Sunday, October 01, 2006

Book Meme

I don't normally do these things, but (a) Matt tagged me and (b) this one's harmless. You may have seen this meme making its rounds all over already. Books are my great weakness as far as spending money & taking up apartment space--my ideal home would basically be a library with a bed & a kitchen. I don't own thousands of books, but I have enough to groan at the thought of my next move (whenever that will be).

1. One book that changed your life?

When I was a junior in high school I read Faulkner's As I Lay Dying, which got the ball rolling (at first only slowly) to undo the damage of the previous 3-4 years of intellectual stagnation brought on by the middle of adolescence.

2. One book that you have read more than once?

The Communist Manifesto. (Since Matt mentioned a Barthes book, I could also choose my own: Mythologies.) I'm not much of a "re-reader" in the sense that I read a book from cover to cover multiple times. I have done that, of course, but because there are so many titles I feel compelled to read, I'm more likely to revisit passages of an old favorite rather than go through the whole thing again. I tend to tell myself I'll go through the whole thing again a little bit later in life. (I do the same with films.)

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

This question is impossible! Let me sketch a few scenarios. Am I deserted on the island with friends or acquaintances--i.e., we all survived the same shipwreck and are together on the beach? Then, if not a survival manual (that's really the #1 answer in all cases, but subverts the spirit of the question), I'd want something in which I could indulge contemplation and solitude amidst these people ... maybe I could finally read The Tale of Genji. Am I deserted all alone but have a big box of supplies, some booze, and reason to believe that I'll be picked up in a few months? Then I'd want a big, vaguely "literary" potboiler of a novel to pass the days and read several times--a really rich, compulsive page-turner, which could be The Count of Monte Cristo (if I'm in a 19th-century novel mood) or maybe something by China Miéville (if I want something weirder). If it's just me on the island, probably facing a gradual death, then I think I may want a book where I can gain comfort from my solitude--on the island and in the cosmos--say, W.G. Sebald's The Rings of Saturn, or a book of Paul Bowles' short stories.

4. One book that made you cry?

Elective Affinities. I think it's even sadder than Young Werther, at least the translations that I've read. It's one of my very favorite books.

5. One book that made you laugh?

I never finished it, I took it on a train ride from New York to my parents' house years ago, and only got halfway before accidentally leaving it behind ... but I remember thinking that Booth Tarkington's Seventeen was one of the funniest things I've ever read.

6. One book you wish you'd written?

How about Ruiz's Poetics of Cinema?

7. One book you wish had never been written?

Nobody seems to like this question, and for good reason. Can I make the socially responsible choice and say Mein Kampf (thereby suggesting that I wish to use my hypothetical powers to avert Nazism and the Holocaust)? If I wanted to be snide I could point out one of those screenwriting or "how to break into Hollywood filmmaking" manuals, but I don't know the titles of any ...

8. One book you are reading currently?

I'm in the middle of several, but the that I started most recently was Parker Tyler's Underground Film: A Critical History.

9. One book you have been meaning to read?

There are a million--but the most imposing/inviting one that I actually have on my bookshelves is the Donald M. Frame translation of Gargantua and Pantagruel. I'll get to it sooner or later.

10. Pass it on.

Whoever might want to do this meme should just do it, and link to it in the comments so we can read. I don't want to pick just three people.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'm planning on doing this later today and answering The Tale of Genji to the island question. It's hard to resist the urge to pick something long...