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Wednesday was the Third Time of Asking for our phone company. We would kind of like a consistent and stable dial tone. We've been without that for more than a week. They were supposed to send someone out to the house today. I haven't seen anyone, but then I haven't been home all the day long. We haven't been without dial tone since 3:15 or so Friday afternoon, and it is Saturday at 2:50 a.m., so maaayyybeee they actually fixed it this time. Or not. We'll see. Kinda hard to tell when the problem is of the "now you have it, now you don't" variety.

I come bearing a meme to celebrate. I stole it from the lj of tarimanveri who knows me not, but upon whose journal I lurk because her tails of grad student life are a pleasant reminder of what it was like when I too was a grad student, once upon a time, and she shares some common interests, and seems to be an all around Good Egg. The meme is about books and what I read and what I like. It was obviously designed originally by an academic, or at least someone fairly highbrow in their literary tastes, so if you are expecting to find out all about what I read when I'm slumming it, you'll be largely, but not entirely, disappointed. The upside is, if you are looking for ammunition to make the case that I am a geek, you will be amply rewarded. Amply. Be warned that I have an irritating habit of not choosing just one single book in answer to the question. There are too many in my world for that.

1) What author do you own the most books by?

Gosh. Hard to say. We have two full editions of My Book House (edited by Olive Beaupré Miller) as well as four copies of Volume 1 - In the Nursery, and A Picturesque Tale of Progress (eight volumes) and Heroes of the Bible, but she is the editor of all these, not the author. We have many volumes and multiple copies of Tolkien. Terry Pratchett has written a lot of books. So has Bernard Cornwell. Lloyd Alexander. Shakespeare, whom I have in complete editions, and in individual plays. Barbara Michaels. Alan Garner. Tove Jansson. Patricia Veryan. Joan Aiken. Jane Aiken Hodge. Catherine Aird. Dorothy Sayers. My dad? I have almost everything (excepting individual poems in individual publications and one project consisting of 12 posters done in a very limited printing in collaboration with an artist friend) that he has ever published. And those are just the ones I can see from here.

I run a roach motel for books. They check in. They don't check out. I have literally thousands of volumes. Wandering through to find out definitively which author I have the most volumes of, when some authors are scattered about where they could be fit into the existing collection? Soooo not going to happen.


2) What book do you own the most copies of?

It's a tie. I have collected copies for myself and for each of my kids of Eleanor and Herbert Farjeon's Kings and Queens, and My Bookhouse, Volume 1 : In the Nursery, both of which were books which anchored my own knowledge of English history and nursery rhymes, respectively. I consider them a necessity for civilized child raising, and they are out of print. So I have stockpiled. Probably some Shakespeare plays, Pride and Prejudice, The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, Mara Daughter of the Nile, and The Bible, The Iliad, The Odyssey, and Virgil's Aeneid (all in several different translations), and Xenophon's Απολωγια in the original Greek probably come close.

Did I mention I'm a Classical and Near Eastern Archaeology major? My dad was an English prof, and is a writer. My mom's a Classics prof. My grandfather was a Latin prof. My other grandfather was a serious book collector. I also just might be a geek.


3) Did it bother you that both those questions ended with prepositions?

Nope. While it is important to try to follow the rules of grammar, syntax, spelling, and style, good writers know why the rules have been implemented, and will choose clarity and ease of comprehension - while bending or breaking the rules - over overly-complex and convoluted ways of putting things that are rigidly correct.


4) What fictional character are you secretly in love with?

Aragorn. Sheftu (from Mara Daughter of the Nile). Taran. Henry V in Shakespeare's play. Odysseus. Alexei (Brothers Karamazov). Sir Gawain. Robin Hood. Alfred the Great (from C. Walter Hodges' The Marsh King - a historical character, but really! How likely is it that the real Alfred was just like that? I'd say Mr. Darcy, but I know with conviction that he really doesn't have enough of a sense of humor to make living with him happily ever after bearable. I'd say Lord Peter Wimsey from the Dorothy Sayers mysteries, if it weren't so painfully obvious that his creator was passionately in love with her own creation. Besides, I think that Bunter, his manservant would probably be the better life partner, being less nervy and damaged, while still being brave, bright, and impeccably mannered. Jim (of Lord Jim). Christopher in The Perilous Gard I could go on... and on... and on...

