Saturday, October 13, 2007

2 Reading/Book Memes

So how about two book/reading memes together that have been making the rounds out there? I can't think of much that goes together better than books and memes. And I'm sorry, but I can’t remember where I first saw each of these, and no one has specifically tagged me for either one, so I can’t give credit via links.


Hardcover or paperback, and why?
I couldn’t care less as long as what’s inside is grabbing my attention. This question actually showed up in another book meme, and I think at that time I expressed an interest in the perfect electronic book reader, if someone (preferably Apple) would hurry up and make one.

If I were to own a book shop I would call it…
Heaven on Earth. It would be in a big old Victorian home, with lots of different rooms for different subject areas (horror and ghost stories would be in the walk-up attic, of course) and a wrap-around front porch with rocking chairs and a porch swing. I’d sell board games, too. Once a month, probably on Friday nights, some lucky customer would have the chance to “beat the owner at Cribbage” (a very easy thing to do, despite the owner’s love of the game) for a free paperback of his or her choice. (You can’t tell I’ve thought much about this, can you?)

My favorite quote from a book (mention the title) is…
I don’t have one. With the exception of things that were memorized against my will when I was in school and can’t possibly be considered favorites, quotes seem to go in one side of the brain and out the other, no matter how badly I want to remember them.

The author (alive or dead) I would love to have lunch with would be…
Surprise, surprise, everyone: Rose Macaulay. Does anyone else fear, when asked such questions, though, that the person you choose might turn out to be completely obnoxious/an utter bore/a dimwit, or something else you never could have imagined the object of your admiration could possibly be, thus forever tainting what were once some of your favorite books?

If I were going to a deserted island and could only bring one book, except for the SAS survival guide, it would be…
(This is another one I've answered in the past.) Either the Bible or Don Quixote and lots and lots of notebooks and pens, so I could write my own stories and books while there.

I would love someone to invent a bookish gadget that…
would hang books from the ceiling in front of my face while I’m propped up in bed, so I could read without having to hold up the book, thus keeping both hands free for holding things like mugs of tea and coffee. It would be nice if it would turn the pages for me, too.

The smell of an old book reminds me of…
My grandmother’s house when I was a kid, and now my parents’ house.

If I could be the lead character in a book (mention the title), it would be…
Milo in The Phantom Tollbooth. Imagine having such a wonderful “wordy” adventure just show up on your doorstep.

The most overestimated book of all time is…
The Horse Whisperer. How could people have been so enamored of something so trite and so predictable?

I hate it when a book…
tries to be too clever. Very few authors can pull it off (Italo Calvino being one of these very few), and writers are much better when they stick to telling a good story that is seamlessly written, than when they experiment with writing styles, voices, too many plot twists, etc. I most especially hate it when in-between every line an author (Kingsley Amis springs to mind) is screaming “I am so much more clever than you are.” Makes you wonder why they’ve written the book if they think so lowly of their audience.


How many books do you own?
I’m too afraid to count. Then I’d have to admit that there’s absolutely no way I could possibly read them all in one lifetime. Bob and I went to visit the library in our new little town the other day, a tiny little one-room building (it used to be a one-room schoolhouse) that’s adorable, and my guess is that he and I probably have more books than that library does.

Last book you bought?
Phillip Pullman’s The Subtle Knife. After our visit to the library, we had to go check out the Borders in Lancaster City proper (in case you’re interested, it’s not as good as the Borders we just left in Danbury, CT). Hobs (who, by the way, says I'm awesome, so it must be true) and Dorr turned me onto The Golden Compass. I pretty much realized I was doomed to read all three books in the series when, about a third of the way through it, I experienced an extreme panic, thinking the packers had packed it up somewhere. The last time I saw Hobs and Dorr, they confirmed my suspicions were true. The library didn’t have The Subtle Knife (I’m sure they do have it, and it was just checked out, the only thing by Pullman on the shelves being Lyra’s Oxford), so I had to buy it.

