My Bookish Confession

roadside picnicIt is time for some book confessions and I have got a real strange one to confess. Some people break spines, some read the last page first, mine is completely different. I first really noticed this while reading the Russian sci-fi classic Roadside Picnic by Arkady & Boris Strugatsky. I was half way through the book and I thought ‘this book is amazing’, there are all these interesting ideas about science and technology; then I wanted the book to end.

I did some research in other books I’ve read recently and it seemed to happen with them as well. No matter how much I enjoy the plot and characters, I seem to be contently seeking out the themes within the books. This isn’t really a bad thing, I am trying to train my brain to read critically and analyse the text as I am going along. However I don’t want to lose interest in a book once I find a major theme.

middlemarchI had a think about the books and I realised Middlemarch took me so long because I would find a theme to really sink my teeth into and I would spend so much time thinking about what this novel said about it and forget to continue reading. The problem with this is that Middlemarch is pretty much a social commentary on provincial live and there are so many themes within the book to explore. I had to force myself to go back and continue reading and then I would fixate on another theme for a while and lose interest with the rest of the book again.

Another example would be The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery where there are so many philosophical ideas that I want to investigate it tends to distract me from the rest of the book. The only problem is that I don’t know that much about philosophy, so I have to spend more time researching ideas than actually enjoying the book. I did however manage to finish The Elegance of the Hedgehog, Roadside Picnic and Middlemarch; I love them all dearly and I think that is because I spent some much time thinking about them. It is just a really weird bookish quirk I have and I am not sure if it is entirely useful.

Hey! Nietzsche!I have spent a lot of time thinking about why I am so weird and why I am constantly searching for themes in books. I do enjoy critical reading and I have a keen interest in literary criticism so if I train myself to actually focus on the book in search of more themes, maybe I will be less likely to lose interest halfway through. I think this quirk started when I first discovered reading; the book was Hey! Nietzsche! Leave Them Kids Alone! by Craig Schuftan. This non-fiction book explores the link between The Romantic Movement and modern rock music and it too me six months to read. Not because I am a slow reader, but because I had to read most of the books and poetry referenced here. It sparked a passion within me, not just of reading but also of learning.

Now it’s your turn to confess; are there any bookish confessions you want to make? Now is your chance to share them.

How Nietzsche Turned me into a Reader

Hey! Nietzsche!I’m not really interested in giving people a quick introduction; I tend to mix my personal life, humour, sarcasm and knowledge into my book reviews and blog posts. However I do want to kick off talking about the book that turned me into a reader.  It wasn’t until 2009 that I discovered the joys of books and reading and something inside me clicked and I wanted to consume every book I saw. This life changing event was all because of one book, an Australian non-fiction title called Hey! Nietzsche! Leave Them Kids Alone! by Craig Schuftan.

At the time I listened to a lot of music and would have cited AFI, My Chemical Romance, Weezer, and so on as some of my favourite bands. In face I was right into the music that was been played on Triple J. Craig Schuftan was a radio producer at Triple J at the time and there was a short show he made for the station called The Culture Club. In this show he would talk about the connection rock and roll has to art and literary worlds. Friedrich Nietzsche was claiming, “I am no man, I am dynamite” well before AC/DC’s song TNT.

That was a real revelation for me and I picked up Hey! Nietzsche! Leave Them Kids Alone! (subtitled; The Romantic Movement, Rock and Roll, and the End of Civilisation as We Know It) and began reading it. However it didn’t stop there; this book connected the so called ‘emo’ movement with The Romantic Movement, I never thought these bands would have anything in common with the greats like Lord Byron, Percy Bysshe Shelley or John Keats but I had to find out.

Hey! Nietzsche! Leave Them Kids Alone! by  Craig Schuftan ended up taking half a year to complete; not because I was a slow reader but I wanted to know more,and  I read poetry by Lord Byron, Percy Bysshe Shelley and John Keats, and researched online. I picked up books like Frankenstein (an obsession of mine), Dracula and Wuthering Heights just because they were mentioned. This was a weird turn in my life but my growing thirst for knowledge became an obsession with reading. I have now set a life goal to read everything on the 1001 Books you must read before you die list.

It is weird to think one book can have such a huge impact on my life but I credit Craig Schuftan (and my wife) for such a positive improvement in my life. I will eventually read Craig Schuftan’s books The Culture Club: Modern Art, Rock and Roll and other stuff your parents warned you about and Entertain Us!: The Rise and Fall of Alternative Rock in the Nineties but I’ve put them off because I suspect the same amount of research will be involved.

Has a book had such a positive impact in your life? I would love to know in the comments. Also are there any other books that explore the connections between art and literature with pop-culture?