Men are from Dune, women are from Pemberley

Grim's link took me to other articles by Examiner writer Michelle Kerns, including her "Men are from Dune, women are from Pemberley" lists of 75 Books Every Man or Every Woman Must Read.  I'm afraid I haven't read very many of them, but I've read 16 from the men's list and only 11 from the women's.

Both lists pick a single book by a famous writer and let it go at that.  I don't read that way; I'm more likely to read all of the works of an author that suits me and never quite get through even the first book of an author that doesn't.  What's more, almost none of the books I've read from either of these lists is on my "desert island" list of the few books I'd want to have on hand to read repeatedly for the rest of my life, in a pinch.  "Lolita" isn't on either list, for instance.  But "War and Peace" is on one and "Middlemarch" on the other, so there's that.  And yet no C.S. Lewis!  I don't know what I'd do with myself if I couldn't read and re-read his works.  Not to mention Robert Heinlein, John Varley, Frederick Pohl, Larry Niven/Jerry Pournelle, and a handful of other science-fiction writers I depend on year after year--science fiction and fantasy being my true lifelong literary enthusiasms.

But as for Twain, Dickens, Joyce, Rushdie, Hemingway, Henry James, Maya Angelou, J. K. Rowling, and other high- and low-brow favorites, I just can't read them at all.


Grim said...

Never liked any of those science fiction writers you mentioned. There's a kind of division between sci-fi and space opera, and I always liked the latter better. It gets at what is -- for me, as a reader -- the important things about a story: epic battles between good and evil, light and darkness, explorations of the deepest meanings of reality.

You get that in high fantasy, but I like low fantasy too (at least as low as Conan and Fafhrd). I get the sense that, if I were a character in one of these books, I'd be a strange sort of figure: something like a cross between the Black Knight who is Richard I and the 'free companion' Maurice de Bracy; somewhere between Han Solo and Boba Fett. I picked Grimbeorn out of Tolkien, because he's a slightly shadowier figure than Beorn -- a figure on the right side of things, after all, but nevertheless someone who is willing to decorate his home with the heads of his enemies.

Of the stories they recommend for men, I liked Moby Dick best. I couldn't deal with War and Peace at all, though I tried: Russians playing at being Frenchmen didn't appeal to me.

And as for Twain, he's a fellow Southerner. We're at the opposite ends of our culture, as nearly perfectly opposed as two men might be, but he's family after a fashion.

Grim said...

Oh, but Dune -- I loved that story. I reread it just before deploying to Iraq. I thought it would be good preparation, and so it was.

Texan99 said...

I'm one of the few people who sort of enjoyed the movie Dune. I can't read so much as a paragraph of Herbert, but I liked the story.

There's no limit to the number of times I could read and enjoy War and Peace.

Grim said...

I tried hard. It just doesn't speak to me. Probably if I put enough effort into it, eventually I'd have made the commitment and could come to care about it...

...but I just don't care enough to try that hard to care. :)

I liked the movie, too. I haven't read anything else he wrote, but the book was really good. The good part for preparing for Iraq wasn't the bit about the desert, by the way; our relationship to the desert was totally different even in the desert, and mostly I was in Mesopotamia anyway. The helpful part was in thinking about blood feuds and assassinations.

Ymar Sakar said...

If Shah Massoud, the leader of the Northern Coalition had been more paranoid and trusted journalists less, we might have saw more of him in the Afghan conflict.

He might have made a much better leader than the one Afghanistan did get.

Good old paranoia. People underestimate how useful it is.