Last book someone bought you?
Well, technically, Bob bought The Subtle Knife for me, but that’s a boring answer, so let’s find another one. My brother-in-law works for a company that exhibits books for publishers at trade shows and often gives me books he gets free, so technically, he didn’t buy this one, but he got for me a fascinating book on the Amish called The Gentle People. It’s by Joe Wittmer who was born and raised Amish but left to pursue his education, so I’ve finally got a book about the Amish that wasn’t written by a complete outsider. And what's neat about it is that he obviously still highly respects his roots and these people.

Last book read?
For me, this question really has to be "last book finished," since I read so many books at one time, which would be Plain Truth by Jodi Picoult. It was a fascinating, but also somewhat disappointing read. And the “shocking, surprise ending” neither shocked nor surprised me, but rather didn't make sense to me. I felt as though Picoult had started out knowing how she wanted the book to end and then never wavered from that ending, although she should have by the time it was done, as the book was telling her where it wanted to go and would have been much better if she’d just let it go there.

Five books that mean a lot to me
Ramona the Pest by Beverly Cleary, the first “chapter book” I read all by myself, all the way through, as a child and one to which I returned over and over all throughout my childhood.

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith, the first book that literally made buckets of tears roll down my face when I read it at age thirteen. I still remember where I was: sitting on the couch in the den of the family for whom I used to babysit at the time.

The World According to Garp by John Irving, the book that got me into the whole world of contemporary adult literature when I was fifteen and worried adult books were never going to be as interesting or good as children’s and young adult books were. It was also the book that taught me an awful lot about men, probably much more than a fifteen-year-old girl should have known.

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy. You can read why here.

The Bible. I started out one year deciding to read this book with the help of one of those “read the Bible in a year” diaries, and encouraged Bob to do the same, because I was beginning to feel no one could truly claim to be literate without having read it cover-to-cover. (I'd attempted to do so on several occasions, but had never managed to make it much past Exodus.) After all, so much in literature stems from it. Little did I know that reading it was going to be the catalyst that would change our lives and is why we are where we are today, Bob as pastor and me as pastor’s wife.

You guessed it: if you’re reading this and haven’t done either one of these memes, consider yourself tagged (for either one or both). And now I think I've only got Becky's near-sightedness meme to go. This week of (mostly) memes has been fun, but I'm dying to move onto other stuff. Does that mean I'm going to have to abdicate my throne to someone else?


Charlotte said...

What a delightful feast of bookishness. I'm glad someone else doesn't remember quotes. I can't seem to hold them in, no matter how hard I try. I love the idea of your bookshop, and the name is brilliant. If I lived anywhere near your bookshop you'd never be able to kick me out.

Rebecca H. said...

I'm so glad you are enjoying the Pullman books. I knew you would! It sounds like there's an interesting story lurking behind your choice of the Bible as one of your significant books -- you mean your joint reading of the Bible has something to do with Bob deciding to go to seminary?

I love your bookish gadget!

mandarine said...

Gadgets to read in bed:
- a laptop computer does not need hands. Last winter when the temperature in the bedroom was around 55-60F, I even kept my hands below the covers and turned the pages with the mouse.
- but my dream-gadget to read (or watch DVDs) in bed would be a projector that projects to the ceiling, so I could read lying down: no need to change posture when sleep comes.

Anonymous said...

Your bookstore sounds like heaven on earth :) As for Horse Whisperer, I'm with you on that one. What a cop out of an ending it had.

Emily Barton said...

Charlotte, well, of course, after hours at my book shop, friends would hang out drinking tea and/or wine and discussing books.

Dorr, oh yes, there's a story there. Bob was becoming increasingly disillusioned with working in the corporate world, and the more we read the Bible and discussed it, the more I thought, "He really ought to go to seminary." The decision to actually become ordained, though, was one he didn't make till he was about halfway through his seminary career.

Mandarine, unfortunately, I still prefer the size, shape, layout, and weight of books over laptops, which is why I'm waiting for Apple to design a book reader that mimics the size, shape, layout, and weight of a book.

Stef, maybe someone with lots of money sitting around in a bank somewhere will read my book shop idea and make it a reality?