Getting To Know You…

Prime Real Estate.

There’s a line in High Fidelity when Rob says something like, “It’s not who you like, it’s what you like.”  I think this is true to a certain extent.  People are capable of arguing over very trivial matters, and I think you can certainly get a little peek into someone’s soul by examining their tastes.  In that spirit, I decided to unveil a shelf from my bookcase.  I have two in my apartment.  One large, one small.  Together they probably hold 350 books.  Elsewhere around the place books are stacked here and there, but they mostly gather amongst the shelves.  When I arranged them, it wasn’t completely haphazard.  Trashy paperbacks dwell on the bottom shelf.  The middle shelf, the one at my eye-level on the bigger bookcase is I guess  home to the books I am most comfortable people seeing.  You could probably jump to a lot of conclusions about me based on these books, but would you be right?  Here’s an honest assessment of prime reading real estate, a 29-book peek into my world.

1.   The Gold Coast by Nelson DeMille—This is the most readable book on the shelf.

2.  Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim by David Sedaris—Here’s some insight.  I don’t like short stories, or essays.  Sedaris is funny and raw, but I need a novel.

3.  The American Reformers (1815-1860) by Ronald Walters—Hey look at me!  I took a history class in college.

4.  Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte—At some point my sister’s books got mixed up with my own.

5.  Peace Like a River by Leif Enger—It takes me two readings  to commit a book to memory. I often rush the first time.  This is a great book on my re-read list.

6.  One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey—The extent of my tolerance for 60s writing counterculture.

7.  Disgrace by J.M. Coetzee—This book won the Nobel Prize, but is set in South Africa.  I like familiar locales, so I struggled.

8.  A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce—Probably the reason I didn’t take AP English?  I’ve read the first page 20 times, the rest of the pages 0 times. One of maybe 15 books I own but haven’t read.

9.  An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser—I once had a copy of the best 100 novels of all-time.  This was on the list, and is a surprisingly readable epic written in the 1920s.

10.  Choke by Chuck Palahniuk—This is the guy who wrote Fight Club, which I haven’t read.  The premise of this book (a man who lives off the generosity of people who save him from choking) is truly unique.

11.  Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote—110 brilliant pages.  Read it and you’ll picture your first crush as Holly Golightly.

12.  Everything Must Go by Elizabeth Flock—This is an interloper, a decent enough novel, but not sure how it made it onto the BIG SHELF.

13.  As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner—Don’t like Faulkner, don’t like this book.

14.  The Road by Cormac McCarthy—The only McCarthy book I’ve had the balls to attempt.  It was worth it.  If you’ve seen the movie, try erasing it from your mind and crack the novel.

15.  Tender is the Night by F.Scott Fitzgerald—Not his best work in my opinion (dodging lightning bolts).

16.  A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole—If you don’t know the history of this book, look it up.  It’s remarkable.  I tried to love it, but couldn’t quite get there.

17.  The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald—How badly would I like to be Nick Carraway?

18.  The Beautiful and the Damned by F. Scott Fitzgerald—A story about the nouveau riche and NY city excess…written in 1922.

19-22.  The J.D. Salinger Block—The Catcher in the Rye could be my favorite book, so cliché.  The rest, aside from maybe Franny and Zooey leaves me underwhelmed.

23-24.  The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test and The Bonfire of the Vanities by Tom Wolfe—In bookstores always remember that Tom Wolfe and Thomas Wolfe are not the same guy, but hard to believe these two were both written by the same person.  Bonfire of the Vanities is modern-day Fitzgerald, Kool-Aid Acid Test lost me in a hippie fog.  Wolfe’s career was all over the place.  Read, “A Man in Full,” but burn “I am Charlotte Simmons,” for warmth.

25.  To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee—If you only write one book, make it a good one.  Harper Lee could have never been a blogger.

26.  The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen—Franzen is far from prolific, and when you read his novels you see the care he takes and the time it must take to produce these monsters.  A master at developing unique, but relatable American families.

27.  April 1865 by Jay Winik—Much like the South, I have not forgotten the Civil War.

28.  The World According to Garp by John Irving—I have a handful of John Irving books, but can’t say I love any of them.  I should boot him from this shelf in favor of Richard Russo.

29.  Great Expectations by Charles Dickens—If I was going to suggest Dickens, and I’m not, maybe start here? Otherwise watch Mickey’s Christmas Carol.


