Monday, 29 October 2007


I've stoically maintained medical content in my blogging with no sorties solely in to my personal or family life, no memes or lists and no film reviews or the like.

For no good reason other than I like her blog and I'm curiously inclined to acquiesce to older lady's polite requests, I'm running with Elaine's tag about books. Too, I am rather fond of books.

4 childhood books
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. My father read the whole Narnia series to me and, to this day, I remember being snuggled in bed with wondrously fanciful bedtime stories. The Queen, the Turkish Delight, Aslan, it's all compelling stuff. Only now, with an adult's perspective, do I get how unfair it is that a bloke can be a treacherous traitor but be forgiven, but the lass who errs didn't get to enter paradise.
Winnie-the-Pooh. Again, excellent tales I loved as a child and as an adult. I've shared them with my kids, too. And I liked the child friendly introduction to poetry that AA Milne wrote.
Swallows and Amazons. My father had a full set of all Arther Ransome's series, original hardback first editions, that I'd read and be thoroughly absorbed in for hours on end. Better still, we spent Summer holidays in the Lake District with family every year so I really did get to swim in Lake Windermere and my father'd row us around to the small islands that were used in the novels.
Dune. I read it thinking I was all grown up and reading proper literature (I know, I know, but that was the least of my clangers) and hated it, failing to grasp the plot. I reread it after seeing the film and loved it. The scope of it suddenly became clear . . . the great Houses, the Spacing Guild with the monopoly it held, the genetic manipulation, the feuds, the Fremen's values, the challenge of a desert world, the massive political machinations that all made sense.

4 authors I will read again and again
Terry Pratchett. Trudi Canavan is popular at the moment, Iain Banks and Gibson and Asimov and Lovecraft entertain me with SciFi, Sergei Lukyanenko's Watch trilogy had me up for nights reading obsessively, but from all the SciFi and fantasy authors Pratchett is the one I probably read over and over again the most. The plots are variable with some great and some weaker but the characters and humour see it through, for me, such that I've always read the novel for the plot and pleasure then reread them and invariably got more out of it.
Bill Bryson. A bit like Michael Moore, you couldn't stand to hear what he's got to say day in day out, but Bryson's style appeals to me and his research is at least somewhat involved even when it's not wholly impartial. Still, the combination of good writing, interestingly researched with personal context grounding it all makes his texts easy to dip in and out of time and time again.
Paulo Coelho. The Zahir did little for me, the Witch of Portobello did more, The Alchemist was fantastic. Each time I read it I get more out of it.
Kurt Vonnegut. He challenges and muddles and intrigues me without pushing me too far away to lose me. My favourite, Slaughterhouse Five, I love even though I still don't really grasp it. The whole impact and futility and barbarism of the bombing of Dresden really has impact without being gratuitous or detached with morally reprehensible claims, it's all the more shocking impact for simply and elegantly describing it as it was. The anti war theme is so well crafted, with none of the usual zeal or extreme positioning. I get more from it each time I read it.

4 authors I will never read again
Stephen Fry. I'm lying on this, just 'cause I'm sulking. He's a genius and I own most everything he's written. Days after Moab is my Washpot was on the shelves I got my copy only to find his autobiography stopped at late adolescence. Robbed, I was! Patiently waiting for Serendipity is my Linen Basket, or whatever sequel it will be, nothing has been forthcoming. But this lovers tiff will pass, all will be forgiven, when the next book's penned . . .
Emily Brontë. Although I try so hard to read some 'proper' literature episodically, I just couldn't win, here. I tried Wuthering Heights twice this Summer and just couldn't get in to it. Kate Bush lead me to believe it would be windswept moors and exciting romance and passion transcending death. No. It's anachronistic English text 'bout two households mundane interactions with just three brief forrays to the moors in the whole book. Gah!
JRR Tolkein. I've read so much so many times that I'm all Hobbited out. And no matter what anyone says, The Silmarillion is rubbish.
Will Self. I've been engrossed by most anything he has to say when I've seen him on TV or being interviewed on the radio. Erudite, loquatious, insightful, I thought I'd dabble in his books and enjoy How the Dead Live. It was ghastly, one of the few books I've not been able to finish. Ho hum.

