Meme time!

A while back Emily tagged me to do Eva’s meme, and I’ve decided tonight’s the night for it. Thanks to both of you for the inspiration!

Which book do you irrationally cringe away from reading, despite seeing only positive reviews? My answer isn’t going to be very original; I was in complete agreement with Becky’s response to the question, so I’ll just copy her: The Kite Runner. The more general principle here is that I want to stay away from any book that everybody seems to be reading. If I hear of it too often, I’m not interested. However, there are exceptions. If I hadn’t read and loved it, Eat, Pray, Love might have been one of those books I stayed away from. That would have been a shame. So, the lesson is I shouldn’t be a book snob because I might miss books I’ll end up loving, right? Something tells me I won’t really change …

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? Tom Jones, Tristram Shandy, and Elizabeth Bennett. Surely these characters would strike up an interesting conversation? Elizabeth might be a little shocked by the other two, but I have a feeling her quick wit and sense of humor would serve her well. I might limit them to an afternoon tea, though; otherwise, who knows what Tom and Tristram would get up to.

(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? Finnegans Wake. I made it through Ulysses, and wouldn’t mind reading it again one day, but I balk at Finnegans Wake. Okay, I haven’t tried it, but I’m very afraid it would mean absolutely nothing to me, and so I’d be running my eyes over the words and that’s it. It can’t get more boring than that, can it?

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 don’t have an answer to this one — I haven’t, as least as far as I can remember, said or hinted that I’d read a book when I hadn’t. I’m too scared to do this. I’m not very good at faking my way through a conversation on books I haven’t read; I don’t have the confidence for it. Clearly, I need to read this book.

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? This hasn’t happened to me, but the opposite has — I’ve read books but then forgotten so much about them that I could re-read them as though they were new. I read a bunch of novels as a kid that I could tell you nothing about now — David Copperfield, for example.

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) It’s hard to say without knowing why the VIP is a VIP, but it seems to me that every VIP should have read some Montaigne. Yeah, the not-very-big-reader VIP might not fall in love with it right away (although I taught him once and my students thought he was great — the trick is finding the right essay), but he has such good things to teach, such as curiosity, honesty, open-mindedness, the habit of introspection and thoughtfulness, and the ability to handle complexity and contradiction.

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? Russian. I wanted to learn Russian when I was younger; now I know I probably won’t ever learn it, but it would be wonderful if I could … I’d love to read Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, and Chekhov in the original.

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? Easy — Pride and Prejudice. I don’t think I’d ever get tired of 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 discovered the pleasures of reading multiple books at once. Before blogging I would occasionally read a novel and a book of poetry at the same time, but now I’m likely to have a novel or two, a nonfiction book, a book of poems, and a collection of essays, or some such combination. It’s wonderful to be able to pick and choose depending on my mood.

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. The most important thing about this library is that it have comfortable chairs. What’s the point of having a great collection of books if I can’t sit (or lie) comfortably and read? A fireplace would be nice too. A kitchen should be nearby, so I can get food and drink whenever I want. As for the books … leatherbound books would look nice, but I value comfort over appearance, so they’d be easy-to-read trade paperbacks, preferably the kind that fall open easily and that have nice wide margins for writing. I’d want all the books I currently have, plus all the books on my wishlist, plus the ability to get whatever book I wanted within a matter of minutes.

If you’d like to try this meme, please do!

15 Comments

Filed under Books, Memes

15 responses to “Meme time!

  1. hepzibah

    Your last description of your perfect library made me smile — I would have to agree with you–especially on the fireplace and the wide-margined books!

  2. Lovely answers! I completely agree with you on The Kite Runner too, and also on the urge to learn Russian (which I never will in reality as the alphabet strikes fear into my heart).

  3. Your answers were fun. There seems to be lots of people who would like to learn Russian. I’m not certain I could pick just one language. Ancient Greek would be cool as would Latin and it would be a treat to read French or German, or – you know what I mean. I do like your library and your ability to get any book you wanted within a matter of minutes.

  4. It’s sort of scary about how quickly I forget plots in books–so I totally understand about David Copperfield. I keep a little journal where I list the books I’ve read and occasionally go back and look at the lists, and sometimes I can’t even remember some of the books listed. In light of this I would not try and talk about something I’ve not read since there are times I can’t even talk about books I Have read! Thanks for sharing your answers–these are always fun to read.

  5. musingsfromthesofa

    Hmm. ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ is on my list of things thou shalt not read too. Maybe I’m going to have to put aside my book snobbishness…

  6. Hepzibah — doesn’t that sound nice? :)

    Litlove — it’s easy when one is very young to make grand plans like learning Russian, but reality sinks in pretty quickly when one gets a little older :) Yeah, I’d struggle with the alphabet too …

    Stefanie — oh, you’re right; choosing one language is very hard. Perhaps I should have gone with Chinese or something like that, a language that’s really, really hard to learn. But yeah, I’d like to know tons of languages.

    Danielle — I know exactly what you mean; I’m really bad at remembering plots and characters’ names. I wish I weren’t that way!

    Becky — I don’t like it when I really like very popular books, but sometimes, there’s nothing to be done about it. Sometimes lots of people get it right, as much as I like to think they generally don’t.

  7. Now everyone tells me that A THOUSAND SPLENDID SUNS is better than THE KITE RUNNER. I’m not biting (even though Bob picked up a free copy at Book Expo America last year, and I recently made the decision to give every author I read at least two chances, since it probably isn’t fair to judge by just one book). I don’t tend to read what everyone else is reading, either. (Had to do enough of that when I worked at the library and felt it would make me a better “book advisor.”) I’m with you, though, as far as EAT, PRAY, LOVE is concerned. I never would have read it if both you and Courtney hadn’t written so highly of it.

  8. Myrthe

    Like you, I tend to shy away from books that everyone is talking about, just because everyone _is_ talking about them.That’s why I refused to read The Kite Runner as well. Then I picked up A Thousand Splendid Suns some time last year and I absolutely loved it. So now I have a copy of The Kite Runner on my TBR-pile. I don’t mean to say that you should read The Kite Runner, because I am sure you are going to love it. I am not – far from, even! ;-) It just happened to be a great example of a book I refused to read, but will end up reading.

  9. verbivore

    Hooray for Montaigne! And yes, a VIP shouldn’t allowed to become a VIP without reading Montaigne.

    I also agree with Pride and Prejudice and I probably already read it once a year so that fairy wouldn’t be causing me too much angst!

  10. Eva

    I hated The Kite Runner, but I seem to be in the extreme minority. It’s always good to see other P&P lovers. :) And I agree w/ your ideas about the libary: comfort is more important than anything!

  11. Pingback: My Very Own Reading Meme… « A Striped Armchair

  12. Emily — giving authors two chances is very fair, so fair that I don’t blame you for not offering the chance to every author!

    Myrthe — I’m sure I’m missing out on books that are great because of my attitude — I should work on being a bit more open-minded!

    Verbivore — I wonder if the world would be any different if every VIP read Montaigne — maybe??

    Eva — thanks for writing up the excellent meme!

  13. Cam

    I love the thought of Tom Jones and Tristram Shandy going clubbing, delighting in all sorts of naughty shananigans. I’m sure they would ditch the wonderful Elizabeth early in the evening. I think this is the makings of a delicious screenplay far better than any of those stupid comedy movies made in the recent past about someone from the past accidentally finding themselves in the present..

  14. I haven’t found my way to your precincts before, but I like them–and would like an invitation to that tea party. Perhaps one could throw in the Mad Hatter as well. Hats and a strain of melancholy madness are always of interest.

  15. Marlyat2 — welcome! And you’re invited :)

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