You have probably noticed that my reading for this challenge has slowed down in the past few months. It is caused by the combination of nice weather which draws me out of the house more often, and the lure of books that don’t meet the challenge criteria. What can I say other than I’m weak. But I haven’t abandoned the challenge completely.
J.P. Donleavy’s novel Wrong Information is Being Given Out at Princeton was published in 1998. I came across it on a table full of sale books, which is where I find many of the books I read. It had been a long time since I read anything by Donleavy. I don’t recall if the first thing I read by him was an excerpt from one of his books in Playboy magazine, or if it was The Beastly Beatitudes of Balthazar B, back in the 1960’s. In either case it was while I was a student at Indiana University. I read many of his novels back then but drifted away from them because they all seemed similar. Still decades away from that reading gave me a nostalgic feeling when I saw this book. As I started reading this time, I knew that In was back on familiar territory. It is a fun book, but I won’t be digging out any of the older volumes that I own anytime soon.
For the book by an author I had never read before I chose Beach Town by Mary Kay Andrews. I was looking for something that would be different from anything I would normally read, and this book certainly fit that bill. I assumed that it would be a “summer vacation” type of read. I think it was, but I’m not sure because I seldom pick books for summer reading. I just read like I normally do; i.e. mysteries, thrillers, biographies, history and such. I would describe this as light fiction. No heavy thinking was required, so I breezed through it in a couple of days. It was OK, but I won’t be seeking other titles by the author.
The book I chose to read from the 1950’s was The Immense Journey by Loren Eisley. I bought this book on a whim at a book exchange in southern Michigan back in the 1970’s. It was a used copy with notes written in the margin by a former owner. It was the first book of essays written by a scientist that I had read. I enjoyed it immensely. I liked it enough that I held on to it even though it was in bad condition. I found that rather than being filled with scientific jargon, it was written in a literate style, that still captures my interest. This book paved the way for me to read books later by Stephen Jay Gould and Lewis Thomas. If you haven’t read The Immense Journey or anything by Gould or Lewis, I recommend them all.
My friend Anju suggested that I read Gin O’Clock by The Queen as part of the reading challenge. She recommended it so highly that she bought the book and had it sent to me. This is a very funny book. It purports to be excerpts from the diary of Queen Elizabeth II, and discloses her utter disdain for politicians, the foibles of her family, and her love of gin. It’s a hoot. I must admit that I had to Google the names of many of the politicians since I don’t closely follow what happens there on a daily basis. I can usually identify the Prime Minister, but that is about it. Now I know much more, and I’m sure that it is all true. I recommend this book to all Anglophiles.