(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.
Hurray! Great answers, Emily, made me laugh and laugh, AND a link which means I can read them. I can really see I need to get hold of The World According to Garp at some point soon, because even at my advanced age, I could use the information on men.
You make Roach and Vowell sound like so much fun -- I'm always looking for interesting nonfiction reads, so thanks for the descriptions!
Litlove, The World According to Garp may not be exactly the kind of information on men you want...
Emily! Great answers! And when I was filling out my meme yesterday I conveniently forgot about Conroy's childhood. Did you know his mom used The Great Santini in her divorce hearing to prove her case? At any rate, you've added loads to me to be read pile and I'm really looking forward to tackling it. Lovely job, and I agree about Stephen King too - he's actually one of my favorites.
Litlove, hmmm...maybe I ought to just stick a link to you in every post, so you can keep up :-)! And Courtney's right, TWATG's informtion about men isn't necessarily what you want. But do get the book and also OWEN MEANEY (his best, as far as I'm concerned).
Dorothy and Courtney, just a word of warning: I have VERY quirky tastes and an at-times sick sense of humor (think Charles Addams, Gary Larson, and Edward Gorey), so when you pull things off my post for your TBR lists, just keep that in mind. Read the Amazon reviews before making any hasty purchases.
MacDonald is good--I'll second your vote there.
Oh my gosh! 2 other people who have read Emma Who Saved My Life! I loved, loved, loved, that book. Tried to get others to read it, loaned out my copy, never saw it again. And, I once (annoyed that I had little time between day appointments & evening plans) had to explain at PTP bath to my (now) husband. Never should have gone there -- he has teased me mercilessly about that ever since.
And I agree with you about Vowell. I read Assassination Vacation a few weeks ago on a trans-atlantic flight & got very strange looks from the man across the aisle. Don't know if it was because I was laughing so, or because of the title. Perhaps a combination of both!
Bikeprof, don't know if this is an exact quote (don't have the book with me), but I love this sort of stuff from Macdonald, "I climbed the stairs, and my shadow broke its neck on the ceiling."
Cam, so now I know of three people who've read EWSMYL (actually, according to the reviews on Amazon, a few others have read it, too. Some of them, quite obviously, completely missed the boat when they read it).
And I made the same mistake of reading Vowell on an airplane (in fact, I picked it up in the airport). I seem to have a way of doing this -- choosing extremely funny material, guaranteed to get me strange looks, when I'm on trains or planes.
I've read Emma Who Saved My Life, too. I liked it because it's very different from the other book that he wrote, and I can't remember its title right now. What Emily might not know is that I, her older sister, went to school (4th through 8th grade) with William Barnhart (although we called him Billy then). He dedicated another one of his books to Jean Kostelich, another childhood friend.
Nope, I had no idea. So, where's my autographed copy?
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