Thursday, January 31, 2008

Bookin' It

my library-mate, Wilfred Hyde-White

My bloggy hero and the future President of these United States Dr. Monkey von Monkerstein did a book-related meme that piqued my interest -- so I stole it even though he didn't tag me. And because Splotchy has declared that February is No Meme Month, I figured I'd better get busy and post this one. Here it is:
Which book do you irrationally cringe away from reading, despite seeing only positive reviews?
Anything by James Joyce. Looks ponderous and boring.

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?
Nick Caraway from The Great Gatsby
Denver from Beloved
Hermione from the Harry Potter series
We’d probably just have a nice dinner together, lots of good food and wine. A very long evening with lots of good conversation and some magic.

You are told you can't die until you read the most boring novel on the planet. While this immortality is great for a while, eventually you realise it's past time to die. Which book would you expect to get you a nice grave?
Henry James’ Portrait of a Lady –THE most boring book evah!

Which book have you pretended, or at least hinted, that you've read, when in fact you've been nowhere near it?
I’m embarrassed to say this, but it’s Orwell’s 1984. I was supposed to read it in my 10th grade English class, and I've always wanted to read it since then. For some reason, though, I haven’t. I need to.

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?
I don’t think so—there are plenty of books that I don’t remember reading until I pick them up again, though.

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?
Chalmers Johnson’s The Sorrows of Empire, because it contains a good review of US and world history and penetrating analysis of our imperial actions (and their long-range effects) since the 1800s. It should be required reading for every American, especially politicians.

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?
Russian. I’d love to read Dr. Zhivago, The Brothers Karamazov, Anna Akhmatova’s poetry, and Solzhenitzyn in the original Russian.

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?
Wow. Well, the easy answer is either of the last two Harry Potter books, but for true literature I’d pick Toni Morrison’s Beloved or Melville's Moby Dick.

What's one bookish thing you 'discovered' from book blogging (maybe a new genre, or author, or new appreciation for cover art-anything)?
I have never read anything by Don DeLillo, but Dr. Monkerstein’s recommendation and synopsis of Libra makes me want to read it.

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 don’t care much about the condition of the books themselves (as long as they’re not falling apart), but I would definitely have all the novels by the major American, African, and Chinese writers; a huge science collection including two of my favorite subjects, meteorology and astronomy; a huge forensic science and criminalistics collection with all the best scholarship in those fields; and of course a copy of the OED (all 20-whatever volumes, with magnifying glass). My bookcases would be floor to ceiling, wall to wall, a little like the bookcase I built for Kat (see photo below) in our living room, and I’d have one of those sliding ladder thingies. And it would be multiple stories with one of those spiral staircases, much like Henry Higgins’ library in My Fair Lady. In fact, it would look exactly like that, only even bigger and with more books. And Colonel Pickering would be there to read with me and to be his cute little Wilfred Hyde-White self.


CDP said...

Nice! And I agree on Ulysses and Finnegan's Wake (I take with a grain of salt any claim from anyone that either of these is a favorite), but try Dubliners. They might be the best short stories ever written; "The Dead" certainly IS the best short story ever written.

Dr. Monkey Von Monkerstein said...

I couldn't remember if you did meme or not, that's why I didn't tag you. Libra is a great book I think you'll enjoy it if you pick it up.

Splotchy said...

I really like the opportunity of instantly comprehending a foreign language.

Some of my favorite books are translated, and I always wonder if they're even better in their original language (I can't imagine them being worse).

Randal Graves said...

Oh, a giant library would be nice where I can hide from the wankery of the world and just read and write. En français, bien sûr.

dguzman said...

CDP--I think I tried to read "The Dead" and didn't like it--but that was a long time ago. I might give it another try. I'm sure I have it in one of my old Norton anthologies left over from my teaching days.

Dr. M--no problem--I'm certainly not above thievery. I'm fascinated by anything to do with JFK's assassination, so I will definitely look for this book. Thanks!

Splotch--exactly. While the translation of Solzhenitzyn's Gulag Archipelago captured (I'm guessing) a lot of his sarcasm etc., I'd still like to read it in Russian.

Randal--Definitely, just a peaceful asshole-free zone where I can revel in language.

FranIAm said...

This is such a great post- I thought I had left a comment, but the fine folks at Blogger may have done away with it... I hate when that happens.

I love your bookcase!

Give "The Dead" another try, totally worth it IMO.

Dr. Zaius said...

Wilfred Hyde-White is the greatest!