Wednesday, August 09, 2006

The Book Nook

That’s the title of a column I used to write for my church youth group magazine. It was a brilliant ploy, since it gave me an excuse to call Mr. Converse-shoes (editor/beloved) on the phone, and then to talk to him at least once a month. And it wasn’t a bad little column, for a fifteen-year-old (I recall with some pride that I reviewed C.S. Lewis’s The Screwtape Letters; I feel somewhat less proud of a glowing review I gave to a biography of a slave who loyally stuck by her former owners for decades after the end of the Civil War).

Anyway. It’s also the title I’m giving this fun little book meme I’ve been tagged for by Veronica at Toddled Dredge.

1. One book that changed your life: David Keirsey’s Please Understand Me II, which introduced me to the Myers-Briggs personality types, forever changed the way I see myself and others, and persuaded me that it was safe to marry my husband.

2. One book that you've read more than once: I’m a compulsive re-reader – given the choice I’d always prefer to re-read an old favourite rather than dip into the chilly waters of a brand-new book. That said, the book I’ve read more often than any other is Anne of Green Gables.

3. One book you would want on a desert island: For a desert island, it would have to be poetry – something I’d never get tired of. Is it cheating to say The Complete Works of William Shakespeare? If I had to pick just one play, it would be King Lear.

4. One book that made you laugh: The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, Aged 13 and 3/4. I borrowed it from my high-school library and it was my first introduction to British humour, my first step through the door that led to Blackadder and Monty Python, Jeeves & Wooster and Bridget Jones. For the first hundred pages or so I was totally unamused, and then suddenly I got it – and I was rendered helpless with laughter every time I picked it up thereafter.

5. One book that made you cry: Many, many books have made me cry over the years, but none more so than Rilla of Ingleside. The last of several sequels to Anne of Green Gables, this novel follows Anne’s youngest daughter through the First World War. When I had to get into character as the weepy Madeleine in my high-school production of Nicholas Nickleby, this was the story I told some hapless stagehand in order to get the tears flowing. All I have to do is say the words "Little Dog Monday" and I get all choked up. (Without giving away any plot spoilers, I can tell you that when Jem Blythe goes off to war, his Little Dog Monday takes up residence at the local train station so he can dash out to greet each and every train until his master comes home.)

6. One book that you wish had been written: Emma, the novel Charlotte Brontë was working on when she died. It exists now only in fragmentary form, but it’s intriguing, so intriguing – a more acerbic narrative voice than her other novels, and a mixed-race heroine of mysterious origins.

7. One book that you wish had never been written: In Cold Blood by Truman Capote. I had to read this book for an American literature course I took in the summer of 1991. It was my first time living on my own, alone in the attic of an otherwise unfurnished student house. Each night I pulled the downstairs phone out of the wall to prevent intruders from taking the receiver off the hook and wedged shut the door at the foot of my stairway. That cut off all escape in the event of a fire, but I considered the risk of smoke inhalation a small price to pay for the added protection against rapists and murderers.

8. The book that you are currently reading: I’m between books right now – I just finished The Red Tent and I’m planning to start Sophie Kinsella’s The Undomestic Goddess. I didn’t enjoy Kinsella’s "Shopaholic" books – they gave me anxiety attacks. I like to read a chapter or two each night before bed, but a chapter of Confessions of a Shopaholic is a recipe for insomnia – I would lie awake, heart pounding, unbearably stressed by the web of lies and credit-card debt the heroine had entangled herself in. But I’m giving Kinsella another chance – I’m hoping the Undomestic Goddess will have fewer self-destructive habits.

9. One book that you have been meaning to read: A Feast for Crows, the latest in George R.R. Martin’s fantasy series, A Song of Ice and Fire. I read the first three books a year ago and it took me a long time to emerge from that experience – for several weeks my "real" life became shadowy and remote, while my true life was lived amid the political intrigues of Westeros. But by the time the new book came out, I had detached, and I haven’t found the emotional energy yet to dive back in.

Okay, I tag Metro Mama and Sunshine Scribe. What are the books that have changed your lives?

And as a postscript to my last post, I’d like to add that I’ve discovered two things in the last few days: (1) How to get my husband to read my blog; and (2) The existence of a new disorder: post-sleep amnesia. That is to say, I have no memory of the alleged four days in a row last week that I got to sleep in, and hubby has no recollection of the two-hour nap he took Saturday morning while I tried to mark papers and look after the kids.


Mel said...

That, that right there, is the first book I ever read that caused me to burst into terrible, loud, from-the-heart sobs.
I can't remember the exact quote, but it's something like "The searing flame of agony had burnt itself out and its ashes were over the whole world."
I mean, sobs. Real and heartfelt.
Great call!

Megan said...

Hi, I've been a lurker for a while but I had to comment on this one.

I loooove the Anne books and I Rilla is one of my favourites (although Windy Poplars is my absolute favourite. Those letters!). I even got my fiance to read that one since all the WWI trivia was so interesting.

There, de-lurk over

Mary-LUE said...

BubbubbubandPie! Where do I begin? Let's make a list, shall we?
1. LOL at remembering the opinions of youth. Don't you just wanna cringe sometimes?
2. Please Understand Me. We joke around that I am the Minister of Myers-Briggs. Love, love, love it. It helped me understand my husband so much better AFTER we were married for about 5 years. Better late than never.
3. I've never read Anne of Green Gables. I'm going to have to put that and some of these others on my list, but the PBS series makes my heart ache I love it so much.
4. Am also adding The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole...
5. ...and Rilla of Ingleside.

