Sunday, December 17, 2006

Book Meme-ing Via She Says

Pilfered from She Says at Unblague. You can go to her site to see the full pedigree.

1) One book that changed your life?
The Peoples of the British Isles. A New History from Prehistoric Times to 1688 by Stanford Lehmberg. The original is out of print, but there are updated versions. If I hadn't gotten married, I think Stan's book would have been what dropped me into Wales to study Tudor history. As it was, it got me out of engineering and into four years of history and English. Sure, I don't do those things now, but I still use what I learned, and my writing and research skills have always been better than average. I console myself with the theory that if I had stayed a historian and moved to Wales, I'd have just ended up working for T Finance's Welsh office in the long run.

2) One book you have read more than once?
I'm going to name three, because as a kid I just rotated between them for a while. Jules Verne's Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, H.G. Wells' Time Machine and H.G. Wells' War of the Worlds. In particular, there was a copy of TTLUtS in my elementary school library that was annotated with little picures and vocabulary breakouts - I think I renewed it every few weeks for almost two years. It was probably what fed my obsession with dystopias later in life.

3) One book you would want on a desert island?
I gave this some thought. The Decameron and The Canterbury Tales both come readily to mind, particularly as there's a little bit of filth in each. But my first choice would be my complete Shakespeare collection. Maybe that's cheating - after all, it's a big pile of individual works, not a single work. So...just to clarify, in case I'm ever doing a Robinson Crusoe and have to be very picky when I'm at the shipwreck before it goes under - if it's my complete Shakespeare that I have along, I'm grabbing that. If it's a variety of Shakespearian portfolios, I'm grabbing Canterbury Tales followed by The Decameron.

4) One book that made you cry?
Evelyn Waugh's A Handful of Dust. The idea of reading Dicken's in a jungle for the rest of my life made me acutely sad.

5) One book that made you laugh?
Let's just go with the latest. Just this afternoon Jasper Fforde's Something Rotten made me laugh. There's a show called Evade The Question Time where two members of the British government are debating and an audience member states, "A Terrible Thing was done by Somebody this week, and I'd like to ask the panel if they condemn this." The discussion details which party intends to do what, and how the one part is soft on Terrible Things while the other party means to give full punishment to things that are Outrageously Awful and Mildly Inappropriate, as they can lead to things that are Obscenely Perverse. Later, a politcian points out that England shouldn't trust Denmark because they euthenize kittens and puppies, so they can't be that humanitarian. Fforde's mocking of government is hilarious.

6) One book you wish had been written?
Navigating Corporate Politics for Developers. Alternatively, any of those I've started writing and have never finished...

7) One book you wish had never been written?
Faith Popcorn's The Popcorn Report. In grad school this book made me so angry that my thesis adviser was highly amused. I don't think he'd ever seen me so passionate about something I hated. Premise...sign up a big pile of fortune 500 companies...have them tell you what they're doing so you get a baseline. Watch the newspaper and see how many people are camping or collecting angel dolls. Tell the fortune 500 companies, angels in the's in. Feel vindicated when they all run angel and wilderness advertisements and point to each other as proof that it is in. I'm also not very fond of Camille Paglia's Sexual Personae (1974), but she makes coherent arguments, so I'm willing to let that one slide.

8) One book you are reading currently?
Fforde's Something Rotten. It's the fourth, and last, book in the Thursday Next series. I've enjoyed them all.

9) One book you have been meaning to read?
David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest. I'm horrified I haven't read it, as I started it, and loved it (and him...I've read some of his articles as well), but had to set it down when I started a Biztalk/Reporting Services project at work before either of those things really had a book, and my time sort of vanished. It's a goal for 2007. I also have David Neiwert's In God's Country in my queue. The man doesn't have a Wikipedia entry? Seriously?

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