I've been at a conference for work most of the week, and as a result, today my brain feels like it resembles the approximate consistency of Southern fried grits. I've had little time to read, or even think about books. So, in lieu of any sort of intelligent, reasonably well-written post, here this instead: A Top 10 list of silly book-related stories. Enjoy! (And please try not to think less of me as a result of any of these.)
Vinegar Hill). One of the stories I wrote for her class was so abysmally bad, she accused me of re-purposing an essay she thought I might've written for another class as a story for her class. Wasn't true, and so I managed to squeak by with a C. That debacle put my erstwhile promising fiction-writing career into long hiatus.
9. I once hit on a girl in a bar by asking her if she knew who Zadie Smith is, and that she looked exactly like her. Result: Swing-and-a-miss.
8. A few weeks ago, when in Boston, I visited Harvard and picked up a cheap bookmark at one of the Harvard bookstores. When I got home, I put the bookmark inside the cover of my copy of War and Peace. The rationale (of rather dubious logic) is that they're both "smart" things, so they go together nicely. And so when I read the book next year (it's my literary goal for 2011), because those two smart things are together, maybe I'll be extra smart, too. Right?
7. I've only finished an entire book in a single day on two occasions. The books: The Neon Bible, by John Kennedy Toole and The Five People You Meet in Heaven, by Mitch Albom. I'm really, really not proud of the latter.
6. My favorite book when I was a kid was Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs. I picked it up recently as a gift for a friend's kid, and re-read it quickly before wrapping it. Did you know that the whole story's a simple metaphor for religious freedom and the Pilgrims?! How did I not pick up on that when I was five?
The Count of Monte Cristo, by Alexander Dumas. It's not exactly a difficult book, but it's not James Patterson either. And so let's just say my level of mental concentration was sorely lacking for what was required to derive any pleasure from the novel.
4. When I saw novelist and philosopher Rebecca Newberger Goldstein sitting on a bench in Central Park this summer, I turned into the equivalent of a teenage girl who's just seen Justin Bieber. (Yeah, I know that's a recycled analogy. But it's still the best I can do — especially right now.) And I couldn't summon the courage to try to talk to her. Regret.
3. I used to read a lot of non-fiction, but not so much anymore. The last non-fiction book I read was The Yankee Years, by Joe Torre. Which is odd, 'cause I friggin' hate the Yankees.
2. I just rejoined the Book of the Month Club (for about the 7th time), and this time instead of offering a crappy overnight bag or flimsy tote as the enrollment bonus, they're offering a free "surprise book." That's great, right? Well, yeah, until you discover the free book is Secrets of The Lost Symbol: The Unauthorized Guide to the Mysteries Behind The Da Vinci Code Sequel. Thanks, jerks. I already know The Lost Symbol's secret: It's friggin' terrible. Worst free gift ever.
1. The only book I've ever started but not finished is titled The Iron Wall, by some guy named Avi Shlaim. It's a non-fiction history book about Israel. I'm not Jewish, but I find Israel fascinating. Also, I have an obsessive compulsion to finish books I start, no matter how bad or painful they are. See recent experience with Gravity's Rainbow as evidence.
Your turn — what are your funny, embarrassing or just silly book-related anecdotes? Spill it!