Sunday, June 20, 2010

Book Meme

I was challenged to answer these questions by a friend from Sweden. You can do it yourself, too.

1 – The book you are reading at the moment.
First, Ares Express by Ian McDonald. Normally I love McDonald's writing, but somehow, even though I started it last week, I can't seem to pick it up again. Then, Twelve Mile Limit by Randy Wayne White, a battered copy from the library book sale. Who doesn't like a little Florida mystery series? Then The Lost Continent by Bill Bryson, a nonfiction humor book about the American Midwest. My husband picked it up at the library book sale, but I started reading it.

2 – Next book you will read or want to read.
I have a bunch coming from Amazon on Tuesday, but I can't remember them all. I need to stock up for our three weeks of traveling. I do know I downloaded three books for the road trip; Songs of Dying Earth, a compilation of short stories in honor of Jack Vance, Neverwhere, written and read by Neil Gaiman who is a marvelous reader, and The Map That Changed the World (nonfiction).

3 – Your favorite book.
This is a cruel question, leaving hundreds of books out in the cold, so I will pick Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Child, Bertholle, and Beck. One of the first cookbooks I ever bought. Every recipe comes out perfectly every time, but they can be maddeningly complex.

4 – Your most hated book.
Absurdistan: A Novel by Gary Shteyngart. There is nothing worse than an archly hip novel about a pathetic loser that is supposed to be humorous but Is Not. Second place, The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger, but this could be a number of books written by non-science fiction writers using science fiction tropes and getting them wrong every single time. Dan Brown comes to mind.

5 – A book you could read again and again.
I haven't read it in a while, but for a time in my teens and early twenties I read Julian by Gore Vidal over and over again.

6 – A book you have been able to read only once (whether you liked it or not).
I loved Sacred Games by Vikram Chandra, but I would have to be stuck with only that book on a deserted island to read it again. It's 916 pages!

7 – A book that reminds you of someone.
I tend to read a lot of books in the science fiction/fantasy genre, but I have never met a werewolf, wizard or vampire. Or even a space ship captain. Most people I know are good and kind hearted, but dull. This is a good thing. I've met some exciting people in my time and they are dangerous.

8 – A book that reminds you of somewhere.
I love books about places I have been. Mystery writers tend to do that well, so I could choose any book by Julie Smith (New Orleans), Margaret Maron (North Carolina), Dana Stabenow (Alaska), or Marcia Muller (San Francisco).

9 – First book you ever read.
The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum. My mother started reading it to me, but couldn't read it fast enough to suit me, so I learned to read so I could do it by myself. I was four.

10 – A book by your favorite writer.
George R. R. Martin, both personally and professionally. You could start with Game of Thrones (soon to be an HBO mini series), but I warn you, the series is not finished. It needs three more books!

11 – A book you loved the first time you read it but you can’t stand now.
Gateway by Fredrick Pohl. What a cowardly, whiny protagonist! How did I ever get through it the first time? Same with Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlein.

12 – A book you have been recommended by a friend or acquaintance.
I recommend books to other people way more than they recommend them to us. My husband has started me reading some graphic novels, the one I like best so far is Y: The Last Man, beautiful and exciting.

13 – A book that makes you laugh.
I grew up with a book of cartoons by Charles Addams. Dark, but funny. James Thurber is also laugh out loud funny. On drinking a wine from a neighbor's backyard he exclaims, "It doesn't travel well, does it?"

14 – A book from your childhood.
Anything by Arthur Ransome, Swallows and Amazons, etc. Although I read (and own) all the Oz books, I also own most of the Ransome books in first edition. It helped to have a grandfather who worked for Macmillan Books.

15 – The fourth book counting from the left in your shelf.
Which shelf on which of forty or more bookshelves? Well, it's not going to be the top shelf in the bedroom, since I need a ladder to get up there, let's go with the fourth shelf down. And the answer is...Earth by David Brin, signed, first edition.

16 – The ninth book counting from the right in your shelf.
I'm going back to the cookbooks. After all there are 700 of them. The Rituals of Dinner by Margaret Visser. You can only have so many books with recipes. Right now I collect more books about the history of food, eating, and culture.

17 – Close your eyes and pick up a random book from your shelf.
I'm going with the mystery shelves. By a Spider's Thread by Laura Lippman. I could also use this for question number 8. I love how Lippman evokes Baltimore and makes you love every stop light and cracked sidewalk.

18 – The book with the prettiest cover you own.
I'm sure there are prettier covers somewhere in the house, but right now I love Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi. Pictures do not do it justice, but the shimmery copper is lovely. It helps that I am a sucker for copper.

19 – A book you have always wanted to read.
I really can't answer this one, because if I want to read a book, I do. My husband might count Red Seas Under Red Skies by Scott Lynch since it has been sitting in my small To Be Read pile for years.

20 – The best book of all the compulsory readings you had to do at school.
Dickens. All of it. I took a course in Victorian Literature at university and started with The Pickwick Papers and found it hard going. Half way through I found his voice and never looked back. I think I read six books by Dickens in that quarter.

21 – The worst book of all the compulsory readings you had to do at school.
Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson. One of the very few books that I Did Not Finish. I might even like it now, but I am not going to chance it.

22 – The book in your shelf with the highest number of pages.
I thought it would be Sacred Games by Vikram Chandra, which took me a month to read, but it has a wimpy 916 pages. The winner is Under The Dome by Stephen King at 1074 pages, which only took me a weekend to read.

23 – The book in your shelf with the smallest number of pages.
Do graphic novels count? Do comic books? I have a couple of photography books that have only 10 or so prints tipped in.

24 – A book no one would think you’ve read.
The Bible and they would be correct.

25 – A book which main character defines you.
Have Spacesuit, Will Travel by Robert Heinlein. One of the protagonists is female, a real shocker in the male dominated science fiction field in the '50s.

26 – A book you’d read to your kids.
Oz books, Ransome books and YA science fiction by Heinlein.

27 – A book which main character fits your “ideal”.
Ideal what? Friend, lover, person to call on when you need someone killed? I have read plenty of books with characters I enjoy, but most interesting characters are flawed enough that they are dangerous to be around.

28 – Thank God they made a film from this book!
I think books make terrible movies. They are too long and complex. But short stories and novellas are the perfect length for a movie. I'd choose AI from Brian Aldiss' short story "Super-Toys Last All Summer Long" or A Boy and His Dog by Harlan Ellison.

29 – Why on Earth did they have to make a film from this book?
Almost anything by Jane Austen or Dickens with the exception of Great Expectations, one of his shorter books made great by some of the most fantastic acting ever.


Anna van Schurman said...

#28 Bourne Identity. I wanted the week of my life I spent reading that book back; it was so stilted and horrible. I really think the movie is better than the book in this case.

astrid said...

Thank you for commenting in my blog and doing the book meme :)

Btw I didn't know Neil Gaiman read his own book. I'll try Neverwhere too on my next audible purchase.

Front Range Stitcher said...

When do you take time to read? Seriously impressive. Just using your aforementioned titles, I don't think I would be able to read them all in a life time. Pity. Well maybe if I found them on audio.

chris_stitch said...

Thanks for this. I am going to share the questions with my "book-ie" friends.