Saturday, April 17, 2010

Weekend Assignment #314: Summer Reading - My Next Addiction?

Looks like I get to be the first person to write my entry for the new Weekend Assignment - now with its own blog! This one comes from Carly:

Weekend Assignment #314: Summer Reading: Okay, yes, I know, it's still spring, but this is when I begin thinking about what kind of summer reading I might like to have on hand for those too-hot-to-clean days of summer. So, for this week's assignment, I want you to share with us the kind of summer reading you look forward to the most. Sci-fi? Horror? Political Thrillers? Romance? It's all good. Now, tell me more!
Extra Credit: Okay writers, get to work! Write me the opening paragraph, just (1) paragraph of a summer read you would like write yourself. Again, any genre works fine, have fun with it!
My reading - of novels, anyway - tends to happen in fits and spurts. From time to time I pull a book off a shelf, one that I may or may not have read before. Sometimes I read a chapter or three (or more) only to lose interest, and leave it on my bedside table until it's either nice and dusty or makes its way to the floor. Or both. Other times, I get so involved in the thing that one book is not enough. Why read just 700 pages of Harry Potter when I can read several thousand? Yes, it takes a while, but that just means a longer period of enjoyment. Or I discover I have the first, third and fourth volume in the Golden Scales of Rebatia series, and end up scouring the city for that missing second book so I can read them in order. Still other times, I read or reread a Doctor Who novel or two, just to tide me over until the next television episode, or to substitute for an old Doctor Who serial that no longer exists in its entirety on video.

So when you ask what I look forward to reading this summer, I have to say that I can't plan my book consumption that far ahead. Will I have a full time job by then, and be too distracted to settle down with any novels at all? Or will I discover some new (to me) writer, and end up buying half a dozen books to read my way through in a week? I have no idea! The one thing I can tell you is that if one of my favorite writers gets something new published and I get well and truly sucked in, I'm likely to reread the whole series to which it belongs. This happens to me less and less often, however. Many of my favorite writers are dead now, and their posthumous output tends not to be that compelling, if it exists at all. I have had an early, previously unpublished novel by Madeleine L'Engle next to my bed for about a year now. I think I'm on chapter two. Maybe chapter one. There's a reason it went unpublished for 50 years. Maybe if I could get to chapter five it would become more of a pleasure than a burden to read it, but somehow it never yet has seemed worth the effort.

A scene from The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe

But what genre will I read, if any? Well, that part is fairly straightforward. The vast majority of the fiction I like is some flavor of fantasy. It could be science fantasy (e.g. Doctor Who), with smart, interesting, likable characters, preferably in a plot that involves time travel. It could be High Fantasy or some variation thereon, with magical young women (or men) fighting overwhelming oddities on a journey of self-discovery with the object of saving the world (or something). It could be some kind of oddball fantasy set in the time of Jane Austen or the present day. It could be a collection of strange and funny short stories. It probably won't be dark fantasy, meaning horror, unless it's at the funny, light-hearted edge or dark fantasy (think Buffy). In a pinch, it could also be fables (Thurber) or even something with no fantasy content in the magical sense (e.g. Meg Cabot).

Overall, though, I'm between reading obsessions at the moment. I've read all my L'Engle novels except the one next to the alarm clock. I've read through all my Patricia Wrede novels this past year, some of them twice. I picked up a Narnia book some months ago and got bored with it around Chapter Two, despite having read and loved the series several times over the years. There is no new Thurber to be had, no more Harry Potter. I have one more book to read by a well-known science fiction writer before I'm forced to buy or again ignore the one with lots of alien flatulence in the first chapters.

The unicorn ate it gravely.Sooner or later I'll get sucked back in, though, stick my nose in a book and emerge three nearly-sleepless days later. Place your bets now: will my next reading obsession be triggered by a new book by a favorite writer who isn't dead yet, or the discovery of some writer I had not previously considered? Will Keith Olbermann's Friday night Thurber reading on MSNBC send me on a week-long Thurber binge, or will some random Sherlock Holmes adaptation inspire me to reread all sixty stores in the original canon?

Myself, I have no idea. When I find out, I'll let you know.

Meanwhile, let me tackle the Extra Credit:

Rebatia carefully turned her back to Sophie, knocking over just three chairs this time as her wings fidgeted themselves into the new position. She tilted her head up and down and from side to side, twisted her shining turquoise neck like an acrobatic, miscolored swan, and stared anxiously at the princess. "Do they look more golden today, do you think?" she asked. "Just a little bit, maybe?"*

I leave it to you to imagine Princess Sophie's answer.

*I probably wouldn't actually write this - it's more a Patricia Wrede Enchanted Forest pastiche than anything else.



Sherrie said...

Hi Karen,
Great subject this weekend. I can read just about anything, but no really great plans for reading. Just reading what I want. I've posted about this at my place. I've also posted at the new Weekend Assignment blog. Have a great day.

Sherrie's Stuff

Carly said...

Hi Karen

I have heard you mention L'Engle books many times, and I always make a mental note to check them out, but then something shiney passes by the window and I forget. LOL. I am easily distracted. And I could identify with what you were saying about Keith Olbermann's friday night Thurber readings, I LOVE Thurber! My dear friend June, and I, used to discuss Thurber at length. I grew up appreciating his stories very much, so having Keith end the week with Thurber has been a welcome touch to his show. I have to get me some Thurber for this winter I think. :) Fun entry for the assignment hon! By the way, has Dr. Who ever made it into book form?

:) CArly

Karen Funk Blocher said...

Carly, I have an entire bookcase of Doctor Who paperbacks, and at least a box of additional Doctor Who books somewhere, possibly two or three boxes. All but a handful of the stories that appeared on Doctor Who from 1963 to 1989 were turned into novels, many of them by people who'd written for the show itself. Former Doctor Who story editor Terrance Dicks wrote over 60 of them!

Plus, after the show was taken off at the end of 1989, several series of original Doctor Who novels were published. First came the New Adventures, starring the Seventh Doctor, and then the Missing Adventures, featuring earlier Doctors. After the 1996 tv movie introduced the Eighth Doctor, the BBC took over publishing the novels instead of licensing them out, with Eighth Doctor novels and a series of "Past Doctor" adventures. When the show came back in 2005, these gave way to a series of hardcovers featuring the current Doctors. I have several of those as well. So yeah, there'[s a lot of Doctor Who to read in books! And that's not even counting the many non-fiction books about the show!

Mike said...

Yes, the look more golden today. :)

I've read very little fantasy myself, though some of the science fiction I've read could be science fantasy like you said.

I didn't realize there were Dr. Who books, but it only makes sense. That show has been around forever and has a huge fanbase, I guess I didn't think about it.