Friday, September 01, 2006

A book challenge huh?

I'm going to take this on but I don't want to preclude any other members of GB taking it on too. So I'm not going to do the tagging until we've communicated a bit - I mean if 3 of us respond that's 15 tags and that seems excessive.

Interesting exercise by the way. Thanks.

Update, update, update!

After due consideration and numerous (okay - one) emails between Dave and myself it has been determined that we shall tag the following 5.


The Rev at The Woodshed.

Alison at Creekside

Ross at The Gazeteer

and Jeff at A BCer in Toronto

Spreading the fun guys!

A book that changed my life?

When I was a teenager I used to walk to school down the alleys. One morning when I was 13 or 14 just a couple of houses away from us down the alley I saw a small book lying on the ground.

I remember it as about 3” wide and 4” long and maybe ¼ of an inch thick - shirt pocket small. It was bound in soft worn brown leather. The pages had gold edges and were vellum, like my father’s oldest bibles. Some pages were beautifully illuminated. The book was entitled “The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam” (one of the Fitzgerald translations I learned much later). I had no idea what it was so I opened it and started reading while I walked. By the time I got to school that morning the 7th quatrain that begins “Come fill the cup and in the fire of spring…” had burned itself permanently into my memory. I must have read the whole thing 50 times over the next couple of weeks.

Subsequent readings over the years have burned other quatrains in there too. Like the 27th and 28th: “
Myself when young did eagerly frequent Doctor and Saint, and heard great argument About it and about: but evermore Came out by the same door where in I went.
With them the seed of Wisdom did I sow, And with mine own hand wrought to make it grow; And this was all the Harvest that I reap'd-- I came like Water, and like Wind I go.”

I gave it to the first girl I asked to marry me. I’ve almost never been without a copy since although never again one so lovely.

A book I’ve read more than once:

“The Rituals of Dinner: The Origins, Evolution, Eccentricities and the Meaning of Table Manners” by Margaret Visser. I can pick this book up, open it anywhere and be fascinated all over again. This isn’t a book about what cutlery to use – it’s more a book about why we use cutlery and why other cultures don’t. She starts the book by writing about the manners and rituals surrounding cannibalism and goes on from there. Hard to find now but well worth the time.

A book I would take with me if I were stuck on a desert island:

The Collected Works of William Shakespeare. Hands down, no question, not even any close competitors.

A book that made me laugh:

I very rarely laugh while reading. I may smile occasionally but more often than not I’ll just say to myself, 'that’s funny', like those annoying old comedy writers in “My Favorite Year”. So given the rarity of the event I can’t recall one book.

A book that made me cry:

I don’t think I’ve ever cried while reading. I’ll stop and put the book down and reflect on something but not actually cry. There was a biography written of my paternal grandfather that came closest. But they would have been tears of humiliation and rage at the hubris of christian missionaries.

A book that I wish had been written:

“The Assassination of John Fitzgerald Kennedy” by J. Edgar Hoover, E. Howard Hunt and Carlos Marcello. Imagine how different the world might be.

A book I wish had never been written:

Any religious text used as rationale to proselytize.

I'm currently reading:

There are two. “Blink” by Malcolm Gladwell. There isn’t very much new data in it but it’s organized in such a way as to shift the context enough to make it interesting. And “A Year in the Life of William Shakespeare: 1599” by James Shapiro. A look at his most productive year and a fascinating examination of the cultural and political context influencing his work during that time.

A book I've been meaning to read:

America at the Crossroads: Democracy, Power, and the Neoconservative Legacy” by Frances Fukuyama. Just because I want to know if these pricks actually think coherently. I’m funny that way.

What turned me onto fiction?

Real life.

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