(First of all, before getting into the meme, I’d like to note that since I wrote this, my brother has gotten over his fear of Hobbits and unicorns and is back to blogging.)
As I predicted, Litlove has arisen from her chaise longue with a tantalizing and inspiring meme, one over which I've done much mulling. I’m discovering it really pays to be late to the meme table, as I’ve been reading everyone else’s responses and can now pretend you’ve all stolen my ideas, and I’ve been forced to come up with others. This allows me to provide at least two books for some of the questions.
FIRST BOOK TO LEAVE A LASTING IMPRESSION
Dorothy went racing off to the Prairie with her burlap bag full of the stolen Little House books, so I’m going to whiz through childhood, which has way too many choices, and head into adolescence with The World According to Garp, which I read when I was fifteen. I was having a very difficult time moving into the world of reading contemporary adult literature. This book clinched it for me (plus probably taught me way more than I should have known about men at that age).
AUTHOR I’D MOST LIKE TO BE
With Courtney swiping Pat Conroy off my shelves and taking him off to a shrimp festival (I don’t think I’d have wanted to endure his childhood anyway, though), I have to go with Mary Roach. Traveling around the world to “research” things like spirits and cadavers and then writing laugh-out-loud funny books about her experiences? What I wouldn’t give to have that job and her kind of imagination and talent!
BOOK THAT HAS MOST MADE ME WANT TO VISIT A PLACE
There’s nothing like Corelli’s Mandolin for making me want to hop on a boat to Greece. I can smell the lemons and olives waiting there with my name on them.
CONTEMPORARY AUTHOR WHO’LL STILL BE READ IN 100 YEARS TIME
Bob and I love to pose this question to ourselves and to others. We part ways with many of our choices, but we can both agree on Gabriel Garcia Marquez.
BOOK RECOMMENDED TO A TEENAGER RELUCTANT TO TRY LITERATURE
Absolutely no Shakespeare. I don't care what anybody says, even about Romeo and Juliet. If you're reluctant to read, Elizabethan English isn't going to convert you. Teen readers like to read about themselves, that is, either other teenagers or other families that just might be crazier than their own. I'd start them on any number of fabulous YA titles, because it all focuses on teens, and then, when I felt they were ready, I'd give them James Thurber's My Life and Hard Times.
BEST RECENT LITERARY DISCOVERY
Alan Garner. I know who J.K. Rowling was reading when she was a teenager. I can’t believe I missed him all these years, but I’m so glad I finally found him.
FICTIONAL WORLD I’D MOST LIKE TO LIVE IN
William Barnhardt wrote a fabulously funny and poignant novel Emma Who Saved My Life, a little gem I’m convinced no one but Bob and I has read (if you’ve read it, please let me know). I want so badly to live in the New York City of that book, back when that most magnificent city was still full of youthful idealism, awakenings, and angst, and with a healthy bit of a chip on its shoulder, before the Reagan era and then 9/11 started leading it along the twisted path to becoming a bitter senior citizen.
Edward Lear. I’ve loved him since I was the child with the Dover coloring book I mentioned in a comment to Bloglily. “Light verse” hasn’t always been taken seriously, but I've decided it must now be part of the canon, since The Library of America published its book on the subject (lacking Lear, of course, because he wasn't American), so now I might be taken seriously when I rave about what an absolute genius Lear was. I wish I had that kind of grasp of the English language to accompany my odd view of the world.
BEST NONFICTION TITLE I’VE READ THIS YEAR
Assassination Vacation by Sarah Vowell. I wish I’d had her for high school history. She’s a lot like Mary Roach, and has a similar job, so I guess she’s another author I’d like to be (although she has to appear regularly on NPR, and I can’t stand to be recorded).
AUTHOR I THINK IS MUCH BETTER THAN HIS/HER REPUTATION
The Hobgoblin is hiding the stolen Stephen King in some cellar in Maine or something, so I’ll have to go with Ross MacDonald. Not a “Raymond-Chandler Wannabe.” Much better than Raymond Chandler. I promise you.