Basically, I likes me a hero, but he'd better be nice underneath it all, and living with him would require a sense of humor. He also needs to be kind to children and animals and those under his command.


5) What book have you read the most times in your life (excluding picture books read to children)?

The Hobbit. Hands down. It's a family tradition. When I want to think of my dad's voice, I think of him reading me the poem about "Under the Misty Mountains Cold" from when he first read The Hobbit to me when I was small. The Lord of the Rings, Mara Daughter of the Nile (by Eloise Jarvis Mc Graw), Pride and Prejudice, and Savannah Purchase (Jane Aiken Hodge) come close. Most of the books I obsessively re-read involve romance. My tomboy exterior hides a mushy interior. What can I say?


6) What was your favorite book when you were ten years old?

The Hobbit. Mara Daughter of the Nile was second runner up. My most coveted book then (I own it now) was The Art and Architecture of Ancient Egypt by William Stevenson Smith from the Pelican History of Art series. It was my mom's text from when she took Eg. and Mes. (Egypt and Mesopotamia) at Bryn Mawr, and I had to wash my hands before I was allowed to pore over the black and white illustrations in the back of it.


7) What is the worst book you've read in the past year?

Ummm... I haven't had enough time to waste on any bad ones. I think the recent Steven Savile SG-1 book, which I have merely skimmed may have to do. He's too obsessed with his original characters and his Big Idea, and he forgets that what the fans want are character and team moments with the show's characters. It isn't a bad book as much as it is a disappointing one. Then again, I don't expect my television tie-ins to be vying for the Booker Prize.


10) Who deserves to win the next Nobel Prize for Literature?

I really have enough trouble getting enough time to read the Great Literature of the past. I read for escapism and relaxation these days. This means I'm not reading much Great Literature of the present, although I am trying to get through A.S. Byatt's The Children's Room which my dad gave me last Christmas. So, no vote just now.


11) What book would you most like to see made into a movie?

The Revolt of Sarah Perkins by Marian Cockrell. She was also (with her husband Frank) a screen writer in Hollywood, and the story is a warm, humorous romp with individual and sharply delineated characters, and every time I read it, I can't help but mentally cast it. It would have action for the guys, romance for the women, plenty of strong female characters, and lots of humor to go with some pathos.


What book would you least like to see made into a movie?

The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, the Taran books, the Narnia series. *sigh* Too late!


Describe your weirdest dream involving a writer, book, or literary character.

We went (my entire extended family - parents, step-parents, sibs, grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc.) driving in a (!) VW Bug, and when it got dark, pulled up to the only inn around. They only had rooms on the 13th floor (cue the scary organ music!) but we took them. When we got up to the room, Smaug the dragon ate everyone up but me. Then I woke up.


What is the most lowbrow book you've read as an adult?

A college friend and I spent an entire night reading Barbara Cartland romance books and reading out the very worst most ellipsis-heavy passages to each other. Anything to avoid the work we ought to have been doing, and Barbara Cartland figured heavily in the dorm library that year. That's about as low as I will go.


What is the most difficult book you've ever read?

Kant's Groundwork of the Metaphysic of Morals. It wasn't that it was so terribly impenetrable, although it was a challenging read, I just kept falling asleep over it and having to go back and re-read, and re-read, and re-read... I.E.S. Edwards The Pyramids of Egypt gave me similar problems when he had the physical descriptions of the layout of each pyramid in exquisite (metric) detail, but that was only because it was something I was so interested in that I was genuinely trying to digest it, rather than skim through that part. Nothing I've ever read in the original (Ancient) Greek has ever been a breeze.


What is the most obscure Shakespeare play you've seen?

Pericles. Timon of Athens. What? I like Shakespeare. My dad's University had an annual Shakespeare Festival.


Do you prefer the French or the Russians?

I adore Dostoyevski. On the other hand, I can read French, and enjoy a good Molière play. I don't know Russian. Waaaaffle... Waaafffffle...


Roth or Updike?

Updike.


David Sedaris or Dave Eggers?

Having not read any Dave Eggers, I can't say. Sedaris is quirky and amusing.


Shakespeare, Milton, or Chaucer?

