Monday, July 21, 2008

Because I can't get enough talk about reading...

One of the reasons I enjoy Deb's blog as much as I do is that she loves books and reading as much as I do. She just posted a great book related meme, and so I'm snagging it to share here. Do feel free to blog your answers -- and if you do, let me know in the comments so I can go and read your answers!

So, here we go...

One book that changed your life: There's this pretty old book called "Greensleeves" by Eloise Jarvis McGraw, about a girl (college age, I think) who is uncertain about what to do with her future so she takes a job in a diner and pretends to be someone else. Her "diner" character allowed her to be social, snappy-witty, and other things she wasn't comfortable being in her real life. Well, that's how I remember it, anyway -- lord knows what it was really about. But I just loved that book as a junior high schooler, and read it over and over. The idea that you could create who you wanted to be was a new concept to me. Also, "Beloved" by Toni Morrison had a huge effect on me, in terms of thinking about race relations and slavery and history and just good writing in general.

One book you’ve read more than once twice: Oh boy, there've been tons of them. There are books I read for comfort when I'm ill, because they make me feel like I'm wrapped in cozy flannel. (Rosamunde Pilcher's "The Shell Seekers" is one of those.) There are books that were so mind-bogglingly wonderful and beautifully written that I want to start over the minute I finish them. "The Secret Life of Bees" by Sue Monk Kidd was like that for me.

One book you’d want on a desert island: Can it be an island with a well-stocked library, please?

One book that made you laugh: The one that comes immediately to mind is "Neither Here nor There" by Bill Bryson. Bryson, a 40 year old American living in England at the time, decided to retrace the European trek he'd made as a college student. It's simply hilarious ... as is much of what Bryson writes. I also love "Im A Stranger Here Myself," his essays on returning to the US after living away for years.

One book that made you cry: "Final Payments" by Mary Gordon. I read this on a long airplane flight, when I was seated next to a harried mom and her squirmy toddler (I wasn't a mom then and didn't realize the extreme sympathy she deserved for her plight). I buried my nose in the book and was not only swept away, but weeping copiously by the end.

One book you wish you had written: I can't narrow it down to one book, but I can name writers who make me wish I could write like them: Joshilyn Jackson, Elizabeth Berg, Anne Rivers Siddons. I love everything they write and how they infuse their characters with such believable, normal complexity.

One book you wish had never been written: I can't think of any I'd put in that category, but I admit to wondering how in the world certain authors ever, ever, ever got published and why in the world people read them. Those "The Cat Who..." books? Yikes. The one I tried to read was so poorly written I was appalled. I just don't get it.

One book you’re currently reading: "If You Lived Here" by Dana Sachs. It's the story of a woman waiting to adopt a baby from Vietnam, her friendship with a vietnamese woman who has not been back for 20 years, and the results when they travel together to Vietnam. Lovely story, well written.

One book you’ve been meaning to read: "The Quincunx" by Charles Palliser. I picked this up in a bookstore one day because it looked intriguing and different, compared to Dickens' "Bleak House," but I've not managed to get to it. It looks like a winter book to me, dense and heavy.


  1. I used to devour books, but now my kids talk at me too much for me to concentrate on anything longer than a typical blog entry. I read "Neither Here nor There" by Bill Bryson when I first moved to Europe and laughed out loud too! There was a particularly memorable sentence about "colliding testicularly" into a side table in the dark hallway of a French hotel which makes me giggle just to think about it even now.

  2. You've got to stop doing this, Wish List at Amazon is getting longer and longer! My suitcase is going to be bulging when I come back from California to Oz next trip...

  3. For heaven's sake... READ the Quincunx! It is on my all-time top ten list. When I came to the end of it, I went directly to the first page and started it all over again to pick up the clues I'd missed the first time. I was always a major Charles Dickens fan though, so that gave me a natural proclivity for this book. I'll work up my list but it will take a bit of thinking...

  4. I'm going to have to try to remember to find the Bryson book!

    That last one is one I've never heard of (and the title is bizarre) but after reading Helen's comment, I may have to find that one too!

  5. I used the meme on my blog and wrote about the books I've loved. I also liked "Final Payments" by Mary Gorden and even better, for me, "The Company of Women." A few years ago I ran across another, more recent book of hers, "Spending" and thought it was awful! What a disappointment, from a favorite author.

    Thanks for all your book suggestions over time. I have "The Thirteenth Tale" on order--remembered from one of your posts last summer.