Wednesday, January 30, 2008

out of my literary mind

With the threat that he would "never read my stinkin' blog ever again" hanging over my head if I did not play along, how could I possibly resist John's invitation to play along with this reading meme? Obviously that threat hits me right where I live, so in the interests of playing nicely with others, here are my stinkin' answers:

Which book do you irrationally cringe away from reading, despite seeing only positive reviews?

Back when everybody was raving about The DaVinci Code, I found myself resenting being told that I simply must read it, so I never did. Now that the bloom is off the rose, of course, and it's been made into a film starring Tom Hank's mullet, I feel vindicated.

For the record, I have also never watched Titanic.

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?

The first person I would invite would be Bridget Jones (Bridget Jones' Diary). Who wouldn't want to drink too much red wine with the delightfully cuddly and self-effacing Ms Jones? We might even go lingerie shopping after a we polish off a couple of bottles and are brave enough to think beyond the granny panties.

Next I would insist that Dag from Generation X join us on some adventures, perhaps a little civil disobedience, a bit of tagging or maybe some automobile expressionism. We would then hit a pub and talk about how shitty the world is.

And for the final person to invite along, I am torn between Nomi Nickel (A Complicated Kindness) or Neville Longbottom (Harry Potter). Nomi would be a good fit, being a fellow rebel and she is wicked funny, but we would need to find her some fake ID to get into the bar. Neville, on the other hand, is ever so brave and would protect us from thugs and evil wizards. Plus he rocks the argyle sweater vest. Oh, I guess he would need fake ID as well.

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?

I am pretty sure I have already read the most boring novel on the planet. Once my neighbour gushingly lent me The Bridges of Madison County,and I actually thought I was going to die of boredom. Or purple prose fever. So I am ready to go whenever the time comes.

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?

Middlemarch by George Eliot. I know it's cited as one of the most important novels of the Victorian era, and that it has been referenced by the Smiths and everything (in How Soon is Now), but it's too damned long.

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?

I realized not long ago that I never in fact actually completed Bill Bryson's A Short History of Nearly Everything, despite listing it as one of my favourite books on my profile. In my defense, I will tell you that I have read 415 of its 478 pages, so I have read more of it than I have not.

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.

For this non-reading VIP, I would recommend a book which is a fast and easy read and which would quickly grab his/her attention. Two books which would fit these criteria are Douglas Coupland's Microserfs (which is a seminal slice of pop culture angst) and Mark Haddon's The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time (because it is the only book I have ever read told from an autistic's viewpoint, and autism is fascinating).

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?

My first choice would have been one of the languages of India, (with the bonus prize being able to understand all those Bollywood epics) until I realized that there are about a gazillion official languages in India. So I'll go with Japanese. But I still won't read any manga.

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 already do this to a certain degree, reading the first paragraph of Shirley Jackson's The Haunting of Hill House every Hallowe'en and the chapter about Geoffrey and Una Alconbury's New Year's Turkey Curry Buffet in Helen Fielding's Bridget Jones' Diary every Christmas. I see no reason why I should not expand this practice to include an entire book once per year. Perhaps I will reread Irvine Welsh's Trainspotting every Robbie Burns Day.

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)?

Besides confirming that I am likely the world's pokiest reader, I now have a new appreciation for and curiosity about graphic novels, which is something I never thought I would ever say. I've also branched out beyond my usual steady diet of novels into more works of non-fiction.

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.

I have long fantasized about having an actual library in the house, with floor to ceiling bookshelves - sturdy shelves that don't sag beneath the weight of all those books - and a sliding ladder that runs around the perimeter of the room. The room would of course also house a couple of deep leather club chairs and a fireplace.


So now it's your turn. In keeping in line with John's fine example, I am going to tag Karen, Dr. Monkey von Monkerstein, Beth, and Phlegmfatale. But if you don't play along, unlike John, I will continue to read your stinkin' blogs. It's just that every time I do, I will shake my head sadly and mutter that I am not mad, just disappointed.


Dr. Monkey Von Monkerstein said...

Yay! What a cool meme! I'll glady do it for you my dear. Thanks for the tag.

Anonymous said...

I hated DVCode so much that I had to restrain myself from throwing it at the wall. Hamster cage liner.

John Mutford said...

The end of every chapter of the DaVinci Code read, "and a sedan zoomed around the corner..." The beginning of the other chapters all read, "...and it narrowly missed him." Yes, it was lame.

I liked your threat. Much less angry than mine, but not less guilt-inducing.

Rositta said...

For what it's worth I have never seen Titanic either and a friend brought me the DaVinci Code while I was in a rehab hospital. I never opened it and still haven't read it to this day...ciao

John Mutford said...

Hey, just read the labels.

Now we are one in everlasting peace.

mellowlee said...

Most enjoyable meme! I feel the same way about the Da Vinci Code. Isn't that funny...maybe one day I will read it. It's totally not on my next book binge shopping list.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

Great, Dr M! Now I can happily keep reading your blog without an overwhelming sense of sorrow.
Looking forward to reading your take on the meme.

