What happens when two thirtysomething siblings relive the summer reading programs of their youth in an all-out battle of the books? The race is on as they read by the rules and keep tally on their logs to see who will be the ultimate reader by Labor Day 2010.

July 13, 2010

Are You Kidding Me?

On Saturday, I was beset by an attack of food poisoning. As I crouched by my toilet, my stomach being rooted through as thoroughly as if it were Franny's purse and the lox and muenster sandwich I had eaten for lunch was her elusive Kleenex,* I couldn't help but be buoyed by the thought that being sick would give me more reading time to catch up to Kerry. Well, I might as well have wished for time to stop. Apparently, my sister's competitive streak has pushed her to maintain the punishing pace of two books a day. Meanwhile, like a sap, I stick with my beloved behemoth "Lonesome Dove," which, let's be honest, I won't be finishing any time soon.

So this leads me to change my strategy. I have decided to parse out "LD" in the hopes of reading shorter books in the interim. As my sister none-too-delicately said to me last week, "I want to win, Brendan, but I don't want to win in a landslide." Well, Kerry, I don't want to be covered in the rubble of chick-lit that you're tearing through (or, as my father described them, "Tillie the Divorcee Meets A Dentist," which sounds like a movie Ginger Rogers forgot to make). So that leads me to my first selection for Kerry this summer, "The French Lieutenant's Woman," by John Fowles.

Let's be honest, my main reason for picking this book is its length and the density of its language (mere stumbling blocks for my workhorse sister). But I didn't want to pick a book as punishment (in that case, I would have picked "An American Tragedy" or "A House for Mr. Biswas"), and I loved the intricate plotting and characterizations when I read it a few years ago. Plus, it has a dual love story as its center (chick lit!) and part of it takes place in England (Austen! Brontes!), so I consider that an olive branch to Kerry and hope that she remembers I at least tried to pick a book she would enjoy when she makes her selection for me.

*This is a highbrow reference to "Franny and Zooey," one of the shorter books I'm cheating on "Lonesome Dove" with in order to catch up to my sister.

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