Tuesday, April 28, 2009

reading funk over (I know you were worried)

A week ago, I was in a reading funk--I started a couple of books that I wasn't in the mood for at all and they left me non-plussed. Neither was bad, they just weren't great, and I was so into City of Ember and People of Sparks that I was disappointed in what followed. So I did what any self-respecting person would do under those circumstances: I read Gossip Girl. Gossip Girl is literary McDonald's: it'll do if you're desperate, and there's something satisfyingly greasy about it, but you have to brace yourself to be hungry again 45 minutes later. But! Everything is better now! I am having my mind blown by two new books. I've forgotten all about my pain and disappointment. Tomorrow is a new day. (Plus, there are so many Gossip Girl books I haven't read yet.)

Kevin Roose's The Unlikely Disciple: A Sinner's Semester at America's Holiest University is amazing, nuanced and fascinating and sophisticated and not the least bit exploitative. It's about a Brown student (the author) who decides to spend a semester at Liberty University in Virginia (the college Jerry Falwell built), and I was sort of expecting some evangelical-bashing, but the author (who must be about 21) has a really smart and compassionate perspective, without losing sight of the genuinely distressing, surreal and downright ridiculous aspects of American evangelical Christianity. It's very engrossing, compelling non-fiction. I've been carrying it around and reading it whenever the world leaves me alone for a minute. You should do that too, Internet! How come you never read all the books I tell you to read?

I just started Shaun Tan's Tales from Outer Suburbia today and it's incredible. The stories are disarming and heart-warming and strange, which is an excellent combination, and as I read it in the bus station this afternoon I felt a powerful compulsion to write a book, which is quite an endorsement if you ask me. Tales From Outer Suburbia is the kind of book that makes me want to write a book, except I would be afraid to write a book in case it might not be as good as Tales From Outer Suburbia. There you go. You should read it. Get it from the library if you must, although I should confirm that, having borrowed the copy I'm currently reading, I'm going to buy my own as soon as I can. It's the kind of book you probably want to have your own copy of. Or, if you come to my wedding, a story from it might show up in the ceremony. It's the kind of book you want to incorporate into your wedding, or at least, you do if you are me.

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