Thursday, March 01, 2007

A Life In Books

One of the latest book-related memes going around in the blog world is "A Life in Books." The Miss Rumphius Effect writes Inspired by the relatively new addition to the Periscope section of Newsweek entitled A Life in Books, I propose this Meme based on questions from the magazine's own survey. (The last question, however, is mine!)
  • What are your 5 most important books? (When I first read this, it screamed nonfiction, but I think any book that has moved you to act or think in different ways is what they mean. It's certainly how I interpreted it.)
  • What is an important book you admit you haven't read? (Alright, 'fess up, we've all got these literary skeletons in our closets!)
  • What classic (or childhood favorite) was a little disappointing on rereading?
  • What book do you (or did you) care most about sharing with your kids?
  • Name an acclaimed book, either classic or contemporary, that you just don't like.

Here are my responses:

1. What are your 5 most important books?

Here’s how I am interpreting this question...books that emotionally impacted and became part of who you are....unforgettable books that stay with you and that you cherish. I’m not interpreting it as books that have motivated you to act or respond to the world differently and “become” a better person. This question could be interpreted in dozens of ways...

Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston -- if I could pick a *favorite* book in college that represents my “I love English literature” and “language is so beautiful” philosophy it would be this book. I loved many books. I loved most of what was assigned. But I fell in love with Zora.

Gone With The Wind by Margaret Mitchell -- if I could pick a *favorite* book from my tween and teen years it would be this one. When I was thirteen or fourteen I absolutely LOVED this book. Read it countless of times. Couldn’t get enough of Miss Scarlett and all her drama. I suppose this represents my love of historical fiction and romance.

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley -- This book represents my growth as a human. Reading it in high school was one thing, but rereading it for three or four college classes was quite another. I got something new with each reading. I don’t know I can say that with everything I read. I think Frankenstein defines and illuminates human nature. It’s a practically perfect book in my opinion...although in high school I thought it was awful.

Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card. I am choosing this book because it opened up new worlds for me. The world of science fiction was largely unexplored by me until I found this novel...and in particular by discovering this novel I discovered Orson Scott Card. He is my absolute favorite author. I love almost everything he’s written...and this book was the start of it all. My bookshelves would look very different if it weren’t for my Card section!

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson -- Speak represents for me the *perfect* YA novel. When I was growing up I was lost in a world of historical fiction. It wasn’t until I was in college that I began reading YA as a genre. I was probably twenty or so before I discovered these books for teens. Anyway, back to the point...Speak was one of the first YA novels I read. And it’s such a great novel. I’ve discovered so many new favorites and new authors along the way...but Speak still stands out in my mind as one of the greatest.

2. What is an important book you admit you haven’t read?

I could copycat and say War and Peace...since I’ve started it twice and never actually made it all the way through. But I could just as easily list a classic like A Tale of Two Cities or Moby Dick. It doesn’t really matter. There are so many ‘classics’ that I’ve not read.

3. What classic or childhood favorite was a little disappointing on rereading?

I find this question the most difficult. I haven’t been disappointed with Ramona Quimby or Laura Ingalls Wilder. I haven’t been disappointed with Charlie and the Chocolate Factory or the Chronicles of Narnia. My guess though is that if I were to ever pick up a Babysitter’s Club book I’d find them more than a little disappointing. I did used to read Grace Livingston Hill books as a young teen, and the last one I picked up was very sickeningly disappointing. I didn’t remember them as being so syrupy.

4. What book do you (or did you) care most about sharing with your kids.

Okay, I don’t have kids. . . but if I did... I would say that for young kids I’d have to expose them to Winnie the Pooh and Peter Pan. I could probably come up with quite a long list of picture books and novels if I had hours to think about it. There are so many great read aloud many books that I remember hearing read to me by my mother. So I would definitely want to pass some along.

5. Name an acclaimed book, either classic or contemporary, that you just don’t like.

Classic that I can’t stand--that’s the top of my most hated list--would without a doubt be Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy. Pure torture, and of course required.

Contemporary book....without a doubt...I hated Octavian Nothing. I find it overrated and pointlessly dull and boring. And the great and wonderfully satisfying ending that I’m always ‘hearing’ about...never found. It so wasn’t worth the effort I put into it. I just can’t *love* a book that delights in using twenty commas and five semicolons in one sentence.


Tricia said...

Hi Becky,
Thanks so much for responding to the meme! Ilove your list and can totally relate to your interpretation of number 1. I loved Ender's Game and Speaker for the Dead. There are so many good books out there that I often forget how much I love science fiction. My new favorite is The Diamond Age by Neal Stephenson.
Michele at Scholar's Blog came up with a World Book Day Meme a while back. It asks for the 10 books you can't live without. I suppose that's why I interpreted the first question so differently. You should check it out.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Loved your answers to the questions. I was worried I would be disappointed with The Chronicles of Narnia because the style is so simple, but they are just as engaging to read as an adult.
My answer for classic I can't stand is Old Man & The Sea. I was bored to tears when forced to read it!