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The ramblings and observations of a kidney transplant recipient, although not necessarily for that reason.

probably smarter than me
book i'm reading
A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole (recommended by Killer)
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A one-word review on the first two chapters of the book I'm reading.....
Saturday, November 11, 2006


This may be an unfair review, but I'm willing to let it stand.

The way I pick books to read is I walk around Borders and cruise around and let cover art, titles, and tag lines guide me to a book that looks interesting. Then I pick it up read inside jackets and back cover to see if it really might be something that would interest me. I carry it around with me and do the same thing with 10 other books. I then decide how many I can afford and start making some decisions of what to keep and what to put back on the shelf (usually any shelf closest to me and not the one I found it on).

The book I've been reading I picked up two weeks before my kidney transplant and only now started it. I usually hate to read about other people's revelations and lifestyle changes, but I was at my greatest point of fear and lowest point of depression over facing my kidney disease head on. I've been dealing with it I was 12, but up to this point I had no pain, no major procedures, no serious drugs to take, and a transplant had always been "that thing I'll have to deal with later in life". But it was now here to face and I was down about it and I thought reading books by other people who had ideas on better living with or despite their illness might make me feel better. Problem is....I never got a chance to read thebook, transplant came and went, life problem solved (for now), fear and depressions gone, and no real need to hear about someone else's life, illness, or death.

Flash forward 6 months, transplant sucessful, happy again, not interested in reading non-fiction better-living books, nothing else in my house to read, and not interested in a potentially expensive trip to the bookstore (why is it that every time I want something to read I forget that there are cool places on this earth that let you borrow books for free?), I pick up the only book I have and I really am willing to give it a chance. I mean, it did get pretty good reviews.

The book is about some rich NYC-major-acounting-firm-CEO who found out he had a disease that left him with only 3 months to live. He had decisions to make about how to best live the short time he had left, and decided that the organized, CEO, accountant, businessman side of him could plan it out perfectly. I've decided not to read further and find out how that worked out for him. Should I ever have 3 months to live, I doubt very seriously I would have enough money to follow the life/death plan of a Manhattan millionaire. I'm sure the book's not really about money or death plans, but more about emotions and facing fear of death and that crap, but I already have some firm ideas about that stuff and I'm not really intersted in hearing some blow hard that had his ego stroked (among other things) every day by his 20,000 employees show me how much smarter than me he is.

At one point in the first chapter, he was trying to explain how happy he was to be spending his last Fourth of July with his family in their Manhattan penthouse on their balcony watching the firewords over the East River. That does sound like a pretty good way to spend your last holiday on earth. Will your book tell me how to take the last three months of my life, parlay the $14 I have in my checking and the $250 I have in my savings (minimum balance to avoid charges) into enough money to buy me a penthouse over looking the East River? I'm thinking that in the last days of my life the only Penthouse I will possibly be able to afford will be one that has lots of pictures in it and can be purchased at any 7-11 convenient store across the country.

It's nice that you have that kind of luxury, but I think it likely there are more people in this world that will spend their last Fourth of July crying on their bathroom floor, holding their side and trying not to wake the neighbors in their low rent apartment building by screaming too loud, lying there dying while the water in the ramen cooking on their hot plate boils off and the noodles turns to rubber, because they can't afford health insurance.

So...can anyone recommend a good book? I'm more interested in fiction right now, but I'll consider a good piece of non-fiction.
posted by othur-me @ 1:46 PM  
  • At 3:14 PM, Blogger fringes said…

    I asked the same question to my blog peeps a few months ago and I got lots of suggestions. I have a randomizing list of them in my sidebar. If you're interested, click the link and view the entire list at Library Thing.

  • At 5:20 PM, Blogger Killer said…

    Funny, true-life book: "A Heartbreaking Tale of Staggering Genius", by Dave Eggers.

    Creepy,but hilarious character study: "Choke", by Chuck Palahniuk.

    Classic you probably have read: "A Confederacy of Dunces", John Kennedy Toole

  • At 5:52 PM, Blogger The Other Girl said…

    I looked at your profile to see if I could get an idea of what you like to read, but you were unhelpful in that regard.

    But since you like food (incidentally, I also like food so I can see we will become close), I would recommend The Tummy Trilogy by Calvin Trillin, which is a collection of food essays by a non-foodie. And for fiction, I think you might like The Basic Eight by Daniel Handler (better known as Lemony Snicket). I find his stuff to be mostly uneven, but I enjoyed this book a lot, even though he intentionally tries to piss off his reader.

  • At 10:49 PM, Blogger othur-me said…

    Thanks to everyone so far for the ideas, I'm currently on Amazon now purchasing one from each of you because I'm too lazy to go get a library card. Besides that, if someone is willing risk recommending a book to you, its probably a book worth buying. Hopefully.

    Other Girl specifically - sorry I didn't give you much to work on and thanks for thinking to specifically try to find something I like, that's really some extra effort. Food related books are always a good idea for me, but I'm not picky...I like a good read no matter what it is.

  • At 1:29 AM, Blogger Jester said…

    One of my favorite reads (though STRANGE and at a couple of points hard to get through) is House of Leaves by Mark Danielewsky. I'd loan you my copy, but it's probably better that you get your own because you'll want to make notes in the margin. Trust me on this.

    I've already recommended "Running with Scissors." and you left a perfectly good copy of David Sedaris' "Naked" on my couch last week. I'll try to remember it at practice.

    I've got boxes and boxes of books here... do you read Koontz, Cornwell, Crichton, Grisham? I can load you up with books.

  • At 7:36 AM, Blogger Jane said…

    The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis is a good one....&......The Secret Life of Bees is one of my favorites.

  • At 7:42 AM, Anonymous guinness girl said…

    The Secret History, by Donna Tartt. This is an absolute must-read. As for others - shoot me an email with the last few fiction books you've enjoyed, plus some that you've hated - and I'll recommend based on that! ( I'm curious to know how quickly the author of that book you just gave up on wrote it. In less than 3 months, I suppose...

  • At 8:15 AM, Blogger Margaret said…

    Extremely Loud And Incredibly Close, by Jonathan Foer. I read it this weekend and hated that I'd finished. The same guy wrote Everything Is Illuminated which was made into a movie with Elijah Wood.

  • At 5:10 PM, Blogger Liz said…

    Please, allow me to get you through 2007:

    99 Unuseless Japanese Inventions is mostly pictures but if you're a cool kid, you'll have it at your house. Letters From A Nut- also not a story, but SO entertaining. Your bathroom time will be better spent with this than anything else on the shelf.

    Freakonomics is what I started last night. I like it. I must also recommend The Time Travler's Wife (sounds like a girl book but it's not) Father Joe- VERY GOOD-and because I like history, I loved The Six Wives Of Henry VIII. Knowing you just read ManHunt, I'd like to know about that one. I was THIS close to getting that book, but opted for Team of Rivals. Haven't been able to finish it yet. Too much like being in school.

  • At 1:50 PM, Blogger othur-me said…

    Thanks everyone for the awesome ideas.

    Liz - I liked Manhunt. Although there were moments that small details in the story would make you think "How could the author possible know that?", it was all for the sake of keeping the story from reading like a text book. If not the fact that you already know the major plot twists of the story (like the Lincoln dies), you would actually think it an exciting, suspenseful story. I do recommend it.

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