Book Challenge: Bricks, Melville, Shamelessness

What's On the Bookshelf?

Day 16: Longest book you’ve read

I’m actually not sure what the longest book I’ve read is. Its either one of the Robert Jordan Wheel of Time books (I’ve only read the first three or four) or Victor Hugo’s epic Les Miserables.

I read an unabridged translation of Les Miserables back in December/January. It took me six days (that’s a LOT of reading). I started a reread (different unabridged translation) back in May. I’m still reading it on and off, but as you can see, I’ve read a lot this year.

Let me just say, this book weighs a ton. When I bought my paperback copy, the cashier asked if I wanted a truck to bring it home in. I replied that mortar would be all I needed–I was going to use it as the cornerstone to my house.
Day 17: Shortest book you’ve read

A children’s book, probably. I’m sure I read some 24 pagers in my childhood, but I can’t recall any of them. So, shortest adult book that I’ve read? Herman Melville’s Billy Budd. I hated every minute of it, and was extremely happy it was only 90 pages long.
Day 18: Book you’re most embarrassed to say you like

I have no shame whatsoever in books I read. Roald Dahl’s children’s books? Love them. Harry Potter? My generation, baby. Tolkien? Lewis? Lloyd Alexander? No shame.

I take great pride in making the librarians look shiftily at the books I check out. The more atypical, the better. Seven Pillars of Wisdom, Les Miserables, Band of Brothers? I relish in the shocked expressions. Clearly I look like the sort of girl who would be reading scores of chick lit and other, more typical young woman sorts.

Book Challenge: Similarities, Marriage, Precocious Youth

What's On the Bookshelf?

Still have power and internet access. Irene hasn’t hit me full force yet (still another hour to go), so have a blog post and those on the East Coast, stay dry.

Thirteen: Book whose main character is most like you

Without a doubt, I see myself most in Stephen Maturin, from Patrick O’Brian’s Aubrey-Maturin series. No, I’m not a laudanum addicted ship’s surgeon/spy, but our personalities are quite similar.

For one, Stephen and I both have dry senses of humor. For another, we’re both incredibly observant, particularly of things that interest us. And we could both spend hours watching insects move about, or birds flying, etc. Or in my case today, watching the rain pelt against the pond in my backyard. For things that hold our interest, nothing can distract us.

And probably most like Stephen, I am always completely oblivious when I’m on a boat. I know port, starboard, bow and stern, but beyond that…honestly, why would ropes be called ‘sheets’? They don’t look like bedsheets in the slightest.
Fourteen: Book whose main character you want to marry

Well, I’m probably the first girl who has said “Not Mr Darcy.” Why? Well, from what I have gleaned about the character (from film adaptations rather than reading Pride and Prejudice), I’m far too much like him for any relationship to work. We’d end up annoying each other to no end. That or ignoring each other.

I really can’t think of any book character who I would want to marry. Perhaps its because I don’t think of characters as potential mates, knowing that they are fictional.
Fifteen: First “chapter book” you can remember reading as a child

This is an easy one, perhaps the easiest of all the questions! The first chapter book I read as a child was Ann Rinaldi’s A Break With Charity, which I read when I was eight. Yeah. I was eight.

Anyways, the book was about the Salem Witch Trials. Being a New Englander, this was pretty interesting, especially because the event happened in (essentially) my backyard.

Ann Rinaldi remained one of my favorite writers from that point until middle school. I just haven’t read anything of her’s since. I never reread A Break With Charity. But I remember loving it.

Book Challenge: Relevatory, Scotland, Hobbits

What's On the Bookshelf?

This was a tough batch of questions to answer. I’m sure I have answered these before, but…but time passes, people change.

And if it takes me a while to post anything more, that’s because Irene’s hit. I’ll be surrounded by books and boardgames for the next little while. That, or I’ll be cleaning. 🙂

Ten: Book that changed your life

There’s something about books that is intrinsically life changing. It’s a cliche, but books really do open doors, new understandings of the world.

For me, one of the most life changing books I read was Page by Tamora Pierce.

I don’t really remember the particulars of the book, the second in a series about a girl who becomes a knight. I do remember that this was the book where I first started ‘thinking like a writer’ as I termed it. I started to pay attention to how the book was written, thinking, “Why did Tamora Pierce choose this word?” as I read.

In all honesty, I don’t remember much about this book, apart from being a huge Pierce fan for about 18 months. I think I read this series three or four times, the same with her other quartets. By the time I reached high school, I had put Ms. Pierce’s books aside, fondly remembered, but sadly forgotten.

Eleven: Book from your favorite author

I have to choose a favorite author? Why are you doing this to me, oh great Book Meme? I don’t have a favorite author.

As I’m moving to Scotland, I’ll include a book by one of my favorite Scottish Authors. Who is dead.

The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde remains one of my favorite of Robert Louis Stevenson’s stories. I have been known to carry it in my purse, for days when I know I’ll need something to read. I like the way the story is written, the creepiness of (unnecessary spoiler alert), Hyde and Jekyll being the same man. Also, hearing the story of Deacon Brodie the first time I was in Edinburgh, and how Stevenson may have been thinking of Brodie when he wrote this book makes it stick in my memory.
I probably read The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde every other year. Its one of those stories that improves with each reread.

Twelve: Book that is most like your life

The Lord of the Rings. I’m really a hobbit out to support my friend in his quest to destroy the One Ring. Hello, my name is Samwise Gamgee.

Thing is, I’m being serious. Applying for college, my admissions essay was “Why I’m like Samwise Gamgee.” And while I don’t battle orcs, go on quests, or wander into Mordor, at the end of the day, I’m a loyal, resourceful person who stands by her friends, through thick and thin. I might not face the Nazgul, but hey.

