Monday, August 07, 2006

One Book . . .

Untagged as I may be, I'm still taking a meme from Terry Teachout's blog and running with it:

One book that changed your life
"Changed my life" is a bit dramatic, and, for me at least, not really accurate for any book. But the single book that probably had the single biggest impact on me was Shel Silverstein's The Giving Tree. It was given to me by a favorite Aunt when I was but a wee one, and it's been a constant ever since - I've had the remarkable pleasure of now reading it to my own children, a pleasure, given their ages (2) and limited appreciation of literature in general, that will only continue to reap regards in the years to come.

One book that you've read more than once
See here for a more detailed reckoning, but Stephen King's It easily holds the tile (not counting children's books that I've read dozens upon dozens of times). The novel's epic-yet-tidy structure makes it ideal for re-reading, as the sheer mass of the thing allows for multiple new discoveries each time out.

One book you'd want on a desert island
It's just so cliche to say "The Complete Shakespeare," but I just may have to. After all, this is a lot of time spent alone waiting for death with only one book to keep me company. I have to think that this choice, while maybe idealized and snobbish, is a good and practical one as well. And think of all the fun that could be had in acting out one-man readings on the sand?

One book that made you laugh
I just finished Tom Wolfe's I Am Charlotte Simmons, and I laughed out loud several times. But Douglas Adams' Hitchhikers Guide is probably the all-time champ in that regard.

One book that made you cry
When I read The Giving Tree to my children for the first time, I welled up something fierce. Something about the book's harsh, almost cynical treatment of the sacrifice of being a parent - a treatment that nonetheless has an overall warm and fuzzy effect - just gets to me.

One book that you wish had been written
From the bits that appeared in The Salmon of Doubt, the never-completed new novel Douglas Adams had been working on when he died would have been a welcome addition to his ouvre.

One book that you wish had never been written
A geeky response, but reading the wretched The Courtship of Princess Lea while hobbled up for a week in college was a dismal waste of time.

One book you're currently reading
The annotated Wizard of Oz, in drips and drabs as I have a spare moment. Lots of interesting background on details and bits from the book (The story that Baum came up with the term "Oz" from a file cabinet drawer labeled "O - Z" may well be apocryphal. Who knew?)

One book you've been meaning to read
Shirley Hazard's The Great Fire, in large part due to Our Girl in Chicago (Teachout's co-blogger)'s rhapsodic posts about it. I picked up the trade at a used bookstore down the Jersey Shore last summer, but have yet to delve into it. And, after this weekend's visit to the library yielded Bill Buford's foodie memoir Heat; A Prayer Before Dying, the last Dennis Lehane Kensie and Gennaro mystery; Ian McEwan's Saturday; and The Castle of Lyr, the third Prydain book, it may still be a while before I get to it.

Until Whenever

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