Thursday, April 17, 2008

A long book and challenging book meme

This is a conglomeration of a few different book memes that I found, mostly here, and a few of my own questions. :-) (Updated September 2011)

The books we buy:

1. Hardback, Trade Paperback, or Mass Market Paperback? Trade paperback is my favorite, with mass market a distant second, especially if the book is long. I like to carry multiple (as in, typically five or more) books around at a time, and hardbacks are much more cumbersome.

2. Buy or borrow? I typically buy, but borrow occasionally. I use the library mostly for books under 250 pages or for inter-library loans of long out-of-print books I can't find elsewhere.

3. Buying choice: Book reviews, recommendations, or browse? I get a lot of books based on recommendations from The Millions (my favorite book-related site) or NPR. Otherwise, I will only take recommendations from people who have read and liked books similar to others that I like (which is, pretty much, no one).

4. New or Used? Usually new, but I like used also. Sometimes it's nice to have a book that someone else broke in for you (like my copy of Jane Eyre)

5. The five most recent books you’ve bought for yourself? McEwan's Enduring Love and Saturday, Don Delillo's White Noise, Edouard-LevĂ©'s Suicide, and a story collection by Borges.

6. Books you’ve been hunting for years without success? I would say The Green Hat but I wouldn't say that I've been very active in hunting it. A tip: when hunting for books you can't seem to find, make sure you have the title that it was published under in your particular country. I spend a year or two investigating If This Is a Man. It wasn't until I got it through interlibrary loan that I realized it was readily available in the US as Survival at Auschwitz. Big *DURF* on my part!

7. Books you need to go with other books on your shelves? I have Regeneration by Pat Barker…there are two other books in the series.

The books we own…

1. Bookmark or dogear? Bookmark typically. I have a bookmark collection, and frequently make my own, sometimes to fit one particular book. I have already gone on a massively panicked search when I thought I had lost my favorite bookmark (which is a St. John's College one, in case you were wondering).

2. Alphabetize by author, by title, or random? Most are arranged randomly by whether I read them or not. Other books are typically arranged by shelf, by category. Beat literature and related texts are grouped together on their own shelf. I will not allow my Kerouac to mingle with the hoi polloi :-)

3. Keep, throw away, or sell? I mostly keep...probably about 95%. I usually donate the rest, though I've been known to throw away occasionally (like The Ginger Man – that copy went right in the garbage).

4. Books that filled you with a sudden, inexplicable curiosity, not easily justified, such that you had to have it? I have those weekly.

. Books that you own (or want to own) so they’ll be handy just in case? I have about 6 or 7 volumes of Will Durant's Story of Civilization (there are 11 total). I've never read a sentence out of them, but one day I'm sure they'll come in handy, right?

The books we read….

1. First book to leave a lasting impression? Though I had read a lot prior to this, the book that probably had the most impression was The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton. That and Voices After Midnight are my childhood favorites.

2. Name the book that has most made you want to visit a place? The English Patient made we want to visit North Africa. Maybe know, when they aren't revolting

3. Which book would you recommend to a teenager reluctant to try “literature”? If he is a teenager that has anything in common with me, I would always recommend Confederacy of Dunces. Kafka's The Trial would also be a good one. Others might be Catch-22, Crime and Punishment, On the Road, To Kill a Mockingbird, Lord of the Flies, etc. The youngsters also seem to like Catcher in the Rye, though I never did.

4. Name your best recent literary discovery? Erlend Loe's Naive Super

5. The last book you read? Billiards at Half Past Nine by Heinrich Boll

6. The last five books that have been really meaningful to you? Wow, this is really a challenge. If I get one really meaningful book in a year, that’s a good year. Last year it was The Age of Innocence. This year I’ve read a few – Lorrie Moore’s Anagrams and Noel Coward’s play Still Life being two.

7. Your five favorite books? The Great Gatsby, On the Road, The English Patient, Confederacy of Dunces, and...The Awakening, I suppose. Honorable mentions go out to The End of the Affair, Crime and Punishment, Virgin Suicides, Unbearable Lightness of Being, Nausea, The Stranger, and Lolita.

