What book(s) do you find yourself going back to? Beloved children’s classics? Favorites from college? Something that touched you and just makes you long to visit?
(Because, doesn’t everybody have at least one book they would like to curl up with, even if they don’t make a habit of rereading books? Even if they maybe don’t even have the time to visit and just think back longingly?)
As I’ve mentioned before, I’m not that much of a rereader; I’m like a shark, I have to keep going forward. Nonetheless, every time I come across a copy of The Lord of the Rings, I always open it to a random page, read a few paragraphs, and feel better about my place in the universe. And since I’m back where my collection of out-of-print American editions of The Lord of the Rings is, that’s a lot.
My brother-in-law turns 50 this weekend. So, in his honor, please pick up your nearest book or whatever book you’re currently reading, and turn to page 50 and then share the first 50 words with the rest of us.
From Philip K. Dick’s The Man in the High Castle:
The bottom was a Seven, and so was the second and then the third. The bottom trig in Ch’ien, he realized. That sounded good; Ch’ien was the creative. Then line Four, an eight. Yin. And line Five, also eight, a yin line. Good lord, he thought excitedly; one more yin line and I’ve got Hexagram Eleven, T’ai, Peace. (50)
What’s your favorite hobby OTHER THAN reading?
Geez, what don’t I like to do? As of this second, I’m knee-deep in pinning organizational ideas, so I love doing that. I love watching films (as y’all already know), I love acting, I love costume design, I love sewing… but probably the thing I’m most known for besides reading is cooking. I think I finally locked down my perfect banana bread recipe yesterday. Of course, it’s my perfect banana bread recipe with butter; yogurt banana bread has yet to be perfected by my hands…
Do you read books about sports? How about AT sporting events? (Kid’s soccer practice?)
On occasion. I’m not really a sports person, but I find the culture—especially around American football—fascinating. It’s much easier to digest when I see it in context of fandom. So you get your Friday Night Lights and your Pretty Girls in Little Boxes from time to time, but it’s pretty rare.
As for reading at sports events, I don’t go to them anymore, as I won’t enjoy myself and that would be quite rude to those playing! But, as a little kid, I did have to attend a lot of my brother’s soccer games. I did not read, however; I foraged under the bleachers and determined that anything people dropped was now mine. I was actually a troll for part of my childhood. Sheesh.
I saw a Latin edition of “The Hobbit” last time I was at the bookstore… Do you read any foreign languages? Do you ENJOY reading in other languages?
No, I can’t. I have what I consider a right to French, as the only person in my immediate family who doesn’t speak it (and one of the few in my extended family who doesn’t), but I can only pick out a few words and get gists, not read in it by any stretch of the imagination. I get iffy about translations, though, although that’s of course the only way I can read certain texts and I heartily appreciate them: the act of translation itself is a creative one, so I’m going through one more obstacle between me and the author’s intent.
What’s the last book that made you spring to your feet, eager to spread the word and tell everyone how much you enjoyed it?
Bitchfest, definitely. I keep coming back to it during my friends’ weekly feminist discussions (I mean, we’re feminists all the time, it’s just on Friday we workshop), and it covers so much ground and touches on so many ideas that I want tons of people to read it. Plus, analyzing our pop culture is analyzing ourselves, and it’s always a relief not to have to defend that idea. I know you only asked for one, but Team Human also definitely qualifies: if I could hand a copy to kids upon reaching adolescence, I would.
What’s the silliest (most foolish?) book you’ve ever read? Did you enjoy it?
I’ll stick with silly—I think the definition “exhibiting or indicative of a lack of common sense or sound judgment” will serve us quite well here. I know I tease The Song of the Lioness a lot, but that’s not because it’s silly in that way—that’s because it’s so utterly earnest, like all the best camp is.
In any case, if I had a nickel for every book with crippled worldbuilding or just a bizarre handle on how humans conduct themselves, I would be loaded. I have several contenders for top dog: Green, for instance, gets weird at the end, but the first third is so good that it must be eliminated from this list. But I think the absolutely silliest is Sarah Jane Stratford’s The Midnight Guardian, which manages to take the delightfully bloodthirsty, Inglourious Basterds-esque ”vampires versus Nazis” premise into silly territory by making the vampires heroic matyrs and her protagonist into someone who can do no wrong (also known as someone that’s not terribly interesting to read about). I can’t even.
Movies have a rating system to help guide the consumer weed out adult/violent/inappropriate knds of films. Video games do, too. Do you think BOOKS should have a ratings system?
(Man, I’m flashing back to when I was a young teenager, without any means of personal transport, when I would check Kids-in-Mind to make absolutely sure that some movies weren’t queerbaiting me and were definitely worth my time. Bless.)
On the one hand, I see the value. Cass has been recently talking about the immense frustration of trying to discern whether or not a book is about queer characters when the copy is so cagey. (And films, as well, hence my teenage days.) A rating system—especially coupled with something like Kids-in-Mind—could be used to identify things I want (respectful representations of the queer community!) and identify things I don’t want (wanton sexual violence, for example!). In fact, there’s already an MPAA-esque system for manga published in the US, which you can see here.
But, on the other hand… well, This Film Is Not Yet Rated is available on Netflix Instant at the moment, and the MPAA is well corrupt. It really shows you how the system is used to suppress things it simply doesn’t agree with, like women enjoying sex (thus Where the Truth Lies‘ NC-17 rating). I read American Gods at the tender age of thirteen—by the MPAA’s standards, the first fifty pages would merit it an NC-17. But that was a transformative and important book for me. In Zombie Spaceship Wasteland, Patton Oswalt details all the books he read as a kid that would be deemed “inappropriate” for him, but were integral for his development. If such a rating system would be implemented, where would David Levithan’s impending Two Boys Kissing fall? Would it fall out of the reach of young adults who want and may need to read it? (Put your hand down, teenage Clare.)
So no. I don’t think there should be a ratings system for books at all. Books were the only places as a kid that I felt I was being treated as an adult—as an individual capable of making her own choices. I don’t want to take that away from anyone.
Happy Spring Equinox, everyone! What book are YOU choosing to celebrate with?
Since the vernal equinox was yesterday, it was Madeline Miller’s The Song of Achilles, which I found disappointing. Still, it was the first time in a while since I could just curl up in a comfortable armchair and read, with only the end of the book to make me get up and not an appointment or anything else. That was lovely.
I then picked up Yael Cohen’s We Killed, an oral history about women in comedy. I adore oral histories, as I’ve mentioned. I actually picked this up during my spring break, but didn’t manage to get it to it; it’s currently in a stack of books at home that my mother is going to return for me today. When I saw it at the local library here, I just couldn’t resist. I technically haven’t started yet, but it will be my reading for the day (along with Letters From Egypt while I blow-dry my hair).
Does your current mood affect your reading? Affect your choices? I know there are plenty of books I enjoy, but only if Im in a particular kind of mood–or books that can lift me out of a bad mood without fail. Surely I’m ot alone?
I usually pick a book to read out of a pile of library books on my desk, so yeah, mood affects that choice. I was in the mood for Between You and Me when I rented it, but a few books later, I was no longer, so back to the library it went. And there are some books I have to be in just the right headspace to truly adore—but it’s very rare that I find a book that I am just not in the right headspace to even enjoy, such as Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy. I don’t have specific books that lift me out of a bad mood—except The Lord of the Rings, of course, and light reading it ain’t—but I do tend to have authors. I hesitate to believe in them one hundred percent, though, because I judge work by work instead of bibliography by bibliography, so I’ll pick a Michael Chabon if I’m craving it, but I don’t expect The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay again. I also don’t reread much, so there’s that.