Monday, February 20, 2006

Starlight's Pesky Book Meme

Oh dear. I've caught a pesky book meme from Starlight who caught it from Jane Sunshine. Can't resist.

1. What is the total number of books you've owned?

My current library is well over a thousand books, but I've lost so many more moving from one part of the world to another. I've also given away a fair number to friends who I felt would appreciate them; lent books that haven't been returned by folks unclear on the concept of 'borrow'; and culled books I felt wouldn't read again when I ran out of space ...

2. What is the last book you bought?

Yesterday I picked up a book I'd ordered weeks back from Raman: Patricia Highmith's short story collection Nothing That Meets the Eye.

3. What is the last book you've read?

Stuart - A Life Backwards by Alexander Masters. Currently writing a review of it for the Star.

4. What are you currently reading?

The Accidental by Ali Smith, and enjoying it greatly. My bedtime reading is a few pages of Thank You for Not Reading by Dubraka Egresic, a collection of essays about the state of the book industry by the Croatian critic.

5. What are the 5 books that have meant a lot to you or that you particularly enjoyed?

Only 5?! These are books I have read several times and will keep coming back to:

A Hero of Our Time by Mikhail Lermontov. Was haunted by the book ever since I read it in Russian at school (hey - the simplified version, okay!). "Hero" battles boredom in a series of poignant interlinked stories which shows the sickeness of the age.

The Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys. A prequel that's much better than the book it's based on. The story of how Jane Eyre's Mrs. Rochester was driven mad by her husband. Love the sensuality of the writing.

Crime and Punishment by Fydor Dostoevsky. A dark crime novel about a homicide and it's aftermath. Way ahead of its time.

Captain Corelli's Mandolin by Louis de Bernieres. I've never laughed and cried so much when reading a book. Took to my bed for a couple of days in a state of total emotional collapse when Corelli disappeared.

The Shipping News by Annie Proulx. Funny and moving. But it's the language that gives me the most joy - every sentence so carefully crafted. Imagery that jumps to the eye and leaves you breathless with surprise. I could eat this book, it's so perfect.

6. What book(s) would you wish to buy next?

I'm dying to read Alan Bennett's Untold Stories. Wish I'd picked it up in the UK where it was ridiculously cheap but my suitcase was already way over weight. It's just arrived in the bookshops here.

7. What book(s) that caught your attention but never has a chance to read?

I admitted to Raman yesterday with incredible shame that I've never read Kafka's The Trial. Must do something about this quickly.

8. What book(s) that you've owned for so long but never read it?

I have gazillions of books I've bought but not yet got round to reading on my shelves. (And feel guilty about).

I feel most guilty about James Joyce's Ulysses. I've read and enjoyed parts of it (especially Molly Bloom's luscious soliliquy), but the book as a whole still terrifies.

I want to read Donna Tart's The Secret History and Barry Unsworth's Pascali's Island, but other books keep getting in the way.

9. Who are you going to pass this stick to (3 persons) and why?

Can I cheat and say anyone who reads this and wants to be infected by it?

31 comments:

Animah said...

Can't resist either:
1. Does anyone really count their books - I just know they filled about 10 boxes when I moved house a few weeks ago.
2. Oh that would be the Hafiz poems with you Sharon, on Valentines Day - I've been discliplined enough not to walk into a bookshop since then.
3. House of Spirits, Isabelle Allende as our Book Club is doing that tonight.
4. I am rereading Deepak Chopra's 7 Spritual Laws for Parenting. But I generally read at least 5 books concurrently so this is a bit hard to answer.
5. Oh the Desert Island Disc question reduced by half. I've always drawn up these lists for fun, bit like whathisname in Horby's High Fidelity. I'll try now with the caveat that more will occur to me after I've posted this:
a) EM Foster's Room With a View - sentimental reasons.
b) The Ogre Downstairs by Dianna Wynn Jones - soon all my friends kids over 8 will get them as birthday presents. It's hillarious.
c) Alice In Wonderland - you saw that coming right?
d) Immortality, Kundera. The way he slips characters, and even himself into the story makes you feel that he's having so much fun, and sharing that joy with you the reader. Where time weaves in and out without reason - what a trip.
e) The Wind Up Bird Chronicles, Murakami - because you cannot think when you read it, but just let yourself be...
Would like to add the Magic Roundabout and Ada (Nabakov who plays with words rolling off the tongue). OK, so I've cheated, but the children's books are short...
Yes, I clearly enjoy books where tha writer has gone on some bizzare trip.

