Monday, 28 January 2008

Eva's Reading Meme

Thanks to Verbivore at Incurable Logophilia for tagging me in Eva's Reading Meme ! This is the first meme I’ve responded to and the questions are just delicious! Also perfect for me today, as I finished Vanity Fair late late last night and my tired brain has enjoyed these questions so much…

Which book do you irrationally cringe away from reading, despite seeing only positive reviews? This would have to be Saturday by Ian McEwan. Not sure if all the reviews I saw were positive, but it was just everywhere. It seemed like whenever I opened a newspaper there was a review or a piece by or about McEwan. It seemed that whenever I listened to Radio 4 it was being talked up. I live in London, was actually on the anti-war march on the day the novel is set, and I even love Fitzrovia (where the main character lives). I’ve enjoyed other McEwan books (though I think the film of Atonement is completely over-praised!). So usually I’d be raring to go but it just repells me. Actually thinking about it, a wealth of postive reviews or enthusiastic friends means I’m quite likely to avoid books (for instance, I’ve not read Harry Potter and now the fact that just about everyone I know loves them means I probably never will).
If you could bring three characters to life for a social event (afternoon tea, a night of clubbing, perhaps a world cruise), who would they be and what would the event be? I’d invite William of Baskerville (from Eco’s The Name of the Rose), Brogeen the leprechaun (from Patricia Lynch’s Brogeen books, particularly my favourite Brogeen and the Green Shoes) and Sylvie (from Robinson’s Housekeeping) to a dinner party. Not too sure what the topics of discussion would be, but between a mediaeval scholar monk, a representative of the fairy folk and a free spirit from mid-20th century America, I'm sure it would be an interesting night.
You are told you can’t die until you read the most boring novel on the planet. While this immortality is great for awhile, eventually you realize it’s past time to die. Which book would you expect to get you a nice grave?. This is perhaps cheating a little but it would have to be Byron’s Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage (which is actually a very long poem). It bores me to tears, so despite trying it a few times I’ve yet to actually finish it.
Come on, we’ve all been there. Which book have you pretended, or at least hinted, that you’ve read, when in fact you’ve been nowhere near it? I don’t generally have a problem owning up to not having read something, but I must say I did pretend to have read Tristram Shandy for the first couple of years of university. I think I was trying to look as well-read as possible (and it’s still on my tbr list now!). I also pretended to have read Villette, but only because I inadvertently ended up in a literary conversation with two friends who’d read it, and loved it, and assumed I did too. I went straight to the library, checked it out and discovered my favourite Bronte novel. I even then admitted my previous ignorance so it all ended quite happily!
As an addition to the last question, has there been a book that you really thought you had read, only to realize when you read a review about it/go to ‘reread’ it that you haven’t? Which book? Erm, nothing springs to mind in this category as I generally have a pretty good memory for what I’ve read and what I haven’t. But if this question were about a book you thought you hadn’t read but actually had, then it would be The Little Friend (Donna Tartt). I went to read it about a year ago and started having the strangest déjà vu. It seemed so familiar, but I was sure I hadn’t read the book. Well, when my déjà vu reached prophetic levels (as in I knew exactly what was coming next), I admitted that I’d suppressed the memory of this book. It’s actually quite a good book, so I was happy to inadvertently reread it, and it remains a puzzle to me why it disappeared so completely from my memory!
You’re interviewing for the post of Official Book Advisor to some VIP (who’s not a big reader). What’s the first book you’d recommend and why? (if you feel like you’d have to know the person, go ahead of personalize the VIP) I think maybe something by Bill Bryson. His style is so funny and chatty that even a non-reader would be sucked in. Or perhaps Gilead by Marilynne Robinson, for its sheer beauty. And I loved that book, so I’d happily sing its praises to the VIP in question, hopefully getting them into the right frame of mind to love it too!
A good fairy comes and grants you one wish: you will have perfect reading comprehension in the foreign language of your choice. Which language do you go with? Spanish, as I’ve enjoyed so many Spanish language books in translation. But there’s a small likelihood that I’ll someday build on my schoolgirl Spanish (and French and Italian) so I’d choose Mandarin. I think there are going to be more and more interesting novels coming out of China, so it would be handy to be able to effortlessly read them in their original language.
A mischievous fairy comes and says that you must choose one book that you will reread once a year for the rest of your life (you can read other books as well). Which book would you pick? I’d have to go with One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. I’ve reread this intermittently since I first read it as a teenager and I still love now as much as I did the first time around.
I know that the book blogging community and its various challenges have pushed my reading borders. What’s one bookish thing you ‘discovered’ from book blogging (maybe a new genre, or author, or new appreciation for cover art-anything)? I’m still pretty new to blogging, and am still finding my way around the book blogging community, so I’d have to say that challenges are my big “discovery”! A month ago I had literally no idea they existed and now I’ve signed up for three, so plenty of new books and new authors are in store for me in 2008. I can also feel myself becoming more thoughtful in my reading, as the act of noting down thoughts, reactions and words to look up is making my reading more textured.
That good fairy is back for one final visit. Now, she’s granting you your dream library! Describe it. Is everything leather-bound? Is it full of first edition hard covers? Pristine trade paperbacks? Perhaps a few favorite authors have inscribed their works? Go ahead-let your imagination run free. I think my dream library would have to have a fireplace, as I love reading in front of a fire more than anywhere else. So two chairs, on either side of a fireplace, each with its own reading lamp. There’d be a window, which looked out over trees and a pond (so I could see the seasons, or the rain, or the dark and feel even snugger in my dream library). The shelves would be full of cloth bound sewn hardbacks. Much as I love the smell of glue in paperbacks, I hate the way they gradually fall apart. The shelves would be magic, in that I’d never run out of space (now if only that would happen in real life!). And all I’d have to do to get a book into my library is to think about it. In fact, if I’m not sure of the title, all I’d have to do is think about a particular theme or idea and my dream librarian (with her vast knowledge) would provide interesting books.
I’d like to tag Cass at The Reading Life of Antipodean Owl, Orchidus at Epiphany, Juliet at Musings from a Muddy Island and Equiano at Lost in Translation. Only answer if you’d like to, as not sure if you love/hate memes!


verbivore said...

William of Baskerville is such a great character - excellent choice!

Eva said...

I'm seconding Verbivore-I want to meet William of Baskerville too. :)

I originally began my blog for reading challenges-they're so much fun!

Cass said...

No, the funniest thing is that I was going to tag you, but in my computer illiteracy I have no idea how!! hahaha! I really loved the meme. I must go and find more, they are a great way to getting to know other bloggers a little better.

I love your idea of a all-knowing librarian. I often find myself standing in front of my bookcases running my eyes back and forth along the titles wondering what to read next, somone who just knew what I wanted to read next would be brilliant!

Logophile said...

Verbivore, glad you like Wm of Baskerville too!
Eva, I just wandered across Nyssaneala's Neustadt challenge from your blog award post and i'm so tempted! Challenges are so very good...
Cass, I'm also not so hot with the technology things...and a dream librarian has been one of my "genie grants you three wishes" for a long time!

equiano said...

Just back from a week in the wilds of Devon to find your tag! I'll give it some thought and post something over the course of the week - thanks!