Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Books are why we work...

See, housing costs money, and you need a house to keep your books in so that they don't get wet or blow around too much. If it weren't for books you wouldn't need a house and could just live under a bridge someplace, which is a lot cheaper and would therefore allow you to retire now.

In an homage to the spirit of books, I'll take up this meme from Phlegmmie via RobertaX:

Which book do you irrationally cringe away from reading, despite seeing only positive reviews?
I avoid lots of probably perfectly good modern fiction because it bores me to tears. Like I've said elsewhere on this blog: "Look, if I want to read about failed relationships, career problems, family struggles, and substance abuse, I'll write a friggin' diary. The characters in the books I like to read have problems, too, but they usually solve them with laser beams or tactical nuclear warheads. I read these books because I wish I could solve my problems that way, too. This is called "escapism", and is why most folks seek entertainment in the first place." I just can't find interest in tales of finding a boyfriend or fixing a flat tire when there are books about rescuing a boyfriend from the Valley of the Trolls or fixing a busted stardrive out there to be read.

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've actually pondered this one before. I'd like an evening of dinner and drinks with two of my favorite fictional bad boys, Dr. Lecter and Lestat, as they were before their respective authors ruined them. (After Silence of the Lambs and Queen of the Damned, respectively, both these characters were put in, to use Dr. Lecter's brilliant phrase, "moral dignity pants".) The third character's a toughie, because I've always envisioned just the two. Let's occupy the open place setting with... Hmm... Perhaps Woodrow Wilson Smith? He ought to have quite a fund of good stories.

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 realise it's past time to die. Which book would you expect to get you a nice grave?
While The Fountainhead is a strong contender for "Most Efficient Conversion of Wood Pulp to Sominex", I am forced here to admit that I have a beautiful hardbound copy of Don Quixote given me by a friend of my father's back in... oh... ninth grade? The bookmark has advanced all of perhaps seventy-five pages in the intervening twenty-five years. At an average clip of three pages per year, I'll be dust and bones long before I'm finished.

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'm pretty honest when it comes to what I've read and what I haven't. Tower of ego that I am, I'm not worried about people thinking less of me for not having read something.

As an addition to the last question, has there been a book that you really thought you had read, only to realise when you read a review about it/go to 'reread' it that you haven't? Which book?
Y'know, this has never happened to me. The closest approach was when I re-read Anthem a couple of years ago for the first time since the eighth grade. It was not at all the story I remembered. Which was a pleasant surprise, actually, because I remembered it being positively awful and as dull as watching paint dry.

You've been appointed Book Advisor to a 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 personalise the VIP.
If my VIP has not actually sat down and read 1984, he's about to.

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?
Latin. Definitely. I want to read Tacitus and Caesar and Cicero and Polybius and the rest in the original. It pains me, when reading older works in history (and especially military history), to come across a quotation in Latin or Greek that is left untranslated, because it reminds me how woefully uneducated I am.

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?
Hah! Don't throw me in that briar patch! The list of books I already re-read at least once a year is long enough that if it gets much longer, I won't have time to read new books. LOTR is the ceremonial one, though. I've made it a point to re-read it once a year since I was about twelve.

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)?
Were it not for my imaginary friends on teh intarw3bz, I never would have discovered Terry Pratchett and his wonder-full Discworld. Thankyouthankyouthankyou.

That good fairy is back for one final visit. Now, she's granting you your dream library! Describe it. Is everything leatherbound? Is it full of first edition hardcovers? Pristine trade paperbacks? Perhaps a few favourite authors have inscribed their works? Go ahead-let your imagination run free.
Y'know, I was going to do something elaborate here when I realized that I'm looking at a wall of boxes twenty-five feet long by four feet high by two feet deep. If I can find someplace to park them that has a sheltered porch with a comfortable chair, a place to set a beer, and a good friend or two who can enjoy an afternoon spent in the companionable silence of reading, I'm golden. "A good read, a bottle of Ruination, and thou. O, Wilderness were Paradise enow!"

22 comments:

staghounds said...

Books and travel, toys and experiences.

And eventually books are all we will be able to do. Sassoon said he wished for two lives, one to live and one to reflect on experience. The books and the memories can still take even the frailest of us away.

Interesting answers.

Tam said...

Tag! You're it!

C'mon, I want to see your answers!

Anonymous said...

I'm gonna pass. Answering some of those questions would review more about my inner self than I care to publicly disclose to 'pretend' friends.

All The Best,
Frank W. James

phlegmfatale said...

That was great, Tam. Thanks! And it brought a question to mind:
Having disliked it in the first place, what inspired you to re-read Anthem? Have you ever read something you adored in child- or early adult-hood only to find you like it not so much after all?

I hate when that happens. I know the frame-of-reference changes, and we mature, but it's nice to cast back in the mind and remember the suffused glow of a book I adored, and terrible when it's knocked off the pedestal.

B&N said...

Most boring, The Fountainhead?

That one smarts there, lady.

I guess it's a profession thing or something, and it takes a certain perspective to appreciate the whole circumstance revolving around it. Let's just say that both the book and the profession are something that the Marquis de Sade should have looked into.

