 Days of Night...) But I also love a good supernatural romance. I don't think this is going to make me hand over my hard-core horror card anytime soon, but it took a lot for me to admit that fact.
5) In college, I read a book (required for my English Lit class) called The Pine Barrens. My apologies to the people of New Jersey that this book references, but this book was more boring than watching stocks scroll across the television all day long. I still have yet to understand why we were reading about the flora and fauna of New Jersey, compared to something like Crime and Punishment or The Catcher in the Rye. It's not that I don't enjoy books about nature, because I certainly do. I have a ton of non-fiction on various subjects from songbirds to Yellowstone to weather disasters to field guides on trees...but I seriously think The Pine Barrens is the single-most tedious and prosaic book I've ever had the opportunity to want to gouge my eyes out over. Sorry.
6) Sometimes I read portions of a book before I read the whole thing cover to cover. It's a weird habit, one I can't stop - at least not yet. I've been reading a lot of series as of late, and on occasion, I will sift through the book to see if I can find some juicy bits or life-altering moments in the latest novel. I'm not proud of myself, but there is is. I do end up reading the whole thing eventually, but it's kind of a warped "if I die I want to know what happens" thing. Generally, I won't be a total ass and read the ending though....I haven't descended that far into oblivion yet.
7) I've read everything Stephen King has written. Except his Dark Tower series. I own them, they are on my bookshelf, but I haven't read even one page. I know it is supposed to be amazing and fabulous and some of the best he's written, even according to the author himself. But I can't bring myself to do it. It sounds like something I would like, no doubt. Something like King's version of LOTR (don't worry, I'm not comparing them, I read the LOTR series and I'm aware it cannot be weighed evenly against anything else. I'm not stupid you know.) But as previously stated, I just can't seem to want to read them. Maybe someday....
So there you have it, seven of my deepest, darkest reading secrets. Nothing too earth shattering. Just a little glimpse into my warped mind.