Shakespeare most days, Chaucer on others. Milton has his moments, but the moralizing gets in the way. He's so serious!


Austen or Eliot?

Austen.


What is the biggest or most embarrassing gap in your reading?

My uncle is a noted Mark Twain scholar, and I haven't read all of either Huckleberry Finn or Tom Sawyer, although I've skimmed both enough to survive dinner table chat.


23) What is your favorite novel?

Of the classics? Pride and Prejudice or The Brothers Karamazov. Evvver??? Akkkk!!! Brain overload! Must... stop... evaluating...


24) Play?

Much Ado About Nothing. Antigone. Arsenic and Old Lace. The Philadelphia Story.


25) Poem?

Rolfe Humphries "Runes for an Old Believer"


26) Essay?

Charles Lamb - "A Dissertation Upon Roast Pig"


27) Short story?

James Thurber "The Day the Dam Broke"


28) Work of nonfiction?

The Literature of Ancient Egypt by Barbara Leichtheim or The Cambridge Ancient History.


29) Who is your favorite writer?

Tolkien. Austen. Shakespeare. Dostoyevski.


30) Who is the most overrated writer alive today?

Stephen King. Nice guy. Great stories. Writing so bad I can't bear to read it. He's an incredibly hard worker with a real tin ear. Did I mention nice guy, and kind to new writers?


31) What is your desert island book?

The Riverside Shakespeare. Enough different characters that one never need be alone, with some truly stunningly sublime passages, and the occasional filthy joke. I know of no other place where so much of the world is captured, except The Bible, which while worthy and important, is a little lacking in the humor department.


32) And... what are you reading right now?

Never just one. A small portion of the list: The Numinous World Series by Jo Graham, Stargate SG-1 - Four Dragons by Diana Dru Botsford. The Children's Room by A.S. Byatt, Beneath the Sands of Egypt - Adventures of an Unconventional Archaeologist by Donald Redford. Nobody's Princess by Esther Friesner

Edited to (hopefully) make a link work here on lj

Comments

( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
bluewillowtree
Sep. 11th, 2010 11:23 am (UTC)
I love this meme! I'm definitely going to snag it when I'm actually awake.

My dad read me the Tolkien books when I was a kid, too. Very happy memories :)

I hope your dial tone is back for good!
thothmes
Sep. 12th, 2010 01:39 am (UTC)
So far so good on the dial tone. No problems today (knock wood!).

Reading Tolkien is a family tradition, and after the child finishes listening to the Lord of the Rings they are presented with their very own copy of all four volumes.
draco_somnians
Sep. 11th, 2010 02:10 pm (UTC)
Cool meme! I might have to snag this. :D I love seeing what other people like to read and I'm always willing to pick up a book based on a recommendation (within reason of course!). :)

I actually adore Stephen King, but yes, some of his writing really is terrible, lol. The man cannot write sex scenes. I think it helped that I started reading his stuff at around 13/14 years old. :)
thothmes
Sep. 12th, 2010 01:56 am (UTC)
I can see where starting young on Stephen King would be a big help. It would also help not to be an English prof's daughter, taught to critique style from her earliest days, and used to having such things being the main topic of discussion among the grownups at formal dinners. I do understand the allure of his books. He can write a ripping yarn. I just get so hung up on the critiquing that I can't see the story for the nagging stylistic details.

The place where we vacation in Maine is where he has a summer home, and his kids have houses in the area too. So we get to know first hand that he is a very nice guy, just interested in quietly going about his business, without being hassled.

We get to stay there because my husband's grandfather bought a place on the lake back in the '30's when it was cheap, and left it in trust to his grandkids when he retired. Shortly after he got the place, Rudy Vallee (then a major Hollywood matinee idol) bought a place up the lake, and it became hard to get a place. Now a noted director tries to vacation incognito on the property next door, and of course there are the Kings.

