Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Eva's Reading Meme

So, I was tagged by none other than Eva herself for the Eva’s Reading Meme. Hmm, a meme. A meme about books. Twist my arm. Ouch!

Which book do you irrationally cringe away from reading, despite seeing only positive reviews? Freakonomics by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner. People whose opinion I really admire have talked about what an interesting book it is. I’ve read short pieces written by the author in other works. I’m somewhat intrigued. I even once checked it out of the library, because one of my authors said to me, “You’ve really got to read it, Emily,” but it sat around for three weeks, unopened, and on the bottom of the pile. Is it just me, or does it bother anyone else that the subtitle is “A Rogue Economist [no plural] Explores the Hidden Side of Everything,” and then it’s written by two people (I know, I know. The editor in me is well aware of the fact that if I were to read the damn thing, I’d probably realize that one of them is the economist and one of them is the actual writer getting the economist’s thoughts down on the page, but still…).

If you could bring three characters to life for a social event (afternoon tea, a night of clubbing, perhaps a world cruise), who would they be and what would the event be? I’m tempted to say Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum for dinner at her mother’s house, but then I’d probably find a dead body hanging out of the trunk of my car (the car that would then be blown up shortly after the dead body was found). So let’s think of someone a little bit safer (why did Mina from Dracula immediately spring to mind while I typed that? What on earth is the matter with me?). Let's make it a dinner party with no dead bodies and no chance of blood-suckers tapping on the windows, please, at Cassandra Mortmain’s castle (a place I’ve always wanted to visit) in Dodie Smith’s I Capture the Castle, and we will also invite Emma Woodhouse from Emma, and then we’d better give Emma someone to matchmake with Cassandra, huh? How about Harris from Jerome K. Jerome’s Three Men in a Boat? For some reason, of the three men, I'm particularly fond of Harris. If he's there, I guess we'd all have to take a boat ride around the moat after dinner. Wouldn't it be a fascinating evening? I can imagine a novel coming from it, a novel set in a castle where bloodsuckers might come crawling up the walls and in through windows and a moat where a dead body might be found floating. (All right, there's no hope for me.)

(Borrowing shamelessly from the Thursday Next series by Jasper Fforde): you are told you can’t die until you read the most boring novel on the planet. While this immortality is great for awhile, eventually you realise it’s past time to die. Which book would you expect to get you a nice grave? Moby Dick. I’ve tried. Really. I was even (almost) inspired to try one last time when Ian was reading it a couple of Thanksgivings ago and mentioned how good and funny it is. Then I came to my senses, and thought, "why try a third time?" I know, I can already hear someone saying, "Third time's a charm." Please be quiet.

Come on, we’ve all been there. Which book have you pretended, or at least hinted, that you’ve read, when in fact you’ve been nowhere near it? I used to pretend I’d read Wuthering Heights, when I really hadn’t (I mean, how can one make it through both high school and college as an English minor and not read that one?). Once I finally got around to reading it (about five or six years ago), I was extremely disappointed.

As an addition to the last question, has there been a book that you really thought you had read, only to realise when you read a review about it/go to ‘reread’ it that you haven’t? Which book? I can’t think of a book like that, but along the same lines (sort of) there is an author I thought I hadn’t read and even mentioned this when she came up as an author for the Outmoded Authors challenge, and that’s Dawn Powell. Lo and behold, sometime later, I was looking back through one of my old book journals and discovered I actually had read a book by her.

You’re interviewing for the post of Official Book Advisor to some VIP (who’s not a big reader). What’s the first book you’d recommend and why? (If you feel like you’d have to know the person, go ahead and personalise the VIP) If I didn’t want the job, the VIP would be George W. Bush, and I’d have him read Edward Gibbons’s The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, yes, all of it. I'm pretty sure he wouldn't be able to read it. If I did want the job, the VIP would be some independent filmmaker, and I’d have him/her read Budd Schulberg's What Makes Sammy Run? and finally turn it into a brilliant movie, which it’s just begging for someone to do. Then I’d be hired to go on and recommend all the books I think ought to be made into brilliant movies. What fun!

A good fairy comes and grants you one wish: you will have perfect reading comprehension in the foreign language of your choice. Which language do you go with? Oh, Spanish! I want to read Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Mario Vargas Llosa, and Carlos Fuentes in their own language. And then, greedy one that I am, I'd beg for her to come back and give me Russian as well.

A mischievious fairy comes and says that you must choose one book that you will reread once a year for the rest of your life (you can read other books as well). Which book would you pick? I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith (This is quickly becoming the meme in which I plug that book, isn’t it?)

I know that the book blogging community, and its various challenges, have pushed my reading borders. What’s one bookish thing you ‘discovered’ from book blogging (maybe a new genre, or author, or new appreciation for cover art-anything)? I’m discovering graphic novels and that I like them, which would completely shock the Emily of ten years ago. She's in there somewhere (along with that thirteen-year-old Emily who can't believe I listen to NPR, although thirteen-year-old Emily is beginning to think I may be redeeming myself reading these graphic novels), desperately trying to disassociate herself from me.