8. Favorite book of which nobody else has heard? There is a short story I read once called "The Hounds of Tindalos". I don't remember who wrote it, but it was insanely awesome and I was able to track it down in an obscure sci-fi anthology.

9. Books read long ago that it’s now time to re-read? Kafka's The Trial

10. The best non-fiction title you’ve read this year? I don't remember the last nonfiction I read.

The books we want to read…

1. Top five books on your “to be read” pile? Allison Pearson's I Think I Love You, Huxley's Point Counter Point, Leve's Suicide, Obrecht's The Tigers Wife, Hans Keilson's Comedy in a Minor Key and Le Carre's Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. I also want to finally get around to Franzen. I feel like I'm completely missing the conversation.

2. Bottom five books on your “to be read” pile? Dostoevsky’s The Idiot, The Jungle, Ivanhoe, Hunchback of Notre Dame, etc.

3. Books you’ve been planning to read for ages? It’s almost become a game to me as to how long I can go WITHOUT reading One Hundred Years of Solitude. I’m up to 15 years.

4. Books that if you had more than one life you’d certainly read but unfortunately your days are numbered? Proust. I sometimes have lofty and unrealistic reading goals, but I don't go there.

5. The next book you will read? I Think I Love You.

The characters we know…

1. Which fictional parents do you most wish you had? Atticus Finch came immediately to mind. And I love Ma Joad. I know she's poor and uneducated, but she's awesome.

2. Which fictional character has the most balls? I was going to write Dr. Frankenstein, because he has the balls to create life, but I think Hester Prynne (Scarlet Letter)takes the award, IMO. An honorable mention to Lena Grove from Faulkner's Light in August. She walks from Alabama to Mississippi to find her baby daddy. Oh yes, and Edmond Dantes.

3. To which fictional character’s house would you most like to be invited for dinner? Gatsby. Or someone from Dance to the Music of Time. Those people know how to have a dinner party.

4. If you could invite 3 fictional couples to your home for dinner, who would they be? I can't think of any couples, but I wouldn't mind having a drink with Brett Ashley, Jordan Baker, and Holly Golightly and maybe Sabina from Unbearable Lightness. And maybe Mrs. Erdleigh from Dance to the Music of Time could come and read fortunes.

5. Which fictional character frightens you the most? Madame de la Rougierre from Sheridan LeFanu's Uncle Silas still gives me the creeps. Mrs. Danvers (Rebecca) is also frightening. I don't like old women stalking around, apparently. The Dust Witch and Mr. Dark from Something Wicked This Way Comes also frighten me.

6. Which fictional character could probably entice you into his/her bed? I'm going to go with Almasy from The English Patient.

7. Which fictional character would most likely have broken your heart? Ah, Mr. Rochester...*sigh* Which is funny, really, because Bronte doesn’t hide the fact that he looks like a horse and has his wife locked in the attic.

8. Three characters you wish you could meet? Well, Meurseult, Binx Bolling, Antoine Roquentin and myself could all get together and talk about our existential crises

9. Three fictional characters you're heartily glad that you'll never have to meet? Definitely Ignatius from Confederacy of Dunces. He's hilarious but absolutely the last person I'd like to run into anywhere. Rabbit Angstrom and Tom Buchanan (Gatsby) are the other two that come to mind immediately. Michael Henchard is a great big asshole as well.

10. Three characters you would like to be? This is perhaps toughest of all. I never much thought of it... I don't know that I'd like to be any particular character. Most people in the books that I read don't have such great lives, so perhaps I should leave well-enough alone, if you know what I mean. I always did identify with Alice (in Wonderland), though.

The authors we love (or hate)…

1. Who is your all-time favorite author? Jack Kerouac, if only for purely sentimental reasons.

2. Who is your least favorite author? Henry James, by a looooooong shot

3. Three authors you want to read more by? Margaret Atwood and Don Delillo come to mind.

4. Author you definitely want to read, but haven’t yet? Jennifer Egan is one. Franzen also, and David Foster Wallace.

5. Which contemporary author will still be read in 100 years? I’m so behind on contemporary literature that I really couldn’t say. I hope Foer continues to write.

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