Thursday, May 19, 2005

Books, Books, Books

I took this meme from Lemming's Progress' blog

1. Total Number of Books I've Owned: I have no idea. If you count all of the children’s books my parents bought for me it would be well over 1,000. As for now, I own four full bookcases and I have several stored in boxes.

2. Last Book I Bought: Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides (the guy who wrote The Virgin Suicides). Why? Well, because I am in a book discussion group and this is what we’re reading. A group of us at work agreed some time ago to tackle the Random House List of top 100 English language books of the 20th century. Well, we got bored along the way and decided to read a “modern classic”. Middlesex won a Pulitzer, so it was nominated. It’s a very interesting book and probably the best book I’ve read where the lead character was a hermaphrodite.

3. Last Book I Read: Hmmm, ok well, I must be honest. It was The Da Vinci Code. I picked it up at my uncle’s house a couple weeks ago and finished it later that night. It was very interesting but also very poorly written. I think I could write better dialogue than Dan Brown. Well, ok, I could write it just as poorly.

4. Five books that mean a lot to me:

A. The People’s History of the United States –by Howard Zinn – This is the one book that every American should read. It gives an honest portrayal of American history and one that we’re not taught by the mythmakers in school. I think if this were required reading at the high school level, we’d have a lot less jingoism in this country, which would be a very good thing.

B. The Catcher in the Rye – J.D. Salinger It’s still my all time favorite book, a lament on the loss of the innocence of youth and the nervous breakdown caused by impending adulthood.

C. Breakfast of Champions -- Kurt Vonnegut Ok, so I cheated. I choose two books one author. The first book is an explanation of our modern American (particularly Midwestern) lifestyle by an omniscient narrator to apparent alien to our planet. It’s only when we step outside of pattern and tradition and look at our lives through a fresh perspective, do we realize how absurd our lives really can be.
Slaughterhouse 5 -- Kurt Vonnegut Vonnegut survived the senseless and horrific Dresden bombings as a prisoner of war and then succeeded in writing one of the best anti-war novels of all time.

D. The Great Gatsby – F. Scott Fitzgerald Simply put, this is the greatest American novel.

E. The Other America – Michael Harrington I found this book on my parent’ s bookshelf when I was 12 years old. Even though the book was over twenty years old at the time, I still saw the other America all around me. This book definitely shaped my worldview.

5. Tag 5 people and have them do this on their blog:

Any and all who would like to answer.


Blogger lemming said...

Love Zinn. Have you read his memoirs? Very brilliant.

Glad you picked up this meme - I'd have tagged you,
but didn't know if you would be interested in such things.

May 19, 2005  
Blogger torporific said...

No problem. I like doing such things.

I like Zinn, but I haven't checked out his memoirs. I love how he keeps The People's History... current. He already has an edition which includes 9/11, the Iraq War, etc.

May 19, 2005  
Blogger Ms. Cuckoo said...

Well, I don't have my own blog, so I will do it here if you don't mind.

1. Total Number of Books I've Owned: this question may be posed to someone who owns 5 or 50 books. Otherwise no one is able to answer it. I just remember all this carrying books-books-books in and out everytime I move and my friends who help me asking “Why the hell do you need to read so much?”

2. Last Book I Bought: Lauren Weisberger “The Devil Wears Prada” – now don’t say anything! I am no person to say “I am reading classics and intellectual stuff only” just because it’s not true for any of us. Another reason is my truest interest towards fashion and this book was supposed to describe mazes of fashion magazines society. Funny relaxing pulp, I must say I am disappointed.

3. Last Book I Read: Read? Reread? Read for which purpose? Ok, besides all the professional stuff I have read lately, I was experimenting a lot. Working on my paper which central object is “human sense of place”, I have reread plenty of books I knew from heart also before with emphasis on the sense of place – taking a look on how does an author describe a particular area, how much does he make a reader to feel it, what role does it play in the entire message. Includes Ngaio Marsh, Mark Twain, Nicci French, Boris Akounin.

The last one deserves separate remark – Boris Akounin – russian author, linguist and japanologist. Writes delicious masterpieces of intelligent criminal novels. He creates his stories in 19th century Russia trying to put its main thing in it – feeling of the mistery and slipping of time. Giving also tasty view inside of that epoch Russian culture as well as one’s political structures. All that in tasty, simply drinkable old-style Russian.

4. Five books that mean a lot to me:

A. Pippi Longstocking
Nah, no one dares to tell me it’s a book for kids! I have read it 1000 times when I was 4 to 10 years old. I have read it when I was 15, 20, 23 and 25. It feels different each time, I get the feeling Pippi grows up with me. She may be described as the first sample of feminism in Swedish society of the 50-ties, the thing each girl from 4 to 40 desires to be or whateva else. This all is true but this all has different sense for each of us. She is the one to always remind me that it’s me who is stronger than anyone in the world, self-sufficient, and I have to answer to no one while leading a life full of adventure.

B. 100 Years of Solitude Started to read it as compulsory literature, I fell in love with it immediately. To say I was surprised by the content is to say nothing. I really didn’t expect that it will be the purest sex and no aridity at all. (remark: I liked none of other Marquez books)

C.Gone With the Wind Greatest love story of all times. The most disgusting chief character of all times.

D.Trap for Cinderella (see also The Lady in the Car With Glasses and a Gun, A Very Long Engagement, The Passion of Women). Being the earnest fan of Sebastien Japrisot, I still don’t find my reason why. Is that a breathtaking story? Or bright female characters and ability to show them from the inside, astonishing for a man? Or subtle unostentatious touch of style? I still don’t know what does make me read Japrisot again and again.

E.Lord of the Rings Any comments needed? I wish the movie (the beautiful, stunning, most perfect LOTR movie possible I have seen some 20 times altogether) was never made!!!! I wish it was never turned to such a Disneyland, I wish we, Tolkien nerds, could keep our little secret of Middle-Earth existence.

May 20, 2005  
Blogger Ms. Cuckoo said...

BTW, I wonder if any of these books you mentioned would help me like America? The more I read about it, the less I like it. And it's not my preconception, not at all.

May 20, 2005  
Blogger torporific said...

Thanks for your contribution, Chased. To answer your question, probably not, but I don't know. For me, I love America more when her warts are not exposed.

I own 100 years of solitude, but I've never finished it. I guess I am not into magical realism. Perhaps I should give it another try.

May 20, 2005  
Blogger Ms. Cuckoo said...

That's diff for you about America. You don't have top learn to like it, you ARE one, it's IN you. But for me it's like something I can and want to get but just approch from the wrong side or something. It took me 10 years to love Depeche Mode for instance. For long long time I felt like it's a good thing I should learn to hear and love but I couldn't, but one day it just opened for me.

Same is with America. It's not like I hate it. I see the good sides of it. I can see its culture and I like it, but it feels like it doesnt turn its face to me. And it pisses me off! That's why I'm trying to find an agent to help me out.

Magical realism is the thing many of us don't need. I respect this opinion a lot, I would even say - I try to avoid those who like it in real life cause they all are weirdos. And I hate weirdos. But you may never know a charm until somebody guides you through it. You never know, do you?

May 20, 2005  

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