Defined by books

A little while back I was tagged for this meme, and when I saw it on Paperback Reader this morning, realized I hadn\’t done it yet! The rules are:

1.) Go to your bookshelves…
2.) Close your eyes. If you\’re feeling really committed, blindfold yourself.
3.) Select ten books at random. Use more than one bookcase, if you have them, or piles by the bed, or… basically, wherever you keep books.
4.) Use these books to tell us about yourself – where and when you got them, who got them for you, what the book says about you, etc. etc…..
5.) Have fun! Be imaginative. Doesn\’t matter if you\’ve read them or not – be creative. It might not seem easy to start off with, and the links might be a little tenuous, but I think this is a fun way to do this sort of meme.
6.) Feel free to cheat a bit, if you need to…

 So I walked along my permanent collection shelves, which line one wall of our living room, and closed my eyes to grab ten books. Here they are:

Down and Out in Paris and London by George Orwell- this is one of those books I would never have read, if I hadn\’t met my husband! When I was in school I read 1984 and Animal Farm, but I never knew Orwell wrote novels, too. My husband and I discovered this together, and for a time every visit I made to a used bookstore I would search their shelves for any Orwell novels. We read and discussed most of them together. We\’re still trying to finish off our Orwell collection. This one\’s not really a novel; it\’s based on true experience, but it has the same style and feel.

The Book of the Dun Cow by Walter Wangerian- even by my standards, this book is kind of weird. It\’s about a group of talking animals on a farm ruled by the rooster Chanticleer, in a world before humans existed and ends up as a battle between the rooster and a monster from the deep. It has a lot of subtly religious themes; sometimes I feel like it\’s all supposed to be allegorical about something Biblical. I really don\’t know how to explain this one. I love it just because it\’s a great story and the characters are vivid and fascinating, and it makes me laugh out loud. I guess it just shows how much I like animals, fantasy, and books that are different from the rest. When I first read this book I was prone to underlining, it\’s full of pencil marks all over the place.

At the Back of the North Wind by George MacDonald- I can\’t remember how I first stumbled upon this book, but it\’s one I\’ve read several times since childhood. I read all the George MacDonald I could get my hands on, at one time, and this one was always my favorite. It\’s a gentle little story about a quiet boy, different from the rest, who befriends the mystical North Wind, and she carries him away on a strange dreamlike journey.

Pinocchio by G Collodi- My copy of this book is very old, shabby and falling apart. I think I found it in a used bookstore somewhere. Once I found out that some of the well-known Disney fairy tales were based on actual books, I sought most of them out- Bambi, the Hundred and One Dalmations, Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan, etc. Pinocchio the book is quite different from its film counterpart- the storyline is a lot longer, and wandering, and full of many different adventures.

The Moorchild by Louise McGraw- a story about an odd girl who doesn\’t fit in with the other children in the village, until she discovers that she has fairy blood, and seeks out the fey people under the hill, to steal back the child that was switched with her at birth. What does this one say about me? I like reading fantasy, and books about strange children…

A Swiftly Tilting Planet by Madeline L\’Engle- I loved the Wrinkle in Time series as a kid, but this book was always one of the more difficult ones for me. I loved that it had a flying unicorn in it, but the parts about Charles Wallace inhabiting different people in different times really confused me the first time I read it. It\’s one of those books I\’m almost afraid to go back and read again, for fear the adult me won\’t like it quite as much as the young me did, and I\’ll be disappointed.

Illusions by Richard Bach- I was surprised and delighted when I first read Jonathan Livingston Seagull, and afterwards tried several other Bach books. None of the others struck me quite the same way, but this one was pretty good- it\’s about a pilot who travels the countryside giving rides to people in his small plane, and at the same time taking an inward journey into spiritualism. I haven\’t read it in ages.

In the Company of Newfies by Rhoda Lerman- love books about dogs, what more can I say? This one is about a woman who loves newfoundlands, and her life with the huge gentle dogs. It\’s very beautifully written as well, I really like the way Lerman uses words. If I can ever find another book she\’s written, I want to read it.

Eye of the Albatross by Carl Safina- another one of my favorite subjects is books about the experiences of naturalists in the field. Usually those are about mammals in Africa or something similar, but this one is about a small ocean island, and mostly focuses on the bird populations there. It\’s well-written and fascinating.

Making Things Grow Outdoors by Thalassa Cruso- I\’ve always had something of a green thumb, but never really got into gardening until we owned our own house with a backyard I could dig up! It\’s only been two years, but already I\’ve got a small collection of gardening books. Thalassa Cruso is my favorite author on gardening so far- she\’s so easygoing, fun and informative to read.

Well, I\’m not sure I did that quite right. I didn\’t really get any hardcore fantasy or sci fi in there, or any of the classics that are on my shelf, but it\’s a pretty good sample of the books I own and love. I don\’t know how much this told you about me, but I do know it\’s made me want to go back and re-read a bunch of those books!

I can\’t think who to tag for this right now, and my husband and kid are bugging me to go cook up a huge waffle breakfast while the snow is falling outside, so I have to skip off the computer and into the kitchen. If you\’ve read this and find it interesting, consider yourself tagged! I\’d love to see what\’s on your shelves.

(If you\’re the person who originally tagged me for this meme, please let me know so I can give you credit! I can\’t remember and I thought I had your meme bookmarked but now I can\’t find it sorry).

5 Responses

  1. I see a few familiar ones here: North Wind, Swiftly Tilting, and Dun Cow. The first two I've read, the latter I haven't, though it's been on my shelf forever. There's a review of it over at Worthwhile Books today, though.I enjoyed hearing what you had to say about these. I'm kind of afraid to grab ten books at random. I have so many I keep like a pack-rat, but that reflect some long-ago phase.

  2. I really enjoyed Down and Out in Paris and London because it has such a different tone than a lot of Orwell's other books. It's almost more restrained in his criticism of the government and stuff, which has always been interesting to me. An Orwell collection sounds like fun 🙂

  3. \”Down and Out in Paris and London\” is definitely one of my favorites of Orwell. I never understand why it isn't more widely known – it's so readable and interesting…As for \”A Swiftly Tilting Planet\”, I too always found it to be the most confusing of the bunch. I reread it in ninth grade, though, and discovered that it's actually an interesting, mind-bending kind of book. I'm due for a reread, but I suspect it won't disappoint as much as change the perception of it. We'll see…

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