This is the semester that will not end, and so, once again, I’m very grateful to come across an interesting meme to make posting a bit easier. I don’t want to go too long without posting here, after all. This is also a thought-provoking meme — it inspired an interesting response from Zhiv, and I’m sure I’ll have some trouble answering the questions as I go along. We’ll see how it goes.
1) What author do you own the most books by?
Virginia Woolf, although I only own 13 of her books, which doesn’t seem like a particularly high number for this question. I don’t tend to collect a lot of books by the same author, largely because I don’t tend to read very deeply into any author’s collection.
2) What book do you own the most copies of?
Frankenstein. I own three or four editions of this book because it’s the book I’ve read and taught most in school. I read it once in college, at least three times in grad school, and I’ve taught it several times as well. I like to have the edition a particular teacher is using, and so with each new class, I’d buy a new edition.
3) Did it bother you that both those questions ended with prepositions?
Not in the slightest. When it comes to grammar, I strongly believe in choosing my battles wisely, and preposition placement is not at the top of the list.
4) What fictional character are you secretly in love with?
I’m not secretly in love with any fictional character, but if you forced me to name somebody I could possibly have a literary crush on, I’m afraid I’d have to be boring and say Mr. Darcy from Pride and Prejudice.
5) What book have you read the most times in your life (excluding picture books read to children)?
Oh, I’m not sure! I haven’t kept track of my reading for most of my life, so that’s a hard question to answer. It’s probably Laurence Sterne’s A Sentimental Journey, which I’ve read countless times for dissertation purposes. Frankenstein is high up there on the list too.
6) What was your favourite book when you were ten years old?
I can’t remember exactly what I was reading when, but it could possibly be Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House on the Prairie books, or possibly Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women, or possibly Lucy Maud Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables.
7) What is the worst book you’ve read in the past year?
Eric Wilson’s Against Happiness, which is a book I picked for one of my book groups, and which was truly, truly awful. It’s pretty much what the title offers, a book arguing against happiness, which sounds like an interesting premise, but it’s written in a style I couldn’t stand.
8 ) What is the best book you’ve read in the past year?
Possibly Muriel Barbery’s The Elegance of the Hedgehog or maybe Jenny Diski’s Stranger on a Train.
9) If you could force everyone you tagged to read one book, what would it be?
Oh, I wouldn’t want to force anybody to read anything! Well, unless you’re taking a class from me. But fellow bloggers I don’t force to read books, even hypothetically. To be honest, if I love a book, it’s really hard when other people don’t feel the same way, so if you’re likely to dislike something I love, I wouldn’t mind at all if you didn’t read it.
10) Who deserves to win the next Nobel Prize for Literature?
And here we get to a bunch of questions I don’t really want to answer. I have no interest in nominating anybody to win the Nobel Prize. The truth is, I can’t keep track of who has won it to nominate somebody who hasn’t.
11) What book would you most like to see made into a movie?
I want to suggest books that would be really hard if not impossible to make into a movie, books like Tristram Shandy (which was sort of made into a movie — sort of) or Nabokov’s Pale Fire. What would they do with that one?
12) What book would you least like to see made into a movie?
Proust’s Remembrance of Things Past has been made into a movie, right? Well, I don’t want to see it.
13) Describe your weirdest dream involving a writer, book, or literary character.
I don’t dream about writers or literary characters. Do you? They mean a lot to me, and I spend a lot of time thinking about them, but they don’t enter my dream world.
14) What is the most lowbrow book you’ve read as an adult?
Hmmm … I listened to Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code, and I think that’s my best answer. I don’t read a lot of lowbrow books. The truth is, though, that listening to Brown’s book was kind of fun. If I’d read it in paper I might have felt differently though.
15) What is the most difficult book you’ve ever read?
Literary theory is a great place to go for this question: Jacques Lacan, Jacques Derrida, Gayatri Spivak were all a challenge. As for novels, Joyce’s Ulysses is one of the toughest I’ve read.
16) What is the most obscure Shakespeare play you’ve seen?
The Merry Wives of Windsor.
17) Do you prefer the French or the Russians?
Here we get into these questions with two choices, neither of which I’m actually going to choose. I’ve had a longer history with and a more emotional response to the Russians, but the French are pretty fabulous too, and I’m looking forward to reading some great 19th century novelists such as Balzac and Zola.
18 ) Roth or Updike?
Um … I would pick up Roth if I wanted something searing and raw (I’m thinking of Portnoy’s Complaint here) and Updike for some beautiful writing. The truth is, though, I’ve probably read most of the Roth and Updike I’ll ever read in my life.
19) David Sedaris or Dave Eggers?
Except for sharing first names, I don’t see what these writers have in common that makes them worth comparing. I really love Sedaris, but — even though I know it’s popular to look down on Eggers — I like Eggers too. I really enjoyed reading A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius. If you think less of me for this, that’s your problem.
20) Shakespeare, Milton, or Chaucer?
Oh, goodness. They’re all great.
21) Austen or Eliot?
See Zhiv on this one.
22) What is the biggest or most embarrassing gap in your reading?
Anything pre-18th century I’m a little shaky on, which is really, truly not good. But I started off interested in 20th-century literature and worked my way back to the 18th, and never made it any farther back than that.
23) What is your favorite novel?
Pride and Prejudice.
I’ve never thought about this before! I’ve taught Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House so many times I can’t help but love it. I also love anything by Samuel Beckett.
Any of Keats’s odes.
I can’t pick one — it has to be Montaigne’s collected essays.
27) Short story?
Flannery O’Connor’s “A Good Man is Hard to Find.”
28) Work of nonfiction?
I have so many. So a list of my favorite nonfiction writers: Jenny Diski, David Foster Wallace, Geoff Dyer, Virginia Woolf, Janet Malcolm.
29) Who is your favourite writer?
Jane Austen, closely followed by Virginia Woolf.
30) Who is the most overrated writer alive today?
No idea. I’ll let you answer this one.
31) What is your desert island book?
One of those big books that’s really a collection of a bunch of books, in this case, the complete works of Jane Austen in one volume.
32) And… what are you reading right now?
I’m about to finish The Recognitions (yay!), and I just began P.D. James’s Cover Her Face for my mystery book group.