July 29, 2010


Three-quarters of my bookcase in my room.  Every shelf is double stacked
(and organized by subject, and then alphabetized by author, of course).

It's been a while since I've done a book meme...

1) What author do you own the most books by? C. S. Lewis and Tomie DePaola
2) What book do you own the most copies of? The Bible and E. B. White’s Essays
3) What fictional character are you secretly in love with? Lord Peter Whimsey, or Capt. Tom Pulling, in Patrick O’Brien’s naval history novels.
4) What book have you read the most times in your life? Moo Baa LaLaLa
5) What was your favorite book when you were ten years old? The Betsy-Tacy Books by Maud Hart Lovelace and The Search for Delicious by Natalie Babbit.
6) What is the best and worst book you've read in the past year? Happy All The Time by Laurie Colwin was the one I enjoyed the most. The Children’s Book by A.S.Byatt was the most stimulating and rewarding, though.  I am still mulling it.  I won't say that Hannah Coulter was the worst book I read all year, because I would loose half my readers, but I really didn't like it.  Wendell Berry does not know how to write in the voice of a woman.
7) If you could force everyone reading this to read one book, what would it be? Hmmm…that’s a tough one.  The question usually asks, "If you could force everyone..." and I say Augustine's Confessions.  But I will bet that most people reading this have already read The Confessions.  So, I think I would prescribe  something silly, like Adventures of Cow.  Everyone needs to be a little sillier, I think.
8) Who deserves to win the next Nobel Prize for Literature? A. S. Byatt.
9) What book would you most like to see made into a movie? I made my brother promise me that if he does become a film director, as he hopes, he would make a movie of The Man Who Was Thursday by G. K. Chesterton.  Also, I don't want to hear another complaint about the lack of good female roles in Hollywood, until after some makes a movie of one of the biographies of Catherine of Siena
10) What is the most difficult book you've ever read? Aquinas’ De Ente Et Essentia
11) What is the most obscure Shakespeare play you've seen? Pericles. Going to see Cymbelline this year, though.
12) Do you prefer the French or the Russians? Ooooh. I really can’t stand most french novels. (I was so very glad when Madame Bovary died.) I will assume that’s what we’re referring to in the question, so I must say The Russians.  The exception to this is, of course, Irene Nemirovsky.
13) Roth or Updike? Roth’s first book of stories “Goodbye Columbus” is some of the best short fiction I’ve ever read, and I recommend it to nearly everyone I come across.  I have not read any Updike fiction.
14) David Sedaris or Dave Eggers? Sedaris' ice cream cookbook is divinely inspired!
15) Shakespeare, Milton, or Chaucer? Shakespeare, though I love Chaucer too.
16) Austen or Eliot? Austen, easy.
17) What is the biggest or most embarrassing gap in your reading? I’ve only read one Dickens novel, and it was a cop-out (The Tale of Two Cities).
18) What is your favorite novel? Brideshead Revisited 
19) Play? Much Ado About Nothing; Non-Shakespeare: An Ideal Husband by Oscar Wilde
20) Poem? The Waste Land by T. S. Eliot, "Wonderment" by Sigfried Sassoon, "As Kingfishers Catch Fire" by Gerard Manly Hopkins (are we at all surprised?)
21) Essay? E. B. White’s "The Coon Tree" and James Schall's "On the Practicality of One Green Sock" found in his treasure trove of brilliance and levity, Idylls and Rambles
22) Short story? "Parker’s Back" by Flannery O’Connor and "Comrade Bingo" by P.G. Wodehouse
23) Work of non-fiction? Confessions, by St. Augustine
24) Who is your favorite writer? Favorite is a difficult word, and I could not possibly pick one.  I will say I have never read anything by Graham Greene that I didn't love.
25) Who is the most overrated writer alive today? Chris Buckley is a hack and a bore.
26) What is your desert island book? Shakespeare, I think. If I get a second choice, then probably Augustine’s Confessions.
27) What one fictional character would you most like to be compared to: Ah!  This is easy: Miss Rumphius, created by Barbara Cooney.
28) Since it keeps coming up, how many times did you read Augustine’s Confessions in school?  Once in highschool, and 4 times in college.  And half of it, once, since then.
29) If you had to guess, how may books do you own?  Hmm.  After a cursory count of my cookbooks (46) I know I have at least 1500 books, but I think the total is probably closer to 2000.  That includes about 250 picture books, and 3 boxes of philosophy and political science books that I will someday bring out to adorn a shelf and remind me of all the things I don't know.  I literally have no more space, and am trying desperately to figure out what to do about it.  I clearly cannot stop buying books.
30) And... what are you reading right now? I have a basket next to my bed that is filled to the brim with books I am supposed to be reading.  Among them, more prominently, are: Suite Francais by Irene Nemirovsky, re-reading Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll, At Home in Mitford by Jan Karon, Fine Preserving by M.F.K. Fisher.


  1. I found the bit about Hannah Coulter interesting. Most of my exposure to Berry has been through his nonfiction, and I've always found that underwhelming. I don't doubt that he has many of the virtues that his most ardent admirers see in him, but he's certainly capable of missing the mark with some projects.

  2. Amanda G5:09 PM

    Oh dear...I think I need to fill this out. And then I will feel like an inadequate reader and a poor intellectual, most likely. I think once I get home I will spend some time making a note on facebook using this meme!

  3. Dan: I loved Jayber Crow, and love a lot of his poetry and his critical literary writings. But I do think his political philosophy (if you want to call it that) is stretched. And he gets into dangerous territory when he mixes story with philosophy (and, frankly, preaching) which is the biggest flaw of Hannah Coulter.

    Amanda: I can't wait to see it there! :)