Wednesday, May 04, 2005

We interrupt your scheduled knitting rant...

to bring you a book meme. I was tagged by the fabulous and fashionable Anna for my very first meme! Thanks, Anna! And I'm going to start Cold Comfort Farm when I am done with my diss...

1)Total number of books in your house:
Hmm. Based on averaging a couple of shelves' worth and multiplying by the total number of shelves, I've got maybe 600 in the house. That's not including all the books I still have at my parents' though, or the ones in my study cube at school. Maybe 750 total?
2)The last book you bought was:
Non-Fiction--Scarf Style. So pretty. Soon I will knit many scarves from it.
Fiction--Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell. LOVED IT. Susanna Clarke totally nails the 19th-century novel without being pretentious or twee about it. I actually bought this as an audiobook and listened to it when I drove home for Christmas--a 26-hour drive (I won't fly because I refuse to pack Bailey into the cargo hold of a plane, where she would probably die from heat or cold or [most likely of all] fright). Luckily it is an immensely long book and comes out to, I think, 38 hours or so of audio, so I not only got a lot of drive time out of it, but also a lot of knitting time. I am a big fan of knitting to audiobooks, since I haven't yet quite mastered simultaneous reading and knitting.

3)What was the last book you read before reading this?
Never ask a dissertating grad student this question. Officially, the last book I read was No More Separate Spheres!: A Next Wave American Studies Reader. But you don't want to know about that. What you want to know about is Desire and Domestic Fiction: A Political History of the Novel. Right? Or maybe Bardic Nationalism: The Romantic Novel and the British Empire?

Dissertating really cuts into the whole reading-for-pleasure thing.

4)Write down 5 (or 6) books you often read or that mean a lot to you.
1) The Wind in the Willows, by Kenneth Grahame. Total comfort food--I often just read a chapter here and there before I fall asleep, and I always read the Christmas chapter at Christmas, especially if I am feeling grinch-y. I love the drawings as much as the words, I think.

2) The House of Mirth, by Edith Wharton. Not comfort food at all--totally unsettling, in fact, but I love Wharton's ability to be ruthlessly unsentimental about and completely unsparing of both her heroine and her society. 19th century New York was a bitch, man.

3) Emma, by Jane Austen. (Austen? You're shocked, I'm sure.) This one gets better every time I read it, and while I think Austen is more forgiving of Emma than Wharton is of Lily Bart, she's still pretty sharp. But it all comes right in the end, doesn't it? Everyone to their appointed places in society... (I also adore this book's contemporary male avatars, About a Boy and High Fidelity, both by Nick Hornby)

4). The His Dark Materials trilogy, by Phillip Pullman. Gorgeous and dark--like Harry Potter plus the Chronicles of Narnia divided by atheism and quantum physics. Technically these are children's books, but I don't know how well I would have handled them as a child. Love them now though. Also, I hope trilogies/series aren't cheating, because

5) Dorothy Dunnett's The House of Niccolo series. Basically I am a big huge nerd and loooove historical fiction, and this is historical fiction at its best, I think--meticulously researched, engagingly told, and completely addictive. There are 8 long books in this series. I've read through it twice (the first time, they were the only non-school-related books I read for almost a whole year), and am so looking forward to reading it again. Although why I don't just throw my hands up and go to Renaissance Faires instead I'm sure I don't know.

And 6) The Other End of the Leash, by Patricia McConnell. If you have a dog, you really, really need to own this book. I don't think I would have gotten through my first couple of Bailey-months without it. It's not a training book, per se, although it does have training tips; it's really more about how we relate to and communicate with dogs physically. It all seems so obvious once you read it (Hey! dogs don't have hands, or talk! So they don't really understand you when you shout and wave your hands at them!), but it was revelatory for me. Plus, here is the picture on the front.

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Now I am totally going to cheat and just mention the books I have read pretty recently (in the past year, say) that I think you should read:
The Time Traveler's Wife, by Audrey Niffeneger (sad and beautiful); The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime, by Mark Haddon (uncanny in its evocation of autism); Rats, by Robert Sullivan (gross but fascinating); The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini (brutal, spare, enlightening); Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight, by Alexandra Fuller (how glad am I that my childhood did not involve automatic weapons?); Middlesex, by Jeffrey Eugenides (the epic and the domestic in one body).

5)Who are you going to pass this onto and why?
I will pass to Cordelia and Vicki, who are kind enough to comment here regularly, and Shelby, who has been reading since I started blogging. (If they want it, that is--no pressure.) And Shelby, if you want to play, I'm especially interested to know what books you absolutely cannot wait to read to Appleseed!

Ooh, update, because I am an idiot and did not notice that Anna tagged Vicki too. Instead, I am tagging Sydney, because I want to know what they are making the kids read in college these days. And because she liked His Dark Materials.

6 Comments:

Anonymous Andrea said...

Thanks for the book recommendations! I loved both _Don't Let's Go_ and _Middlesex_.

5/04/2005 2:52 PM  
Anonymous Sydney said...

I'm a huge fan of the Dark Materials books. I read them last summer and then listened to them on CD this year. Children's lit is something of a hobby of mine, and Pullman's books are especially interesting because they're a comment/criticism on the trajectory of children's lit. He wrote them as a pretty direct refutation of C.S. Lewis' Narnia books, and together the two series consitute an incredibly interesting and contradicting set of views on the nature of childhood and religion and death and all sorts of big issues.

5/04/2005 3:20 PM  
Anonymous Shelby said...

We've been listening to His Dark Materials on cd - so frickin' good! And a couple of your recent reads are on my shelves waiting for me - Time Travelers Wife and Kite Runner. Thanks for the tag, this will be fun :-)

5/04/2005 3:33 PM  
Anonymous anna said...

the His Dark Materials trilogy was fabulous I agree. I cried like a baby at the end of the last one, you know with her, and the boy. Cold Comfort Farm is wonderful, I hope you enjoy it. I like to imagine myself as Flora (the heroine) - emminently sensible, practical yet styleeeesh... ; P

i've been procrastinating over Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, mostly because its just so BIG, and i don't generally venture into the 'fantasy' section of the bokshop (or the bookshop), but I think i'll give it a try. And I've never read any Edith Wharton. Nor, for that matter, any Charles Dickens.

Go to a renaissance fair. Wear a wimple. Take pictures.

5/05/2005 11:53 AM  
Blogger KnittenKnots said...

Wow - you and I read the same books. We've got almost identical "books I've read recently lists" - although I haven't read Rats or The Kite Runner yet. The others were all quite good. I actually had quite a crush on Henry while reading the Time Traveller's Wife...not sure if that makes me extremely weird or not. I'll have to check out The Other End of the Leash sometime. I've got a book by Stanley Coren called "How to Speak Dog" that sounds similar. Anyhow, thanks for thinking of me for the meme - this one was right up my alley.

5/05/2005 3:57 PM  
Anonymous laurie said...

Oooooooh, I had not considered the audiobook andle. because me? Knit and read at the same time? HA HA HA.

I'll have to check out the His Dark Materials books, are they anything like the Lloyd Alexader books? Did you ever get into those?

5/09/2005 4:21 PM  

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