Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Was i, to take this drunkard for a god

My reading has continued at a good pace this week and according to my Goodreads account, I'm 80% through The Sheltering Sky.  I'm enjoying it very much, and as soon as I'm finished writing this, I look forward to returning to it.

I've decided that part of my good progress since 'the big one,' since Infinite Jest, is due to the fact that I've been throwing in a little non-fiction on the side.  As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, I find reading some non-fiction works as a motivational tool, causing me to actually read more often.  When I have two books I'm enjoying, I'm eager to read both, but must split my time; therefore I read more often.  If I'm not enjoying one of them, I make reading some of it mandatory before continuing with the book I am enjoying, so again, I read more often.  So far I haven't run into an instance where I don't like either book, so I'll have to cross that bridge when I get to it.

God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything
The non-fiction book I just finished is called God is not Great by Christopher Hitchens.  Obviously this is a very polarizing book, and I don't really have any desire to get into any kind of religious debate, despite my feeling so passionately toward one side.  What I can comment on is what a good writer Hitchens is.  I'd never read anything of his before, and had only seen him in interviews or debates, where he carries himself as well as anybody, mostly due to his uncanny ability to recall quotes, facts, examples, etc.  Said Martin Amis (author or the book Money, which is on The List), "With his vast array of geohistorical references and precedents, he is almost Google-like; but...Christopher's search engine is much more finely tuned."  In God is not Great, Hitchens uses this 'google-like' ability to explain why he doesn't believe in any god, and why he feels 'religion poisons everything.'

As far as The List is concerned, I have been able to find some relevance.  Throughout my quest, I have been noting when one book from The List mentions another book, or at least an author.  Well God is not Great takes the cake, making references to eleven different authors and five different books from The List.  Some references tied in nicely to the book's theme, like C.S. Lewis, a tireless promoter and defender of religion, and Salman Rushdie, whose work offended some religious types so much they ordered him executed.  Other times, such as when Hitchens quotes The Adventures of Augie March, it doesn't pertain to religion necessarily, but rather he quotes them because great writers are so good at putting their thoughts on paper, why not borrow from their genius to make a real impact.  After some background research, I did discover Hitchens' love of literature, it seems to be his true passion.  Perhaps this is why he turns to the literary world the way many would turn to, ironically, religion.  I guess Hitchens prefers to look to the good books for advice (Hitchens also can't resist a bad pun).

For those interested, the authors mentioned in one way or another in God is not Great are Salman Rushdie, George Orwell, Saul Bellow, C.S. Lewis, Ian McEwan, Evelyn Waugh, Anthony Powell, Graham Greene, Doris Lessing, Philip Roth and Joseph Heller.  As for books, Hitchens refers to Animal Farm, Nineteen Eighty-four, The Adventures of Augie March, Brideshead Revisited, and A Dance to the Music of Time.

I don't have any non-fiction reads ready to go right now, so my concentration will return solely to The List for the next few days.  I'll hopefully have number thirty four finished soon.  I'm still unsure of what thirty five will be, but am currently, as I type these words, staring at Gone with the Wind. And it's staring right back at me, I think daring me to read it.

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