Monday, January 18, 2010

A Meme about Books

I haven't indulged in these for a while, but this one intrigued me. I nicked it from Sheenagh Pugh's blog which is well worth reading in any case.

1. Which book has been on your shelves the longest?

Lord of the Rings – sorry!

2. What is your current read, your last read and the book you'll read next?

Currently reading Mainstream Love Hotel. Just finished The Lost Symbol, because I like reading pulp and giving out about it just as much as anyone else!

3. What book did everyone like and you hated?

Brooklyn by Colm Toibin. I really wanted to like it, but I got a bit annoyed with the heroine in the end. Probably just me being curmudgeonly, because I know the book went on to win great honours for its author, so it must be good.

4. Which book do you keep telling yourself you'll read, but you probably won't?

Ulysses by you-know-who. I know the plot, the characters and the story: I just need to read the damn thing.

5. Which book are you saving for "retirement?"

Isn’t that a bit ahead – who knows what I’ll be doing then!

6. Last page: read it first or wait till the end?

If I get annoyed with the book I will do this, but I’ll still read the rest of it. Mainly I wouldn’t do this on myself, as I enjoy holding back too much.

7. Acknowledgments: waste of ink and paper or interesting aside?

I can see both sides to that argument. A publisher I know said it was better to try and be concise, rather than thanking everyone, including the cat. Funnily enough, established writers don’t have long Ack. lists, if at all.

8. Which book character would you switch places with?

Watson, from Sherlock Holmes. I’d love to see Holmes in action, see the way his mind worked. I reckon I might have a bit of trouble in the trouser department, though.

9. Do you have a book that reminds you of something specific in your life (a person, a place, a time)?

I have a book that I bought second-hand: Richard Scarry’s Big Book of Words. I bought it because it was the first book my parents bought me after a trip they had away and I loved it the way some kids love a teddy bear, or doll. I did let the kids read it – I’m not that precious – but I have reclaimed it, to ‘pass on.’

10. Name a book you acquired in some interesting way.

The Crowning Privilege, a book of Oxford lectures by Robert Graves. It was the first, and probably the last, book I bought on eBay. It was brilliant – Graves had a strange mind when it came to poetry and how it worked – if you’re in any doubt about that, try reading The White Goddess.

11. Have you ever given away a book for a special reason to a special person?

I find it extremely hard to part with books, but I have given them away - I gave a signed copy of a Billy Collins poetry collection to a dear friend of mine. I regretted it instantly, but she adored it.

12. Which book has been with you to the most places?

Probably that copy of The Lord of the Rings. It has moved house with me countless times.

13. Any "required reading" you hated in high school that wasn’t so bad ten years later?

Thomas Hardy’s Far From the Madding Crowd. I hated it in secondary school, but loved it later as one of twelve 19th c novels I had to read for a literature course.

14. What is the strangest item you’ve ever found in a book?

Dried flowers. And a shopping list. Not in the same book, obviously. Although who knows..?

15. Used or brand new?

I like both. I love the smell that second-hand books have, slightly musty and, well, bookish, but I love the feel of a book that hasn’t been opened yet, cracking the spine of it – that sort of thing.

16. Stephen King: Literary genius or opiate of the masses?

I’ve read him, but I don’t like categorising. Pass.

17. Have you ever seen a movie you liked better than the book?

I had reservations about Peter Jackson tackling LOTR. But I thought he did very well in the end. Can’t think of any movies that are better than the book, because I do like both mediums and also I like the world I create in my own head when I read a book.

18. Conversely, which book should NEVER have been introduced to celluloid?

Uh, can't think.

19. Have you ever read a book that's made you hungry, cookbooks being excluded from this question?

Paradise by Abdul Razzak Gurnah. It was aching. It made me hungry to experience eastern Africa. But that part of Africa probably doesn’t exist any more. All the more reason why the book worked for me.

20. Who is the person whose book advice you'll always take?

I used to have a great friend who was always dropping in really interesting books and CDs. Alas we don’t live in the same town anymore, but I always read those books – many of which I still have.

