An Absurdly Long Book Meme

I stole this from Melanie, who stole it from The Sojourner. The copy-past action is why the font is all wonky; sorry about that. I can’t figure out how to fix it, and since my children are beginning to scream from the other room I don’t want to waste any more time trying. 
If you haven’t been to visit The Wine-Dark Sea, you should. Melanie is wonderful, so insightful. Her blog is peaceful and visiting it is comforting to me, like a calm amidst the tempests of the blogosphere. She’s also a fellow UD grad, so I feel like we speak the same language. You should also go visit The Sojourner, whose blog title, Clearing the Sill of the World, is a line from one of my favorite poems by my favorite poet ever, Richard Wilbur. (forgive me as I take a moment to calm my heart palpitations) Her blog is great, too; she’s still in college, so visiting her blog is a little like taking a trip through time for me. She tells jokes involving literature and has a great many more worthwhile things to say than I ever did in college. 
And lastly, before I start the book meme, I have to give some linkback love to Kassie of Secret Vatican Spy. She writes beautifully and poignantly about converting and shares her insights on entering the Catholic faith. She was my first blog friendship, and sometimes I really do think we were meant to be best friends and somehow were born on the wrong dates, in the wrong places, and the universe is now making up for it by bringing us together in the blogosphere. (I know, I need therapy.) But seriously, her blog is so wonderful, she’s so hilarious, she’s also a convert, she also understands the wonder of Dr. Who, and we have the same glasses. See what I mean? It’s like…destiny. But really, go visit these blogs, please? You won’t regret it. 
And now I present you with an absurdly long and thrice-stolen book meme. (Actually I think the Sojourner stole it too, so who knows how many times it’s been stolen.) 
1. Favorite childhood book?
Once I grew past the American Girl books, I always loved Caddie Woodlawn. In my pre-teen/teen years, though, it was A Girl of the Limberlost. Strangely, though, I’ve never met anyone else who read these as a child, and I can’t understand it. I re-read A Girl of the Limberlost recently and it was as wonderful as I remembered it being. 
2. What are you reading right now?
Charles Wiliam’s All Hallow’s Eve. It’s slow going, although I really want to finish it. I gave up on The Place of the Lion right as the Forms were coming into being and have regretted it ever since, but can’t find my copy of the book. 