How can you do that to your poor hamster, Gifted Typist? Would it not be better to give it maybe a Stephen King book instead?

I guess Dan Brown figured he had a good formula going for him there, John, and why mess with a sure thing.
I excel at instilling guilt; it's one of my stengths. And I love it when people can quote Radiohead lyrics back at me. I feel like we are singing along with Thom and the boys.

You should regift that Da Vanci book, Rositta. Maybe your son would like it for Christmas? I won't tell him if you don't.

I really don't think I can read it now, Mel. The non-reading of it has sort of taken on its own life or something. Maybe the Tom Hanks mullet has something to do with it.

mellowlee said...

I know Barb....I imagine that if I did read it, it would be ruined for that reason... I love to read a book before a movie comes out, because I prefer my own imagination and the writer's description develop a picture in my mind of the characters, and what they look like. After seeing the trailer for the da vinci code over and over again, I'm sure Tom Hanks (and his mullet) would destroy it for me too.

Joe said...

Very cool meme. I keep meaning to somehow keep track of my reading, because I realize now that I'm forgetting what I've read over the past couple of years. I've also resolved to read more fiction, and to go and re-read some of those "classics" that I read in high school and see how I like them now.

Allison said...

As Mel said, enjoyable Meme!

I am with you on The Bridges of Madison County ... well, I actually just saw the movie and I still want those three hours of my life back.

Neville would be a great character to bring to life!

I so would love to have a library one day. I have enough books to fill it. Just need to work on that ladder. ;)

BeckEye said...

Why would you READ Trainspotting? No Ewan McGregor!! No Ewan McGregor's penis!!

I felt the same way about The Catcher in the Rye as you do about The DaVinci Code. I finally did read it and I was just like "eh."

Anonymous said...

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, what a little gem that is.

Anonymous said...

I'm with Bubs on making a reading list. Even terrific reads get forgotten in the mists of time. My favourite guilty pleasure is Ian Rankin's Rebus series. Also Sue Grafton and her ABC mysteries. Belated happy 52nd to Bruno!!

Barbara Bruederlin said...

I usually prefer the book to the movie, as well, Mel, and generally read the book before the movie (except for Fight Club and Trainspotting).

I completely forget most of the pertinent details about a book within a couple of years, too, Bubs. Just recently I did an experiment and went back to reread a novel that I originally read 15 years ago and was glad to find that it still held up.

I know, Al! The ladder is an essential part of the library daydream!
Isn't Neville a joy? He and Kyle Broflovski are the characters I most want to bring to life.
And can I tell you how brave you are to admit to the world that you actually watched The Bridges of Madison County? It takes a real mensch to admit that.

True enough, Beckeye, no Ewen MacGregor's penis, but honestly, we've all seen it about a hundred times now, haven't we? He likes to wave that thing about in every film he is in.
I read Catcher in the Rye about a million years ago; now I am curious what I would think of it now.

Isn't that the truth, Leazwell? It was a fascinating little jewel of a story.

I have only read one Ian Rankin book so far, Berni, but plan to catch up on the rest. Sue Grafton sort of fizzled out for me around M or N, but I understand the stories are getting better again, so I may go back there.

Beth said...

Brilliant! If you'll excuse my bragging, I'm quite like Bridget. Want to invite me to dinner?

And you tagged me! (As did Dr. Monk.) Guess I need to reserve some meme time on Saturday ...

phlegmfatale said...

OK,I'm TOTALLY going to post this meme this weekend, but it will be a pale imitation of your already super-clever and super-cute answers to this blog. I howled when you said Bridges of Madison County was dead-boring - that stuff bores the shit out of me, too. For once, I'm thrilled to be picked for a meme!

Barbara Bruederlin said...

You are quite like Bridget? Oh you are so invited to dinner, Beth! I shall ensure the wine supply is endless.
Looking forward to some fine meme reading on the weekend.

I'm thrilled you're thrilled, Phlegmfatale! And somehow I knew you wouldn't stand for that Madison County nonsense.
It's going to be a grand meme reading weekend around here.

Todd said...

lists lists lists - I have to agree with you about The DaVinci Code - I have not read it or seen it for the mere fact that it was so widely recommended to me by practically everybody.

I guess when I die [obviously not from reading The DaVinci Code], my obituary will probably make reference to the fact that I was the last man on earth who hadn't read that book. "He was loved by many, but he did not live a full life..." you know... lol.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

But see, you and I were right not to cave in to peer pressure, Todd, now that the pendulum has swung around and everybody is shitting on the Da Vinci Code. We were ahead of our time.

Dale said...

I'm with you on the floor to ceiling bookshelves, sounds so damned sexy doesn't it? A few interesting graphic novels I've really enjoyed are "Epileptic" and "The Watchmen", very different but both pretty damned enjoyable. I enjoyed the DaVinci Code and am thinking of getting the Tom Hanks hair extensions.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

Jesus christ, Dale, you just made me shoot coffee out my nose! Take it easy on a girl at this time of morning, will you? Although I am sure you will look completely fetching in your extensions.