Booking Through Thursday: The New, The Old, The Really Old

Here is this week’s Booking Through Thursday:

Do you prefer reading current books? Or older ones? Or outright old ones? (As in, yes, there’s a difference between a book from 10 years ago and, say, Charles Dickens or Plato.)

About an hour ago I finished a draft of a book review for a novel slated to come out next month. I’ll leave the title and author a mystery; I hope you’ll read my review when it comes out. That particular book, along withPeep Show by Joshua Braff and Solar by Ian McEwan, I read because I was assigned reviews.

But often I don’t necessarily seek out new books when I read. If I read a review of a new book and it interests me, I’ll read it. I’ll also read new stuff by favorite writers.

Of course, my usual problem with new books is that so many come out that I want to read they quickly become old books. Some currents I would like to read are David Shields’ Reality Hunger, because I want to know what all the fuss is really about, and John McPhee’s Silk Parachute, because McPhee is a favorite. By the time I get around to reading these books, though, they may be old.

As far as “old” books go, I’m currently reading what may be considered “old,” though it was published a little more than a decade ago (1997 to be precise): Dinty Moore’s spiritual autobiography/memoir The Accidental Buddhist. I picked this book for several reasons. It’s an example of creative nonfiction, an genre I’m interested in as a writer. It’s also about Buddhism, a topic I have a general interest in.

But, I chiefly picked up the book to see if it might answer or give me insight into my own spiritual interests and questions: So far, it has.

I have, for instance, this morning been contemplating my attitude toward money and people with money, an attitude that shares similarities with Linsi Deyo, a Buddhist that Moore meets and interviews, who, with her husband Patrick, runs a business making zafus, or meditation cushions. Deyo was taught that people with money were bad, a belief I was taught, too, and, in turn that having money, at least a lot of it, was bad.

I feel I have an intimate relationship with that book. I can relate to Moore’s own spiritual quest, for instance. It too shares similarities with my own, a quest for me that extends at least formally to philosophy class in college.

I think readers read any book, new, old, ancient because they develop an intimate relationship with the book: The best ones hit them in the solar plexus; the book’s world becomes your own, a powerful communication between writer and reader.


3 thoughts on “Booking Through Thursday: The New, The Old, The Really Old

  1. I actually just ordered Dinty W. Moore’s book and am excited to read it. I only have a few favorite “new” authors and I don’t stray too far from genre interests though I know I should. I have a stronger faith in the old books–to me the stories are not competing for the newest style and catch-you snags and to see who can say it the most uniquely with thought-out manipulations. Tell the story, don’t pamper it. Some of my favorite authors are Alan Watts (love), Aimee Bender (now there’s a genuine, new voice), Nadine Gordimer (no one can even attempt to mimic), John Updike, Mark Twain (now that’s story telling), Emerson (though he was a little on the “plumping” side of words), Anthony Doerr (a modern Shakespeare when it comes to putting you into a new world), Golding, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Wally Lamb. Many more, but these are a few that have that innate talent that remind me what it means to tell a story. Plus I’m a junky for old, yellowed, tattered books. They’re beautiful. Anyway, can’t wait to read Moore’s. Nice post here, as always.

  2. I came across Reality Hunger on the staff book exchange bookcase earlier this week, but I’ve not done much beyond match a few writers’ names in the index with the quotations in the text (I was gratified to find a writing instructor’s name listed, not that I recognized the quote). By the time I actually read it it’ll no doubt be old.

  3. I seem to be stuck on reading middling-old books, including a lot I read when I was younger. I just finished Seek My Face, a 2004 novel by Updike that’s impressive for its sentences, point of view–and elderly woman’s–and general brilliance in working out the dynamics in a day-long interview between a young New York art journalist and this old painter.

    Dinty’s Accidental Buddhist is great–it was a great idea that he pulls off with a light touch.

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