Massive excitemint as I have been tagged by anthrokeight to do a meme, normally no one ever tags me for anything. I do not bother about quizzes such as ‘Which quirky, ill-fated science fiction series are you? You are Firefly!’, but this is about books so it is quite intresting.
One book that changed your life
The Tao of Pooh by Benjamin Hoff was my introduction to Taoism and still the best book on the subject that I’ve read. It is not that it turned me into a Taoist, but when I read this book I realised that’s what I already was. I just didn’t know it had a name. It also struck a chord with me because I am a Bear of Very Small Brain, and also quite keen on Hunny.
One book you would want on a desert island
I think I would cheat and take the Dune series by Frank Herbert, I know it is six books really, especially if you do not count the rubbish prequels, which I do not. It is a huge, rich, baroque, dense and complicated book exploring politics, philosophy, ethics, ecology, history, and about a million other things all wrapped up in an exciting story of feuding mediaeval baronies in space. In terms of maximum reading enjoyment per kilogram it’s a clear winner.
I would also sneakily distract the guards and cram all the Sherlock Holmes books into my pants while they were not looking, as I do not think it is possible to ever get tired of reading them (the books not my pants).
One book that made you laugh
Hmm that is intresting as it is hard to pick just one book. For sheer, sustained, shrieking-out-loud-on-the-Tube type funny, it’d have to be a cage match between Three Men in a Boat, The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13¾, Cold Comfort Farm, and the entire canon of P.G. Wodehouse. I’d have to give honourable mentions to P.J. O’Rourke, Bill Bryson, Terry Pratchett and Douglas Adams though. Also the William books by Richmal Crompton, which I think are some of the greatest and most unjustly ignored classics of grown-up literature disguised as children’s books.
One book that made you cry
Watership Down is an obvious one as only someone with a heart of stone or the cold, dead eyes of a killer could refrain from crying at the end of that. I am a huge soft girl when it comes to things like this and also cried during the last episode of Friends. And at a very obscure book called Zeno Was Here by Jan Mark, which only I and Jan Mark have read.
One book you wish you had written
Steven Pinker’s How the Mind Works - in fact I did start writing this, but was annoyed to discover that he had beaten me to it. That will teach me to leave my notes lying around for anyone to see.
One book you wish had never been written
Probably The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown. It is not actually that bad of a book, but I’m just scared by the type of people who like it, eg some scary folk I saw on a TV show that believe it is actually literally real and they went to all the places mentioned in the book looking for Clues. In fact I am glad it has been written because it serves as an infallible touchstone for the kind of person I am going to want to be friends with, ie people that do not like this book, other than as a trashy, stilted, enjoyable rubbish thriller.
One book you are currently reading
I am reading Catherine de’ Medici by Hugh Ross Williamson, which is very intresting not boring old history like you thought. She was a remarkable woman and all the politics and religious strife ekcetera that was going on at the time is fascinating. Plus it is full of gorgeous full-colour paintings, portraits and woodcuts of the time, and lots of photos of sumptuous luxury French chateaux which is like stately home porn.
I am also reading (I know it only says one, stop fussing or we will never get through this) Collected Stories by Peter Carey, which Liz lent me and it is really good. Perhaps like sherry and dark chocolate it is best in small doses though, as too much of these stories at one go makes me feel a bit strange and miserable. They tell of weird alternate realities and a baroque and broken-down future, full of rust, decay, loneliness and bad sex, and though the writing sparkles with a benzedrine intensity it leaves you with a hangover taste in the mouth. It is powerful stuff and certainly a lot more serious than my normal reading which, as previously discussed, is mostly limited to the adventures of Paddington Bear, and the IKEA catalogue.
One book you have been meaning to read
I am really looking forward to reading Silent Bob Speaks: The Collected Writings of Kevin Smith which has been in my to-read pile for at least a year and I have nearly worked my way down to it now. The man is a warped genius and I could happily watch any of his movies any number of times. Except Jersey Girl obviously.