I'm very aware of the reasons given for the importance of reading novels, and I've been influenced by this sort of thing for most of my life. I've never snobbily turned up my nose at novels, like Mr. Collins. I've always had the impression that the best people read novels. That has motivated me to try to be the sort of person who reads a lot of novels. Great mental powers, knowledge of human nature, and wit and humour are also displayed in well-chosen language in works of nonfiction and even in blogs or in live conversation. And novels also contain plenty of foolish notions, tedious observations, phony depictions of human nature, and awful writing. I'm most interested in learning about things that are true and hearing great ideas, and I have never found novels to be a particularly rich source. Of course there are the emotion-stirring stories, but for that, there are so many movies to see, nearly all of which are fiction. But I find I don't have much interest in stories -- all those personal problems with relationships! Even for a film, I'd rather see a documentary.Well, documentaries I can do without, especially pretentious ones (and they're all pretentious it seems). My book reading advice is to stay away from best seller lists; stick to books that have been in publication for a very long time. I was happy to get an e-mail from Amazon yesterday, telling me my latest six pack was on its way. What's in it? Well... I'll tell you when it arrives. At the moment I'm reading Ratzinger's Introduction to Christianity. My wife bought it and I swiped it from her in order to have something to read until my order comes, and voila! This book is great. (That's where the new quotes in the sidebar are from) And I'm only about ten pages into it... Still plugging along with Aubrey and Maturin, but The Marturius Command is probably the most boring of the bunch so far. It's a shame, it started off so well. There are not a lot of novels on my horizon, but I can see taking a look at Chesterton's The Man Who was Thursday because I haven't yet tried any of his fiction. The other thing that looks promising is C.S. Lewis' space trilogy, which I've heard good things about.
Wednesday, October 19, 2005
The Book habit
Ann Althouse writes, and I concur: