Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Five Books in 30 Days

Here's a picture of four of the books I intend to read this month, minus the one I just finished yesterday and already returned to the library, forgetting that I intended to photograph all five books together as a sort of collage of this month's reading challenge. Oh well.

Books I'm reading this month. 

In case you cannot clearly see the titles in this picture, here's a list of them:

1. The Colossus of Maroussi by Henry Miller (c. 1941).

2. The Hidden Persuaders by Vance Packard (c. 1957).

3. The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene (c. 1998).

4. Alien Agenda: Investigating the Extraterrestrial Presence Among Us by Jim Marrs (c. 1997).

And the 5th book not shown here, that I just finished:

5. The Fool's Progress by Edward Abbey (c. 1988).

I've read a couple of other books by Abbey, really liked his Desert Solitaire, but despite the majority of favorable reviews, many calling it his masterpiece, I was not that impressed with this book, and actually, in some ways am kind of turned off by Abbey after reading it. It's a novel, with some fictionalized elements, but is mostly autobiographical. You know, I like a lot of what Abbey says, about civilization and nature, and share many points of view in common with him, but am really turned off by his womanizing ways; and really, he was totally what you would call a dirty old man, sex addict, adulterer, kind of a sleazy bum actually, with poor hygiene, and a lot of unhealthy bad habits overall.

Actually he reminds me a lot of Henry Miller, his writing, personality, and lifestyle, especially his relationships with women, and are both what I would call the quintessential dirty old bastards. Not that it has any bearing on my evaluation of the book, but I'm also not a fan of men with thick beards, dirty finger nails, or who wear jeans without underwear. A neatly trimmed goatee is alright, but in my opinion at least, hairy men are turn offs, as are hairy women. Just a personal pet peeve of mine, nothing more, don't take it personally, if you happen to have a thick Gandalf beard, it doesn't make you bad person, it's just not my preference. It's kind of gross actually. If I were a man, I'd keep it neat and tidy, not looking like a hairy neanderthal man who neither baths nor shaves. Just saying.

Okay, I'm getting a little off track here. Pardon my superficiality, but I'm just telling you my immediate reactions, what comes to mind personally. The book has a lot more going to it than that, but this is what stands out in my mind. Not so much the part about the facial hair or bad hygiene, but more so his treatment of women. I'd still recommend the book. It was a good book in many ways, I just wouldn't call it a masterpiece. I gave it three out of five stars. And in his defense, apparently my opinion is in the minority, so take it or leave it. There are a lot of things I like about Abbey, and also a lot of things I don't. Maybe most of my objections don't even faze male readers, but as a female, I am just really turned off by the way he related to females, seeing them primarily as sex objects, at least as narrated in his essays and novels, and The Fool's Progress especially; it's hard to get past it. I mean, I can appreciate everything else about him, but on this point he loses much respect. Do I like his books? Yes, for the most part. But if he were still alive today, and I had a chance to hang out with him, would I? Probably not.

Regarding the other books, am pretty excited about all of them, were actually books I had on hold at the library for several weeks, that all came in around the same time; and are in demand, probably can't renew them, so I'm kind of forced to read them this month, or else I won't be able to finish them. That was actually part of the motivation for setting this goal of reading five books in 30 days, because I kind of have to, or else, have to wait a couple months for another chance. So I probably will. Plus two of the books aren't very long, both under 250 pages, notably: The Hidden Persuaders and The Colossus of Maroussi. That'll help. The most difficult will be in reading The 48 Laws of Power in a week or so, but am extremely interested in it, and will not be able to renew that one, so hopefully that'll help.

I just started reading The Colossus of Maroussi, and it's not a novel, but is actually a travel narrative of Henry Miller's real life travels through Greece. Perhaps it is premature to call it, but so far, it's great, quite possibly his best book ever, and something I would recommend. I would say that if you like Edward Abbey, you'd probably like Henry Miller. They write in a similar style, are both exceptionally knowledgeable and philosophical people; I'm just kind of sensitive to their sexism and promiscuous lifestyles, dislike it very much, but you know, if you look beyond that, there's still some good writing there. I wouldn't want to know them, but I'd still read their books.

*This is post 5 of 20, part of my "20 posts in 30 days" challenge. Yeah, a lot of reading to do, among other things. Can't wait to get to "The Hidden Persuaders," it's been on my "to-read" list for years. And the one about the aliens should be fun; I'll save that for last.