Another Book Meme

2 Nov

I have not been tagged for this meme, but I’m doing it anyway, because I love memes, and I love books, so I cannot resist.

Number of books you own:  I’ve lost count. Some time last year we had nearly five hundred, but since then we’ve brought two metal trunks full of my husband’s old books, and of course I keep buying all the time. We just had two more bookshelves built.

Last book you bought: Frozen Assets, by P.G. Wodehouse, and One, Two, Buckle my Shoe, by Agatha Christie. Before that, I bought Daniel Deronda, by George Eliot,  and The Name of the Rose, by Umberto Eco. Frozen Assets is my first Wodehouse.

Last book someone else bought you: My brother bought Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, by JK Rowling for me this past summer.

Last book read: Daniel Deronda, by George Eliot. I had to take a break mid-way because it became too much for me and I was feeling a little depressed by it, so I put it away and read One, Two, Buckle my Shoe, by Agatha Christie. I usually read something light and comforting between major reads.

Five Books that Mean a Lot to Me: I had to think hard about this. Some books are easy to pick, but there are really few books, considering the amount of reading I do, that I can name without hesitation. I think it’s because what makes some books special to me is what they remind me of, and not just the writing itself.

Pride & Prejudice, by Jane Austen. This is the book that changed my life. It opened a whole new world to me, a world of words and meanings that the books I had been reading at the time didn’t have. I read it a year or so out of college, just old enough to understand the importance of dignity and self-worth, of being yourself, and of making decisions with integrity and courage. Elizabeth Bennet dazzled me because she dared to be different, because she valued her principles more highly than anything else. I was immediately in love, and felt literally like I had found a voice that I recognized. In the years since, it has retained its place as my favorite book of all time. It’s my desert island book.

A Little Princess, by Frances Hodgson Burnett. I read this book during a difficult and stressful period of my life, where everyday felt like a struggle for survival. If you have ever experienced financial difficulties, you know how hard it is to keep going, to get up in the morning and face whatever comes at you. I braved the storm and reading this story of dignity in the face of pain and privation helped me get through it. I love that quote that says “If I am a princess in rags and tatters, I can be a princess on the inside”, and I would say to myself that nothing could change how I saw myself, no matter how hard things became on the outside.

One Hundred Years of Solitude, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. I read this book in Spanish, and some of the images it created are indelibly fixed in my head. I will never forget the vision of the fish that came swimming through the open windows on the most humid day of the year, or the little green plants that started growing in the glass where Melchiades the gypsy soaked his false teeth every night. It’s the story of a family, but it’s also the story of Latin America. Col. Aureliano Buendia is a marvellous creation, a charismatic, Quixotic knight, a rock star in the middle of the Colombian jungle.

Sense and Sensibility, by Jane Austen. I’ve gone through some pretty devastating ordeals in my life, but crumbling was never an option. I chose to re-read this book during one of those times, when my life was pretty much in pieces, and the example of Elinor Dashwood, who remained strong and composed while her heart breaks was an inspiration to me. No matter how much I wanted to howl in pain and bury my head under the sheets, I felt that being demoralized was akin to admitting defeat and so fighting through was the only way. Elinor Dashwood inspires me with her bravery and honor.

The Glass Castle, by Violet Winspear. Is there a book that you love in spite of yourself? This is that kind of book for me. The story is a little ridiculous, even bizarre, but I love the characters, and it’s full of unusual little details that made the book unforgettable for me. I first read it in Spanish as a young girl, and when later I  found it at a used bookstore and read it in the original language, I loved it even more. Once in a while I will take it out again and savour it for the sheer delight of it. Heron Brooks and Edwin Trequair. Lotus flowers and red hair. Temple Court and Jocelyn’s Beach. Saville Row suits and Sulka shirts. A wedding cake cut with a jewelled kris. Silk-padded drawers and a menagerie of jewelled Faberge animals in her boudoir. This was a story that seemed full of exotic and romantic details that fascinated my teenage mind, and the hero was a mysterious, tall and dark man with a powerful personality. Never mind the scarred face, the teenager in me still loves it.


4 Responses to “Another Book Meme”

  1. Marlon November 2, 2007 at 11:21 pm #

    One of my favorite books of all time is El Siglo de las Luces (The Century of Lights) by Alejo Carpentier, a historical novel set in the early days of the very first independent state in the Americas: Haiti. It’s an amazing read. Get it if you can.

    Another one of my favorites is Los Pasos Perdidos (The Lost Steps), also from Carpentier, which narrates a musicologist’s journey from a life of comfort and high social standing in Paris to the jungles of the Orinoco basin in search for the origin of music. What he finds changes his life forever.

    Finally, La Tregua (The Truce), by Mario Benedetti. A story of life meaning not much to anyone but to Martín Santomé, the main character, who gets a break (a truce) from his bleak life to experience a bit of happiness.

  2. mrsgatt November 3, 2007 at 6:27 am #

    You have excellent taste in books. One Hundred Years of Solitude is breathtaking.

  3. lvmg (Lizzy) November 3, 2007 at 9:57 am #

    I’ve added your suggestions to my wish list at Amazon, Marlon.

    Thanks, Mrsgatt. I like Love in the Times of Cholera too, but not in the same way.


  1. 106 books « No.1 Mouse Place - November 25, 2008

    […] One Hundred Years of Solitude♦ A great favorite. I’ve written about it here. […]

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