WHAT THE HELL

Kevin Brennan Writes About What It's Like

When are they gonna invent a way to download books straight into your brain?

Bookshelf The New York Times list of 100 Notable Books is out. Have you seen it? I took a quick gander this morning and realized to my chagrin that I haven’t read a-one of them. I don’t read a lot of non-fiction these days, so fifty of the top 100 weren’t really in contention, yet it does disturb me, now that I look around, that I haven’t even heard of so many of the novels and story collections. I used to pride myself in being completely up on what was buzzing in a given year. I was like a doctor staying in tune with all the latest research.Β  Now, I find, when I do read a novel, it’s either at least ten years old or it’s indie. For some reason I’ve always been a slow reader, savoring my trip through a tome rather than zipping along to get to the end sooner. I remember one year — and maybe it did take me a year to finish — I read Rebecca West’s fascinating Black Lamb and Grey Falcon. It’s a full 1150 pages, but I relished each one. Sometimes it’ll take me a month to read your basic 300-pager, mainly because I don’t have many slots to squeeze in a longish reading session. Plus, I’ve never been one of those to pick up a book when I only have five or ten minutes to spare. It feels like legere interruptus to me. I want to read a number of novels on that list. The new Murakami, the Marilynne Robinson, the Richard Ford, the Denis Johnson. Lydia Davis and Susan Minot are there, along with a whole host of writers I don’t know. Currently, I’m reading House, by Tracy Kidder, from 1985. I have a Jane Smiley cued up, 2003 vintage. And I have numerous indies on my Kindle awaiting the attention they deserve. Have a look at the list. Read any of them? Wanna make some recommendations?

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26 comments on “When are they gonna invent a way to download books straight into your brain?

  1. Charles Yallowitz
    December 2, 2014

    That title makes me think of Keanu Reeves going ‘I know Kung Fu’.

    • Kevin Brennan
      December 2, 2014

      Ha. I wouldn’t mind knowing Kung Fu as a download!

  2. kingmidget
    December 2, 2014

    I read Fourth of July Creek, Redeployment, and No Good Men Among the Living. I lost interest in Redeployment about half way through and did not finish. The other two were good reads. And just about every book on that list looks like something I’d want to read.

    • Kevin Brennan
      December 2, 2014

      Hey, not bad: 3 to my 0! July Creek looks pretty good…

      • kingmidget
        December 2, 2014

        I win! I win! I win!

        Now, I’m going to go look at the list again and buy one of the books. It better knock my socks off.

      • Kevin Brennan
        December 3, 2014

        You and Cinthia (below) are tied at 3. Maybe you should buy a couple!

      • kingmidget
        December 3, 2014

        Bought and started reading the first on the list.

  3. Pamela Beckford
    December 2, 2014

    I am an avid reader, reading between 50 and 70 books most years. And I’ve only read one of those books. I think it is partially because I read so many indie authors and stay away from many of the mass market titles. It doesn’t mean they aren’t books I would enjoy, but my reading time is limited and the list of books I want to read is far greater than my hours available.

    • Kevin Brennan
      December 2, 2014

      Wow — 50 to 70 books a year! I’m jealous. But hey, audio books don’t count as “reading,” so you’d have to deduct those if you listen to books. πŸ˜‰

  4. John W. Howell
    December 2, 2014

    I made the decision about the time Yesterday Road came out that I was only going to read books in which I have some connection with the author. I don’t have time for the mega million sellers and choose to support the really good writers like Kevin Brennan with which I have at least had some correspondence.

  5. ericjbaker
    December 2, 2014

    I read mostly non-fiction, and I know what interests me, so I usually poke around at the library or on Amazon until I find the thing that catches my attention. I have no idea what is considered hip, cool, or trendy in the publishing world.

    • Kevin Brennan
      December 2, 2014

      It’s true that books aren’t tied to their times in quite the same way TV and movies are. Or even music. Every now and then, though, I feel like I’m missing some kind of trend that might help my writing if I only knew about it. Some of the books I read when they came out do stick in my head more meaningfully at times, like The World According to Garp, Breakfast of Champions, Ironweed, Dinner At The Homesick Restaurant.

      Yes, I’m getting old…

  6. 1WriteWay
    December 2, 2014

    I’m familiar with some of the names on the list, but I have only one of the books (Lorrie Moore’s Bark), of which I’ve read only the first few pages. On the basis of that, I would recommend the book. Moore has a wicked sense of humor.

    As for the list itself, I’m just glad none of Bill O’Reilly’s “Killing” series made it on there πŸ˜‰

    Like you, I’m a slow reader. Always have been. I like to take my time, maybe as much time as it took the author to writer the damn book. Okay, maybe not that much time, but still I like to give a book its due πŸ™‚

    • Kevin Brennan
      December 2, 2014

      If O’Reilly’s books were on there, I’d give up writing AND reading forever!

      • 1WriteWay
        December 2, 2014

        And I’d kill my subscription the Sunday edition πŸ˜‰

      • Kevin Brennan
        December 3, 2014

        Better believe it!

      • donaldbakerauthor
        December 4, 2014

        I venture to say nothing by O’Reilly or that other goof, Beck would ever make it to any good list published by NYT. Even if they had the talent.

      • Kevin Brennan
        December 5, 2014

        Beck? Bleccchhh! I hear his new Santa Claus origin story might as well have been written by a lunatic…

      • donaldbakerauthor
        December 5, 2014

        I am Libertarian in my political leanings and i can’t take either of those guys.

  7. cinthiaritchie
    December 3, 2014

    I win! I win, too (I’ve read three). But really, living in Alaska (i.e., the “real” world), the New York Times view is far, far from my radar and many of the titles I find too New Yorky, you know what I mean? Too geared for a certain type of oh-so-sophisticated-reader-because-isn’t-it-clever-and-literary-and-the-common-minds-won’t-get-it-because-it’s-oh-so-literary.
    But, that aside (and maybe I am just a very unsophisticated reader with a grudge, eh?), does anyone else find it odd that the first three titles begin with the word All? I mean, maybe we should all strive for the same, start our next novels and short story collections with the word all: All Occasional Soulmates, for instance, and All Dolls Behaving Badly, etc. It might give us a leg up in the literary world, what do you think?

    • Kevin Brennan
      December 3, 2014

      Congratulations! I wish there were a prize for you and kingmidget!

      I know exactly what you mean about the New Yorkyness thing. In fact, I did a blog post about it last year: http://wp.me/p3sx1Q-dC . And I remember going to NYC to meet my agent and editor and coming away with, To them I’m Andy Kaufman’s Taxi character, Latka Gravas. A total foreigner.

      I hadn’t noticed the All titles either. Interesting. Maybe it’s an alphabetical thing, so your book is always at the top of lists like this.

      What I do know is that “All Dolls Behaving Badly” sounds like a potential horror movie. A sequel to the original? 😜

  8. donaldbakerauthor
    December 4, 2014

    I read a good deal into Fourth of July Creek. I couldn’t get into it. Simply not realistic to me. I have heard of three or four others.

    I sympathize, who can keep up?

  9. alexankarr1
    June 4, 2017

    Not a one! But I only feel bad about the non-fiction. Not enough genre amongst teh fic for me, although I’m tempted by the Murakami.

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This entry was posted on December 2, 2014 by in Publishing and tagged , .
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