Reading Machine + Addendum

I am back to the books in a big way. I seem to have drifted from reading for a while as I was pursuing other endeavors, or being lazy, or being annoyed by reading certain things, or just being tired. But lately the literary mojo has returned. One reason my reading goes in fits and spurts here is that Hong Kong has totally shitty bookstores. I guess people all must order on line or they just don’t read (I will hold my tongue for which I think is the more likely answer.) So, of course, I too turned to the internet to solve my problem (or actually to increase my problem if you consider that at some point I am going to be moving all these books back home with me across the Pacific, pound for pound.) And while all is readily available on the interwebs, getting it here seems to be a bit of a costly conundrum. I default to Amazon because, well, they are so bloody easy. [Though they have been a little sucky lately.] But international shipping is a biyatch. So, I tried a site my friend Josh recommended, I liked it one for the name alone, felt a little Lee Harvey Oswald-ish and thought it might work out as they suggested free international shipping. But, they are clearly making up shipping costs with the price of their books. Fair enough, we all need to make a living, but it was back to Amazon I went.

And the generosity of Mom’s postal service to cover the shipping.

The playlist:

  • 2666 by Roberto Bolaño (finished. Epic.)
  • The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde (re-reading. Always worth it.)
  • Ficciónes, Jorge Luis Borges (eventually.)
  • The Corrections, Franzen (I don’t know why though.)
  • Steig Larsson’s Trilogy (nearly finished. Total guilty love/obsession/pleasure.)
  • Memory of Fire Trilogy (next.)
  • Running in the Family, M. Ondaatje (for work. Love him.)
  • An Imaginary Life by David Malouf (Ovid revisited… coolio.)
  • Infinite Jest (the next tome to take on. I read This is Water all the time. It is amazing. Read it.)
  • How We Are Hungry, Eggers (Need I say more? It is Eggers.)
  • Standing Up to the Madness (autographed copy from Amy Goodman via mom. Bitchin’.)
  • Bryson’s Shakespeare (good fun.)
  • Reading Like A Writer from Francine Prose (totally kicking it in to gear for work)
  • J.M.G Le Clézio: the interrogation (no explanation needed… but it was due to revisiting Camus and Beckett for work. Why do they call L’Étranger “The Oustider” here? I don’t know, but I guess it works….)
  • A Bend in the River by V.S. Naipaul (a birthday gift from a long time friend, and I am now very interested in the Theroux/Naipaul fracas.)

Addendum: I rarely modify a published blog here (save for catching those elusive typos) but I had a funny conversation with one of my students yesterday that made me reconsider this blog with a chuckle. We were discussing how to answer a question for a university application supplement that asked for a favorite movie and a favorite book. The student said that this question was really initially, but then realized that actually saying, or rather admitting, his favorite book might not “Say the right thing” about him. I said, “Come on, authenticity rules.”

But does it?

We got to talking again about the rationale for a university asking such a question; they must be looking for something, he insisted, this was not just small talk – they don’t really have time for chit chat. Or do they? I certainly do not purport to have much to do with university admissions, but could they really just be trying to flesh out some sort of feeling as to the students personality – or is it really a chance for the student to ‘prove’ they have some sort of edgy, intellectual, sophisticated understanding of the world and consequently what matters…? Inevitably the conversation turned to [bloody] Facebook, as it always seems to lately, and we reconsidered all of those memes, the quizzes, the iPod shuffle games, the “turn to page X, paragraph X, line X of the nearest book” posts. Were people being authentic or were they carefully constructing an image of themselves… or are the two more similar than we give them credit for? Looking at my book list I have to say, those honestly are the books sitting on my shelf, relatively in the order they will be or are being consumed. But, he said, why did I want those books in the first place?

Good question.

Image crafting? Brain-bragging? Tyring to appear a certain way in the eyes of a certain person? I definitely had to admit that the collecting of at least 75% of the list had not been coincidental. There were reasons for all of them.

Hmmmm… I guess that line that I used to win free tickets to San Diego Street Scene last year might be more true than I thought:

“She’s crafty… “


About Amanda

I am repatriating expatriate trying to work it all out. Well, to work some of it out anyhow. I am writing here for sanity, focus and general over-sharing.
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4 Responses to Reading Machine + Addendum

  1. Bryson’s Shakespeare was disappointing. A book full of “well, we don’t actually know that much about him…”. I left it on a train and didn’t care.

    • Amanda says:

      Hmmm… Bummer. Bryson has gotten a little bit up his own recently, but it looked like it might be fun. I’ll still give it a go.
      Will let you know if I donate it to the HK metro transit.

  2. Clare A was W says:

    I find the internet becomes a poor second for reading a book far too often. SIgh.

    have you tried – they use $ from books to fund literacy all over the world. I find their second hand books on amazon and to be a bargain.

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