Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The Book Meme

I love the idea of this meme because I can’t conceive of life without books. I read everywhere, all the time. I’m never without a book – leaving the house bookless leaves me feeling anxious. Yes, I guess I have come to depend on books way too much. They’re an obsession. As obsessions go, I could do worse.

1. How many books do I own? I’ve never bothered to count, but well over a thousand I’d think. Other than all the books lying around the house and cottage (as in not in bookshelves and thus prone to driving Mr. Jazz crazy), the front room of our place has two walls covered floor to ceiling in bookshelves. Overflowing bookshelves. This despite the fact that I try to cull regularly and get rid of books I know I’ll never read again (get rid of as in donate, sell or otherwise make disappear without throwing out). Thing is, my books are special. My books get together in the dead of night and procreate. Really they do. I swear!

2. What was the last book read? Technically the last one I read is A Year in Japan by Kate Williamson. It’s an artists journal. Lovely watercolours and chronicals her year in Kyoto. I loved it.

Right now I’m in the middle of The Sleeping Buddha by Hamida Ghafour, a canadian-afghan journalist who spent time in Afghanistan after the fall of the Taliban. It retraces both the history of her country and of her family. So-so so far, but good enough to keep at it.

3. What was the last book I bought? If I recall correctly, but I probably don't, that would be a book on the birds of Texas. Did you know that of the 900-some birds in North America, almost 700 of them can be found in Texas because they’re on the migration routes. And over 300 species can be found in the Corpus Christi area. Not that this has anything to do with books – except that I’ve gotten into the habit of buying bird books for each place I go. So yeah, that would be it. It’s a rare day when I buy only one book; I have a tendancy to enter a bookstore and go crazy.

4. Five meaningful books that I've read:

Meaningful in general or meaningful for me? Big difference. I’ll go with me. So off the top of my head:

Lord of the Rings – For me this is the book (well trilogy – though actually it wasn’t meant as a trilogy but as one volume. The publisher broke it down when it was first published because they figured it wouldn’t sell as a 1000+ page book) to end (rule?) them all. I am a LOTR junkie. I’ve read this about 7-8 times and am way overdue for another re-read. And I loved the movies, which were spectacularly done, but I love the books more. Besides, the books are easier to consult on the bus. It is without a doubt my favourite book of all time.

Lord of the Flies – by William Golding. I read this book when I was about 12 or 13 and it blew me away, exposed me to concepts that I’d never really had much of a notion about. I have a thing for Lords don’t I?

Nancy Drew – I was a fan of the Nancy Drew series. Here was a girl not much older than myself – ok quite a bit older, she was 16 wasn’t she? – who solved mysteries, who took no guff from anyone, who had a car and a father who, damn it, would let her traipse around solving mysteries. Nancy Drew so rocked, though I really disliked the name Nancy

The Brothers Karamzov – Dostoyevsky. As far as I’m concerned, one of the best books ever written. It’s absolutely brilliant. That’s all.

The Mother Tongue – Bill Bryson. This is the first book of Bryson’s I ever read. Subtitled: English and How It Got that Way. Quite simply the history of the English language. It’s funny, it’s irreverent and it’s, well, vintage Bryson. This book started my love affair with Bryson’s writing. After reading it I hunted down all his books and have kept up with him ever since.

And here I thought I’d have an easy time of this. The last question sucked. How can you narrow it down? I have tons of others I should add to this list, some whose title I don’t even remember (among them the book that began my passion for medieval history). And these are maybe not even the books I should have put there. I'm sure there are some more important ones. Ain't that just me, agonizing over a book list. Sheesh.

I’d say books have probably had more influence on my life than most other things. Which is sad in a way, I guess. I might have spent too much time in a fantasy world where nothing bad can happen to me rather than in the real world dealing with the knocks and bumps and all out crap. And that’s enough said about that.

Of course it would be hard to not have become a reader, both my parents instilled a love of books into the three of us really young. There were always books, life without them was unthinkable, though I do remember mom taking my book away and shooing me outside to play. What was up with that?


Tai said...

Life with out books IS unthinkable!

And I'm with you on Mr. Bryson, he's just a fantastic writer.

I'm going to do this meme one of these days, even though, as you pointed out, it's going to be tough to narrow it down.

Ian Lidster said...

I am so glad you discovered Bryson, and now you must read every word he has in print. Among my prized possessions is a personal email from Bill himself.
Liked your list very much, and how could I have forgotten Lord of the Flies. Well, I think it's because I taught grade 11 English and it was on the list, so I practically have it memorized. That Jack, what a scamp.

Rachel said...

*delurking here*

Great list, really! I love books too, though my tastes run to more genre types than literary. I'm working on this meme myself, and yes, it is extraordinarily difficult to complete.

As to your last question, I can think of two reasons why your mom shooed you out, besides "for your health":
1) she needed to clean.
2) she needed to have sex with (presumably) your father.


pissed off patricia said...

Just nothing better than a rainy Sunday afternoon in a book store. Books are the best entertainment I have ever found.

I agree re: Bryson

geewits said...

Hey! My comment has gone missing. I'll have to remember what I said.
Oh yeah, I asked if you read in English or in French and I said I would check out that Bryson book because I love love love the study of words and language. So thanks for that.

Oh yeah I also said it was funny that Dr. Phil said the only way to punish a kid was to take away what they love and although this was after the fact, I was all, Huh? Who would take away books from a child? Because that was the only thing my daughter loved. But I can see shooing you out for fresh air once in a while. I probably did that, too.

Dorky Dad said...

My mom reads more books in an hour than I'll read in a typical year. My wife reads exceedingly complex books just for fun. I don't know why I don't read more ...

Jocelyn said...

This is a wonderful meme. I've run into fellow moms in the last few years who muse--with no apparent panic--that they haven't read a book in years.

Sod it. Dump the kids somwhere, women. Go read, you idiots.

Like good dogs, the kids will eventually find their way home, right?

Hageltoast said...

i might tag myself for this later. :)