Well, I see that McEwan did not win the Booker after all; Anne Enright did, for her book The Gathering. The NYTimes describes it as “a family epic set in England and Ireland, in which a brother’s suicide prompts 39-year-old Veronica Hegarty to probe her family’s troubled, tangled history.” Sounds pretty good, doesn’t it?
But what I really wanted to post on is a book meme, one I’ve seen floating around for a while and finally feel the time has come to do my own version of it. So here goes:
How many books do you own? I have no idea, actually. If I were to list them on Library Thing, I guess I’d have a number? But I haven’t ever gotten into that site, and so I just don’t know. Hobgoblin and I together have 3 1/2 full, large bookcases in our living room, I have two large bookcases and one small one in my study, and Hobgoblin two large ones and two small ones in his. Plus I have some stacked on the floor and a few more in my office. How many that adds up to I have no idea. Not that many, probably, compared to what some book bloggers have!
Last book you bought? I mooch books so much, I’ve stopped buying books very often; it’s been a long time since I’ve been in a bookstore — too long, in fact. I need to go soon. Amazon tells me (yes, I had to look it up) that the last book I ordered from them is Seneca’s Letters from a Stoic.
Last book someone bought you? Well, the last book someone gave me is Xiaolu Guo’s A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers, which Stefanie gave to me for doing well in a contest. I’m not sure how she got it, but does the actual buying matter for the purposes of the meme? I doubt it. Thank you Stefanie!
Last book read? On Chesil Beach, and before that Moon Tiger, by Penelope Lively, and before that, Waverley, by Walter Scott. But if you follow this blog regularly, you know that already.
Five books that mean a lot to me:
1. Believe it or not, Pamela, by Samuel Richardson. This book matters because it’s largely what got me interested in the 18C, this book and other wonderful novels like Robinson Crusoe and Tristram Shandy and The Female Quixote. But Pamela is the weirdest, most fascinating of a weird and fascinating lot. And it’s epistolary! I love epistolary novels. Although I may love epistolary novels because Pamela made me love them. I’m not sure where it began.
2. The Little House on the Prairie series. I could mention a number of young adult books for this meme, but I’ll stick with these ones. It’s a series that utterly captivated me; I read them over and over and over again, I don’t know how many times. I wanted to be Laura Ingalls so badly! I learned to love reading with these books, and I also learned how to read closely and carefully — I wanted to know as much as I could about her life, so I scoured them looking for every significant detail.
3. Virginia Woolf’s To the Lighthouse. I’ve read this book several times and each time I’m captivated. I read it first for an undergrad class and enjoyed writing a paper on it so much it confirmed my sense that I should go to graduate school. And I used this essay for my grad school applications. It’s the beauty of Woolf’s writing that draws me to it, but even more so, it’s what she says about women and men and communication and language and art — the combination of all these things — that makes me love it.
4. I’m going to be a bit of a copy-cat and use one of Verbivore’s answers: Montaigne’s essays. I haven’t read them all yet, but I’ve read many, and I hope to read and re-read all of them soon. I studied the essay in college and it was a formative experience — I learned to love the genre, and, of course, Montaigne is the master. He writes so openly and courageously and with such curiosity. I love the wandering, meandering style he has, and the way he uses the essay as a means to discover what he thinks, rather than as a means of presenting a conclusions he’s already thought his way to.
5. I can think of a lot of possibilities for this last book, but I can’t settle on one, so I’ll list a few: The Bible (the book that has shaped my life the most, surely); Philip Lopate’s The Art of the Personal Essay (which deepened my love of the essay genre — a truly fabulous book); Laurence Sterne’s A Sentimental Journey (a book important to my dissertation); Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice (because you know I can’t do a meme like this without mentioning Austen!); Nicholson Baker’s U & I (a book that taught me to love quirky, unclassifiable nonfiction books); and anything by George Eliot (because the Victorian novel is one of my earliest loves and Eliot is my favorite from the time).