3. What books do you have on request at the library?
Connie Willis’ Blackout and All Clear, and Homer Price (for Sienna)
4. Bad book habit?
Laying open books down on their faces. The Ogre gets furious when I do that, because I’ve snapped countless bindings. It’s a terrible habit.
5. What do you currently have checked out at the library?
Bellweather, another Willis book which I loved but have been lazy about returning. She’s a great author.
6. Do you have an e-reader?
 No. My eyes hurt enough just from reading blogs.
7. Do you prefer to read one book at a time or several at once?
I really can’t handle more than one. When I have a lot going I never finish any of them.
8. Have your reading habits changed since starting a blog?
Yes! For the better! I read more now, actually. Before blogging I went through this horrible period where I didn’t read at all and watched a lot of TV. It was awful and brain-killing and mostly related to depression, but I’m back now. And feeling much better.
9. Least favorite book you read this year?
Hmmm…probably Inside Job, by Connie Willis. I liked it, but it was sort of a little nothing time-filler.
10. Favorite book you’ve read this year?
The Elementary Particles by Michel Houllebecq is the best (in the sense of literary quality) book I’ve read, but I wouldn’t say I enjoyed it. It’s an unflinching look at the destruction wrought by the sexual revolution. It was a really hard read, but so worth it. I think I enjoyed Doomsday Book the most.
11. How often do you read out of your comfort zone?
Not very. I’ve had as a goal to intersperse fiction with educational books (either philosophy or religion: right now I’m working through Pieper, next up is Chesterton) but usually I get a few pages in and revert back to fiction because I realize that I haven’t ready anything in a few days. Bettering oneself is just so hard.
12. What is your reading comfort zone? 
I read poetry and fiction, and I like it there.
13. Can you read on the bus?
I never had a problem reading in vehicles until I had children. Now it makes me sick. Those little buggers ruin everything!
14. Favorite place to read?
Curled up on the couch, with a glass of wine nearby.
15. What is your policy on book lending?
I give anyone anything they want and then promptly forget I did so, which is why I’m missing so many books. But that’s good information for those of you want to borrow from me.
16. Do you ever dog-ear books?
Not anymore; that habit was beaten out of me in college.
17. Do you ever write in the margins of your books?
When I’m feeling particularly studious. I love reading the Ogre’s books because he has WISDOM (seriously, my husband is brilliant) scrawled all over the margins in his illegible but beautiful scrawl. He also does this weird thing where he makes circles and connects them in some mathematically-driven insight system. I don’t understand it.
18. Not even with text books?
Oh yeah, you have to! Otherwise you’ll forget that you ever once understood this stuff.
19. What is your favorite language to read in?
English is the only language I can read in. I once tried to read Alice in Wonderland in French, but gave up pretty quickly when I realized that that book doesn’t even make sense in English.
20. What makes you love a book?
When it makes me think, when I learn something new, when I feel connected to the characters, when I close it regretfully. When it’s good, basically.
21. What will inspire you to recommend a book?
Finishing it. I recommend everything.
22. Favorite genre?
Fantasy, maybe? I love Tolkien and Harry Potter. But I also love historical fiction, and I love magical realism (Midnight’s Children, anyone? What brilliance!) So basically, I like them all, except Faulkner.
23. Genre you rarely read (but wish you did)?
Philosophy. The Ogre lives and breathes philosophy, and when he tries to tell me about it he always has to start at the beginning. (The very beginning, as in “Okay, my thick-headed wife, the great chain of being is…”)
24. Favorite biography? 
I loved Mark Twain’s fictional biography of Joan of Arc. It was wonderful.
25. Have you ever read a self-help book?
Gah. Yes, but I think they’re awful. Awful, awful, awful. And they’ve never helped me as much as reading an actual good book has.
26. Favorite cookbook?
Our battered, cover-less copy of The Best Recipe. I turn to it for everything.
27. Most inspirational book you’ve read this year (fiction or nonfiction)?
Sense and Sensibility. I read it for the first time exactly one year ago, and it was just…miraculous. I think I understood the virtue of restraint for the first time ever when I read that. (I identify, just a little, with Mariane.)
28. Favorite reading snack?
Wine and grapes. It makes me feel sophisticated, plus then I get all emotional about the plight of the characters.
29. Name a case in which hype ruined your reading experience. 
I think I’ll go with Beloved. It took me ages to get through and left me feeling really disappointed, even though I know that Dr. Cowan thinks it is one of the greatest novels ever. I just didn’t get it, and I actually think that’s a problem with my reading of it and not the book itself. After all, Dr. Cowan can’t be wrong. She’s brilliant!
30. How often do you agree with critics about a book?
I try not to read criticism. It ruins everything.
31. How do you feel about giving bad/negative reviews?
I think it’s fine if you have reasons for it, but I think critics need to remember to be kind to the author. After all, the author actually created something. It’s really easy to pick apart a book, but not so easy to write one.
32. If you could read in a foreign language, which language would you choose?
French. They’ve written so many important things, I’d love to read them in the original. Plus, I would really love to read Raissa Maritain’s poetry.
33. Most intimidating book you’ve ever read?
Absalom, Absalom, hands down. It took me six months to get through. It was amazing, brilliant, the kind of book you could spend a lifetime unpacking, and I really hated it.
34. Most intimidating book you’re too nervous to begin?
Anything else by Faulkner, ever again. Except A Light in August, which I already read and hated even more than Absalom, Absalom.