MLB Underdog of the Day:  Yesterday’s Result:  Loss.  Financial Status: (-460 GW’s)

This is going to sound like a feeble excuse, but there really was not a single game I liked yesterday, but to keep the fun going I picked anyway.  I mean that.  The rest of my picks were garbage, but yesterday I was expecting to get throttled and did when the Rangers beat up on Anaheim.

Today’s Selection:  San Francisco (+130) over Colorado.

I don’t trust Ubaldo yet this year.  The Rockies were likely put into a slump by Teeny Tim Lincecum last night.  I say it lasts one more day.  Here’s a pick I actually like.


Quiz of the Day:  Authors by Book Title. Category: Blog Continuity.  My Score: 23/28


26 thoughts on “Getting To Know You…

  1. One of those quizzes where I started out cocksure that I was going to get all 28, then didn’t. Managed 24, probably one of about three people in the universe who doesn’t know the author of the Twilight books.

    My take on certain of the aforementioned books:

    (1) I completely forget the premise of Gold Coast but I am certain that I read it and enjoyed it.

    (4) I have been assigned Wuthering Heights several times but am not sure I actually read it. Something or other about Heathcliff wandering on the moors. Possibly also something involving a crazy lady locked away in the attic, or maybe that is Jane Eyre, or maybe something else entirely.

    (17) & (25) Great Gatsby and To Kill a Mockingbird are two of my all-time favorites. I always sort of had a crush on Jordan even though she was a country-club brat.

    (23) Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test. A fine book if you ignore the 40% of it that is incomprehensible acid babbling and focus on the underlying story.

    • Well, mystery solved, there.

      I think you just like Jordan cause you think she can get you on National Golf Links, or something…

      Maybe you can black out the acid ramblings in acid test and I can read the good parts.

    • Well, yeah, of course. National, Maidstone, Winged Foot, all of them. Probably winters in Florida and takes lunch at Seminole from time to time, too.

  2. dear Nick C,

    i really enjoyed this post. great photo, too.

    i feel just as cliched to say, catcher in the rye and franny and zooey tickle me. i have prob read franny and z more than any other book. except little women or that one sentence i keep rereading from the Cornel West Reader, which is also a cliche. or prozac nation by wurtzel (only author i ever liked / make that semi famous person, liked more after meeting…after a bunch of people asked her about the drugs she uses…she saw i wrote on almost every page of the book which she signed and said, “thanks for really getting into this…well used!”)…her follow-up Bitch is not so hot…i like her better on Prozac than Speed.

    how about most disappointing revolutionary book? portnoy’s complaint? like later roth better.

    sedaris seems like the kid who always need attention.

    and Breakfast at Tiffany’s…wish I read more of it. heart Holly more in the book than the film, and i love Hepburn.

    Gold Coast was a quicky, racey read. just a lil amoral? is that the word?

    i’ll go quiz myself, doesn’t look good if DC buckled.


  3. well i must say i laughed pretty hard when i saw Tender Is The Night on the list. Our senior year of college Bob walked into our roommates room and was like, “what the hell are you doing”, he responded, “i’m reading a book”, bob asks what book, and he replied, “Tender is the Night” to which Bob said something to the effect of, “wow you are soo gay” and then for the rest of the school year Bob proceeded to call him Tender is the Night. Eventually it kinda caught on and that’s basically what everyone called him. In fact he recently got married, and at his bachelor party the bestman made him a t-shirt that said Tender is the Night.

    To this day I have no idea what the book is about, perhaps it’d be fitting if one day I actually read it… even though it doesn’t seem like it got a glowing review from 3PT.

  4. Well, its not the most masculine title.

    Honestly, I wouldn’t really recommend reading it.

    But Bob certainly does seem like the kind of guy who would think reading is gay. It so totally is. Way more than say, I don’t know…wearing make up.

    • Tender is the Night, isn’t that one of the gazillions he wrote about Zelda, his wife…and her/ their party spirit? Trying to remember, and I have to admit, my very serious high school self took that one as “beach reading,” one summer…thinking F Scott might get a lil racey on me…I was mistaken. It was just convoluted society gossip and 20’s-ish glamour, no? Or is it the one about the war…like you and Conroy, F Scott starts to run together for me.


      • tender is the night is the one about the couple that goes to southern france and they hob nob around and you get their story….

        like I said, it’s not my favorite.

        it is more Gatsby length than his others, though, so maybe more readable.

  5. 14. actually read a few of the ones i missed, just couldn’t remember the author’s name (Passage to India for one…couldn’t stand that book).

    On the topic of books…

    Since I have gotten into this habit of moving at least once a year (haven’t stayed in the same place for ~2 years in a row since july 2001-july 2003, and moved more than once in a year a few times), I stopped keeping my books. Over the last couple years I have given away or sold all but a few of them.

