Thursday, 11 October 2007

More Book Stuff

In September Bub and Pie tagged me for a meme about books. Five questions about books, as a matter of fact. And then last week she produced a meme answer to a question created by Veronica Mitchell. The question:

Ten Literary Characters I Would Totally Make Out With If I Were Single and They Were Real But I’m Not, Single I Mean, I Am Real, But I’m Also Happily Married and Want to Stay That Way So Maybe We Should Forget This.

B and P's book posts are always memorable, but she has surpassed herself with the 'Snoggably Delicious post. After I managed to stop laughing, I just had to do it. And so I am combining the questions.

Here we go.

Total Number of Books
I had to do this calculation for another meme I did a while ago. A bit over 1000 and still accumulating, in spite of the number I give away, sell second hand and lose when the YD raids my bookshelves. Augmented by about three a week from the library, those I borrow from a neighbour with a similar obsession about Sci Fi and Fantasy and those I borrow from the YD (and, mostly, return.) Number read. All of them, many more than once. Lenses on my glasses? really thick.

Last Book Read
A library book, The Alphabet Versus the Goddess, The conflict Between Word and Image, by Leonard Shlain. 432 pages, plus notes.

This is a somewhat overwritten and heavily layered treatise on left and right brain dichotomy and how it affects society. In spite of this rather turgid style, I found the thesis to be persuasive. Writing, he says, is left brained, linear and 'masculine' and societies that adopt it go through identifiable phases of austerity, misogyny and madness because they deny the right brained, intuitive and feminine parts of themselves. Our society, he says, has come through this and because of photography, typing and computer literacy is entering' a new Golden Age' with increased values of 'tolerance, caring and respect for nature' and for the rights of women. I love this prediction. The man is working on a macro time scale, however, and it is unlikely that I will be around long enough to see if he is right.

Last Book Bought
Teaching is a Learning Experience, A For Better or For Worse Collection by Lynn Johnston. This is a comic book.. Johnson has been putting out these collections for a long time and we addicts rush to buy each one as soon as it hits the shelves. If you don't know her work, I commend it to you. The best introduction is The Lives Behind the Lines. If you do know it, here's notice that the '07 collection is available.

Five Meaningful Books
1.) The King James Bible and the Anglican Book of Common Prayer, 1939 version. The language in these books informed and intoxicated me from about the age of seven upwards. I loved the sonorous, rolling periods, the antique words and constructions and the sheer opulence of the language. I read through the whole thing the first time looking for the amazing stories, skipping what I did not understand or what bored me. Then I started over again. And again. When I discovered that Jane's father, in LMM's Jane of Lantern Hill, also reveled in the language and stories, I felt a strong sense of identification. Speaking of LMM, I would have to put in a nomination for beddable character for Kenneth Ford's father, Owen Ford, in Anne's House of Dreams. He's far more fleshed out than Kenneth.

2.) Tolkein's The Lord of the Rings trilogy. I read The Hobbit first, and when I discovered TLOTR, in my first year at university, I was hooked. The language, the world he created, the depth and colour. I had been reading all the fantasy books I could get my hands on all through high school, but this was so much more.
Beddable character? How about Gandalf? How cool would that be! Or if you want a slightly more approachable version, Barbara Hambly's Antryg in the Windrose Chronicles or Ingold in the Darwath Trilogy.
3.) The Last Days of Pompeii. I tried to take this out of my school library when I was, maybe, eight. It was not on my grade's approved shelf and the librarian made me read her a page of it before I was allowed to take it home. This, of course, meant that reading the whole thing was a point of honour. And I discovered classical Rome. And historical fiction. And the rest, as they say, is history. My favourite historical fiction series is Dorothy Dunnett's Chess sextet. Francis Crawford has got to be one of the most toothsome males ever created. And highly skilled, as Dunnett makes quite clear.
4.) Charles Darwin's The Voyage of the Beagle. I read this when I was supposed to be revising Lucretius' De Rerum Natura for a final exam. A whole world of new things, places and ideas spread out before my enchanted eyes. I've never reread it, but I've been an avid consumer of natural history books ever since. And I failed the exam, needless to say. A snog connection? Lucretius and Darwin both strike me as having been dry old sticks and down on women. At a real stretch, however, I did a make up course in Latin which included Catullus. Milia basia, deinde centum? Hmm.
5.) Jane Austin. Persuasion is my favourite. There is not, for me, a beddable character in the lot, however, mostly because I don't think Austin took her imagination that far. Now if you consider Darcy after Elizabeth has been married to him for a while and has managed to loosen him up, I might be interested. If we weren't both married.

To catch my interest, a paper guy has to appear to know how to give a girl a good time. And not too overtly either. That's one of the best things about Lord Peter -- Sayers leaves the details to the reader. You can have Jondelar; he never varies his technique. In Bub And Pie's comments, Nikki mentions Jamie Fraser, which is a thought, but he is so married. It's not the good body thing that does it for me, either. I am struggling to remember the title of an historical fiction novel in which the heroine goes to bed with a man with a deformed spine, simply because he needs her so much, and is wonderfully well served. Sigh. Short term memory short circuit. It was set in Italy or Spain, I think? Ring a bell with anyone? Speaking of bells, I had an adolescent crush on Hemmingway's men, but I don't think I would be turned on now. The silent type could quickly pall. Which lets out Lawrence's Mellor, fascinating as I found it when the book was illicit. Illicit is a turn on. Anne Rice can sure do that. Better stop this!

I've been too disorganized to know who has done either of these memes. If you haven't, and like the idea, you're tagged. Please let me know, so that we can continue in this delightful vein.


  1. Oh how very this. Of course I want to do it and of course it will have to be a while.

    I have a character in a book I have an absolute passion for and it disturbs me deeply that there is this world and he is not in it. He is Sharon Kay Penman's Queen's Man.

    If you have not read her books and you have any liking for history, you should.

    Using My Words

  2. Owen Ford, mmmm. (Though my first thought is, He's too old for me! Because when I first read that book he was a grown-up and I wasn't.)