Monday, May 24, 2010

Nothing 2 read while I'm eating....

I know this isn't Xactly a world-crisis-level topic or NEthing, but has NE1 Out There ever noticed what a shocking shortage there is of books U can read while sitting up in bed eating dinner?
MayB this isn't 2 worrisome a topic 4 those of U who stare at the TV while U eat. But I'm not that sort, much of the time.
Or if U actually have a dinner table U can plop yr plate of food upon. Which I don't.
Normal rack-sized paperbacks don't work 2 well while U're trying 2 eat yr dinner in bed. Unless U pull yr knees up & sorta balance yr plate on yr belly -- then U can hold the book in 1 hand while U fork-in the food w/ the other, & stabilize the plate with yr thighs.
But what if it's a really thick rack-sized paperback? It's just freakin awkward.
Of course just about NE book will work if yr just munching a sandwich, but 4 discussion purposes here let's say U actually warmed up something in the microwave & R trying not 2 spill it while U try 2 read.
Then it gets a little hairier.
Summa my faverite books ever R those I can prop across my lap or whatever while I'm trying 2 eat, & they don't fight me or make me wish I could grow another arm & hand 2 hold the book & turn the pgs while I eat.
Large-4mat art books & refrence-style books R great 4 this. Hipgnosis's WALK AWAY RENE book of album-cover art is very good grazing reading matter -- colorful, lively, & there's some great jokes ... long as U don't choke on yr food. Roger Dean's VIEWS is even more gorgeous (more album-cover art), but there's way fewer jokes.
John Clute & Peter Nicholls' SCIENCE FICTION ENCYCLOPEDIA works equally well 4 meal-time browsing -- lotsa good info, lively opinions, & U prop it open & it STAYS IN 1 SPOT while U read.
Dominic Priore's Beach Boys/SMILE-album scrapbook LOOK! LISTEN! VIBRATE! SMILE! is also good 4 mealtime browsing -- there's plenty in it, it's actually packed full of info, & the large 4mat guarantees U won't lose yr place Btween bites.
The SALON.COM GUIDE TO CONTEMPORARY AUTHORS also gets high marks in this area, 4 its wide pgs & sprawling layout, & 4 the massive quantities of info & lively opinions within. It doesn't get boring & leave U looking 4 something ELSE 2 read 1/2way thru yr meal.
Nick Logan & Bob Woffinden's original ILLUSTRATED ENCYCLOPEDIA OF ROCK also got high marks in this area -- I've browsed thru it so much over the 30-some yrs I've had it around that my copy fell apart LONG ago. Nicholas Schaffner's Pink Floyd bio SAUCERFUL OF SECRETS also gets high marks in this most-discerning, most-discriminating area of literary criticism.
David Leaf's THE BEACH BOYS AND THE CALIFORNIA MYTH & Byron Preiss's THE BEACH BOYS also get high marks in this area. So does a hardback copy of Lester Bangs' PSYCHOTIC REACTIONS AND CARBURETOR DUNG, Robert Christgau's various CONSUMER GUIDE books (my softcover copy of the '70s book fell apart AGES ago), Dave Marsh's Who bio BEFORE I GET OLD & his huge collection of 45 reviews THE HEART OF ROCK AND SOUL, Robert Draper's ROLLING STONE MAGAZINE: THE UNCENSORED HISTORY, Donald Clarke's PENGUIN ENCYCLOPEDIA OF POPULAR MUSIC, & just a very few others.
The 4mat is key here: The print hasta B big enuf so that even a blind guy like me can C it while peering over my dinner plate. MayB this is why art & photo books work better, but I'm more addicted 2 large-4mat non-fiction.
1 book that definitely does NOT qualify 4 this list is the ALL MUSIC GUIDE TO ROCK -- 4 1 obvious reason: The print's 2 freakin small! I can't C it from over my plate; I've gotta put my nose right in2 it 2 read the 8-point tiny type. (It IS stuffed w/ lotsa good info, tho....)
Looking at my bookshelves, I see I have NO large-4mat novels, so none qualify 4 this list. Course I don't know of 2 many novels that R published in a large, sprawling, fold-open 4mat. Not 2 many that R published 4 grown-ups NEway....
What brot all this up is I'm about 2 go warm-up some dinner, & I have no idea what I'm gonna B browsing while I eat. Nothing new, obviously.
So here's a vote 4 more large-4mat books, books that fold open & STAY THERE, books that even blind guys like me can read while trying not 2 spill dinner....


rastronomicals said...

I haven't tried to eat and read while in bed since that time as a kid when I spilled chili all over the library's copy of A Children's Gulliver's Travels.

When Melanie is home for dinner (two or three times a week) we eat together at the dining room table. But when she ain't, I invariably take my dinner into my room and eat at my computer desk . . .

I've got the first ed. of The Science Fiction Encyclopedia, credited to Nicholls only. Does the second edition have that great article on rock 'n' roll? I bought more than a couple albums based on their mention in that article, most notably Sailor. Wish Blows Against the Empire had been better when I finally heard it, though . . . .

tad said...

R: Yeah, the Clute & Nicholls updated SF ENCYCLOPEDIA (great stuff, even tho I kinda like the original more) has that long article on SF in rock -- & tho they mention Paul Kantner, they leave out his SF-style chorale vocal arrangements (which 4 me was always 1 of the best things about the Airplane or Starship, it's why I'm such a sucker 4 FREEDOM AT POINT ZERO), & tho they mention Pink Floyd & Tangerine Dream, I don't remember much discussion of Yes's "Close to the Edge" or ELP's "Karn Evil 9".... -- TAD.