For all of my previously noted (both real and perceived) snobbery about books, how I select reading material is sometimes less than particular. Such was the case with Bend in the River (which was a good book, but not great). I also fall into the trap of being ever-hopeful in the case of an author who had a brilliant book or two and then proceeded to churn out pulp. John Brunner, for example, wrote The Shockwave Rider*, The Sheep Look Up**, and Stand on Zanzibar***, and then an endless succession of absolutely pedestrian crap.
But I digress (heck, given a chance to talk about those 3 previous books, I’m liable to wander). One of my other oft-repeated book-buying traps is to buy the book that the band was named after. Not even because I liked the band, but because the name piqued my interested. This worked out really well for The Grapes of Wrath, for example. I stumbled across The 39 Steps in high school, also thanks to an idie band of the same name. There are many more and I will think of them all in the middle of the night tonight. This is the way I’ve chosen many a book over the years.
This is not always the best strategy, however.
See, I have a very vivid memory of purchasing The Velvet Underground (neat! I recognize that band name! Quirky!). I had been wandering around my favourite used bookstore and I stumbled across this book. When I brought it to the counter, the store’s proprietor (for whom I’d babysat, and who knows me and my family rather well) made some sort of confused comment and raised an eyebrow. I realized I’d been caught out on choosing a book for an extremely dubious reason, but rather than let on that this was how I’d actually chosen the book, I more or less bluffed that I’d chosen it deliberately because I knew of the book and wanted to read it.
Just to give you an idea of why this might have caused a tiny bit of consternation…and a whole lot of embarrassment when I finally opened it up to have a look-see…here is the beginning of the description from Chapters:
Swingers and swappers, strippers and streetwalkers, sadists, masochists, and sexual mavericks of every persuasion; all are documented in this legendary exposé of the diseased underbelly of ’60s American society.
So no, I don’t always give careful thought to my choice of reading material…if you’ve ever wondered.
Day 235 scorecard: 1175 down, 660 to go
* Which he wrote in the 70s and which basically predicted having an online life and various of the strange effects this would have on social relationships…
** Predicting the radical ecology movements, the collapse of inter-related systems, the politicking and lobbying that blocks change, and the radical fighters…
*** On par with 1984 and Brave New World as the best of the best dystopian Sci-Fi. ALSO incredibly prescient but also including a radical writing style that seems not-so-weird now, but which was bizarre 45 years ago.