Friday, August 04, 2006

Books for a journey

A friend is taking a trip to the north of England this weekend, and unexpectedly asked me to recommend some books to take along. She had already chosen a few, but wasn't too sure if she'd enjoy them - the first of Pullman's "His Dark Materials" books, and 2 Agatha Christies - 'They Came To Baghdad' and another one - maybe 'Sad Cypress'. Anyway, she wasn't too thrilled with the Christies, and I agreed that they weren't her best. As for the Pullman, I haven't read any of his stuff, but it's much talked about and is being made into a movie, so it might be worth looking at, though she said that it seemed to start off very slowly. She needed paperback books that might be good to take along on hikes on the moors.

It's not often that I'm stuck for recommendations, but I drew a complete blank when she asked me what I'd suggest. On my last trip, I took along a volume of Chesterton, Chris Johnson's 'Frank and I' (very funny) and a book of ghost stories. I think she wanted something a little less otherworldly, though, so I went down to the basement when I got home and looked through my Christie collection.

I really only like Poirots, and we got a lot of them when we were in India. These are the 3 I picked out for her: "The Murder of Roger Ackroyd", "Three-Act Murder", and "The ABC Murders". It's a funny thing about Agatha Christie novels; I've read them all, but I find that I can re-read the same mystery, and STILL not know how it ends. The details of the plot go right out of my head, so I can read them over and over and enjoy them just the same. Must be because they're so formulaic; I'm really reading the same book, just with different names and props, and those changes are so minor, I just can't keep them straight.


Blogger Ellie M said...

Uh, Dr Mabuse -- you do know that Pullman is virulently anti-Christian, don't you? And so is his work:

Do read his hate literature -- it's a good thing to "know thy enemy" -- but please borrow it from the library! Don't put any money in this bigot's pocket!!

10:42 am  
Blogger Dr. Mabuse said...

Yes, I do know that - one of the reasons *I* haven't read him, but this lady was a lapsed Catholic, so I didn't think that argument would make much headway with her. I did tell her that I love the Narnia books, and Pullman is rabidly anti-Lewis, so she might have been able to get what I was hinting at. (We also both like the Harry Potter books.) In any case, Pullman's stuff is undoubtedly popular, so I figured that it might be worth reading just as a way of keeping up with current cultural trends. Sort of like the Da Vinci Code - nonsense, but it's as well to know thy enemy, as you say. That was my recommendation to her, anyway. Myself, I'm not too eager to read Pullman's books (and I don't allow my daughter to read them), though maybe I'll get around to them some day.

12:12 pm  
Blogger Ellie M said...

Yes, do read them -- for free if you can! I'm not sorry I did, even though they made me furiously angry: I do want to "know the enemy"! I agree with you about the Da Vinci Code parallel: we need to know what's being written, what we need to respond to. I think what sticks in my craw is knowing that, had Pullman written in this same way about Jews or Muslims, the very same elites who have praised him and showered him with prizes would be screaming for his head.

I also agree with you about not letting your daughter read them. I don't know how old she is, but I should warn you that for supposed children's reading, the Dark Materials books are sadistically cruel and full of graphic descriptions of torture, mutilation, disembowelment etc. (This from an author who says Narnia is too "violent"!!)

Anyway, do read the books: I'd like to know what you think of them.

1:30 pm  
Blogger Dr. Mabuse said...

Well, Emma is 16, but she has Asperger's Syndrome, so I'm careful about what influences she should be exposed to. She doesn't yet have the ability to read critically, and she's all too likely to just accept a message at face value. And since her own sense of Christianity is still very young and naive, I wouldn't want her to be shaken up by anti-Christian propaganda before she's ready to handle it. I think I'll take your advice and read the books myself, then I'll know just if and how she should be exposed to them. So far, she hasn't shown any curiosity about them, and Harry Potter is enough for us at the moment.

1:39 pm  
Blogger Ellie M said...

She may not be interested now, but that may change when the movie comes out -- depending on how aggressive the marketing hype is. Many kids who weren't into the Potter books started reading them after the movies were released. Ditto Lord of the Rings.

I read somewhere that they're trying to tone down the anti-Christian bigotry for the movie, though -- afraid of alienating the religious right in the U.S., I think!

1:46 pm  

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