I very much like to read, I’m just not very good at it. Or rather I’m not very good at making the time to read more than a few pages at a time. Between movies, TV, games, Facebook, music, work, and family I rarely make myself sit down for long stretches with a good book. Honestly, I do most of my reading on the toilet, or sometimes at the dinner table (when my wife doesn’t let out that groaning sigh that tells me she’d like a little attention rather than the pages in front of me). Now and again I’ll find a book that compels me to take it out of the john or off the table and sit with it after the girl goes to bed, but mostly that doesn’t happen.
I’ve been keeping track of all the books I read each year for awhile now. I arbitrarily (and perhaps a bit hastily) set a goal of reading 50 books in a given year. I’ve never reached that goal. Not even close. Not even when I count things like graphic novels and Calvin & Hobbes collections.
Yet I can’t keep myself from buying them. I can’t pass a used book store or library without venturing inside and coming out with some tome or another that looks interesting and I just have to own. At the pace I’m going I’ll never be able to read the books I own in my lifetime but that will never keep me from buying more.
I buy and read pretty much everything. I’m not in anyway a book snob. I don’t tend to grab mass market paperbacks, but neither do I frequent the trendy, obscure thing that take PhDs in Russian philosophy to understand. I love Raymond Chandler and Ernest Hemingway but also Stephen King and Dennis Lehane. I’m also quite fond of books that have been made into movies. I’ve never quite understood the whys of that except that I’m not really tuned into the literary world and so I don’t know a lot of newer titles and authors except when it gets made into a film. I also enjoy filling out the details of my favorite movies and source novels are the perfect place for that sort of thing.
I generally read the books after I’ve seen the movie, but for once I read Gone Girl before the film had even come out. I had heard some general buzz that it was going to be the next David Fincher flick and I’m a big fan of the director so when I saw the book on the library shelves I snatched it up and started reading. It was such a page-turner that I wound up reading it over the course of a few nights, staying up late in our spare bedroom reading after the daughter and wife had gone to bed.
It's a well-drawn murder mystery that’s just as much about the difficulties of marital life as it is about the central mystery. I wasn’t real thrilled with the big plot twist in the middle but I was certainly taken by surprise. For me, it was the sort of book I thrilled at reading, but when the final page was turned, I was less than impressed. Still, it was a fun read and I was more than interested to see what Fincher could do with it.
The wife and I saw it opening weekend and really rather enjoyed ourselves. Like the book, the film has various problems but Fincher’s hand is so assured and the cast so magnificent that I never really minded. A part of me wishes Fincher would become the truly artful and master director films like Zodiac and Fight Club assure me he can be, but as a genre director of thrillers he’s proving to be the best of his peers.
Also out this week that looks interesting:
Boardwalk Empire: Season 5: Man, I really need to get back to watching this. I stopped somewhere in the middle of season 2 for no good reason at all. It's never gathered the sort of cultural buzz that The Sopranos or Breaking Bad did, but from what I’ve seen its just as good.
The Two Faces of January: A thriller based upon a the novel by Patricia Highsmith (who also wrote The Talented Mr. Ripley and Strangers on a Train) starring Viggo Mortensen and Kristen Dunst. Was reviewed by Adam Blair.
Jimi: All is By My Side: A Jimi Hendrix biopic starring Andre Benjamin as Hendrix. I’ve heard good things.
To Catch a Comet: A PBS documentary on the recent ESA landing on a comet. Considering what else we’ve done in space, landing on a comet doesn’t sound that interesting but once you start looking at the specifics (it launched a decade ago and did a Mars fly-by plus two Earth ones), you realize what a staggeringly amazing bit of maneuvering was done to accomplish such a feat. I’m looking forward to learning more with the usual PBS documentary mastery.
The Facts of Life: The Complete Series: I enjoyed this series as a kid, though I can’t imagine it holds up very well.