6. That new biography about Mattise that you blogged about recently.

7. Yes to The Trial too, and I bought it at Silverfish.

8. Er, The Trial?

9. Oh, I don't know - can I go back to work now? (short span of attention)

Kak Teh said...

can i cheat and say i didnt read this post? I am too embarassed to admit that between my other hald and i, we have thousands as well but read just a fraction of that - a few ages of this and a few pages of that. Currently reading Lord Jim by Joseph Conrad, In the footsteps of Raffles by Nigel Barley. Just finihsed The Real Story of Anthony Burgess - thanks to sharon who mentioned it in her blog. Didnt finish Bloody Foreigners by Robert Winder..but then again - never finished a lot of books.

The Visitor said...

Crime & Punishment???

CRIME & PUNISHMENT????

you are indeed mad!!!

The Visitor said...

erm, Animah, i think ur supposed to do it on your own blog. :D

bibliobibuli said...

animah - loved your list! kundera, yes ... wish i'd had space for him ... and murukami

kak teh - you did buy the book on burgess - good for you! conrad - must fill in some gaps in my reading - it's his centenary (of birth? death?) next year so we ought to clebrate in a big way in this part of the world

visitor - wassup with that? - don't like crime fiction, is it?

Animah said...

Visitor, I don't have a blog. I just ride on Sharon's or rant and rave when with social activists. Otherwise I am a very passive Malaysian who keeps her many opinions to herself and then peer perplexed as my rights are slowly but surely eroded. Hope to see your Ah Moi tonight :)

bibliobibuli said...

visitor - i was going to make exactly the same comment about animah!

Walker said...

Oooh, The Accidental. I *loved* that book, but then I haven't shut up about it since so it's kind of obvious.

Jane Sunshine said...

Aiyoh! That's the problem with you Sharon. Whenever I come here, you will produce a few more titles which I MUST read now. I have to get The Shipping News. And if you finish Ulysses, that impossible book, let me know. I want to put you on a pedestal.

And you read in Russian?!

The Visitor said...

ah, Animah, u should start a blog! then when no one reads it, threaten to quit blogging. then when the readers come back, continue. then when they disappear, you make another threat. trust me, i've done it countless times! haha!

The Visitor said...

i can't recall where we had a discussion abt Crime & Punishment. cant even remember if it was on this blog or on my own blog. or maybe it was on Eyeris's blog.

but i know a lot of ppl, me included, who couldn't get past page two of that book, or any book by Dostoyevsky!

bibliobibuli said...

walker - rave all you like about the accidental - i'm loving it - laugh out loud funny in parts - am about a third of the way through and intrigued

i think it's a book the visitor might like (ghost story)

jane sunshine - the shipping news is must read ... must blog another day (Bloomsday)about how to cheat at reading Ulysses ... i used to read in russian ... but 30+ years on it's slipped away ... shame because it is a very beautiful language

visitor - okay then i'm going to stop blogging tomorrow

aiyoh visitor - the debaste wasn't here so must have been with eyeris - just press on past the first page or two - it isn't actually a hard read - i recently read the brothers karamazov and didn't find that very easy though it was incredibly powerful

Walker said...

I love the way it's told -- through unconscious thought...sort of drawing attention to the madness in us all.

