Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Book Tag

It's not fair getting book tagged by Carlos, because I feel inherently inferior. I drive my husband nuts--he is reading Joyce's Ulysses right now for fun, but he is a slow reader and it will take him weeks, months. I am a ridiculously fast reader (though I've slowed down a bit because of my minute attention span), but I prefer to kick back with the newest John Grisham novel. So while I'd like to feel cool about reading the entire Encylopedia Britannica as a kid, Carlos goes and decides to make organizational trees for everything in it. And remembers which edition, and even knows that there was a difference between the editions other than updated facts. I'm not even getting into his other choices--you should read them yourself. I have learned not to compare myself to him most of the time, but sometimes it is a little hard.

Total Number of Books I Own
Huh. I have no idea. So many of them are in boxes right now, and do you really count old textbooks? I can tell you that we have about 36 shelves full throughout the house, plus stacks and boxes in the attic. So a lot, though that's all relative. When I was in college, I lived in a small studio apartment with one bookcase. I was dating a football player, who I thought of as reasonably intelligent, and he came over. "Wow, you have a lot of books. Have you really read all those?" I had four shelves, two of which were full of textbooks. Hey, he was really hot.

The Last Book I Bought

Gonzalez and Daughter Trucking Company, by Maria Amparo Escandon. A young woman in a Mexican prison tells the story of how she got there. I thought the ending was a little too good to be true, but I still enjoyed it a lot.

The Last Book I Read

Poison, by Kathryn Harrison. The story of a doomed Spanish Queen and a poor silk-grower's daughter in the latter part of the 17th century Spain. Incredibly detailed and fascinating information about the Spanish silk industry, and life in general at that time and place. I wish she'd spent as much time on the story itself. If you already know all you wish to know about what happened in the dungeons of the Spanish Inquisition, this is not the book for you.

Five Books That Mean A Lot To Me

In no particular order:

One Hundred Years of Solitude, Gabriel Garcia Marquez
I had never read anything like it, and I just devoured it. Opened up a whole world of Latin American literature to me. I think I want to read it again, now that I'm thinking of it.

Mother Nature: Maternal Instincts and How They Shape the Human Species, Sarah Blaffer Hrdy
A wonderful book about the bases of mothering behavior. Why some women kill their children, what sort of trade-offs mothers make to raise their children, all based on evolutionary and primate research. Look at the professional reviews of it--they are more helpful than what I am saying.

Little House in the Big Woods, Laura Ingalls Wilder
I was one of those little girls who wanted to be a pioneer after reading the Little House books. They've stayed with me even as an adult. I know a little more about her life now, so reading between the lines of the books can be heartbreaking, especially The First Four Years, about the first years of her married life. They lose the crops, go deeply into debt, lose a newborn son, the house burns down, her husband suffers a stroke. This manuscript was found after her death, and I can imagine her sitting at her desk writing it, remembering these things, and not being able to bring herself to finish, even knowing they had a long and happy life together later on. If you haven't read them since you were a child, you should try again, if only for the line spoken to nine year-old Almanzo by his mother in Farmer Boy: "You are still abed, Almanzo, it's five o'clock. Be you ill?" As hard as your life is, it isn't that hard.

The Paladin, Brian Garfield
Subtitled A Novel Based on Fact, it is about a young Englishman that ends up working as a special agent for Winston Churchill in WWII. It's pretty much been discredited as far as I can tell, but I didn't know it at the time. My family was on vacation in Galena, IL, at a condo my parents rented for what I recall as our first really nice family vacation that didn't involve relatives. This book was there, and I took it home with me. I think at the time I justified this by leaving another one there, or it was an accident, or something, because I was not in the habit of stealing things. Anyway, the kid in the story was about fourteen, and I had never read a book about war before, so it really stuck with me.

Bloom County Babylon : Five Years of Basic Naughtiness
, Berkeley Breathed/ The Calvin and Hobbes Tenth Anniversary Book, Bill Watterson
These titles are just for example. I know they aren't really books like I'm supposed to put here, but they move me all the same. Bloom County got me started thinking about the conservative politics I was being taught at home (did you know I was a Young Republican once?), leading me to question and eventually reject the teachings. All the stuff I was taught about being a good person, telling the truth, do unto others, etc., seemed so contradicted in the political writings I was encouraged to read. We got three mainstream/conservative newspapers at home, as well as the National Review, and I read them all. Bloom County made me realize that I was not alone in questioning this stuff. And Calvin and Hobbes, well, if you don't like Calvin and Hobbes I'm not sure I want to know you. The collections are what I read after September 11, and during that week that I thought Peanut was going to die. The hopefulness in the books, as well as the sheer silliness, was exactly what I needed.

So now I get to tag some people. Hm. Ok, Anna, you're it. Elsewhere, I think you did one of these a while back but I would still love to see your answers, if you've forgiven me for stealing Anna away. Dana, we haven't talked about books for a while so I'd like to see yours too. Jen, I don't even know what books you read, and I am your child's godmother. Pronoia, if you are out there and have a little time, I would be interested in yours too. I'd just as soon see the answers from everyone on my blogroll, personally, but I'll start with y'all, if you don't mind. But if you want to do it, consider yourself tagged.


Carlos in Brooklyn said...

Carrie, you are so not inferior.

Hm. We could get into an "I am a more pathetic geek" match! Yeah! But really, we shouldn't. (I'd win.)

elswhere said...

Oh, I should do this again! Thanks for tagging me. I'm honored. I think Jo Spanglemonkey tagged me too so I should just do it. This week!

And Almanzo had it good compared to Laura. I once heard that she actually wrote Farmer Boy first in the series; Almanzo told her some stories about his childhood and she was blown away by the amount and variety of food he and his prosperous (though hardworking and early-rising) farming family had to eat. She & her family were close to starving, more than once.

Dana said...

Ok how many books I own...too many to number or count although I suppose I could count but who has that kind of time. last book I bought...well I bought a crapload of womens studies books off a WS major who was having a garage sale (got a great sand box too)
last book I read (and or glanced at because like I have much time for jack these days) I go between baby bargains, what to expect the first year, and three books on history of jesus (not to mention the myriads of books that I have made it to about page 30) five books that mean lot to me...alright gonna say it but Bible. Still read it still has relevance yada yada is Love you forever...i read it to my son everynight and I have been able to get through the last month without crying at the end when the son rocks his mother and sings her a song after that...edgar allen poe anything written by..he shaped my depression as a youth...then the mythical type books i read as a child to escape the horrors of what was named my childhood ie wrinkle in time, girl with the silver eyes, narnia chronicals, phantom tollbooth and finally the bluest eye by toni morrison...she was able to reach into my heart and mind and understand a little black girl and the wanting to be something else when the world around you made you hate who you are