Wednesday, August 16, 2006

A Book Meme to Be Read by Youyou

(n.b.: The title of this post has been edited, as the old title sounded unnecessarily pejorative.)

1. One book that changed your life? Oh, goodness. Here are three: A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett taught me patience and self-possession; Pride and Prejudice introduced me to Jane Austen, and all that followed from that; and Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban introduced me to Harry Potter, and all that followed from that.

2. One book you have read more than once? Any book I've worked on I've probably read at least six times; here I'll highlight The Slightly True Story of Cedar B. Hartley, by Martine Murray, which I love madly for its wonderful, ever-so-true voice and quirky, insightful observations.

3. One book you would want on a desert island? This is a cliched answer, but probably either a complete Shakespeare or a Bible, because they both offer so much in the way of drama, philosophy, poetry, and humanity, not to mention incomplete stories to imagine.

4. One book that made you laugh? Most recently: An Abundance of Katherines by John Green.

5. One book that made you cry? I don't cry very often at books, but the ends of Order of the Phoenix and Half-Blood Prince always leave me with the same gaping, suffocating emptiness Harry is feeling.

6. One book you wish had been written? The seventh through twelfth Jane Austen novels; there ought to be more than six. Also, I'm responding as all writers should to this question, and (very occasionally, with huge gaps between the occasions) I'm writing it.

7. One book you wish had never been written? Hrmm. I can think of a lot of histories that I wish didn't exist, because I wish the events they record had never happened; and there are a number of hateful books that caused hateful events to happen, as per their authors' intent, and it would be nice if they didn't exist either; and of course Ann Coulter -- trees should not have died for her prose. (Dead rats should not have died for her prose.) Other than that . . . I am looking at my shelves in a vain search for something lighter, but I don't keep books I loathe, as per the Dorothy Parker principle: "This is not a novel to be tossed aside lightly. It should be thrown with great force."

8. One book you are currently reading? The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan, which I started just today and will NOT finish tonight, so help me Athena. I am going to sleep instead. Good nights and good wishes to all of you as well.


  1. I so love your answers to the meme. A Little Princess and Pride and Prejudice would definitely be on my "changed my life" list as well. I just finished reading Cedar B. Hartley, on your recommendation, and eagerly await any more books Martine Murray has to offer. And oh, yes, further Austen novels would be such a delightful thing!

    I haven't commented much, but since I discovered your blog (I think the week you wrote the Jane Austen post you linked to), it has been one of my great reading pleasures: funny and thought-provoking and so beautifully written.

  2. Cheryl! I can't believe that you read Prisoner of Azkaban first! It shows the amazing craftsmanship of Rowling's writing that you could pick up in the middle like that and still fall in love with the story. Then again, I read Gaudy Night first and, while it took me a while to figure out exactly who Lord Peter was, it is still my favorite Sayers.

    I blogged about this too after reading Lisa’s list and here’s my picks.

    One book that changed your life – Monumental Women Artists After reading page after page of women’s bios that said, “She was an architect or a painter or a sculptor and then she had kids and never made art again” I decided I would never have kids… (Never say never.) I had a kid and I still make art…. Just not MONUMENTAL art.
    Book you have read more than once – The Heart of Emerson’s Journals… My favorite professor in college lent it to me and it led to a life long love of Mister Emerson.
    Book you would want on a desert island – I’ll borrow Lisa Yee’s copy of HOW TO GET OFF A DESERT ISLAND as soon as she gets back to the mainland. While I was waiting I’d take a sketchbook and make my own.
    Book that made you laugh – French Women Don’t Get Fat – at the part where she talks about eating nothing but leek soup for three days. Now that’s comedy.
    Book that made you cry – I’m Proud of You, My Friendship With Fred Rogers by Tim Madigan.
    Book you wish you had written – That would be - Book Seven, Harry Potter and How Snape Totally Redeems Himself.
    Book you wish had never been written – Anything by Ayn Rand, she’s a pig.
    Book you are currently reading – Stanford Wong, and totally enjoying it, I might add.
    Book you've been meaning to read – I have stacks! Master and Commander by Patrick O’Brian and The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman are on top of the pile.

  3. Oh, Marilyn, what delights await you! THE GOLDEN COMPASS is fabulous, and the year I spent reading all 20 of the Patrick O'Brian novels (that is, 2002) was the most blissful reading year of my life. Both GOMPASS and MASTER & COMMANDER are clear-the-deck reads, in that you have to be prepared to read everything else ever written by those authors as soon as you read the first book . . .

  4. Cheryl! Yes!

    I know I'm going to love the Dark Materials books because I have really enjoyed everything that I've read by Pullman so far. "Enjoyed" isn't quite the right word; I'll try to think of a clearer one… His essays and articles are spot on regarding his views on education and writing. And he’s an amazing author to read aloud. Bedtime stories have included “Clockwork”, “Firework Maker’s Daughter” and my favorite, “Scarecrow and His Servant”. (We kept wanting to bake that boy PIE!)

    Perhaps a better phrase would be “delighted in”… as in, “I have delighted in Pullman’s words so far.” It’s like a restaurant where you know all the food is really tasty. When you go there you know that you are in for a feast.

    As for “Master and Commander”, you know you are in for a treat with writing like this,

    “The listener farther to the left was a man of between twenty and thirty whose big form overflowed his seat, leaving only a streak of gilt wood to be seen here and there. He was wearing his best uniform---the white lapelled blue coat, white waistcoat, breeches and stockings of a lieutenant in the Royal Navy, with the silver medal of the Nile in his buttonhole---and the deep white cuff of his gold-buttoned sleeve beat the time while his bright blue eyes, staring from what would have been a pink and white face if it had not been so deeply tanned, gazed fixedly at the bow of the first violin.”

    Dissolves into a puddle of bookish glee and anticipation….