Thursday, April 29, 2010

A New Commandment

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This week's Booking Through Thursday question asks:
God comes to you and tells you that, from this day forward, you may only read ONE type of book–one genre or period, but you get to choose what it is. Classics, Science-Fiction, Mystery, Romance, Cookbooks, History, Business … you can choose, but you only get ONE.

What genre do you pick, and why?
Assuming for the sake of BTT argument that "literary fiction" far too broad to meet God's new requirement, I find myself in the position of all sinners -- trying to bargain with God: "If you'll just let me include a few books from other categories -- how about a couple of thrillers here and there? some classics? -- I'll never buy from a chain bookstore again; it's independent booksellers from here on out, I promise."

Assuming God isn't in a bargaining mood, at the risk of eternal damnation I would pick Mid-Century (20th) British Fiction -- novels from the 1940s, '50s, and '60s. That would cover my favorite authors like Anthony Powell, Kingsley Amis, and Graham Greene, as well as a large chunk of the P. G. Wodehouse bibliography.

And I could spend time getting to know authors whose works I am not so familiar with, like Dorothy Sayers (later books), Muriel Spark, and C. P. Snow. I could start with the James Tait Black Memorial Prize winners from those three decades to find new authors, and take it from there.

I know I'd be missing out on great British fiction from earlier in the 20th Century, not to mention my American favorites, international authors, and the thousands of books from genres that I never knew existed until I started blogging (time-traveling teen-age shape shifters in love with code-solving werewolves, etc.). But it's not every day God gives a new commandment, so who am I to argue?


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