S.E. Stone, over at Paper, Pen and No Plan, tagged me in the Bookshelf Tag. I had the great pleasure of going to school with Stone and have enjoyed reading her blog ever since I found it a few a months ago. Week after week, she strikes up an easy conversation about writing, reading, and all the bits of life around the pages of a good book. If you like those things, head on over and say hello.
The rules of the bookshelf tag are simple:
1) Do not talk about Bookshelf Club
1) Answer the following questions about books on your bookshelf
2) Tag five bloggers to complete the tag after you
You can answer the questions any way you like, which means that I definitely will. I will definitely choose freely between text, images, videos, and excessive punctuation, and switch between them at my pleasure. Remember that the universe has gifted you with the same permission to freedom – in this tag, in all your other writing, and in life at large. Good luck. :)
On to the questions!
(Well, this is going well so far.)
I’m torn here between making a joke about fearing nothing so measly as a tear, and making a joke about Twilight.
However, the truth is that there are exactly two books in my long reading history which have inspired tears: A Walk to Remember by Nicholas Sparks and The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. Because it’s been such a rare occurrence, I never pick up a book expecting to cry.
I do have a stack of books that I’ve been meaning to read, but the reasons I haven’t touched them yet range from “I’m too sleepy,” to “This books makes me want to put it down and write after two pages,” to “Oh hey! I forgot I had that one.”
2. Pick one book that helped introduce you to a new genre.
I’ve been reading novels for a long time, but I didn’t have much appreciation for the short story until I went to college. In two consecutive semesters, I was assigned The Laws of Evening by Mary Yukari Waters by a professor I hated, and Bloodchild by Octavia E. Butler by a professor I loved. I ended up enjoying them both so much that I chose them as my final projects for both classes.
The Laws of Evening caught my attention because Waters managed to write something short that still lingered in its stride. She manipulates language beautifully, and nothing ever seemed rushed, despite the fact that she was fitting huge emotional progressions into a few pages.
Bloodchild managed the opposite, slamming actions together, dragging me by the wrist through the reading, but always leaving me satisfied in the end.
In my experience, short stories were like trying to run down a short pier and the last page never pulled you to a stop fast enough to keep you from tumbling painfully over the edge, but both of these collections changed my mind.
3. Find a book that you want to reread.
I also have a stack of books that I’d like to reread, which likely contributes to my slow progress on the stack mentioned two questions above. However, lately I have been itching to reread Angel-Seeker by Sharon Shinn.
It was not the sort of book that I raved about the first time around, and not one that ever floats close to the top of my recommendation lists. It was simply a quiet story where I enjoyed spending time in the company of the main characters. It is a fluffy romance, which succeeds, despite an ending that feels similar to pulling a ribbon too-tight on a box because you want space for that pretty bow goshdarnnit!, because I did fall in love with Obadiah like I was supposed to.
4. Is there a book series you read, but wish that you hadn’t?
I’m a big fan of the Bourne films (please don’t mention the fact that there will be a new one coming next year, unless you want to hear a joyful screech that a mother eagle would put me in time out for). So, last year, when I was taking a cross-country roadtrip and ran out of reading material, I picked up one of the books when I saw it in a grocery store.
I shouldn’t have.
I have made jokes with friends about the “Sexy Lamp” test, where you evaluate the necessity of a character by asking the ridiculous question, “Could you replace this character with an extremely good-looking lamp and not notice the difference?” I never thought I would find a character that would go beyond that, but I did.
In fact, I found a character which I’m not sure was a character. She may well have been a set of walking legs, because she never spoke, and that was the only part of her ever described.
The rest of the book was not much better.
5. If your house was burning down and all of your family and pets were safe, which book would you go back inside to save?
It might take less time to list the books that I wouldn’t save.
But the first books I grabbed would probably be the twelve sitting on my top shelf which I have borrowed from family and friends over a year ago, and still have not read. The only thing more embarrassing than having to inform them week after week that I still haven’t gotten to them, would be to have to inform them that I hadn’t read them and now they’re a pile of ash.
6. Is there one book on your bookshelf that brings back fond memories?
Most of them have at least one fond memory attached, but the first three to come to mind are Crown Duel by Sherwood Smith, Paper Towns by John Green, and The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss.
