Friday, June 03, 2005

Book Tag!

Gacked from Lisa: a book tag meme!

1. Total number of books owned? Fewer than you'd think, thanks to limited shelf space in my small apartment and the resultant constant culling. Maybe 200? Numbers, bah.

2. Last book bought? The Obituary Writer by Porter Shreve, though I'm thinking of trading it in for The Big Love by Sarah Dunn.

3. Last book I read? As in "read every word, not skimmed" and "more than picture-book length": Into Love and Out Again by Elinor Lipman.

4. Five books that mean a lot to me:

A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett. As soon as I read this book, I started to try to model myself after Sara Crewe: imaginative, thoughtful, kind, polite, charismatic, long-suffering, uncomplaining, proud. I am not sure how well I succeeded. Eighteen years later, it's a comfort book for me; when I am tired or lonely or sad, I crawl into this book and pull its covers up over my head (to steal a line from another book I'm very fond of, The Beekeeper's Apprentice).

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. My very first Austen, read in a week (for the first half) and a night (for the second). My subsequent passion for Austen's novels went on to influence the college I chose (I took Carleton much more seriously after I saw that it offered an Austen course), the major I pursued, my friendship with Katy, my love life, my editorial taste, and my entire philosophy of everything, frankly. Pay attention always; laugh at what you can, but never ridicule what is wise and good; say things well, because language matters; all of it has roots in Austen. P&P is also the basis for my only extended creative-writing projects ever, the romantic-nonsense fanfiction I wrote when I was in college. (Actually I am fairly proud of those stories -- my big two were an alternate-reality story set a year after the Darcys' marriage and a modern reinterpretation with lots of Ella Fitzgerald lyrics -- but not so proud that I will link to them here.)

Possession by A. S. Byatt. I went on a date with a guy in February -- this was the 38-Year-Old, for those of you playing along at home -- and we started talking about books, and I mentioned this as one of my favorites, and he said "Possession? That's a terrible book, I hated that book." And I looked at him and thought, "You are dead to me." All right, not quite (I gave him another half-hour), but I do deeply love this book for its bookishness, its cleverness, its thoughtfulness about literature, criticism, romance, and sex; I love it because I always discover new things in it, which makes me feel clever in turn. And the writing is simply gorgeous. . . . Whenever I go outside after a thunderstorm, I think of the last line: "It was the smell of death and destruction and it smelled fresh and lively and hopeful."

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J. K. Rowling. I started to read this in the back of the Beebe family's white Dodge Dynasty as Katy and I drove up to Minnesota for our senior year at Carleton. Katy was reading it too at the time, and we promptly began stealing the book from each other whenever one of us was foolish enough to put it down (an experience we'd also had with Possession during sophomore year). I bought Sorcerer's Stone with my college textbooks, read Chamber of Secrets over Christmas break, was in line at midnight for Goblet of Fire seven months later, and started my job with Arthur two months after that.

Millicent Min, Girl Genius, by Lisa Yee. (And I'm not saying this just because Lisa reads my blog.) This was the first book I felt like a proper editor for, the first one where I truly played a major role in shaping the book and making its publication happen, and I am very proud of the result. It can also be connected to all the other books I've listed here: It's a children's book (like A Little Princess) with an Austen narrative structure (heroine realizes she's made a terrible moral mistake and corrects her error); it includes a Possession-ish profusion of literary documents, and it's published by Arthur A. Levine Books, just like Harry Potter.

Good stuff, all.


  1. You have excellent taste in books.


  2. Speaking of books, thank you for the recommendation (and loan offer) on Gilead: I've put it on hold at my local library and am looking forward to reading it soon. I'll let you know what I think of it!

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