Tuesday, December 20, 2011

A Literary Meme

I can't resist a good literary meme.  I got this one from Mad Housewife.
1. What author do you own the most books by?
Barbara Pym, if I discount books that belong to the same series.
2. What book do you own the most copies of?
None right now, but I used to own multiple copies of Anne of Green Gables and Thimble Summer by Elizabeth Enright.
3. Did it bother you that both those questions ended with prepositions?
4. What fictional character are you secretly in love with?
I have to pick just one?  My top literary hotties are Lord Peter Wimsey, Lucius Malfoy, Frank Greystoke from The Eustace Diamonds by Anthony Trollope, Almanzo Wilder, Aragorn, Captain James Aubrey from Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey-Maturin series, and Harry Flashman.
5. What book have you read the most times in your life (excluding picture books read to children, i.e. Goodnight Moon does not count)?
Little House on the Prairie
6. What was your favorite book when you were ten years old?
Ten was a tough year for me.  We moved to a new town just before Christmas and I was miserable at my new school and our new house was ice cold all the time (we discovered 10 years later that the heating ducts had never been connected to my bedroom) and I couldn't master long division.  I was drawn to books about lonely girls who hated their schools.  The one that stands out is The Secret Language by Ursula Nordstrom.  Also The Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnet.  
7. What is the worst book you’ve read in the past year?
The Mists of Avalon by Zimmer Bradley.  Another huge best-seller that is total crap.  It's the story of King Arthur told from the women's perspective--Morgaine and her crowd.  A heavier, more humorless book you will not find anywhere.  
8. If you could force everyone to read one book, what would it be?
The Evolution Man or: How I Ate my Father by Roy Lewis.  This is one of the funniest books I've ever read.  When I finished it, I felt a strong urge to go out on the streets and press copies of it into people's hands.
9. Who deserves to win the next Nobel Prize for Literature?
I have no idea.  
10. What book would you most like to see made into a movie?
The Eustace Diamonds by Anthony Trollope.
11. What book would you least like to see made into a movie?
The Flashman novels would be disastrous as films.  Once you edit out everything that's offensive, there's nothing fun left.
12. Describe your weirdest dream involving a writer, book, or literary character.
I read The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner all in one day, cramming for an exam in college.  I had weird dreams that night.
13. What is the most lowbrow book you’ve read as an adult?
Forever Amber by Kathleen Winsor
14. What is the most difficult book you’ve ever read?
To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf
15. What is the most obscure Shakespeare play you’ve seen?
Alas, I've only seen well-known Shakespeare.

16. Do you prefer the French or the Russians?
The Russians.  In high school, our AP English teacher was a Russian.  This was at an all-girls' school that had just two other men on the staff: the American history teacher and the janitor.  So along comes Mr. Roman the Russian with his mournful, vodka-soaked Russian accent, and we were all in love within the first five minutes of our first class.  The entire curriculum that year was Russian literature, except for a brief, brain-killing detour through the works of James Joyce.
17. Roth or Updike?
I am embarrassed to admit I've never read any Roth.  He's on my list, I swear it!  So I will have to go with Updike.
18. David Sedaris or Dave Eggers?
I must be the only person in the US who has never read David Sedaris.  I know that some serious literary people sneer at A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, but I liked it.  His descriptions of his mother's illness and death are very similar to what I experienced when my own mother died.  And I could relate to his encounters with the pretentious parents of Berkley--he calls them the "Berkley parentiscenti" and they sound an awful lot like a some Charlottesville parents I know (and wish I didn't).  I'm giving this one to Eggers. 

19. Shakespeare, Milton or Chaucer?
20. Austen or Eliot?
Austen but I also like Eliot.
21. What is the biggest or most embarrassing gap in your reading?
I don't think I've read even one book that was published in the last two years.
22. What is your favorite novel?
Who could ever have one favorite novel?  If I want something delicious and cozy: Buddenbrooks by Thomas Mann.   If I want to laugh:  My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrell.  If I'm gently melancholy:  Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont by Elizabeth Taylor.  If I'm in a pre-war state of mind:  Berlin Stories by Christopher Isherwood.  If I want to be miserable:  Dubliners by James Joyce. If I want to feel better about getting older:  The Diaries of Jane Somers by Doris Lessing.  If I am feeling wicked: anything by Iris Murdoch or Flannery O'Connor.  If I want romance: The Balkan Trilogy by Olivia Manning.

23. Play?
Reading plays is unnatural.  If I HAVE to pick one, then let it be The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde.
24. Poem?
Pied Beauty by Gerard Manley Hopkins.
25. Essay?
"The Crackup" by F. Scott Fitzgerald.
26. Short story?
"Revelation" by Flannery O'Connor.

27. Work of nonfiction?
Again, it's hard to pick just one, but since I just finished reading it and it was excellent, I'll go with London: the Biography by Peter Ackroyd.

28. Who is your favorite writer?
This is just like asking me to name a favorite novel.
29. Who is the most overrated writer alive today?
John Grisham.  
30. What is your desert island book?
Buddenbrooks, maybe?  Or The Complete Short Stories of Flannery O'Connor.
31. And…what are you reading right now?
Flashman and the Dragon by George MacDonald Fraser


  1. Your breadth as a reader is breathtaking.

  2. I loved "Buddenbrooks." Must read it again. I've never met anyone, except my mother, who even knew who Barbara Pym was. She's a rare treasure. "Barchester Towers" - yes, absolutely loved those books. You must read Sedaris. He's hilarious. Love your blog, Patience. :)

  3. I LOVE The Importance of Being Earnest.

    And I love that you said "Lucius Malfoy".

  4. Dear Patience, would you mind if I used your meme as a template on my own blog?

    Harry Flashman? My, you do like the rogues.

  5. TSB, of course you can use this!

    Mef, Thanks for stopping by. :)

    Bythelbs, I probably should have specified that I imagine Lucius as played by Jason Isaacs. :)

  6. BTW. If you like The Flashman Series, try and get hold of "McAuslan in the Rough" by the same author.

    Some of the best written and funniest stories of the British (Scottish) Army you'll ever read, and told with an obvious affection for the times and his men.

  7. The answer to number 29 surely must be Dan Brown, the worst successful writer who ever took a breath.

  8. I've never read Sedaris but I did read the Eggers book.
    I couldn't do this meme. I gave away most of my books when we did the big move. I've been going to the library for 5 years.