Ten Random Books Meme

I saw this meme over at Danielle’s who got it from Simon, and it looked like fun, so here goes. Here are the rules:

1.) Go to your bookshelves…
2.) Close your eyes. If you’re feeling really committed, blindfold yourself.
3.) Select ten books at random. Use more than one bookcase, if you have them, or piles by the bed, or… basically, wherever you keep books.
4.) Use these books to tell us about yourself – where and when you got them, who got them for you, what the book says about you, etc. etc…..
5.) Have fun! Be imaginative. Doesn’t matter if you’ve read them or not – be creative. It might not seem easy to start off with, and the links might be a little tenuous, but I think this is a fun way to do this sort of meme.
6.) Feel free to cheat a bit, if you need to…

I went to all my main bookshelves in my study and my living room so I could get a variety of books. I did cheat a little bit when I chose books that belong to Hobgoblin or that … well, that bored me or that gave my list too much repetition. But for the most part, this is what I selected, with eyes closed:

  1. Richard Powers’s The Echo Maker. This is one of the books I’ve been meaning to read for a while. In fact, I included it on a list of books I want to read not too long ago, although it didn’t make it to the TBR challenge list (on my sidebar). It’s one of those books that by the time I read it, I will have been saying I’m going to read it for ages. Oh, well. That’s true for a lot of books.
  2. Samuel Richardson’s Clarissa. This is one of the longest books I’ve read, if not the longest, period. This book was assigned for a grad class I was auditing; I didn’t finish it that semester, but the Christmas afterward I got to the end. It’s a great book and I wouldn’t mind reading it again one day — but my God, is it long. I just love epistolary novels, and this is one of the most important.
  3. David Richter, ed., Falling Into Theory: Conflicting Views of Reading Literature. This was a textbook for an undergrad class in literary theory, my first exposure to it. Now it’s a little dated, but looking through the table of contents, it still looks pretty good. I’m not sure why it’s called “falling” into theory, though.
  4. Sei Shonagon’s Pillow Book. This book came from my essay shelves. I read it a year or two ago and loved it. Really, if you want to read some nonfiction and want to read something that’s really, really old (10th-11th century) and from another culture, this is perfect. It’s charming and fun.
  5. Maria Edgeworth’s Helen. This came from my TBR shelves. I’ve read Edgeworth’s novel Belinda and really liked it and have been meaning to read more of her work forever (of course). She’s a really good writer who gets overshadowed by Austen who lived around the same time. If you want more fiction from Austen’s time, Belinda is a great book to pick up.
  6. Alison Lurie’s Foreign Affairs. I was just thinking about this book because Zhiv wrote a post on academic novels that made me want to read more of them. I really liked this book and made a point of picking up another Lurie novel pretty soon after reading this one (The War Between the Tates). Lurie is someone I hope to return to again — before too, too long.
  7. Cormac McCarthy’s The Road. This one belongs to Hobgoblin, but I read his copy so I included it in this list. It was an incredibly powerful read, dark and scary, but difficult to put down. I haven’t seen the movie yet, and I’m kind of scared of it. I don’t like scary movies, and this is bound to be terrifying. And yet it was such a good book, and I’m curious about the movie version. We’ll see.
  8. Colette’s My Mother’s House and Sido. I read this book a few years ago, but I first thought about reading it back in college when my Advanced Writing professor recommended it to me. That just goes to show that even though I do take forever to get around to reading something, I usually do get there eventually. I loved the book and am glad it stayed around in my mind for so long. Now I just need to get around to reading some of Colette’s fiction.
  9. Gustave Flaubert’s Madame Bovary. I read this one in college, and I don’t think I’ve reread it since then, although it’s possible. I do know that I listened to it on audio during the time I had a 1 1/2 hour commute each way a few years ago, and it was a good companion on the way to work. It’s such a great novel. I love books about people who read, even when bad things happen to them because of it, and this is such an important example.
  10. Rosy Thornton’s Hearts and Minds. Here’s another academic novel I really enjoyed. I read it a year or two ago and thought it was great fun — a good story, an interesting setting (Cambridge), good writing — it has everything.

Anybody else want to try this? My selections are fairly representative, I think. A decent number of classics, a few contemporary books, a couple essay collections — that sums up my reading pretty well.