    The ones I have kept- Infinite Jest, Cannery Row, Lucky Jim, and my autographed copy of Clarence Clemons autobiography Big Man.

    Sometimes I wish I still had all the others, but for the most part I’m glad I don’t have to deal with them anymore.

  6. i’d like to trim some fat for sure, but I don’t think I could boil it down to 5 or 10 books…

    i like to re-read too much.

    guess I need a kindle.


  7. I keep hearing about DFW. Franzen is carrying on about him, sort of, in this week’s New Yorker. Is Infinite Jest actually worth reading? Is it a good read? Or is it more like reading impressive literature?

    • i found the bulk of it to be enjoyable, but at over 1000 pages that still leaves a lot of it that is pretty tedious.

      i’m no literary critic, i read mostly for interesting stories and characters. the plot is pretty crazy and entertaining, same with the characters. but overall it isn’t a breeze to get through, especially with all the footnotes. i definitely had a few fits and starts and restarts before i really got into it.

      that doesn’t help much i guess. it’s probably worth a shot, but if it starts driving you nuts i don’t think you are missing anything life changing by stopping. if you want some easy-to-digest DFW just read this:

      also, speaking of insane books, anyone ever read House of Leaves?

  8. 3PT,
    Reviewing my own shelf here, wanted to throw a few names out at you that you might be interested in:

    Papillon, by Henri Charriere. Stories of a French prisoner’s attempts at escape from prison-exile in French Guiana. Entertaining if not entirely true. Made into an interminable movie of the same name starring Steve McQueen and Dustin Hoffman. I actually visited some of the places in the book, though, so I did have the familiarity angle.

    Shopgirl, by Steve Martin. I think I remember you saying that you read this?

    An Anthropologist on Mars, Oliver Sacks. Not fiction but interesting neuroscience writing.

    Ian McEwan, generally? I think the most recent one I read was On Chesil Beach, which I was mostly lukewarm about but which redeemed itself towards the end I thought.

    Jack Nicklaus, My 55 Ways to Lower Your Golf Score.

    Joan Didion, The Year of Magical Thinking. I thought this was a good read; it got a lot of press for a reason.

    Rohinton Mistry, A Fine Balance. Only if you are in the mood for an unrelentingly devastating book about India.

    • i am not in the mood for a devastating book about India.

      Have Papillion.

      but, not shop girl. that’s a book i’ve seen a million times in the books store and I feel like it should be 2 dollars because its so short, and I never get it.

      i have a joan didion book, but i can’t remember which one it is, i kind of struggled with it.

      jack can’t help me with my golf game. i play a game with which he is not familiar. unless the first way is, “don’t count all your strokes”

      • DC, did you read Atonement by Ian…I hear it’s good…but feel torn about reading it, cause I already saw the film (3-PUTT, Keira Knightly’s in that film, get on it!).


      • Yes, I did, a long time ago, before the movie came out. I’m struggling a little bit to recall whether I had any thoughts about the book versus the movie. McEwan is a good enough storyteller that the book is probably worth reading even if you have seen the movie, and even though his stories (Atonement definitely included) always seem to me to be psychologically damaged in a weird way.

      • And 3PT, I’ll be happy to mail you my copy of Shopgirl if you want. It will take up about an hour of your time some rainy day.

  9. Bill Walker, are you serious? 32 mins, 2 rebounds and 2 points? In 32 minutes, the average person probably accidentally scores 2 points, cheese and crackers. Also, can the NBA just come out and say “Look, we just aren’t going to call fouls on Kevin Garnett anymore. He toiled away in Minny for his prime and kept his mouth shut like a good soldier, so we’re going to allow him to be a flagrant a-hole, dirty player, who mouths off, instigates fights with other players, lowers his should on drives to the basket, throws hip checks and pretty much plays rugby and does whatever he wants. So deal with it.”

    Here’s the Choke IMDB page, actually a relatively star studded cast, Rockwell, Anjelica Huston, Bijou Phillips, and some chick from Boardwalk Empire.

  10. somehow i totally missed that one. perhaps it was pop up on a television near me sometime.

    um, also, that’s a good KG rant.

  11. It was an HBO/Cinemax staple for awhile i think.

    More and more, KG gets to me. Like people praising what a “competitor” he is, and how “passionate” he is, lauding him as an “emotional team leader”….when for every other guy it’s being dirty and unable to restrain themselves. Rasheed Wallace got lambasted for doing the same stuff KG does.

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