And erm...I bite my tongue. I've just deleted something I really shouldn't be discussing until you're over half-way through.

I'm not one of those people who posts spoilers. ;)

Sufian said...

1. What is the total number of books you've owned?

3k. Sadly, I feel pride. And it made me look down on other people. Still does. Yes, you. Pleb!

2. What is the last book you bought?

Not actually bought, but was given by Natasya: Kafka on the Shore, Murakami. Though, yesterday I found a Henning Mankell yesterday that I really-really wanted to buy, so I'm imploring the reader of this blog to buy it for me. Think of it as giving money to me. And yeah, spreading joy and all that crap.

3. What is the last book you've read?

Amy Hempel, Reasons to Live. I'm reading it every two days, cause ohmygod the chick can write! So don't anyone dare like Amy Hempel. I will santau you. I am not kidding.

4. What are you currently reading?

Kafka on the Shore. His schtup is getting a bit to predictable. History of USA, 200 years and still not civilized. History of Lit in USA. At work i try to read Gulag.

5. What are the 5 books that have meant a lot to you or that you particularly enjoyed?

Amy Hempel - Reasons to live.
Orhan Pamuk - My Name is Red.
Borges - Collected Fictions.
(the next two changes every week)
Knut Hamsun - Hunger
Friedrich Durrenmatt - The Assignment

Lermontov made me sleep. Dostoevsky made me sleep. Anny Proulx makes me want to slash her wrist.Twice.No make it twenty four times.

6. What book(s) would you wish to buy next?

Auto-da-fe, Elias Canetti. Etgar Karet (sic?), curse you Sharon for showing Ruhayat the book! Now I must own it. I must! Homo Sacer, Giorgio Agamben.

7. What book(s) that caught your attention but never has a chance to read?

Anti-Oedipus. Deleuze and Guattari. Send money and I'll read the book.

8. What book(s) that you've owned for so long but never read it?

Rememberance of Times Past, Proust. Final Exam, Cortazar.

bibliobibuli said...

sufian - 3k books!!!

had to google up some of the names on your list (being but a poor pleb) - went to amazon to look at amy hempel - had to wish list it because i can't buy any more books for now (i was going to say curse you for making me desire yet another book, but can't bring myself to)

won't google the rest of the names for now until solvency sets in

i have fewer books than you so am more deserving of other folks book-giving charity than you are

you can borrow the keret if you like ...

bibliobibuli said...

walker - i'm going to have to read the accidental quickly so i can go back and look at waht you wrote about it - i don't even like to read reviews of a book before i read it - i don't read the blurb on the book cover!!

dreamer idiot said...

Wah, so many books I haven't read. I have only managed about a 100 literary fiction so far...long, long way to go.

Visitor, out of curiosity, why does Dostoevsky put you off? For my two sense opinion, I think he is quite a genius. The psychological depth of his characters (and the intensity of reading them) is so hauntingly powerful and dark. Dostoevsky looks at the deepest extremes of the human condition and struggles in seeking out some form of redemption.

Walker said...

Oh sure. Same here. :) And I meant 'conscious thought' btw. I keep prefixing it with 'un' for some reason. Something to do with my con..er..unconscious thought patterns I think.

Er.... ;)

bibliobibuli said...

dreamer idiot - the fun is that that you've got so many great books ahead of you to enjoy. how do you get your reading material 'cos you're so far away from bookshop civilisation?

walker - yeah - i wondered about the 'un' ... and yes, love the way it's told too

The Visitor said...

i did NOT say Dostoyevsky puts me off. neither did i say he wasn't a genius.

i just said that the book is very difficult to read, and i couldn't get past the first two pages.

itu saja.

bibliobibuli said...

some books are horrible to get into but worth it in the end ... can think of several other favourites I struggled with at first ... hmmm feel another blog post coming on ...

The Visitor said...

The Name Of The Rose is definitely another one of those hard-at-first-but-worth-it-in-the-end books.

