Sunday, April 10, 2005

The Dreaded Book Meme

I got hit by this pyramid scheme! I have to send ten dollars to the person who named me (archy!) and then I get to nominate three others to send me money and so on. Well, not exactly. There's no money involved, more's the pity. But the idea is to pester everyone about their opinions on books and thereby sneakily show how extremely well-read we all are. Which we are, of course. I even read the backs of cereal packages compulsively and the toaster manuals in three languages and the terrible English translation in the manual of my sewing machine. I have read widely and indiscriminately all my lives, and haven't really learned anything, except perhaps that a book is a wonderful excuse not to have a life.

But I don't really have very many favorites. The most recent reads tend to be the favorites for a while, and then something else takes their place. When I was very small I thought the Orient Express by Agatha Christie was the most wonderful book on earth. They all did it! But I was only about eight years old and most of my other reading consisted of children's books. Another book I found fascinating was a bodice-ripper that my mother had hidden in the locked medicine cupboard in the kitchen (you had to make a stairwell out of the drawers to climb there), mostly, because I couldn't understand why she bothered to hide it. It had nothing of interest, except perhaps the man who for some reason wanted to tickle women under their blouses.

Which just goes to show that reading is an interactive experience and that what we get from a book depends on where we happen to be on our own trip through life. My teenage years were spent deep in the melancholic classics, for example, combined with all the light fluff I could find. Then there was a stage of detective novels and poetry, a stage of history reading and mythology, a stage of reading nothing but how a circular saw operates and on and on. Right now I read a lot of science-fiction, to escape wingnuttia, probably, and the more esoteric types of classics. And cereal packages, always.

Here are the questions of the book meme and my paltry answers to them:

You're stuck inside Fahrenheit 451, which book do you want to be?

The shortest one, of course. Fahrenheit 451 is a book about a time of book-burning, but some individuals decide to save books by memorizing whole ones. I'm a lazy, lazy goddess so a short book would be me. But the book should have some merit to be worth memorizing at all. Something like Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu.

My mind is that of a fool - how blank!
Vulgar people are clear.
I alone am drowsy.
Vulgar people are alert.
I alone am muddled.

It would be fun to walk around muttering this left, right and center.

Have you ever had a crush on a fictional character?

Your definition is inadequate! I myself am a fictional character, after all. But no, I have never had crushes on fictional characters. Though I used to pretend that I'm Robin Hood. And Jesus. And the evil queen in Snow White.

The last book you bought is?

I bought a bunch of books recently: Don't Think of an Elephant by George Lakoff, The Book of Qualities by J. Ruth Gendler, "Love of Shopping" is Not A Gene by Anne Innis Dagg and Negotiating with the Dead by Margaret Atwood. I'm pretty sure that this was the last harvest, but I may be wrong. Most books I read now come from the library due to limited shelving space, and these are on the floor still, so they are probably recent.

I have read them all and liked the last two quite a lot.

What are you currently reading?

I'm always reading Proust, in extremely small snippets. He lives on the bottom shelf of the table next to my bed. I always read The Tibetan Book of Dying, too (or a title close to that, too lazy to get up and check). It's great for falling asleep.

I just finished a new Sharon Shinn science-fiction or fantasy novel and will read no more of her. She is going downhill fast. I also read a detective novel by some British writer whose name escapes me, but it was one of those "have-a-nice-cup-of-tea-and-drop-dead" ones. And I'm reading the Federalist Papers to find out what the role of snakes was amoung the Founding Fathers and to count the number of times religion is mentioned etcetera.

Five books you would take to a deserted island:

Am I allowed to try to get off the island? In that case I'd take books on boat-building and survival and how to make a radio out of bananas and stuff.

If I'm supposed to stay on the island for ever, I'd take slightly different books. Still something on survival skills and how to medicate yourself, but also something about good sex on your own, for example. Then I'd take the biggest dictionary I could find. There would be plenty of time to think about words and their meaning and the dictionary could also be used to start fires and for toilet paper and so on. I might be able to dig a hole into it and sleep there when it's cold.

That's about three, right? For entertainment purposes I'd pick the I Ching. It can be used in so many ways that the long silent tropical nights would pass in the blink of an eye.

The fifth book would be an empty one with a pen attached. I'd use it to write my story about living on a deserted island with nothing but a dictionary to live in.

These answers are totally inadequate. I was supposed to pick weighty classical tomes and show how well-read I am. But most of the classics I like (Dostoyevsky and Austen, say) are about the relationships between people and on a deserted island they would be painful reading. If I could find a good book about being an eremite I might swop the I Ching for that.

Who are you going to pass this stick to (3 persons) and why?

These have to be bloggers, right? And bloggers who haven't already answered the questions. I'm too lazy to check all who might have already answered. I'd offer the stick to Philalethes of Bouphonia, Lauren of Feministe and Elayne Riggs of Pen-Elayne. My apologies to all the victims I have selected!