That good fairy is back for one final visit. Now, she’s granting you your dream library! Describe it. Is everything leatherbound? Is it full of first edition hardcovers? Pristine trade paperbacks? Perhaps a few favourite authors have inscribed their works? Go ahead-let your imagination run free. Go visit the Pierpont Morgan Library in NYC, his actual library, not the museum part (although, go visit that, too, as it's great fun). All that leather (both the bookcovers and the furniture). All those bookshelves. The ladders to climb them. The huge fireplace. Nothing like it. And, of course, it’s in New York!

(I think I love this Good Fairy. I hope she visits me soon.)

Eva’s rule is that everyone who does this meme has to tag four people, so I’m tagging:
Biblio Addict and Dorr, to guarantee one post from each of them in which they don't write an intriguing review that makes me add yet another title to my TBR list
Ian, because he never does memes
Becky, because she doesn't post often enough, and I know her arm needs twisting as much as mine did

I’m hoping each of you will manage to cover everyone else on my blog roll when you start tagging.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the tag!

For this gal at least, I agree with you completely on MOBY DICK and WUTHERING HEIGHTS. Somehow, when I was in high school, I managed to finish it although I remember being eye-crossingly bored through much of it. As for WUTHERING HEIGHTS it always goes down in my book as the most over-rated book I've ever read. I remember finishing it in college, and thinking: This? This is the great love story everyone keeps going on about? Please. If you ask me, JANE EYRE is much better, but hey that's me. :)

Eva said...

I loved reading your answers! I'll send that good fairy back to teach you Russian if you invite me to that awesome dinner. :) I love I Capture the Castle as well.

And I had to giggle at the Mobdy Dick thing...I started listening it while I was painting my niece's bedroom, but then my laptop died, so I'm only into the third CD. While I enjoyed listening to it, I don't think I'd enjoy reading it at all!

Emily Barton said...

J.S., oh yes, I almost put in there that JANE EYRE is so, so much better! Can't wait to read your answers.

Eva, it was great fun. Listening to MOBY DICK just might be do-able, if I were doing something else. Then again, the "something else" might be an excuse to be way too distracted and suddenly find I was at the end of disk one and hadn't really heard a thing.

Andrew Goyder said...

What a great meme! I am a big fan of I Capture the Castle too, so you can plug it all you like!

Rebecca H. said...

But ... Moby Dick! It's brilliant! Okay, sorry ... maybe one day you'll change your mind. I wouldn't mind re-reading that one some day. This looks like a fun meme; I'll have to think about it.

Anonymous said...

Ugh. Moby Dick. I agree. Seriously. Ugh. I did indeed read the whole thing, as an adult, and you are absolutely correct.
Graphic novels, hmm? I haven't read any so far but am intrigued, I must admit! What a fun meme!

Anonymous said...

Apparently we share an aversion to Moby Dick and Wuthering Heights, and a longing to read Russian!

Great answers, and I must dig out my copy of I Capture the Castle for a re-read.

Stefanie said...

If you skip the detailed whaling chapters Moby Dick is really good reading. Sorry, couldn't be quiet! ;) I loved reading your answers.

Emily Barton said...

Andrew, oh another ICTC fan. I never knew there were so many of us out here until I started blogging. You are, of course, welcome to join us at the dinner party.

Dorr, well, at least you didn't say "Third time's a charm." Please do the meme, and then you can tag Court, who should just go ahead and do it anyway (can you tell I love reading others' answers?).

Court, join the graphic novels challenge this year. I promise you, it's one challenge you can complete, because they're really quick and easy reads.

RR, I'm glad to find I'm not alone with Wuthering Heights. I've had so many people ask me, "Oh, how can you possibly not like it?" whereas my reaction was the same as JS's "THIS is the great love story everyone keeps going on about?" You're welcome, as well, to the castle dinner party. (In fact EVERYONE is welcome to that!)

Stef, but isn't it ALL detailed whaling chapters? :-)! I hope you do this meme, too (how's that for a sneaky way of tagging yet another to do it?).

Anonymous said...

Hey, you didn't say Cervantes for Spanish! linser

Emily Barton said...

Linser, you're absolutely right. How on earth could I have forgotten Cervantes?! P.S. Happy Birthday (a little late)!

mandarine said...

You should not be afraid of Freakonomics. From what I have gathered over the internet, it is the Da Vinci Code of popular economics, neoliberal version. Check this review if you feel like removing one book from your TBR list.

Bybee said...

I picked a Melville book to read before death as well!

Shelley said...

Add me to the anti-Moby Dick camp! I did love I Capture the Castle. It was actually my very first review on my blog!

Emily Barton said...

Mandarine, oh thank you! I have now taken it off my TBR list.

Bybee, no, I haven't read anything by Melville that I liked.

CR, 'bye. Gotta go read your post on ICTC!