Wednesday, October 25, 2006


A book meme

Cheating slightly on my content rules, but this came through via email, and dammit, it's relevent. Anyhow, it's sneaking under the wire because I won't tag anyone, but if anyone would care to be tagged then they're more than welcome to post here, there or anywhere. Or just sing along.

Total number of books owned:

Absolutely no idea. Vast numbers. Reinforced floor demanding quantities. Unfortunately they aren't all in the same place, or even the same country. It boils down to:

40 smallish boxes (bigger than a breadbin, smaller than a teachest) in storage,
Carrier bag at one relative's. I think it's a supermarket one.
Shoe box at another's. Male relative, size 13 feet.
15 or so boxes in another's attic.
(none of these people know about each other…)

Two shelves here.

All this, despite my occasional ruthless periods when I cut a swathe through the paperbacks like the barbarian hordes of old. I'm slowly coming round to the notion of eventually retiring to a house constructed entirely of used novels. I'll probably tile the roof with old category fiction.

Last book bought:

These days, I buy in bulk when I get to a bookstore that sells in a language I can read. Some of them can see me coming from miles away and rub their hands in glee - I suspect it's the wild-eyed stare or something. Anyhow, I'm in a dark and grisly mood at the moment, so last trip's haul included:

Petty Treason Madeleine E. Robins
Triptych Karen Slaughter
Break no Bones Kathy Reichs
About three Lindsay Davis (glomming)
Sacred Pain Ariel Glucklich (have read it, but it was in the sale rack so couldn't resist - yes, he needs an umlaut, but the yesterday's post exhausted my supply of diacritics)
The Magic Circle of Rudolf II Peter Marshall
The Surgeon of Crowthorne Simon Winchester - the OED, murder and insanity. What's not to love?

Last book read:

That's not on the above list? Uhh… There's a half-read Angela Knight floating around the flat that I just haven't been able to finish. Not what I fancy right now. I've usually got a fiction and a non-fiction on the go. Just finished off Zero: The Biography of a Dangerous Idea (Charles Seife)

Five books you remember:

I think I'll do ones I haven't mentioned before here.

So, in some kind of chronological order of encounter.

Anne of Green Gables I was so obsessed with this series as a child that I used Mum's rouge and red felt-tip markers to try to make my hair red. Haven't read it in years, because I'm worried the magic won't be there.

Pigs Have Wings. Actually, I want to say everything by P.G. Wodehouse. This just floated to the surface of my brain 'cos it has pigs in it and is the most recent one I've picked up. Perfect comfort reads, with added glamour factoid: he was published by Mills & Boon. Really. Him and Georgette Heyer and Jack London were all stablemates.

Good Omens is responsible for the first time I ever managed to clear a space on a train through uncontrollable insane laughter. Although the mildly goth outfit and aura of teenage angst probably helped. I think I own about three copies in varying states of decay because I have to read it annually.

The Age of Extremes. I could have picked a tonne of stuff in this area, but it's all pretty much Hobsbawm's fault. Well, him and the poison dwarf, aka sixth form history teacher. In a major moment of intense geek-girl squeeing excitement, I actually got to touch the man's hand (Hobsbawm's, not the dwarf's) a couple of years ago. Since it took place during a ceremony thingy, I didn't have the chance to actually say anything to him except a choked-up "Thank you". All told, this may have been for the better, since impartial-yet-caring witnesses noted that I was pretty well incoherent. Nonetheless, there is Actual Photographic Evidence of me holding the hand of Eric J. Hobsbawm. Oh, and he said a nice thing too. I did wash the limb eventually.

The Strange Hours Travelers Keep (August Kleinzahler). This was a present from someone I didn't know very well who magically managed to get it exactly right. Just fantastically good poetry, words, ideas. Love it.


fiveandfour said...

I had this big, fat comment all typed up and ready to publish yesterday. Then I got a scary error message and it all went *poof*. Ah well, perhaps that should teach me a lesson about making long comments.

Now, what was I saying?

Oh, right. I was encouraging you to try Anne of Green Gables again. I've read the series all the way through a few times, and Anne a few more than that, well into adulthood and I believe it stands up to the tests of time and maturity quite well. I see her differently now, to be sure, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. Now the Emily of New Moon or Pat series I don't think I could do again (LMM does bittersweet to perfection and I find that can leave a melancholy after-effect in my brain), but Anne...Anne never goes out of style.

And I'll have to look for those last 2 books you mentioned since my tastes are quite similar on the other ones you listed...

EvilAuntiePeril said...

Fiveandfour, I mourn your lost comment, too. Will condole with one of my own...

Really good to know about Anne standing the test of time - I've earmarked her for a revisit if I find a copy. I loved the Emily and Pat books too, but only after I got a bit older. But by that age I never wanted to be them the way I wanted to be Anne.

Probably should elaborate a bit on the Hobsbawm. He's the grandaddy of marxist British history, and reading him at school was the first time I realised that history wasn't dates and facts, but an argument with more layers than a filo pastry-making competition. Then there's the big theories, the social history, the sly humour, the remarkably lucid writing style…

These days marxist history is pretty unfashionable, and his theories and style have been challenged on all fronts. But this is more of a sign of the impact he had on the subject, and he's a great example of well-written, solid "history from below". Bit like Said - you might not like him, but you can't ignore him. And besides, it was reading all the arguments, counter-arguments, rebuttals and interpretations that sparked my fascination in the whole subject.

But the poems? they're truly a delight... Although this is NOT a recommendation, since I recall you and I have similar feelings about that sort of thing. Just a casual passing-by mention of something I've enjoyed, that you never ever have to read. Ever. ;-)

fiveandfour said...

Just a casual passing-by mention of something I've enjoyed, that you never ever have to read. Ever.

Good, so we're clear on that point: I'll read it if I damn well want to...and I'm in the mood...and perhaps if I had a particularly yummy lunch that day...and it's fair weather...and a blue moon is expected that night...and no one freaking bugs me about it between the time when I get the book and the time when I sit down to read it.

You know, it's quite miraculous I read anything, now I think on it.