Sorry for my long absence! It’s birthday season here–3 in the last 2 weeks and one more coming up. Here’s a fun questionnaire, found on The Anchoress, to help me get back into the groove.
1. Most treasured childhood books
- anything by Edward Eager, especially the hilarious Half Magic, which explores what would happen if four very realistic children found a magic talisman that answered only half their wishes, in unexpected ways–what’s half of wishing to be a medieval knight? what’s half of a desert island? what’s half of wishing you belonged to a different family?
- almost anything by John R. Tunis, especially The Kid from Tomkinsville and its sequels. I loved the baseball action, the larger-than-life characters, and the 50’s slang. This is great Americana and great character-building literature for kids, while still being a fun read. A few of my favorites–Keystone Kids, about anti-semitism on the baseball diamond, and Highpockets, about a self-centered star who learns humility, are pretty heavy-handed, but they’re such enjoyable reads that I didn’t mind at all.
- The All-of-a-Kind Family series is a funny and realistic portrait of a Jewish family in WWI-era New York City that manages to handle things like the family’s friendship with their Irish Catholic neighbors, the oldest daughter’s boyfriend going off to war, and the parents’ struggles to shield their children from the disappointments of poverty, without being preachy or heavy-handed. A delicate, loving, and tear-jerking portrayal of a close family.
2. Classics you’re embarrassed to admit you’ve never read
- Anything by Dostoevsky except Crime and Punishment. Blah. I hate Raskolnikov. Who needs the grief.
- Catcher in the Rye, Lord of the Flies, and all those depressing high school books. Again, who needs it?
3. Classics you read, but hated
- The Scarlet Letter. I hated every single character, especially Dimmesdale.
- Anything by Faulkner. Depressing, gross, barely intelligible sometimes. But hey, it’s Southern Lit, so it’s cool.
- Walker Percy. I hate him. He reads like a preachy, bombastic, second-rate Michael Crichton. No offense to Michael Crichton.
4. Favorite light reading
- P.G. Wodehouse–the Jeeves and Wooster novels, of course, but also a fantastic little short novel that’s lesser know, which I’ve read a dozen times: Quick Service.
- Dave Barry, natch.
- Hester Browne’s The Little Lady Agency and sequels. (Thanks to Laura’s recommendation, I let my kids totally trash the house with paint one day because I couldn’t put this book down.) This is a romantic comedy with a pretty original premise–a woman who’s smart, organized, and efficient, but who can’t seem to find the confidence to stop being a doormat, puts on a wig and adopts the identity of Honey, the “little lady” that every bachelor needs in his life to give him a wardrobe makeover, a crash course in small talk, an escort to an awkward party, or a gift-shopping expert. I enjoyed the concept and the humor, but also Browne’s writing, which is a head above your normal chick lit; she’s obviously very well-read and capable of writing something more serious. I also enjoyed her take on Americans (she’s British).
5. Favorite heavy reading
- Father Benedict’s Jesus of Nazareth. So wonderful, and much more accessible than I was expecting, but still a slow read. I can’t believe that he actually wrote two more while I was still slogging through the first one.
6. Last book you finished
7. Last book you bailed on
- Oh boy, there’s a lot of them. The one I miss the most is The Decline and Fall of the British Empire, 1781-1997. It was fascinating, hilarious, eye-opening, and sad. Too sad for me. So many clueless people who meant so well and made such a mess.
8. Three books on your nightstand
- Eifelheim by Michael Flynn. I got bogged down in the middle, but I’m really hoping to finish and review this marvel.
- yikes, that’s about it. I’m in a re-reading, skimming, light reading mood these days.
9. Book(s) you’ve read over and over again
- Jurassic Park. I just enjoy the characters, the writing, and the ridiculous philosophical rants so much.
10. Book(s) that changed the way you look at life.
- The whole Space Trilogy, but Perelandra in particular, taught me so much about temptation, about sin and holiness, and about an ordinary sinful person’s role in God’s plan.
- Tolstoy’s Fables taught me things about love that I constantly need to remind myself of when things get unnecessarily complicated inside my head.
- Madame Bovary taught me a lot about being honest and realistic with yourself.
11. Books you plan to read this year
- Neil Gaiman’s American Gods. I love Norse mythology, and I’ve heard so much about this book. I’ve been waiting until I feel emotionally stable enough.
- A history of India, and hopefully a few books that will remedy my shocking ignorance of Native American and Inuit culture, without making me cry.
12. Desert island book
- All the King’s Men. It’s not perfect, but I’m thinking you can find about 50% of everything you need to know about life in this book. Gut-punching, lyrical writing, over-the-top but too-close-to-home characters, soaring themes made flesh.
I’ve skipped some of the categories that didn’t mean much to me, and left out things like the Bible, because that goes without saying. I’d love to hear your answers!