Have you ever read I Capture the Castle? What did you think of it?

Jenny said...

Just reading this list I can already tell that you and I would get alond famously.

And are those your actual books? Because if so I am soooo jealous.

bubandpie said...

Mel - How about this one? "Dog Monday stiff? Dog Monday rheumatic? Dog Monday old? Never believe it. Dog Monday was a young pup, gone clean mad with rejuvenating joy." OK. Must stop typing to wipe away tears. As for your quote - I can't even go there.

Megan - I've never met a Windy Poplars lover before! I've got to give that one a re-read.

A Severe Mary - You are TOYING with me! I'm an INFJ. What type are you? And I read I Capture the Castle this spring and very much wanted to add it to my children's literature course, but the books had already been ordered. I love the contrast between the open, confessional style of the novel vs. the father's modernist experimentation that is treated with such apparent admiration and seriousness.

Jenny - I do have a first edition of Rilla of Ingleside (I shelled out $165 for it on my last trip to P.E.I.) My other first edition is Emily of New Moon, which I got for free (a friend of my mother's found it for almost nothing at a used bookstore). If I had a first-edition of AoGG I'd be a rich woman, though - that's just a cover shot from the P.E.I. website.

Veronica Mitchell said...

I loved L.M. Montgomery's books, though I have not read Rilla. I'll have to try it.

And I've never read Adrian Mole, but I had heard of The Sacred Diary of Adrian Plass (Age 37 3/4). I had no idea it was a borrowed title.

penelopeto said...

just catching up after a few days away -
1. you are funny.
2. i read all of your long posts because i am a writer of long posts and i understand. and don't go changin just to please anyone.
3. oh, lucy maude. you were so talented and put upon and your husband was crazy but that made your writing even better. and sweet rilla...
4. if metro mama doesn't tag me she's in trouble.

metro mama said...

I'm on it! In the next week, I promise.

King Lear is my favourite play too. I saw Christopher Plummer as Lear at Stratford and it was so amazing.

Penelope, of course I'll tag you.

I just finished Undomestic Goddess. I liked it. Will post something soon.

Her Bad Mother said...

I wish that we lived in a world in which you and I could just sneak away for a day or two and talk books.

(What did you think of The Red Tent?)

sunshine scribe said...

ooooooh you got me. I am so into this ... only I worry that half my answers will be duplicate of yours. It's eeery. Next week. Next week.

And I am with Metro Mom on King Lear...oh ya.

Love ya. Have I said that too often? If not I'll say it again. Love You :)

Mayberry said...

Love your answers. Now I want to read all of these (some for the first time, some again).

Mary-LUE said...

I am an ENFP with not a small amount of T thrown in. Very P.

What is funny about I Capture the Castle is I can't actually remember if I read it. When you were talking about children's literature I remembered this book. I think I am confused because I saw the movie, which I thought was excellent and I told my friend, when I heard about the book that he had to buy it for his wife. I knew it would be perfect for her. I don't know. How sad is it that I can't remember? These days I blame EVERYTHING on my sleep apnea. I don't know what I am going to blame things on when that gets treated. ;)

By everyone's response to Rilla, I am going to have to make it a priority.

P.S. I am having a lot of fun with you BubandPie!

bubandpie said...

HBM - Is it plagiarism if I copy and paste my own comment from another site? I just made this comment over at Wisdom Has Two Parts:

I just finished The Red Tent myself. I was agreeably surprised to find that the feminist slant was more about celebrating women and less about attacking men and/or Yahweh. (There was a bit of that, of course, but not as much as I expected.)

I had to reread the relevant section of Genesis and found that there was more evidence there to support her reading than I had originally assumed. Like all those circumcisions suggesting a considerably deeper commitment to Dinah than a mere casual rape. I like the way the novel has changed my response to the murder of the men of Shechem - I think my Sunday-School reaction was more like, "Oh, those tricksters! That wasn't very nice, was it?"

bubandpie said...

Oh, and ASM, I do love me a good ENFP. I'm very, very J myself - but as long as we don't actually move in together, we should be fine!

Mother Bumper said...

I can't tell you how much I loved and laughed while reading The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, Aged 13 and 3/4 many years ago. So much so, that all the books in the series are sitting on my shelf to this day. I highly recommend The Queen and I also by Sue Townsend. A quick and hilarious read (as long as you don't mourn the fact that Di is gone, it was written before that tragedy). Thanks for sharing, some great reading ideas indeed.

kittenpie said...

If you liked Adrian Mole, you must try the Georgia Nicholson books by Louise Rennison (the first is Angus, Thongs, and Full-Frontal Snogging). They make me howl so crazily I've had to stop reading them in public.

Mrs. Chicky said...

Now I have to go buy The Red Tent. And who said Mommybloggers talk about nothing but poop?

Pieces said...

You have to know that I now have Black--AAAAAAder, Black--AAAAAder going through my mind. I blame you.

Just put Adrian Mole on hold at the library. Great meme.

And it isn't plagiarism if you give yourself permission to copy.

Pieces said...

Oh! And I would consider selling one my children for a trip to P.E.I. Takers?

Anonymous said...

Oooohhhhhh....Dog Monday. I came to this site because I googled the words "Dog Monday." I'm in an emotional mood and I needed the catharsis.

Seriously. Every time I go into a bookstore, I head straight to the children's section, specifically to look for Rilla of Ingleside, just to read that specific passage you quoted above. And I cry every time. I refuse to buy the book because I don't want it to lose its magic through overreading, which I would undoubtedly do.

And can I just say...Bruce Meredith? Stripey?????

Best to all,