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Tag Archive: books

Mar 03

Reading about a Reader’s Reader: Joe Queenan

Credit: Photo published by The Book Reporter www.bookreporter.com

Credit: Photo published by The Book Reporter www.bookreporter.com

The cover of the Rotarian monthly magazine caught my eye. The magazine, a year old now, was stuck in a rack at a car dealership that I know well and frequent a lot. I glimpsed a corner, saw the title “The Joys of Reading”, and that was all I needed to know.

I rescued it.

Inside was a fascinating story titled “Living by the Book” by Joe Queenan. Subtitle: “Books may be the best way to engage the world. Even if you intend to have an argument”.

I admit I did not know about Joe or his writing, and for that matter his voracious reading.  I do now.

Fascinated by the article, I read it, and then began searching for more information on Joe Queenan. Of course I did.

I am betting you might be interested, as well.

An excerpt from a Wall Street Journal article, “My 6,128 Favorite Books” explained in Queenan’s own view ‘how a harmless juvenile pastime turned into a lifelong personality disorder’.

Here is an excerpt:

“I started borrowing books from a roving Quaker City bookmobile when I was 7 years old. Things quickly got out of hand. Before I knew it I was borrowing every book about the Romans, every book about the Apaches, every book about the spindly third-string quarterback who comes off the bench in the fourth quarter to bail out his team. I had no way of knowing it at the time, but what started out as a harmless juvenile pastime soon turned into a lifelong personality disorder.

Fifty-five years later, with at least 6,128 books under my belt, I still organize my daily life—such as it is—around reading. As a result, decades go by without my windows getting washed.

My reading habits sometimes get a bit loopy. I often read dozens of books simultaneously. I start a book in 1978 and finish it 34 years later, without enjoying a single minute of the enterprise. I absolutely refuse to read books that critics describe as “luminous” or “incandescent.” I never read books in which the hero went to private school or roots for the New York Yankees. I once spent a year reading nothing but short books. I spent another year vowing to read nothing but books I picked off the library shelves with my eyes closed. The results were not pretty.

I even tried to spend an entire year reading books I had always suspected I would hate: “Middlemarch,” “Look Homeward, Angel,” “Babbitt.” Luckily, that project ran out of gas quickly, if only because I already had a 14-year-old daughter when I took a crack at “Lolita.”

Just the other day, my friend Bill and I had an email discussion about “Middlemarch” (see reference above in quote from Queenan).

Bill explained our reservations this way: “I just picked up the book ‘My Life in Middlemarch’ by Rebecca Mead. Whereby she creates her own memoir and literary criticism by showing her life and trial as they mirror the main characters lives. The protagonist Dorothea Brooke marries badly and endures and makes peace. Like I say, I am intrigued, but to take on a 800 p. Jane Austin-ish/ Bronte-ish novel is a heavy lift”.

Incidentally, neither Bill nor I are brave enough to tackle it, to date, that is.

Since it’s Joe Queenan we are discussing, one would expect a plethora of stories about him. If you like to read, it’s worth taking a minute to discover this reader’s reader. Personally, I have no idea how he does it and manages a life at the same time. There are moments, I confess, I could succumb.

After all, it is as Thomas Allen once quipped: “If you have read 6,000 books in your lifetime, or even 600, it’s probably because at some level you find ‘reality’ a bit of a disappointment.”

And therefore, we read don’t we.

Here is Queenan in the news as promised:

From NPR: Reading 125 Titles a Year? That’s ‘One for the Books’ http://www.npr.org/2012/11/01/163949969/reading-125-titles-a-year-thats-one-for-the-books

From The Book Report Network: A Biography and Partial List of Queenan’s Books:

http://www.bookreporter.com/authors/joe-queenan

Full Article From WSJ: “My 6,128 Favorite Books” by Joe Queenan

http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10000872396390444868204578064483923017090

And most recently, this entertaining read from The Weekly Standard’s The Magazine: “How Do You Feel? The interrogative mysteries of Deep Space” - MAR 10, 2014

http://www.weeklystandard.com/articles/how-do-you-feel_783573.html?page=2

Some of you ‘get it’, this reading ‘personality disorder’. For the rest, well, we are moving on. Happy Reading.

 

Oct 25

Children’s Chapter Book: The Chautauqua Kids and The Fuddy Duddy Daddy

children's book inside pageA tale of pancakes and baseball
Richard Austin Maxwell liked the nickname Mom gave him. She called him “Pancake” because that was his favorite food, and no matter how many he ate, he never tired of pancakes. Richard’s favorite sport was baseball, and his favorite place to play it was in Chautauqua Park.When Richard’s Mom visited his grandparents for a week, Pancake complained to his sister Skippy that it would be an awful week with their embarrassing and boring “Fuddy Duddy Daddy” in charge.Could Richard survive the week with Dad cooking pancakes and playing baseball, something Mr. Maxwell never does, or would the week become a disaster?

 

Purchase
AuthorhouseAmazon.com | Barnes & Noble

Oct 25

Biography: Al Fike The Modern Minstrel Man 1912 – 1996

al_fikeLife in the early 1900′s was quite different from today. The pace was slower (or so we believe in retrospect). The music was sweeter. And, one learned life by the living. Then came the roaring Twenties. The pace quickened. The music became more upbeat, spiked with heady mixtures of jazz, ragtime and blues. By the early 1930′s the entire country had metamorphosed. Entertainers like Al Jolson, Jimmy Durante and Sophie Tucker were the rage, and country and western was just beginning to come into its own.
Sitting back in his Missouri home and absorbing it all was a young man named Al Fike. Born in 1912, and a schoolteacher by trade, he listened to the sounds of the country growing around him, absorbed them, and made them his own. This “collection period” continued until the late 1940′s when, to the surprise of family and friends, he announced a career change, and the legend of Al Fike the Entertainer was born!
After that, Al Fike, The Modern Minstrel Man, regaled audiences from coast to coast. Whether dressed in candy-striped jacket and straw hit reprising the classics of George M. Cohan or mimicking such greats as Ted Lewis, Durante and Jolson, Al Fike single-handedly kept the traditions of vaudeville alive in this country. He also introduced new music and new stars to his routines so that his show was a virtual “performance library” of American music, idioms, composers, and styles. In short, Al Fike was a living legend, preserving and enhancing the traditions of the American musical stage as no other performer has ever done. Seeing The Al Fike Show was a rare opportunity to see an entertainer’s entertainer perform.
Available at the following:
Authorhouse | Amazon.com | Barnes & Noble

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