16 Comments

Filed under Books, Lists, Memes

16 responses to “Ten Random Books Meme

  1. I have The Echo Maker on my pile to read, and The Pillow Book, too. I also liked Hearts and Minds. Madame Bovary depressed the heck out of me, but I read it years ago. I hear that’s one I should reread, as I will probably have a different perspective on poor, old Emma now :)

  2. You’re right–that list is very you! I would love to read Clarissa sometime, but the way I read more than one book at a time I think it would take me the better part of a year to get through! I think there is an essay or two by Sei Shonagon in the Lopate book, so I will give her a try eventually. It will be interesting to read something so old and by a woman. I really want to read The Road, but I think I will stay away from the movie–maybe too realistic. Great list–I love reading about why they are on your shelves. Thanks for playing along! :)

  3. I’m always tempted by the memes you choose. :-)

    I’ve been meaning to try Maria Edgeworth for ages. Thanks for the reminder!

  4. Oooo, love this idea! (Any excuse to gab on about the books in my house.) Look for it on my blog soon.

  5. Did it again, but you knew it was me, right? (So much for trying to keep Emily Barton and PV Reader separate.) Anyway, it will be on MY blog, not hers.

  6. bardiac

    I’m sort of obsessive about organizing my books. Lit crit in one room, novels in another, and so on, so depending on what room I was in, things would be pretty predictable.

  7. Interesting list. I loved Colette’s The Ripening Seed, but I just couldn’t get into Cheri and the Last of Cheri.

  8. bookgazing

    Oh Madame Bovary – expected to hate her, in the end wanted to transport her through time to a more permissive, expansive era.

  9. This meme is soooo making me want to spend time poring over my blogging friends’ bookcases! Lovely selection, Dorothy – I’d like to read each one of those, if I haven’t read it already!

  10. rmaitzen

    This looks like fun–I think I’ll give it a go, too. But like bardiac, my books are compartmentalized (criticism and endless Oxford and Penguin and Norton editions of 19thC novels at work, novels and ‘art’ books on the main bookshelves, mysteries in the basement), so the results would be tilted depending on where I was grabbing books from. I think the main shelves would be most representative. Things I read for work don’t really say as much about me personally.

    I love Foreign Affairs. It is one of my ‘comfort’ books, one I reread when I’m in a personal slump and need something that’s diverting but also intelligent (another is Anne Tyler’s Ladder of Years).

  11. Gentle Reader — it would certainly be interesting to reread Madame Bovary and see how your perspective changed. But yes, it is a depressing book. But a great one, too, I think.

    Danielle — I think you will like Shonagon when you do read her — the excerpt in the Lopate made me want to read the entire book. Clarissa is great, but it really does take commitment! I read it back in the days when I read only one book at a time, which made it easier to get through fairly quickly. And I read most of it over a vacation which gave me long stretches of time to read.

    Emily — you’re welcome to give it a try! :) I’d love to hear what you think of Edgeworth.

    Emily B. — it would be hard to keep switching identities like that! I saw you’ve done the meme; I’ll definitely be over to read your descriptions. Isn’t it a great idea for a meme?

    Bardiac — I’m not exactly obsessive about where I keep books, but I do have a rough order to things, so I purposely went to different rooms and different bookcases to get a little variety.

    Thomas — well, I’m curious to try some of Colette’s fiction, just to see what I make of it. I have The Ripening Seed on my shelves, so I’m glad you liked it.

    Bookgazing — oh, that would have changed her life quite a lot! She would still have had her troubles, though, I’m sure.

    Litlove — wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could do that? If we could do it together, we’d have so many great stories to share!

    Rohan — oh, I hope you do! I think if you wander around to a lot of different shelves, you’ll get variety. I’m glad to hear you love Foreign Affairs, and that makes me want to give Ladder of Years a try. And to read more Lurie as well.

  12. Pingback: 10 Random Books « Love and Fiction – A Book Blog

  13. What a variety of books. I can’t imagine reading Clarissa in a semester at all! Wow.

  14. I love that you have essay shelves, but then that’s no big surprise :) A very nice selection and very representative!

  15. This is such a great meme. I saw it on Danielle’s too and I think I need to play along!

  16. Rebecca — I can’t imagine it either, which is why I waited until after the semester to finish it! And I was only auditing the class. I’m glad I read it eventually, though.

    Stefanie — well, the truth is, it’s more like an essay shelf. But it’s expanding and will be many shelves one day :)

    Iliana — isn’t it fun? I’m glad other people are doing it.

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