Sufian said...

Sharon.

I can't bring myself to read borrowed books. Reading borrowed books is like cheating with someone's wife. Delightful romp, of course, until you realize the shotgun hole in your gut.

It will end in tears, is all i can say.

So. Buy. Yes.

Re: difficult books. But worth it.

Catcher in the Rye. Vomit blood beginning (like mainlining castor oil, someone said, to my absolute delight!). Limp end.

Oh.

Right.

Yeah it's crap from beginning to end.

Sorry.

Greenbottle said...

I'd like to read Stuart- a life backward...

another book I wish i have is "the history of penis"...one reviewer mentioned that the book devides human history into 3 era... 1) spiritual penis...linga and all that 2) penis as power...black penis etc 3) and the current age?...yes ladies and gents it's the age of entertainment penis...how true!...would love to hear comments from count clitoris (amir)

and about dostoevski...my old hotmail address starts with raskolnikov...that says it all about my feeling towards this great writer...

The Visitor said...

the book i want is The Prehistory Of Sex. i cant find it anywhere.

if anyone should locate it, pls do let me know.

bibliobibuli said...

visitor - i never made it v. far into the name of the rose ... i really must try harder

sufian - i hate to borrow books too - can't enjoy them. (serious deep-level book addiction this). I did tell renee in mph's marketing department that she had to bring in keret!

greenbottle - yes i saw that book on the history of the penis(!) on the new york times website - sounded great fun

visitor - here's a link to your book at abebooks and you can pick up a copy for US$1 (plus postge). sorted!

The Visitor said...

WOW thanks!!!

but will it get past customs, cos of the word SEX in the title?

it's not even porn.

bibliobibuli said...

i've only ever had one parcel with books in opened ... and i don't think customs would worry too much about a single copy which you weren't planning to sell ... at that price risk it!

Anonymous said...

Joyce is incredible :)

The Great Swifty said...

I can never understand the fuss about Haruki Murakami. Yes, Wind-up Bird happened to be the last book I read, currently reading the obscure Ship of Fools by Gregory Norminton, and I can't help but realized how out-of-control Haruki really is. Some can say that they are pulled in by the book's randomness, the surrealism, the symbolism, the writing technique, the sheer detachment and loneliness etc etc. Me? I pretty much screamed in frustration when one of those stories within a story that didn't have much to do with the main plot (and would last for CHAPTERS) was tossed at me. If the ending wasn't THAT decent (most loose ends were tied, joy.), I would've hated him even more.

Perhaps it had to do with the fact that I read Kitchen by Banana Yoshimoto just before tackling his book. Anyway, I'll read Norwegian Wood sometime later.

Anonymous said...

1. What is the total number of books you've owned?

About a hundred. I'm more into quality than quantity actually (which is a good justification for being too broke to buy more.)

2. What is the last book you bought?

3. What is the last book you've read?

Terry Pratchett's "Monstrous Regiment".

4. What are you currently reading?

Ken Follett's "A Dangerous Fortune".

5. What are the 5 books that have meant a lot to you or that you particularly enjoyed?

"All I really needed to know I learned in Kindergarten" -- Robert Fulghum

"Tuesdays with Morrie" -- Mitch Albom

"Men at Arms" -- Terry Pratchett

"Master of the Game" -- Sidney Sheldon

"An Orderly House" -- Beverly Harrell

6. What book(s) would you wish to buy next?

Not a clue. Any recommendations ?

7. What book(s) that caught your attention but never has a chance to read?

Mostly due to advertising and hype -- most of Harry Potter, Neil Gaiman's stuff, this Italian teenager's dragon story (I've forgotten what it's called.)

8. What book(s) that you've owned for so long but never read it?

Too many. Yeah about Joyce. Only book I ever needed a dictionary to read. But memorable.

9. Who are you going to pass this stick to (3 persons) and why?

What stick ? :)