Thursday, August 10, 2006

The Book Meme

I've seen this in a couple of places, though there seem to be variants out there. So here's my version.

One book that changed your life: Might as well get the embarrassing answer out of the way right at the beginning. Honestly, I have to answer Gone with the Wind for this one. It was the first book that ever made me cry (make of that what you will--I was in the eighth grade), I read it in a two-day reading binge that I can still remember, and it somehow formed a lot of my ideas about success and failure for many years. It is no doubt deeply ironic, then, that I ended up living in the capital of the Confederacy.

One book you have read more than once: This is hardly fair, as I have such a terrible memory that I have to re-read everything I teach, and I teach a lot of literature. I'm going to say Charlotte's Web, though, as I've recently decided it is the perfect novel (and I tell my classes so, every year).

One book you would want on a desert island: Well, I've never read the bible cover to cover, and it would certainly occupy me for a while. But see below.

(Sam's addition to the list) One book you wish had been written and would want on a desert island: Hmm, how about: How to Get Off a Desert Island ?

One book that made you laugh: Anne Lamott's Bird by Bird has me shaking with laughter every time I read the bit about the school lunch. I can't even read it aloud to a class, though I've tried. I'm not quite sure what this says about me. Jasper Fforde's Thursday Next books have also made me laugh out loud, because I'm a nerd.

One book you wish you had written: This one's just too hard. Diana Wynne Jones's books often fill me with envy because they seem fun to write and almost, but not quite, within my reach; the Fforde books combine all my favorite genres and make use of the kind of useless knowledge that seems to rattle around my head; Marilynne Robinson's Gilead just had me lingering over every page wishing I knew how to do what she was doing.

One book you wish had never been written: Mein Kampf and The Da Vinci Code are both good answers to this. But, you know, it's not the writing that really matters, is it? It's the publishing...

One book that made you cry: See above (sigh). I'm not sure it would now, though. Charlotte's Web. Bridge to Terabithia. Love that Dog. I'm pretty easy, really. Name a tear-jerking sentimental Victorian novel and I've probably cried over it, too. East Lynne? check. Jane Eyre? check. The Mill on the Floss just makes me mad, though, and I'm pretty sure Little Nell's death left me cold.

One book you are currently reading: G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy.

One book you have been meaning to read: There are stacks of them, all over the house, in the library, on the wishlist... Right now, though, I have to say The Hauerwas Reader. And, um, Proust's In Search of Lost Time, though that may have to wait for the desert island.

I'm not tagging anyone else, since that never seems to work, but do take it on if you're so moved. It was kind of fun--and kind of humiliating, to tell the truth.


sam said...

I'm debating whether cheesy-covered science fiction or Gone With the Wind is more embarassing. Someone should teach a class, "Books You Will Be Embarassed To Buy."

I'm also kind of glad to see that you have to reread things so much. I don't think I remember books for longer than a couple of days without rereading them. I hate that; it hurts (beneficially) my pride a bit, suggesting that on the one hand maybe I didn't read well enough the first time, and on the other that I can't go around talking about the book in ignorance.

Oh, but there's one I do remember! I got the first Diana Wynne Jones book (Charmed Life) and thoroughly enjoyed it. Thanks for the suggestion.

Claudia said...

I have taken you up on the meme (non)challenge and tagged myself! It's posted on my site.

Libby said...

Sam, I teach books that are embarassing to buy all the time! But maybe not a whole course worth.

Claudia, I love your list too. Mm, Dorothy Sayers--I wrote my undergraduate thesis on her and haven't read her since, except the night before I got married when I needed comfort reading. One of these days I'll go back.

Anonymous said...

Why is Charlotte's Web the perfect novel? Just curious. I still have my absolutely tattered copy from childhood and remember reading it over and over again, that and a biography of Helen Keller, during a two-year period. Haven't read it since, but would love to pick it up again as an adult.

Libby said...

Yeah, I knew someone would ask me that. I just can't find a word out of place. It reads aloud beautifully, it is economical without being spare (those lists!), and it perfectly evokes the physicality of the place.

And when it makes me cry I don't feel manipulated.

Caroline said...

OK, now that you've done this one, I want you to do the 5 cookbook meme (not that I'm tagging you or anything...)

And I will think about this, though so many of my answers would overlap with yours, it's perhaps not worth it.

Becca said...

How embarassing is it that the book that I think made me laugh the hardest out loud was Bridget Jones' Diary, especially at the end?