A WHAT Blog?

Welcome to my blog all about my car-related adventures! I’m so glad you could join us!

A book blog? Really? Whatever gave you that idea? Oh, right”¦the title“¦

Erm, well, uh”¦I have been reading, just not anything that really stands up for reviewing/discussion. Lots of fluffy Chiclets””er, Chick Lits””and the like. You would not catch me dead with a Harlequin Romance, or the gasping Barbara Cartland novels I loved as a pre-teen, but give me a 30-ish career girl who can’t quite manage her career/relationships/shopping habits, and I’m there. What’s the difference? Oh, I don’t know. Are you saying I should give Harlequin another look?

Some time ago, I was on the phone with Ramona, and said something dismissive about TV-watching as escapism””an admittedly funny position for me to take, given that when the new Fall season starts, my TiVo will be recording on both channels most nights, and there are a few timeslots that may require a VCR-backup. Ramona came back with, “Well, what do you read for, if not escapism?” Hmm”¦good point. Most of my reading is about going to another time and place, living vicariously through people with glossier, and often messier, lives. I feel intuitively that reading, even escapist reading, is somehow “˜better’ than TV viewing, but perhaps I’m just being a book-snob? What do you think””is reading an inherently better way to “˜get away from it all’ than watching TV? Got anything to back up your (my) opinion, aside from long years of people saying so?

I hesitate to direct your attention to the Current Reads column there on the right, as CountessZ’s list puts mine to shame, but I will note that I’m currently taking another tour of Tuscany with Frances Mayes, and am finding it just as rich and delightful an experience as our first tour together. Bella Tuscany is focused almost entirely on their gardening efforts at Bramasole, so as soon as I’m finished with it, it’s going right in the mail to Ramona, my favorite gardener. (I would love to bring Frances and Ramona together in real life””I think they would get along famously.)

Cooler temps and a chance of sprinkles in Portland today, but summer returns with a vengeance for the weekend. Once the rains come back to stay, I’ll turn my attention from scatter-brained career gals looking for love to English people genteelly bumping each other off, and English detectives cleverly catching them. Around the time we get a good freeze, I might be able to consider weightier subjects””the history of the digit zero or The Americanization of Benjamin Franklin or perhaps an astronaut’s biography, or two.

Until then, stay shiny!

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2 Responses to A WHAT Blog?

  1. Ramona the Book Snob says:

    Of course reading is loftier escapism than tv. Whilst reading, you are using your own imagination to accompany the author’s words. Mindless tv does everything for you. Of course, the tv programs you/we watch are ok because they are “educational”. And when you are hooked on HGTV room and landscape makeovers, well, obviously, you have to have before and after pictures!
    Before those fall rains and winter freezes take you back to ‘serious’ literature, take a day or two to enjoy Maggie Sefton’s knitting mysteries. They are quick reads, but should be so-o-o satisfying to you and Countess Z as you both knit, read and enjoy mysteries.
    Instead of re-reading ‘The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time’, I’m on to ‘The Abortionist’s Daughter’. Happy reading from one book snob to another……

  2. CountessZ says:

    Ramona, make sure you tell us how The Abortionist’s Daughter is. I’ve been contemplating adding that to my list (which by this point is so long I’ll never get through it), so I’ll be curious to get your impressions.

    Kai, you and I have talked about this before — the serious vs. escapist reading and the assumed superiority of books over television. And though we love being TV junkies and relish a good Laura Zigman read from time to time, we too seem to easily fall into using language that is at times dismissive of our TV viewing (or occassional chic lit reading) ways.

    The way I think of it is very much the same way I think of my college education. It is all about approach. If you approach television with a blank, passive mind and are not interested in engaging with it, asking questions or using it as a tool for reflection and though provocation, then you are going to get nothing out of it. If you approach those things with an active mind, ready to ask questions, engage with the assumptions and reflect on what it is that speaks to us about those things, then it is not the waste of time our intellectual snobbery sometimes wants us to believe. These things *can* teach us to think about the structure of a story, to notice clues, process complex relationships, etc.

    I know we’ve said (and heard) it a million times, but a lot of things that are entertaining are also educational — even things that we don’t think of as educational. Yet, if we approach every story as if it were informing us about ourselves, the world we navigate and the people in it, then I think everything — even and maybe especially the escapist elements — are “important.”

    One of the English PhD programs I am considering has a very strong film component in their department. This is because they recognize that a carefully crafted narrative is a story, whether it is on paper, on screen or read aloud. Story is story. And story has always been the most powerful way to communicate information.

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