Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Beware Of The Man Of One Book.


I came home with a virus that I picked up from my niece while I was in Denver last week and spent all day Sunday reading. I had started The Secret Of The Hardy Boys before I left and found it slow going. When the Northwest Kansas Library System van came last week I picked up a few more books including Forever Young: My Friendship With John F. Kennedy Jr. and But Darling, I'm Your Auntie Mame!.

On Sunday I took all three books with me down to the basement and lay down on the futon and started reading. I began with the Hardy Boys book but just could not get into it. It is about the life of the man who ghostwrote the first Hardy Boys books and was at times very dry. Leslie McFarlane's life was not that interesting to me. I put it down and picked up the Kennedy book. The Kennedy book was an easy read even though I did not believe everything the author wrote. It is a "and then we did this" kind of book and has had no real insight into the kind of man Kennedy had been. I finished it in a couple of hours.

Then I started the Auntie Mame book and quickly became very disappointed by it. It is supposedly a history of the play, musical and the two movies made from Patrick Dennis' novel but only provides basic information about the various productions. It is more of an overview than an in depth report on each project. It is also repetitive with the same bits of information repeated many times. It is as if the author had written each chapter without reading the chapters before it first. It got so bad I started skipping pages.

Now I only had the Hardy Boys book left. I picked it up and started reading again. It was almost torture. Then I realized I could read this book the same way I had the Auntie Mame book. The parts of the book I found interesting were the sections about the Stratemeyer Syndicate (creators of the Hardy Boys series along with Tom Swift, Bobbsey Twins, and the Nancy Drew series) and the writing of the books so I skipped over anything about McFarlane's life and concentrated on the passages about the syndicate and the books. Sped up my reading immensely and proved an enjoyable read.

These books show that I was not thinking about P. J. O'Rouke's quote about reading when I picked them. He once said, "Always read something that will make you look good if you die in the middle of it."

Of course if you do this you will miss out on all the good bad books out there. You know, the fun stuff.

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