Sunday, August 13, 2006


I'm not sure how I managed to completely miss this post of Jayme's, but he's tagged me with a book meme that's been wending its way through Blogistan. I can't remember if I've done this particular meme or not already (it looks kind of familiar, but then, by the time you reach 4.5 years of blogging, all of it starts to look kind of familiar), but I'll do it again anyway:

1. One book that changed your life?

Ben Hur, or, A Tale of the Christ, by Lew Wallace. I've never read it, actually. But if Wallace hadn't written the book, the movie with Charlton Heston wouldn't have existed. And if that movie hadn't existed, maybe my parents would not have had a first date. (Frankly, I continue to be astonished that my father went to see that movie in a theater anyway. I've never known him to like epic storytelling in any milieu, much less an overtly Biblical one.)

Of course, if I have to name a book that I actually have read, then I'd name Lloyd Alexander's The Book of Three. This was my first encounter with epic fantasy in a made-up land with a map in the front of the book. For me, this book probably did for me in a literary way what Star Wars did to me in a cinematic way.

2. One book you have read more than once?

On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, by Stephen King. Still the best book on writing that I've encountered, although nowadays when I pick it up I expect the book to physically slap me, so little have I written in recent months. (Outside of this space, that is.)

3. One book you would want on a desert island?

How trite an answer is this? Any copy of the complete Shakespeare. Because it's all there.

4. One book that made you laugh?

Christopher Moore's Island of the Sequined Love Nun, the first of Moore's novels I ever read. Truth is, every one of his books has made me laugh, but as my first, this one holds a special place for me.

5. One book that made you cry?

Going back to my answer to number one, The High King by Lloyd Alexander. As my first encounter with epic fantasy, here's where I encountered one of epic fantasy's main tropes: the changing of an entire world, and the sad parting of friends and comrades forever at the end of the journey. When Taran made his choice to stay in Prydain, I lost it. (I was ten, yes, but I choked up again last time I re-read this series, a few years ago.)

6. One book you wish had been written?

Heir to the Empire by Timothy Zahn. No, nothing against Zahn's book; I've grown to love Zahn and plan to read a lot of him over the course of my space opera reading project. But as a Star Wars fan, I gave much thought to what happened after Return of the Jedi, and I did write some fanfic on that score. (No, I'm not going to share it.)

7. One book you wish had never had been written?

The Yearling, by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings. To paraphrase old Treebeard, there aren't enough curses in Elvish, Entish, or the tongues of Men to capture the depth of my distaste for that godawful piece of tripe with its moral message of astonishing badness: "Become a man by killing that which you love!"

Same damn thing for Old Yeller. Wretched damn crap. I've wondered if George R. R. Martin was partly making fun of Old Yeller when he posited, in A Storm of Swords, that part of the required training for the warrior tribe known as the Unsullied had to kill their pet dogs at their coming of age.

8. One book you are currently reading?

The Sparrow, by Mary Doria Russell. A friend recommended it to me years ago, so I bought a copy and then forgot about it. Now I've been reminded. So far it's a highly engaging read, but the book's structure is creating a sense of impending disaster that's kind of a downer. I'll have more to say about this one when I finish it.

9. One book you have been meaning to read?

All of them, really. But if you have to have a title, Quicksilver by Neal Stephenson. Because everybody else has read it.


Erinna said...

Re: The High King

I read the series for the first time in my early twenties and cried like a little baby...

Tosy And Cosh said...

I'm rereading them now, for the first time since I was a kid. Through Book of Three and Black Cauldron so far. And I found Quicksilver to be brilliant, but, as much as I bashed my head against it trying to make it not be so, too brilliant - and insanely dense - for me.

Anonymous said...

The Sparrow is brilliant. The sequel is decent, too, but not quite as good as the first book.

She's definitely a great writer. How brilliant to write about the Jesuits beating everyone else to a new planet?