Crown Duel was one of the first books that I read aloud to my mother and little sister, and sparked a wholes string of excellent afternoons. We went through about a dozen novels in a little over a year, most of it done while they cooked dinner and I played the entertainer on the far side of the kitchen. I got gently ribbed every time my father came home in the middle, for being the grasshopper while all the ants did the work, but I loved sharing my favorite books that way.
I borrowed Paper Towns from my older sister on one of the weeks I went out to stay with her, and ripped through it while she was at work. It was just one of those pleasant lazy days where I was allowed to do nothing but fall into an excellent book.
The Wise Man’s Fear was published close to the end of my Senior year of college. I had a friend who was eagerly awaiting it, and as far as I know, she had it in her hands as soon as possible. It was that time of year when we were all so close to graduation it was starting to look like a cliff that we couldn’t wait to jump off and were terrified of falling from. We were starting to doubt the wings that we’d been building, and worse, exhausted from carrying them around for so long. We all needed to relax. The Wise Man’s Fear, despite the fact that I didn’t read it until after I had finally army-crawled my way through my honors thesis and walked off with my diploma in hand, is fixed in my memories of afternoons on front quad and late dinners in the dining hall where we stole quiet hours out of the current and laughed to remind ourselves how to draw in breath. Because my friend was carrying that book around, reading pages aloud when the mood struck, and making us all fall in love with an idiot who honestly couldn’t figure out it was worse to steal a meat pie, steal a fruit pie, or murder his worst enemy.
7. Find a book that has inspired you the most.
If I found a magic lamp, and was convinced that the genie inside was benevolent and not at all likely to trick me into destroying myself with my three wishes, my first wish would be to learn how to write like a beautiful combination of Patrick Rothfuss, Sharon Shinn, and Sherwood Smith. My second wish would be for an excellent publishing contract, and my third would set the genie free.
Dark Moon Defender by Sharon Shinn, in particular, was the book that I kept running back to when I was writing my honors thesis during my senior year. It was beautiful, exciting, humorous, and everything I wanted to be able write myself one day. Every time I got stuck, nervous, or tired while I was writing, I sat down and read. Within a chapter or so, I felt like I had figured out what good writing was again, and could make myself write a little longer.
8. Do you have any autographed books?
I have a four currently:
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
Lady Knight by Tamora Pierce
The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
Homer’s Iliad translated by Stanley Lombardo
The only signature I actually received in person was from Stanley Lombardo (no, I didn’t get Homer’s; my time machine was broken). He came to my university to give a lecture, and then made a surprise visit as a guest professor to my class the next morning. After an hour of the most exquisite academic torture I have ever experienced, taking a lesson in Ancient Greek from a man who said he could tell whether or not we’d translated correctly just by how we read the Greek aloud, he congratulated us all and signed our books. I walked out of the classroom feeling like I’d been lucky to have been run over by the world’s finest steamroller.
9. Find the book that you have owned the longest.
I don’t remember when I first read Emily of New Moon by L.M. Montgomery, but I remember being thrilled to find a book about a strange little dark-haired girl who wrote too much. If she didn’t like cats so much, and if she didn’t have full conversations with trees, she would have been me. I checked the book out from the library several times, then walked into a bookstore somewhere around the age of ten, found it and it’s two sequels and begged my parents for them. When I walked out with them, they were crisp and clean and I thought they were gorgeous.
They’ve seen a lot of miles since then, and all of their spines are broken, but I doubt I’ll ever get rid of them.
10. Is there a book by an author that you never imagined you would read or enjoy?
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins is the first book to come to mind, although I didn’t know about it for very long before I was convinced to pick it up. My prejudice was mostly based on the fact that I knew they were popular, and I, as a general rule, shy away from anything that mass media tells me I should like. I’m just contrary that way.
As it was, I saw the movie, liked it, read the book, loved it, bought it.
And learned nothing from the experience. I still look askance at any book that I hear too many people talking about.
Thus ends the questions.
Here come the tags:
Yes, I know that’s six. I like crowds. Shush, or I’ll add a seventh.
I look forward to hearing your book stories. Whether I tagged you or not, feel free to run away with this, and send me the link so that I can read up on your books. :)