Friday, May 22, 2009

The Lazy Person's Reading Group, First Session -- Debbie's List

As previously announced, I have established and joined a Lazy Person's Reading Group. Full details are available here, but the short version is that you, too, can join the group, simply by nodding at your computer screen.

You get to choose your own reading list (as long as you follow a few criteria) and establish your own timetable; and there are no book group sessions or discussions. If you'd like, you may post your reading list on your blog, or in the comments section here -- and I hope some of you do, because I'd love to see your reading lists! -- but that's completely up to you.

For Session One of the LPRG, the Chief Lazy Person (moi) has decreed that you choose five or more of eleven book options. Here goes with my list. It's mostly grown-up books, but also includes a few chosen from the world of children's lit.

1. A book of fiction you've been looking forward to reading.

So many books could go in this category! But one that I've been meaning to read for a while is Garrison Keillor's Liberty. Now, I'm the first to say that sometimes a little Garrison Keillor goes a long way. But I also do enjoy PHC, and I've read and liked other Garrison Keillor books, so I'm looking forward to reading Liberty.

2. A book of nonfiction you've been looking forward to reading.

Admittedly, the #1 and #2 slots of this LPRG list are the literary equivalent of the bingo free space: you know you were going to read them anyway; why not get the credit? My nonfiction choice is Michael Perry's new book Coop: A Year of Poultry, Pigs, and Parenting. I had the pleasure of hearing Michael Perry speak recently at a bookstore, and I've read his other books, so I'm looking forward to reading this one.

(Forewarned being forearmed, however, I'll admit that I plan to skip pp. 15-16, and will hold out hope that the paperback bonus materials will include a new essay entitled "Rediscovering the lost art of the hankerchief.")

3. A book by someone whose last name begins with Z.

Oh, I was on the hunt for a Z book! I googled, researched, and contemplated my options. Then a Z book fell in my lap. Over on Books Read by Kat, I found a review of Donut Days by Lara Zielin. Seeing how I love to read Michigan authors, this discovery seemed serendipitous. It's not out until August, but as soon as it's out, it's going onto my summer reading stack. In the meantime, I'll settle for Lara's blog.

4. A book from a genre you rarely, if ever, read.

Regular readers of this blog know that I favor the genre of cozy mysteries. But I have good reason to believe that I will thoroughly enjoy my out-of-genre choice, Beautiful Lies by Lisa Unger.

5. A book that was an award-winner or bestseller in the year you were born.

I'll come right out and admit it: 1967.

Yup. That's the year of my birth. Shocking? Well, get over it. We all had to be born some time; and I've been saying "forty-" for long enough now that I'm At Peace With It. As for the award winners of the year, can I admit to resorting to Wikipedia for my overview? But nothing there grabbed me. I briefly considered reading Bernard Malamud's The Fixer, but opted not to.

So instead of "award-winner," I decided to go the "bestseller" route. The #1 NYT bestseller fiction book on the day of my birth was The Arrangement by Elia Kazan; and nonfiction #1 was The New Industrial State by John Kenneth Galbraith. Of the two, the nonfiction title sounds a wee bit, um, er, b-o-r-i-n-g, so I'm going to give The Arrangement a whirl.

6. Your best friend's favorite book. (If you've already read it, then substitute another book that your friend recommends.)

I think I know what my best friend's favorite book is -- but I've yet to confirm this with her; and I suspect she may feed me another title entirely, just to have a little fun with me. More on this one later...

7. A book you figure you probably should read, even though you don't really want to.

People of the blogosphere, this one's up to you. My fate is truly in your hands. You know I don't really want to read a Harry Potter novel, but will yield to the results of the vote tally in the HP poll in the upper right, once it reaches 100 votes.

If you feel strongly about your vote (HP dissenters, I'm looking at you), please spread the word. I'd be glad to come up with another option for this category.

8. A book that has recently received rave reviews.

How could I not be swayed by this Fuse #8 review of When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead? I also read about it over on the Educating Alice blog. Mehopes it's as good as it sounds.

9. A book by someone who shares your first name.

My dear best friend, whose book recommendation I might take under advisement for category 6, some time ago sent me a magazine clipping titled "Where have all the Debbies gone?" I'll condense the article into this pithy bit: the name "Deborah" has apparently fallen out of favor and is now code for "middle-aged woman. "

I resemble that remark!

But middle-aged or not, Deborahs are a prolific bunch. So I had many, many books to choose from. My pick?

Deborah Ruddell's A Whiff of Pine, A Hint of Skunk: A Forest of Poems.

10. A book that pertains in some way to a skill you do not, and never will, have.

Gosh, delusion is a grand thing, is it not? There's no limit to the number of skills I lack; but there's that little corner of my mind that is sure that someday...

Yes, someday I will be able to repair my lawn mower; someday I will learn to knit; someday I will play "Voodoo Child" on the electric guitar; and someday I will learn to write without indulging in overuse of the semicolon.

Given the broad scope of my "someday" delusion, all that's left in the "never will have" Venn circle are those skills that I either: a) have no interest in ever acquiring; or b) have to admit I truly will never achieve. Seeing as I don't really want to read about golf or line-dancing, I'm forced to focus on category B -- where I find such things as brain surgery, quantum physics, and social skills.

My pick? How about...

Brain surgery. I'll give Another Day in the Frontal Lobe by Katrina Firlik a try.

11. A book recommended by your hairdresser or barber.

I am so terribly overdue for a haircut that having a book recommendation from my hairdresser is an impossibility. I thought I'd have to skip this category. But then -- hurrah! -- a little Googling led me to the discovery of... Beauty and The Book: The Only Hair Salon and Bookstore in the Country. How cool is that???

The proprietor, Kathy L. Patrick, has book recommendations on her web site. From those listed, I settled on The Lost Art of Walking by Geoff Nicholson.

So now I've got eleven books to entertain me; and you've got five or more of your own to read. I'll periodically keep you posted on my progress, and I hope you'll do the same, either on your blog or in the comments on mine. (If you do blog about your LPRG reading list, send me the list, so I can link to it.)

Happy reading, everyone!


Lori Van Hoesen said...

This is so funny! I'm sure I'd get a haircut more than twice a year if my hair salon was also a BOOKSTORE! I also plan to read Stead's new book per Fuse.

The word verfication: gonewine. Just thought it seemed worth mentioning. :-)

Boni Ashburn said...

I was too lazy to join in on your first post. But I'm thinking I need to join. I have a stack you wouldn't believe here I've been avoiding :) Will get my list up soon!

Anonymous said...

I've been thinking about your list, but other than nod at my screen, haven't done much about it. Til this week, that is, when I read a book I've been looking forward to reading -- The Pout-Pout Fish! I know you didn't establish the list to troll for compliments, but I'll offer mine anyway: Love your writing in this wonderful book! Favorite turn of phrase is "you kaleidoscope of mope." This also counts as a book receiving rave reviews, right? (I mean, a lazy person's list should include some two-fers, yes?)

Debbie Diesen said...

Martha, thanks for your nice words about Pout-Pout! And definitely, a two-fer is absolutely in the spirit of The Lazy Person's Reading Group. Next session I think I'll add bonus points for group members who pick just one book that meets ALL the criteria! :)