Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Book Tag

Even though I've done something similar to this earlier, Nez tagged me with a book meme. So here I go.

# of Books I Own:
Excluding Textbooks, RPG Books, and Graphic Novels: 338. If I threw all of those into the mix, easily over 500.

Last book I bought not including textbooks:
I bought six books all at once: Out of Sight, Mr. Majestyk, Rum Punch, Maximum Bob, Bandits, and Gold Coast, all by Elmore Leonard. Total Price: $15.00. God bless the Wee Book Inn.

Last books I read:
Mr. Majestyk (Elmore Leonard)
A very short read, only 122 pages, I polished it off overnight when I probably should have been sleeping. It's a revenge story, plain and simple, and it's a stunner. I'm used to more of a humourous tone in Leonard's stories, but there's almost none in this one, unless you think that it's funny that the main character owns a melon farm.

Out of Sight (Elmore Leonard)
This is more like it; funny and gritty. I saw the movie before I read the book, and they're both good in very different ways, like two different orchestras performing the same piece of music. There are some things the film did differently that I missed, but the relationships are much more fleshed out and satisfying in the book.

Reading Lolita in Tehran (Azar Nafisi)
Very moving, and gave me a view of a time and a place that's almost stranger than fiction. Nafisi chooses each word precisely, so that almost every sentence has great strength and clarity. However, there were two things that held me back from really enjoying it. Firstly, it's told out of chronological order for what - to me - seemed to be no particular reason. Secondly, she talks about books and authors I've either never read (Lolita) or don't like (The Great Gatsby; Henry James and Jane Austen), so the more literary aspects didn't find their ground like the memoir aspects did. Still, I liked it, and based on the subject matter and point of view, I'm thinking that my more literary lady friends would really enjoy it.

Five Books that Mean a Lot to Me:
Brave New World (Aldous Huxley)
I was in Advanced Placement English in High School, and this was the first school book that I loved. A twisted vision of the future where people are genetically and psychologically engineered to fit into social tiers, where people are kept in line by a potent combination of sex, drugs, and entertainment, and all classic works of art and literature are forgotten is intriguing enough. Half-way through, though, you start seeing it through the eyes of a "savage", who's really not that different from you or me, and that's when it gets really good. It gets a lot of flak for not making accurate predictions, but it's a book of fiction. It's also compared unfavourably to the more totalitarian Nineteen-Eighty-Four, but even though I like both books, Brave New World is the clear winner. My all-time, hands-down, favourite novel.

Sometimes a Great Notion (Ken Kesey)
I almost put this book down after the first ten pages. It was so hard to read; points of view change from one character to another in a matter of a couple of paragraphs, and at one point, you have an exchange of dialogue that is peppered with two characters' thoughts. A story of competition and relationships: a man and his father, the city and the country, two brothers, a husband and wife, nature and progress. Kesey gives every character their own voice and motivation, and the story unfolds at its own pace, sometimes languidly, sometimes at break-neck speed. It is a work of art.

No Coins, Please (Gordon Korman)
My favourite book in elementary school. Two teenagers take a van full of kids across America for a summer. One of the kids, Arthur, is a 10 year old scam artist with a tuxedo and courier briefcase, who pulls off scheme after money-making scheme at every stop on the journey until he's amassed enough money to...well, I don't want to ruin the ending. I have probably read it at least once every two years since I first bought it - and my copy's autographed.

Heart of Darkness (Joseph Conrad)
It sounds cliche, but I find something different in this book every time I read it. The story has inspired movies, books, television shows, and hundreds of thousands of college English papers. I can't say much about it that hasn't already been said, but as an indication of how much I like it: I have 3 different copies.

The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar and Six More (Roald Dahl)
It masquerades as a kid's book, but this collection of short stories can be read and enjoyed by people of any age. I think it's some of Dahl's strongest writing, from the poignancy of "The Swan" to the thrills of "The Hitchhiker" to the terror of "A Piece of Cake". And the title story inspired a 9-year-old Doc to read as much as he could about meditation, until he realized that there was way more to it than x-ray vision, and little of it interested him. Holds a special place on my bookshelf.

I tag Xeryfyn, if she's got time to fill this out during party-planning season.

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