Yes, it's long, and it certainly beats you about the head, neck and upper torso with its distinct lack of brevity, or even motion in places, but, that's the frickin' point!

Gah! I guess you just had to be there, or something.

I could give a nod to Tolstoy or Dostoevsky as authors, and you can take your pick of which book from each. Jeezis, what is it with Russian writers putting together such a damn hard read?!?

jimbob86 said...

So if you were illiterate, you'd be living under a bridge? Entirely plausible. It works out that way for many folks who either can't or won't read.........

Larry said...

I hate to be pedantic, but Polybius wrote in Greek. For that matter, so did Marcus Aurelius.

Tam said...

I knew Marcus Aurelius did, but I was obviously ignorant of that fact concerning Polybius.

I hate publicly displaying my lack of education. :(

hagan said...

Gaaaaa, woman, get out of my head!! Scary!

Anonymous said...

tamara, while the classics and the obscures that are classic only to our private id are what you guys are looking for here, the one book that stirred, inspired, and shaped my views the most was a resident of the tiny library in the tiny elementary school on the shore of lake okeechobee where i spent third through sixth grades.

while the turmoil of the sixties swirled the world "a boy and his gun" was the "treasure island" escapism of my 11 year old mind...it would never make it into the libraries of today's politically correct and morally corrupt school systems, but the memories of it's wonderful tales of upland birding, squirrel and rabbit hunts, and .22 plinking, told from the perspective of a loving uncle, can bring a warmth, and longing, and a melancholy mood to me even today.

the author dedicated the book to the memory of his nephew and field partner Jack, who apparently was killed in the military (hence the melancholy).

i've never seen the book since, never been able to find it listed online, yet the multiple times i checked it out, read and re-read it in fifth and sixth grades, shaped my youth then as i carried my little .22 around the sugarcane fields near our home, my adulthood as i bought and sold firearms in my 30 years as an ffl/pawnbroker, and in my retirement now as i reflect on the warm memories of years past.

that might not be "great literature", but if the true power of the written word is to inspire, instill, and provide insight to last a lifetime, then "a boy and his gun" is at the top of my list...

regards, jtc

Tam said...

Thank you for that. :)

Bryan said...

Well said. As I sit here at home next to double stacked book cases (with some in other rooms) I am reminded that vision is my most important sense. I would miss music, but given a choice I'd be deaf rather than blind.

Now I think I'll go continue recovering from whatever nastiness has afflicted me. Oh look, he new Jim Butcher novel ... that will do nicely.

BryanP

Kevin said...

A Boy and His Gun by Edward C. Janes? Is that the one you're looking for?

Anonymous said...

thank you, kevin: yep, that's the one, and your link leads to an even dozen copies for sale, eleven now that i've ordered one with the dust jacket as i think that's where the tribute to jack is...can't wait to read it (and feel it) again...jtc

Mark said...

Most boring? I'd still have to say Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand. I've had the book now for 6 years and still haven't gotten more than 100 pages into it. Books i reread every year? ummm would the authors names be better I have several series of books I reread every year. Tolkien, Weber, Bujold, Asaro, May, Moon, McCaffrey, Heinlien, Pournelle, Niven, Steele, too many others to mention, but I reread all of the novels I have in my humble collection AT least once a year. Plus my new additions......

Kevin said...

You're welcome! I love ABEBooks! You can find almost anything that was ever in print.

Bryan said...

Mark,

Get out of my brain.

I've never been able to read Rand. The rest you list as favorites are quite a few of mine as well.

Elizabeth Moon? The stuff she co-wrote with Anne McCaffrey was awful, but I blame that on McCaffrey. Moon is a much better writer. The Paksenarrion books are really good fantasy, and I'm greatly enjoying her "Vatta's War" series, which is kind of like "What if Honor Harrington got booted out of the academy?" only not quite as derivative as that makes it sound.

BryanP

Breda said...

Tam, there's hope. A woman I work with at the library taught herself Latin and Greek. She's now working on Macedonian.

Good luck!

Will said...

Drat! Had Latin in 7th and 8th, in a private school. Don't recall they had a library. Never even thought about books in Latin. I was reading 2 books a day, every day, throughout school. Talk about a blind spot, sheesh.

Jeff the Baptist said...

1984 is good. But if that is the first book, A Brave New World ought to be the second. Their opposite sides of the same damning coin.

srone said...

On the 1st book to read idea. I might agree with "1984" being a stronger choice than "Brave New World", but the best choice would be "1985" by Anthony Burgess, of "Clockwork Orange" fame. It is basically "1984" updated to todays twisted sensibilities. Although logically, "1984" does come before "1985."

Ross said...

Oh, my... my dream library? *drool*

OK, no question here: it will have the complete works of H. Beam Piper, including Only The Arquebus (burned before he committed suicide) and the sequel to Murder In The Gunroom (ditto), as well as HIS version of Fuzzies and Other People, not that abomination that was published several years ago. Hell, as long as I'm dreaming, it'll have all the books in it that he WOULD have written had he only known that Analog was going to buy that story... and NOT committed suicide.