Sunday, February 03, 2008

Book Meme

Which book do you irrationally cringe away from reading, despite seeing only positive reviews?

Anything by Cormac McCarthy. Many people have told me what a fine writer he is, and his novel The Road received a thoughtful critique in Books & Culture several months ago. However, his books are extremely violent, and I'm sort of a wuss about violence in books or films. We are exposed to so many terrible and shocking events every day without seeking them out, that I choose to refrain from deliberately putting more horrible images into my mind.

If you could bring three characters to life for a social event (afternoon tea, a night of clubbing, perhaps a world cruise), who would they be and what would the event be?

Ruby from Cold Mountain, May Dodd from One Thousand White Women, and Eowyn of Rohan (Lord of the Rings) would be great companions for an afternoon hike. I hope I could keep up with them!

(Borrowing shamelessly from the Thursday Next series by Jasper Fforde): you are told you can't die until you read the most boring novel on the planet. While this immortality is great for awhile, eventually you realise it's past time to die. Which book would you expect to get you a nice grave?

OK. True confessions. Don't scream. I have never been able to make it through anything by Jane Austen. Don't hate me.

Come on, we've all been there. Which book have you pretended, or at least hinted, that you've read, when in fact you've been nowhere near it?

Barth's Church Dogmatics. I managed to get all the way though seminary without it. OK, so I wasn't in an M.Div. track, but still, it seemed that everyone else had to read it.

As an addition to the last question, has there been a book that you really thought you had read, only to realise when you read a review about it/go to 'reread' it that you haven't? Which book?

I don't think so! I can't come up with one.

You've been appointed Book Advisor to a VIP (who's not a big reader). What's the first book you'd recommend and why? (if you feel like you'd have to know the person, go ahead of personalise the VIP)

It would depend on what sort of literature the VIP was interested in reading. If s/he wanted to know what all the fuss was about poetry, Camille Paglia's opinionated anthology, Break, Blow, Burn would be a good place to start. For fantasy, s/he couldn't go wrong with Lord of the Rings (although that could be a daunting prospect for someone who's not a big reader), or one of the most original and well-written books I read last year, Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell. If s/he just wanted an overview of Western literature, my sophomore lit texts would do fine--if I could supplement them with the Norton Anthology of Literature by Women!

A good fairy comes and grants you one wish: you will have perfect reading comprehension in the foreign language of your choice. Which language do you go with?

In college I could read just enough French to begin appreciating nuances that would not translate into English. Of course, I lost that ability long ago. I remember particularly enjoying short stories by Alphonse Daudet. If I were fluent in French I could read Daudet again, but a lot of other French writers can be pretty depressing. Maybe I would go with Russian instead, so I could enjoy Chekov's stories in their original form.

A mischievous fairy comes and says that you must choose one book that you will reread once a year for the rest of your life (you can read other books as well). Which book would you pick?

It would do me good to reread Mere Christianity every year. If I could choose fiction, probably I would choose The Death of the Heart by Elizabeth Bowen, or a well-written epic fantasy like Watership Down.

I know that the book blogging community, and its various challenges, have pushed my reading borders. What's one bookish thing you 'discovered' from book blogging (maybe a new genre, or author, or new appreciation for cover art-anything)?

I know there have been several books and authors I've met through blogging. The only thing I can think of right now is the Lily Conner mystery series by Michelle Blake. Lily is an Episcopal priest who winds up in the middle of mysterious and dangerous situations. The mysteries are well-written, and Lily is a very likable (and believable) character. And she's from Texas!

That good fairy is back for one final visit. Now, she's granting you your dream library! Describe it. Is everything leatherbound? Is it full of first edition hardcovers? Pristine trade paperbacks? Perhaps a few favorite authors have inscribed their works? Go ahead-let your imagination run free.

My aunt L. actually has my dream library already. A devoted book lover for many decades, she has a marvelous collection of first edition hardcovers, many of them autographed, from such writers as Eudora Welty, William Faulkner, Walker Percy, and Shelby Foote (a high school buddy!). She also has many beautiful limited editions of various classic books, produced in the 1930's and 1940's by the Limited Editions Club, which I am not sure still exists. Imagine Jack London's The Call of the Wild bound in green and black plaid flannel like an Alaskan outdoorsman's shirt, or Aristophanes' Lysistrata illustrated by Picasso (who signed it, too!). The Scientist and I can bury ourselves in her library for days. In my dreams, I could not come up with a library like the one she actually owns.

This is a tough meme, isn't it? If you are a true bibliophile, feel free to give it a try!


Diane said...

Your aunt has MY dream library too. Wow. Can't afford to follow that dream.

re: Jane Austen, just rent the Olivier/Garson version of Pride and Prejudice. It's so well done that you won't have to read the book.

Quotidian Grace said...

I really enjoyed reading your play! Can't believe you don't like Jane Austen, though.

You've mentioned several books and authors I never heard of, so I'm off to look them up.

Thanks, zorra!

Mary Beth said...

Woo, I loved Jonathan Strange! Glad to hear you say you aren't a huge Austen fan. I've read it, I've taught's not my choice for a pleasure read.

And I am with you on violent reads. I don't need that in my head, enough trash there already! Same with movies...

Princess of Everything (and then some) said...

I loved Watership Down. I really need to go back and read it again.

Presbyterian Gal said...

Of course you can't read Jane Austen! It would be like being at work again!

I'm with Mindy on Watership Down. Can't wait to read it with my son.

And love your Aunt L's library.

DogBlogger said...

I'm with you on Jane Austen... the only reason I read any of her stuff is because I had to for Romantic Period Lit. The day before the paper was due I walked into my prof's office and told him how boring I found Sense and Sensibility, at which point he confessed he didn't like it much either and he only assigned it because the book he wanted us to write on was back-ordered.

I got an A on that paper, of course.

zorra said...

The funny thing is, the MOVIE Sense and Sensibility is one of my all-time favorites.

Wayne Stratz said...

Lily the Episcopal priest detective.. that caught my eye.

chartreuseova said...

I can't take violence either. That eliminates many books and even more movies for me.

SpookyRach said...

"Camille Paglia's opinionated anthology, Break, Blow, Burn would be a good place to start."

Thanks!! Bloggers have given me a appreciation for poetry that 16 years of formal education was never able to provide. I just made my very first poetry book purchase last week: Not Much Fun: The Lost Poems of Dorothy Parker.

Psalmist said...

Oh, I concur about your aunt's library! Wonderful!

I know this is hardly as interesting, but I've tagged you for a very different book meme; hope you don't mind, Zorra.

The Psaltery