Monday, August 27, 2007

What are you reading?

My mother says that when I was a tiny girl I would usually respond to an adult's friendly questions with what she called, "your dirty look." Her interpretation of my reaction was that I probably thought the inquiring adult was stupid. Could be. I don't remember some of the instances she recalls, but I do know that I always hated being questioned by adults, partly because the questions were inane, but mostly because a polite and respectful child was always required to answer them. (And it didn't help that I was extremely shy.)

The question I most despised was, "What are you reading?" Since I always carried a book (and usually had my nose in it), I encountered this one a lot. "A book," would have been my preferred reply, but I had already figured out that this would be considered a smart mouth reply. So usually an awkward silence would ensue. I hated having to give them a title because it seemed such a breach of the intimate union between author and reader. Besides, my interrogator might then ask the second most common question, "Is it good?"* AND I KNEW THEY WERE NOT REALLY INTERESTED!!!

The life of a child is so much more intense than an adult's.

When I grew a bit older, I was able to steel myself to holding up my book in stony silence so that they could read the title for themselves. That was usually an effective conversation stopper and allowed me to get back to my reading.

Nowadays, I'm a bit more laid back. Though I still have a slight aversion to giving out my title, I have mastered the vague though polite reply ("Oh, just a novel.") -- unless I'm speaking to another book person, in which case I'm enthusiastically voluble.

It's probably a safe assumption that anyone reading this blog is a book person, so I will tell you what I am reading right now.

Naturally, I have several books in progress. (When I mentioned this to my mom, it rather startled her. She is not much of a reader, so she couldn't see how I could keep them all straight. However, she is herself an excellent multi-tasker in other fields.)

  1. The Currents of Space by Isaac Asimov (because I was shelving the paperback science fiction)
  2. Never Done: A History of American Housework by Sussan Strasser (because I'm a career housewife)
  3. Grandmother Had No Name by Alice P. Lin (because it caught my eye as I was sitting next to the biography shelf with the cat in my lap)
  4. The Worm Book by Loren Nancarrow (because I'd read about Sister Mary Martha's worm farm here and here -- btw, that's a very strange blog!)
  5. Ex Libris by Anne Fadiman (because Rhinemouse referred to it)
  6. The Tough Guide to Fantasy Land by Dianna Wynne Jones (because I bought it at Mythcon)
  7. Jesus of Nazareth by Pope Benedict XVI (because B-16 is so cool!)

Hmm. That list makes it look like I read mostly nonfiction -- which I don't. I just finished a big stack of novels. But at any rate, you can see that I'm pretty omniverous.

*"No, I chose it because it is wretchedly boring." That's what I'd be thinking. I would never have said it out loud.


Darwin said...

I think there is one very safe answer for any person under 13 who does not which to answer this set of questions.

Adult: "What are you reading?"
Child: "Ulysses."
Adult: "Oh, is it nice?"
Child: "My younger sibling is potty training, and the librarian said this dealt with that a lot."

Anonymous said...

You might've said "The Nosy Neighbor" by Fern Michaels...

Jocelyne said...

That is, without a doubt, The Most Annoying Question in the World. I wish I had written this post. Oh well, I shall just have to link to it instead. :-)

Catholic Bibliophagist said...

Thanks for linking!