I am an architecture student who is allergic to The Fountainhead. Can you recommend some books to counter with when well-meaning people, upon hearing that I’m studying architecture, ask whether I like it?
Tell them to read Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture, if only for the first sentence: “I like complexity and contradiction in architecture.” (I’ve always loved that beginning.) If you’re looking for a novel about passionate architecture students (and what becomes of them), try Peter Stamm’s Seven Years. It’s not as heroic or hot-blooded as The Fountainhead, but it won’t give you hives.
What are your thoughts on audiobooks? I just finished listening to The Fellowship of the Ring as read by Rob Inglis, and his narrative performance—it’s so much more than a reading—brought the book to life in a way I never thought possible. It’s so nice to be read to, isn’t it? And yet it’s so rare. (There’s no denying it: literary readings are often boring; a good writer does not a good reader make.) And the best thing is, you can listen to audiobooks while running, walking, driving, commuting. Why haven’t books on tape become more mainstream? And, as more of a metaphysical question, can I now consider The Fellowship to be something I’ve “read”?
A friend raised the same question yesterday. She’d just “read” the audiobook of Middlesex—but I say to hell with the scare quotes. If anything, I would guess, you know the text better for having heard it, without the temptation to skim. (But this is only a guess.)
As you say, there is nothing like being read to. And my sense is that audiobooks are in fact very popular. I don’t read that way only because reading by sight is so much faster. But when “Selected Shorts” catches me at home, I can’t turn it off—even if (as sometimes happens) I don’t care much for the story …
Soon we hope to bring you Paris Review stories as audio files—stay tuned! Read More