Okay, so that’s a bit of a stretch. But bear with me. I haven’t read any books about nerdy former Bostonians. 🙂

Book Challenge: Recitation, Frightenings, Nausea

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Day Three of the Book Challenge. You sick of this yet? I’m not. But I think I will be, quite soon.

Seven: Book You Can Quote/Recite

Recitation. Quotation. I actually have great difficulty remembering exact words if they aren’t sung, so rarely do I quote books perfectly. There’s usually some mess ups here and there.

I’m most proud of the fact that I can quote part of Inferno (in Italian) and I know what it means. Continuing on the Dante kick, I would love to be able to quote one of the poems out of La Vita Nuova.

Tanto gentile e tanto onesta pare

la donna mia, quand’ella altrui saluta,

ch’ogne lingua deven tremando muta,

e li occhi no l’ardiscon di guardare.

Ella si va, sentendosi laudare,

benignamente d’umiltà vestuta;

e par che sia una cosa venuta

da cielo in terra a miracol mostrare.

Mostrasi sì piacente a chi la mira,

che dà per li occhi una dolcezza al core,

che ‘ntender no la può chi non la prova:

e par che de la sua labbia si mova

un spirito soave pien d’amore,

che va dicendo a l’anima: ‘Sospira!’

I love that poem. I really, truly do.

Eight: Book that Scares You

By and large, I don’t read books that are scary. I’m more likely to watch scary movies than read horror books.

But you know what does scare me? Diseases. Real world stuff. So, book that scared me? My textbook for my Emerging Infectious Diseases class.

My friends and I would read the book, and end up diagnosing ourselves. Never wise. Also, in Boston you are highly unlikely to get any of the exotic diseases found in Africa.

Nine: Book that Makes You Sick

No book has made me physically ill, I’m proud to say. But there are some where the descriptions have moved me to grimace (I’d love to watch my face as I read. I’ve noticed that I make some really funny feeling expressions if I get really into a book).

Sick with dread, perhaps.

I recently finished Seven Pillars of Wisdom by T. E. Lawrence. I read it following a biography on the man, which made following it easier. But there was also a sense of dread. I knew about some of the more terrible instances in the book because the bio addressed them, in some cases I had even read these sections, as Korda felt Lawrence’s words were better than his for certain situations, particularly Lawrence’s abuse at the hands of the Turks in Deraa.

Reading the Deraa section, indeed, knowing it was coming, put my stomach in knots. It didn’t make things any better when I got to that part.

On a more humorous note, reading about sheep-pyramid feasts didn’t help the hunger level. Ugh…

Book Challenge: Crying, Residing, and Young Adult

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Day Two of the 30 Day Book Challenge! Which will probably only take 10 days, if I keep answering three questions a go.

Four: Book that Made You Cry

As I said yesterday, I rarely cry when reading books. But Band of Brothers nearly brought me to tears when I read it two years ago. If I hadn’t had to run out immediately after finishing, I would have cried. The ending was perfect, hit me right in the gut.

And you know, I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

Five: Book You Wish You Could Live In

I would live in the 44 Scotland Street series. The books are funny, warm and make me happy. I’d visit Big Lou’s cafe for my cappuccinos everyday and talk with Angus about painting, and Big Lou about whatever it is she happens to be reading at the time. And sneeze a lot because I’m allergic to dogs (sorry Cyril).

But what’s this? Not Harry Potter? Not the world of Patrick O’Brian’s masterful historical fiction novels?

Well, Harry Potter would be fun, but to be frank, I think I’d be a rubbish witch. That, and there are enough threats in the Muggle world, I really don’t want to have to worry about Lord Voldemort as well!

And for O’Brian’s? I like indoor plumbing. I like being able to attend University. I like being a modern girl. While I’d love to go to recitals with Jack and Stephen, I wouldn’t like to live there.

Six: Favorite Young Adult Book

Easily Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones. I love the characters, the humor, the setting. As I’ve grown up, I’ve gotten more out of the story, including more enjoyment. When I have children (a long time from now), I look forward to sharing this book with them.

Howl’s Moving Castle is one of those books that I consider a ‘comfort book.’ Reading the book, revisiting the characters, laughing, smiling–I love it. If I’m in a bad mood, or feeling stressed, I just pick up this book, read it, and I feel better immediately. You can’t beat that.

Book Challenge: Love, Loathe and Laughter

What's On the Bookshelf?

Day one of the 30 Book Challenge. I’m not particularly tied to doing 30 individual posts, so I thought I’d do three at a time, or however many I feel like.

One: Favorite Book

Confession time. I don’t have a favorite book. There isn’t One Book to Rule Them All. It really depends on the genre, the day, and what I’ve been reading lately.

So, favorite book I’ve read this summer? Probably Hero: The Life and Legend of Lawrence of Arabia by Michael Korda.

Other favorite books: Les Miserables by Victor Hugo, Over to You by Roald Dahl, The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien and the 44 Scotland Street series by Alexander McCall Smith.

Two: Least Favorite Book

Surprisingly, this is an easy one for me to answer. It’s easily The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenger. You can read my reasons. To summarize: The romance struck me as creepy, the blind acceptance of determinism, and lack of morality and logistics.

Three: Book that Makes You Laugh Out Loud

It takes a really special book to make me laugh out loud. It takes an even more special book to make me cry. That rarely happens when reading.

But back to the laughter. There are a couple of books that have reduced me to stitches. Closing Time by Joseph Heller (the sequel to Catch-22) had me giggling at the Kafka jokes most of all.

The most out-loud guffaws I’ve had while reading has been in my rereading of the 44 Scotland Street books. This reading has been closer. My favorite has been a comment on the length of modern sentences versus Proustian ones.