Now, if you feel like having a go at this yourself - nominate yourself. Go on, you know you want to!


Rachel Fox said...

This is a good one and I love your open-minded,open-genred take on the whole subject.

I had a disagreement online with someone the other week about Dan Brown books...I said that some of the sniping about his books from lit folk actually works in his favour (and I know this for a least in one case!). The more people slag him off in the papers the more some people think 'sod, what they say, I'll give x book of his a try and make up my own mind'. I've yet to read any of his books but I have read other pulp now and again (to use your word). As much as anything you can't slag it if you've never tried it!

And speaking of slagging, I hated a Toibin book I read a while back (about an Spain I think). I can't think of any words to describe it that aren't x rated either. It was just total wank. Sorry Barbara.

I haven't read Ulywhat's it either. Started it a couple of times.


BarbaraS said...

I see Rachel, I'm in good company *big grin*

Michael Farry said...

Agree with you about Brooklyn, didn't like it at all.

Niamh B said...

Haven't tried Brooklyn, and slightly inclined not to now! This is a great booklovers meme - I shall be endeavouring to have a go.

apprentice said...

A great meme B. My problem would be remember the titles, I'd tell you everything about the book -bar the title and author :)

I'm reading Alice Munro's Too Much Happiness, it is breathtakingly good. There something about Canadians facility with words, especially fiction and lyrics, they're in a class of their own.

Rachel Fenton said... do I buy Brooklyn or not? And I was so looking forward to I'll have to read it to prove you wrong - I know it'll be great!

I like this...I might have a go...

Sheenagh Pugh said...

"Funnily enough, established writers don’t have long Ack. lists, if at all."

Possibly they have run out of friends....

BarbaraS said...

LOL Sheenagh - that's true, if one thinks of the Amises of the world ;) Thanks for dropping by!

Rachel, I bet you do like it - an opinion is purely personal, at the end of the day

and Niamh I hope not to put anyone else off Brooklyn either - try it from your library instead?

Apprentice, you've reminded me that I may have a book of short stories by Alice Munro hanging around somewhere waiting to be read. Have you read Mavis Gallant? Nuala Ni Chnochuir recommended her work last year, and I've still to finish that book - I got distracted by other things - good job you reminded me.

Michael, something else we agree upon ;)

Liam Guilar said...

The Crowning Privilege, in fact anything Graves wrote on poetry...I love him for his willful wrong headedness and his absolute refusal to stand back or step down on matters of taste.
DO you like his poetry?

BarbaraS said...

I like both his poetry and prose. I'm re-reading his Goodbye To All That at the moment, before which I was reading his short stories, and after that I'll probably re-read what I have in his poetry (been having a rearrange in my bookshelves and pleased with what I'm re-finding) I do like him for probably the same reasons you do. He so ploughed his own furrow and when he got fed up with England he just fecked off to Majorca... a rum 'un, eh?

Dick said...

Interesting how for so many readers 'Lord of the Rings' transcends the borders of taste, genre preference, prejudice. It remains one of my most joyfully absorbed reads ever.

Great meme, Barbara. I'm having this one!

Liam Guilar said...

Graves is one of the household gods. When I heard a recording of him reading, he sounded exactly as I had imagined him.
'Goodbye' is a fine, cranky book? I did three years of Old English and no one remotely suggested it was enjoyable as poetry, then i read his comments about it and felt vindicated.
Mr. Graves; "Milton and Wordsworth and a lot of other famous poets couldn't write. Having died in the first world war, I shall never take orders from anyone ever again." (Unless her name is Laura Riding.)
imagine him running a poetry writing workshop...
great set of questions by the way.

BarbaraS said...

I would so love to attend one of Graves' workshops too - wouldn't it be fab!

Dick, work away - I nicked it too :)


I didn't like Brooklyn either!

BarbaraS said...

Phew - now I feel a bit better - I hated admitting that, but feel better it's out in the open, thanks N :)