The first 4 books on my to be read list
The Picture of Dorian Gray. I started this in the late 80's but never finished it 'cause I broke up with my partner at the time and she nicked off with it! Some day I'll get around to finishing it, I'm quite fond of Wilde.
The Works of Algernon Charles Swinburne. From Alice Cooper's Poison I found my way to Swinbune's Dolores, our Lady of Pain. I've never really devoted enough time to many of his poems and, some day, will make time to muse over them.
The Collected Poems of Rupert Brooke. Again, I've read many of Brooke's poems, which is odd as he's the only war poet I'm taken with. Again I found him by accident, after hearing Pink Floyd's The Gunner's Dream I was taken by the line "in the space between the Heavens and the corner of some foreign field, I had a dream." Chatting to more learned friends I learnt that "The corner of some foreign field" was a line from Rupert Brooke's The Soldier. I read more but it's years since I read much of Brooke, he's another poet I really should devote more time to.
Nigella Express. I do a lot of the cooking in the house, my wife reckons I need to learn more snappy, quickly produced meals. We've bought Nigella's latest book, it's on my list of Things To Look At.

The 4 books I would take to a desert island
Dune since it captivates me each and every time I read it.
A Bible to help sustain faith.
Slaughterhouse Five as it's the book I've bought most times (having lost and given away more times than I care to remember).
Collected works of Shakespeare since I like a few of his plays and I love most of his sonnetts so this'd absorb me for ages. Too, it's good to have something soft, strong and thoroughly absorbent that can also be used usefully with kindling.

The last lines of one of my favourite books
The House at Pooh Corner, In Which Christopher Robin and Pooh Come to an Enchanted Place, and We Leave Them There.

Two folk I'd tag to do the same, if they'd wish to, would be Cal and Dr Brown.


aart hilal said...

I'm a big Paulo Coelho's fan and I don't know if you heard about his blog
I've started as a fan and now I'm collaborating with him and thought that you would like to enter his universe.
Check the blog, if you want, or subscribe to his newsletter
You'll see a community of warriors of light sharing ideas, dreams and most importantly following their personal legend.

"The glory of the world is transitory, and we should not measure our lives by it, but by the choice we make to follow our personal legend, to believe in our utopias and to fight for our dreams. "

See u there and have a great day!

Zarathustra said...

"The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe"

Or, as a friend of mine calls it, The Cat, The Bitch and the Cupboard.

Elaine said...

Thank you so much for accepting my tag. I really enjoyed your list, and would happily go along with most of your choices, although sorry to say I had never heard of Paulo Coelho - must find out. Terry Pratchet gives me a great problem, as I have to have the complete collection of any author I like, and he has been so prolific it would probably bankrupt me!

Calavers said...

I love this meme - I'll do it - thanks for tagging me! I disagree with many of your choices, though!

The Silmarillion is a WONDERFUL book (HOW DARE YOU!) but Paulo Coehlo... I just think he's entirely overrated and writes about nonsense! (Though I did like the Alchemist.)

I've not tried any Pratchet just yet, but I absolutely love the Night Watch Trilogy!

I'm gonna do this meme as soon as I get back from work. Thanks for the tag once again!

Laila said...

Aren't there more than three Watch books? Discworld Fansite

Dr Andrew Brown said...

Concerning Susan being "no longer a friend of Narnia" it may just be misogyny, but whereas Edward committed a single evil act and then repented, it appears that Susan consistently turned away from Narnia in favour of shallow worldly values over a long period of time. I think there is a parallel with the dwarves who refused to be "taken in".

Thanks for the tag. I'll think about it.

Jan said...

I share your feelings about Will Self, and have failed to complete (as we say in the world of mental health) The Quantity Theory of Insanity as well as How the Dead Live. However, Great Apes was an incredibly compelling read, one of the few books that genuinely transported me into an alternative reality, and I recommend you give it a go.

A. said...

I feel I have to offer you an apology, because I was the one who imported the thing from France. I am a bit on the old side, so perhaps I'll be excused too.