My husband's grandfather used to run his place as a family camp, where families would come, rent a cabin, and have communal meals and participate in activities his grandfather provided or guided, so now there is room for almost the whole extended family to be there at once, and my kids get to know their second cousins as well as they know their first cousins. All on one of the most beautiful lakes that America has to offer, just as long as we can keep paying the (ever rising) property taxes. I think there have been some weekends when we've managed to have 40 people there. We're blessed.
draco_somnians
Sep. 12th, 2010 10:37 am (UTC)
What I like about Stephen King (from what I've read/seen about him) is that he doesn't try to pretend that he's some fantastic, incredible writer. He knows where his weaknesses are and he just wants his readers to enjoy the stories. I love his prologues and notes to his Constant Reader. Some authors make those sound so pretentious, but with King it always feels like he's speaking to the reader personally. His attitude always seems to be "hey, this is what I've written, I hope you enjoy it". I like that.

Unlike Meyer, his writing isn't so bad that I can't get past it and enjoy the story. It sometimes makes me cringe a little bit, but it's with affection. :)

My parents aren't really big readers, so no, I didn't have those kinds of discussions with them. My mum does read a little, but it's mostly Danielle Steel and the like. We don't have the same tastes in books at all (although I have recommeded a few of my favourites and she's tried them and enjoyed them) and I think a discussion about style would go right over her head. :)

Wow, that sounds like a great place for holidays! Although I've probably read far too many King books set in Maine that scared the pants off me to stay anywhere like that! Lol!
lolmac
Sep. 11th, 2010 04:24 pm (UTC)
Yay! Welcome back!

I love the meme; it made me go ponder my own bookshelves, especially contemplating which authors sport the most titles. Alas, I didn't read Tolkien until I was 12, after which LotR became my favourite book for at least the next two decades. I don't know if my parents ever read it, sadly, but I read the entire thing out loud to my stepson. (It takes quite a while.)

Once my partner and I are finally able to combine our households, the library will pass epic proportions. (With this set of bookshelves, I thee wed . . . ) On the other hand, she's a librarian, and she has Real Professional Training in the unlikely skill of weeding -- so our joint collection may be vaster than empires, but it will be obliged to shed some excess weight.

What book would you least like to see made into a movie?

The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, the Taran books, the Narnia series. *sigh* Too late!

I love you for that!!! Although at least they only abused one volume of the Prydain Chronicles, and it was such a dog that they haven't tried again.
I am considered a heretic in many circles because I hate the LotR movies. But I stand by my disdain.
I think my honest answer to that question is "most of them".
thothmes
Sep. 12th, 2010 02:12 am (UTC)
My Dad read me The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, which considering he was the non-custodial parent, and was working with a week at Christmas and a month in the summer, was pretty amazing. Then, as is family tradition, I was presented with my own copy of each of them. I've continued that tradition with each of my own kids.

My Dad was given his copy of The Hobbit by his godmother, who had heard about the book from some British friends of hers. So now he has a First American Edition First Printing of The Hobbit which I hope to inherit, although my husband managed to find me one of my own for a birthday gift a few years back. The used bookstore guy in town managed to find it for us in good condition for about $200, when comparable volumes are now selling for more like $2000!

I warned my husband when I married him that marrying me meant a lifetime of building bookcases, and ten years ago when we did a major renovation of the house, including a library to help house some of the masses of books we have, he rather plaintively said I'd warned him about the bookcases, just not the extra house to put the bookcases in!

All the books I didn't want to see as movies are books that excel in harnessing the imagination of the reader to make the darker parts darker and scarier, to make the wonder more richly perceived and ethereal, to transport the reader to realms where the real and the concrete cannot go. Trying to limit that vision to what can be seen ruins the magic!
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Speak to him, for there is none born wise.

-The Maxims of Ptahotep

~~~~~~~~~~


In mourning or rejoicing, be not far from me.

- an Ancient Egyptian Love Song

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But your embraces
alone give life to my heart
may Amun give me what I have found
for all eternity.


-Love Songs of the New Kingdom, Song #2

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To Know the Dark


To go in the dark with a light is to know the light.
To know the dark, go dark. Go without sight,
and find that the dark, too, blooms and sings,
and is travelled by dark feet and dark wings.


-Wendell Berry

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Up in the morning's no for me,
Up in the morning early;
When a' the hills are covered wi' snaw,
I'm sure it's winter fairly.

-Robert Burns

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Visit to the Hermit Ts'ui


Moss covered paths between scarlet peonies,
Pale jade mountains fill your rustic windows.
I envy you, drunk with flowers,
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~~~~~~~~~~


Mistress of high achievement, O lady Truth,
do not let my understanding stumble
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