Wednesday, June 22, 2005

The Latest Book Meme

Goodness, it’s been a while. I just finished a freelance gig that occupied the last week, so I’m back. A couple weeks ago, Charlie tossed me the meme frisbee, and I’m finally posting it:

Number Of Books I Own: I tried counting, but I may be off by a hundred. Probably around 600 books, 40% of them kids’ books. (Can someone do an intervention? Stop me before I buy books again! I am powerless to resist the siren song of the bookstore.) My living room bookshelves are 7 feet tall and 9 feet wide, and they’re pretty new so I don’t have stacks of books doubled up in front of every row yet. I forgot to count the reference books in my credenza, the other reference books hiding on that shelf in the dining room, the cookbooks in the kitchen, and the naughty books in the nightstand. Let’s round it up to 700 books.

Last Book I Bought: I bought three books from sex-toy and book purveyor Flea: a nonfiction book/memoir by Paula Kamen, All In My Head: An Epic Quest to Cure an Unrelenting, Totally Unreasonable, and Only Slightly Enlightening Headache; Brian K. Vaughan’s comic compilation, Y: The Last Man Vol. 5: Ring of Truth (due out next month); and Paul Showers’ kiddie science book, What Happens to a Hamburger?. Kamen has had a headache, quite literally, for a decade—the book is about headache science, her search for relief, and learning to accept chronic pain. Y: The Last Man is a comic book series in which some medical oddity has killed every man on earth—except for our hero and his pet monkey. There are gangs of modern-day Amazons! I’ve enjoyed Volumes 1 to 4. The last book is for Ben, since he was intrigued when I explained the basics of food in, down the tubes, out the tubes as poop. (A proud moment in parenting: impressing my child with my knowledge of the fabulous and amazing.) My prior bookstore purchase was a stack of crossword books—it ain’t just athletes who are into training, you know.

Last Book I Read: There are a number of books I’ve waded into but haven’t managed to finish. It’s possible the last one I finished was Terry Gross’s collection of interviews from her public radio show, “Fresh Air,” All I Did Was Ask—and I read that last winter.

Five Books That Mean A Lot To Me:

1. James Joyce’s Ulysses: In college, I was reluctant to speak up in class because I hadn’t fully outgrown my shyness. (It’s true! And I’m such a loudmouth now.) We read Ulysses in my senior seminar in English (technically, I haven’t read the whole thing—the reading was assigned chapter by chapter, and there were times when I just hadn’t read a chapter but had to move on to catch up; and no, I’m not ashamed, and yes, I plan to reread the whole book someday). In one chapter, Joyce’s language went nuts—a bravura assemblage of many different varieties of language all packed into a single chapter. And I had an idea! An idea I shared with the class! That the prof liked and my friend said was brilliant! It was a highlight of my academic career, seriously. I suggested that Joyce may have felt like the book had gotten away from him, and he was wresting control back from his characters by showing his mastery of the language in that chapter.

2. Randy Shilts’ And the Band Played On: This was one of my earlier ventures into reading nonfiction about germs (in this case, HIV) and the fascinating ways in which epidemiologists ply their trade. I’ve been hooked ever since.

3. Barbara Kingsolver’s Poisonwood Bible: Though I may have been drawn in more by Kingsolver’s romantic and feminist Animal Dreams, Poisonwood fed my love for wordplay. The book is narrated in turns by various members of a family. My favorite chapters were young Adah’s; her name was almost a palindrome and Kingsolver toyed with language in her chapters.

Because I’ve been rambling and can’t think of two more, I’ll stop with three books.

Now, let me throw down the gauntlet and ask a few other people to share their responses: Feral Mom, Mona, and Ms. AngelPants. Let's hear it, ladies!


Charlie said...

I love it! Thanks for responding, I was worried nobody would take me up on it. This was a fun meme. Talk to me about books or music and I can bloviate for hours without end.

I'm embarassed to find that I haven't read any of the books you named. I'll have to rectify that. The headache book sounds especially interesting.

Mona Buonanotte said...

Ooh, the pressure! I'll have to do some homework on this one...and some counting.

Orange said...

Pffft, Charlie, don't feel pressured by my reading habits. I haven't been reading many actual grown-up books in the last five years. I bought the headache book, and I look forward to reading it someday, but I can't swear that I'll get to it this year.

I don't drink, I don't do drugs, I don't smoke. But I buy books, read blogs, and do crosswords in a fashion that some might say poses problems. And no, I can't stop any time I want. Because there's no reason to, dammit. Somebody has to keep these authors employed, right? And say "hello, I'm here" to fellow bloggers. And the crosswords? Is it not incumbent on me to share my gift with the world? ;-)

BabyPink said...

i haven't read joyce's "ulysses" and i've been wanting to read it for the longest time. your idea about the "mixed language" chapter reminded me of gaarder's "sophie's world".:)