Thursday, August 6, 2009

Not the opposite of fun...

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What’s the most serious book you’ve read recently?

Hmmm. If by serious you mean the opposite of fun or funny then I would probably put Children and Grief: When a Parent Dies right at the top of the list, but it was by no means hard to get through. It was accessibly written and kept me interested in a subject one could expect to be hard to take. If by serious you mean really difficult, then I guess I might put Basic Neurochemistry or Principles of Neural Science on the list. They deal with difficult topics and, in some sections at least, nothing about the writing made it any easier. I had to read and re-read some sections five and six times. In the land of fiction I would call both of the Damon Galgut novels I read - The Imposter and The Good Doctor - serious fiction, and the same with William Maxwell's So Long, See You Tomorrow, and Children of the Arbat, and Deirdre Madden's beautiful One by One in the Darkness, though they were all a pleasure to read. Herman Hesse's Beneath the Wheel, William Trevor's Fools of Fortune, and Bernard MacLaverty's Cal are tragedies, though they are not dour books. Or books like Don Delillo's White Noise, A. S. Byatt's The Children's Book or Dickens's Bleak House are serious in the sense that they a not frivolous. They examine serious ideas, and/or have many story lines and characters, and reading them requires some work. You can't dance merrily through them, but I enjoyed them nonetheless. I guess much of my reading could be considered serious but I don't think of reading them as the opposite of fun.

6 comments:

Marie Burton said...

I agree, Iwould think that most of my non-fiction books are serious.. but not devastating! But my pick for today is indeed a devastating topic.
The Burton Review

C. B. James said...

Turns out most of what I read is "serious." But I'm with you, that's not the opposite of "fun" at all.

JoAnn said...

It is easier to come up with serious books. I agree with your last statement - serious is not the opposite of fun!

Susan B. Evans said...

You have some seriously good picks here! Here's my response.

gautami tripathy said...

Most of what I read borders on the serious. I like it that way!

Seriously booking through it!

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Anonymous said...

Penelope Fitzgerald's novel Offshore - a book I'll be thinking about for a long time.

About this serious-funny thing: sometimes a book is both -- often, maybe. Maybe the best funny books are serious -- is the opposite true?

Can you be truly funny without being serious?

Seriously, this is giving me a headache.