35. Favorite poet?
Richard Wilbur. He holds the Junior Poet part of my heart. But T.S. Eliot and Auden run very close behind.
36. How many books do you usually have checked out of the library at any given time?
Not too many, because I can’t afford the fees I inevitably rack up.
37. How often have you returned books to the library unread?
Not often.
38. Favorite fictional character?
Mariane Dashwood.
39. Favorite fictional villain?
Captain Ahab. He’s just so flipping crazy.
40. Books I’m most likely to bring on vacation?
Something I know I’ll enjoy, that I can start and stop without having to back up. Something simple and pleasant…likely suspects are Jane Austen, Tolkien, etc.
41. The longest I’ve gone without reading.
There was an ugly two or three-year period there after Sienna was born when reading was, honestly, too difficult to undertake. Something that had never happened to me before. It was sad.
42. Name a book that you could/would not finish.
The Ambassadors. Seriously, Henry James? Could you possibly pack a few more words into that twelve-page sentence?
43. What distracts you easily when you’re reading?My children. Or an email, a phone call, anything really.
44. Favorite film adaptation of a novel?
Sense and Sensibility. They did an absolutely wonderful job with it.
45. Most disappointing film adaptation?The third Harry Potter movie. It wasn’t even close to the actual story! Annoying, and ridiculous. That director did a terrible job overall.
46. The most money I’ve ever spent in the bookstore at one time?
Tons.
47. How often do you skim a book before reading it?
Only textbooks for school, and usually I never bother with the reading part.
48. What would cause you to stop reading a book half-way through? 
A lot of things. Mostly boredom…books really have to grab me now to keep my attention. This never happened in my pre-children days, but now it’s harder to get through a book.
49. Do you like to keep your books organized?Um, yeah right. It’s a miracle if they’re all on the shelf at the same time.
50. Do you prefer to keep books or give them away once you’ve read them?
I keep them. What if I need them again?
51. Are there any books you’ve been avoiding?
Yes, everything else by Faulkner, and all of James Joyce except The Dubliners. The Ogre loves Joyce, and after my first attempt at Portrait of the Artist (which was abandoned about a page in when I said to myself “why is there a cow here? What’s going on?”) I’ve never gone back. I really should, though, just so I can talk about it with my husband. Maybe that will be my Christmas gift to him this year.
52. Name a book that made you angry.
Half of a Yellow Sun, because the suffering and horror those people went through was something I never knew about. It made me angry because little children are still suffering and starving all over the world and we just ignore it. And then it made me angry because even if I don’t ignore it, what can I really do to help? It’s a horrible situation.
53. A book you didn’t expect to like but did?
Half of  Yellow Sun, again. The Ogre handed it to me after he read it and I started it grudgingly, and then after I finished the last page I immediately flipped back to the front and started it again (sorry, I can’t get the italics off now. I have no idea why the font is so wonky today).
54. A book that you expected to like but didn’t?
Beloved.

55. Favorite guilt-free, pleasure reading?
Jane Austen, Tolkien, or Dickens.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12557248434888642114 Melanie B

    Aw! Calah, you are so sweet! I'm so glad you did this absurdly long meme too.I feel the same way about visiting the Sojourner's blog, totally like a time machine back to my college days.Caddie Woodlawn and A Girl of the Limberlost were two of my grandmother's favorite books. But I only read Caddie in the past couple of years and I've never read Limberlost. Strange that.Funny how you disliked Beloved. I have to say Dr. Cowan definitely made that book for me. I did love it very much. I think had I tried to read it on my own, I wouldn't have though.I think Dr. Cowan could make me love almost anything.I used to think I wanted to read in French; but French Lit Trad totally disabused me of that notion. I don't know why but it sapped most of the joy out of reading French for me. I'd thought I would take lots of French classes but the way they were organized was always so uninteresting. The course offerings would be organized by time period: 18th century, 19th century, 20th century. Somehow that just wasn't as exciting as Medieval Poetry, Romantic and Victorian Literature, or British novel. I think had they offered, for example, a French poetry class, I'd have snapped it up. Since graduating I've read a couple of books in French to try to keep up my fluency (Les Liasons Dangereuses and some English fantasy and science fiction translated into French); but I have a hard time finding anything I really want to read. I wish my experience had been different.I think I lucked out with Portrait of the Artist. I picked it up off my mom's bookshelf without having any idea what it was, just liking the title. (Ironically it was the book I grabbed to read in the car when I went to visit the UD campus for Sleeping Bag Weekend.) I loved the novel but had no idea what it meant. I just enjoyed Joyce's playfulness with language. So I have a soft spot for Joyce based on that early experience of reading him untainted by any expectations of any kind.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11889780681891693861 Sarah

    I loved your comment on Alice in Wonderland. It makes no sense. period. Also, I enjoyed reading this, even though It's long. I'm going to steal it. Oh, and I realized that you commented on my harry potter post about loving Sirius, and I don't know if I told you that our family pet is a scruffy black mutt named…Sirius. :)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/18160222531871459182 andrea

    i read both caddie woodlawn and a girl of the limberlost as a child. and loved them both, too!and i'm with you on Twains J of A


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