Help me act my age

Well, that meme from the other day struck a nerve with me. I know its just a meme but it made me realize I’m not reading enough popular books. I’m out of the loop. Out of the zeitgeist, or gestalt or – or – or something German. The fact is, I read like an old man1. I’m only 29 – I shouldn’t be reading history and theology and classical works all the time. And when I’m not doing that, I shouldn’t be reading best-ofs and extra-credit challenges. I need to cool off the anxious reader stuff.

I need your help. Help me act my age. Help me find a work of fiction from the past 10 years or so, the more recent the better. It needs to be something good, obviously, but not something from straight off of the top ten lists. Maybe something you wish had made it to the top ten lists. You all know what I like to read and my preference for edifying books. If not, check the post labels and blog archive in the sidebar. My favorite contemporary author is David Foster Wallace, if that helps.

Leave your suggestions in the comments to this post. If you’ve never commented on a blog post before just click on the word “comments” in the footer to this post and follow the simple instructions on the comment page. If you’ve never commented on a blog before this is the perfect opportunity. Just leave a book title. It’s easy. No pressure.

I promise I will take your suggestion to heart and actively hunt down your favorite books in the used bookstores of my fair city and purchase the first one I find. I’ll probably even blog about the whole thing.

So leave a suggestion in the comments and help me act my age.

1. My apologies to old men everywhere. Old men look at my life, I’m a lot like you were.

14 responses to “Help me act my age”

  1. If it helps: I have the same problem, and I’m five years younger — so I know the feeling.Three suggestions:1. J.M. Coetzee. Disgrace (1999) is awesome, but my favorite is The Life and Times of Michael K. (1983). Also Waiting for the Barbarians (1980). The last two don’t fall within your ten-year gap, but I’d strongly recommend Coetzee in general. I’m slowly making my way through his catalog, planning to read Elizabeth Costello next.2. Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides (2002). This is one of the very best pieces of contemporary fiction I have read.3. Dave Eggers’ A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius (2000) is divisive, but it’s about as zeitgeisty as a book can be.

  2. Gilead by Marilynne Robinson!Though, that’s narrated by an old man.OK, then, how about Declare, by Tim Powers.

  3. Orange Blossom Goddess (aka Heather) Avatar
    Orange Blossom Goddess (aka Heather)

    I just wrote a number of selections out which blogger erased as apparently all the fields were blank. sigh. Anyway here they are again:Thirteen Moonsanything by Maureen JenningsThere were a few others…oh! I just received an Amazon order and God’s Secretaries was one but that one isn’t fiction…Anyway good luck. You should stop old men you see on the street and ask them what they are reading to see if they have the same sorts of book lists as you! Oh! I really hope you do that and report back the results!!

  4. Anything by Borges. Seriously. Ficciones or Dreamtigers but really, anything at all. I chose him because you have Don Quixote in your sidebar. The Angel of Forgetfulness by Steve Stern. It’s not a religious book but it incorporates a lot of Jewish myth with which I was completely unfamiliar. Oh and the author displays a mastery of the English language virtually unrivalled.

  5. Ooh! Yeah! Borges!I’ve given out copies of Ficciones as presents to unsuspecting and probably uninterested friends.

  6. Hey Eliot, pass some free books my way!I’m back. I think I berated you for not reading The Stone Angel by Margaret Laurence, right? Because you should. It’s a gut-wrenching work, fairly insular because the tale is told by a very proud, intelligent, somewhat egotistical old woman whose voice dominates the narrative. It’s one of those novels that sound boring as hell, then you start to read it and your brain is kidnapped. You read SF so fantasy shouldn’t be too big a leap. Kingdoms of Fairies by Sylvia Townsend Warner will be one of the best stories collections you will ever read. Her tales are absurd, chilling, horrific, humorous, absorbing, both familiar and unquestioningly foreign at the same time. You’ll have a time finding this one in book stores, perhaps, used or not as I doubt whether it’s still in print.

  7. Thanks for the suggestions, everyone. I’m writing up the list right now.Ted, I’ve already read Eggers’ heartbreaking work. I even bought a copy to give as gift. I guess I’m not without hope after all.More suggestions are welcome. I’ll just add them to the list as they come in.Thanks again.

  8. this single spark Avatar
    this single spark

    The only book I’ve had time to read recently was “Atonement” by Ian McEwan. I loved it, though I had that weird, queasy feeling through much of the first third when you just know things aren’t going to go well.Also was completely blown away by “We Need to Talk About Kevin” by Lionel Shriver. It’s one of those books that you can’t call ‘good’ because it is so dark, but I was riveted.

  9. Welcome to Upper Fort Stewart, This Single Spark. Thanks for the recommendations! They’ve been added to the list.

  10. Oh, I totally forgot to mention that I love the folk song you quoted it. It’s on my Wailin’ Jennys CD.

  11. Yeah, that’s a great song. The Wailin’ Jennys do a good cover.

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