I am cleaning up my bookshelf and getting rid of books I have no intention of rereading, and books that I haven’t read and don’t want to read. A lot belong to the last category. The reason is that I got them on sale. Yes, it is true. I bought them not because I thought I wanted to read them, but rather I thought missing the discount was not my style. And looking around, I feel that I am sitting in a little discount store since everything was obtained on a bargain price.
The first book I want to get rid of is “Based on a True Story: Fact and Fantasy in 100 Favorite Movies” by Jonathan Vankin and John Whalen, which has decorated my bathroom for years. Due to the limited toilet time I have every day, the progress of the reading has been really slow. Gradually the dampness of the bathroom curls up the book edges, and some pages have even changed their strict rectangular shape and got stuck together. Still, one can’t judge a book by its appearance. It’s a nice readable book despite its moiture-damaged exterior. I read less than half of it, but what I have read are wonderful stories. There’s a reason why I can’t read more–I haven’t watched most of the movies. Before throwing it away, I leaf through the pages and this quote comes into view: “There’s almost as much fiction in films that are based on fact as there is in movies that are completely made-up.”
I’ve had “Dear Life” By Alice Munro for years. Now I have completely forgotten the stories in it. However I remember that I really like it and this is why I read several more books by Munro and love “The Beggar Maid” and “Runaway” especially. The story of “The Beggar Maid” is so real that I feel that I know a woman like that even if I don’t know a woman like that. Munro’s opinion of love and marriage is ambivalent and ambiguous–this is a true depiction of most of women and men I met. Only one in ten has a wonderful marriage and enjoy it fully, and the rest are all ambivalent and ambiguous. I also admire Munro’s refusal to adopt dramatic plot or to embellish her language. She really believes that she can survive as a writer like this, as if an actress refusing to wear makeup for the camera.
“The New New Rules” by Bill Maher. I’ve listened to the YouTube audiobook of this book online and there’s no need to keep this book.
“Vile Body” by Evelyn Waugh. I only read a small portion of the book and couldn’t continue. The reason is that it is not as good as his short story collection or “Brideshead Revisited” or “Decline and Fall” or “Loved One”, or “The Ordeal of Gilbert Pinfold”, which is really good, but it’s too sad without any respite in between all the sadness.
“Watching The English” by Kate Fox is a wonderful book. It describes the class system, the table manner, and the politeness in daily life. It’s fun to read, but it will be a headache if one wants to fit in. I can imagine myself failing all the “not to be earnest rule”, “humor rule”, “how to use forks and spoons rule”. As an Asian, I am happy to know that these rules only serve as an exotic entertainment for an idle hour now since “the empire on which the sun never sets” belongs to the past.
“The Legend Of Sleepy Hollow & Other Macabre Tales” by Washington Irving. Among the twelve short stories collected in it, I like “The Devil And Tom Walker” most. Actually his stories about Christmas are my favorite, but they don’t usually show up in the discount books from Barnes & Noble. I leafed through and read again the story of Tom Walker and his wife–the description is very vivid and I think I know a couple or two who are like that.
“Travels With My Aunt” by Graham Greene. I bought this book during the time when I was feverishly admiring Greene, but that period passed swiftly. And when I was still reading half way through this book, I suddenly felt that I didn’t want to read it anymore. His books about the end of an affair, a Cuban spy, a swindler are much more interesting than this one. So I stopped. That was many years ago and I haven’t read him since.