Book Meme

My mom, one of my best readers, doesn’t like memes so I have a weird feeling of rebellion in doing this. She likes the complete thought kind of blogging better. Still, I agree with Bud: some memes, like this do the thing that blogging’s meant to do—encourage a lively social life. Sorry, mom.

Thanks to Genevieve (at you cried for night) for passing this through:

Total number of books I've owned: I grew up in a house with a library so collecting seems as normal as, well, having a little wine and cheese before dinner on Fridays. I’m blogging from Seattle, so I can’t count. But there are:
  • about fifteen boxes in storage in upstate New York (books for the beloved toddler to inherit when she comes to read),
  • two more boxes of precious children’s books in my mother-in-law’s house (my father’s Wyeth-illustrated Robert Louis Stevenson, etc.),
  • two tall groaning shelves, often double-stacked, in my closet-cum-office at school,
  • and at least six full-size shelves of books in our home.
Those six shelves are ours not mine, but I’m the collector and packrat of our partnership for sure.

Last book I bought: I was bold (extravagant?) and ordered Ekow Eshun’s Black Gold of the Sun from British Amazon after reading reviews on the web.

Last book I read: Lan Samantha Chang’s novella Hunger in the book by that name.

Last book I finished: Technically, Nina Laden’s terrific Ready, Set, Go but, like Bud, I’m assuming board books for toddlers don’t count. Hermione Lee’s essay’s on biography, Virginia Woolf’s Nose: I’m reviewing it for biography.

Five (welll, six) books that mean a lot to me:
  1. Virginia Woolf, A Room of One’s Own for the sheer amazing beauty of the prose. I study and study and marvel and marvel. The sentences are gorgeous, passionate, allusive, funny, and, best of all, generously intelligent.
  2. Virginia Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway for the incredible experience of loving a book whose main character you neither love nor identify with. I have come to love Clarissa Dalloway—I may have loved her from the start—but what moves me most about the book is not her but the writing and the idea of a novel that moves because of the sheer artfulness of the writing was—and continues to be--a revelation to me.
  3. Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice for turning my head with the idea of romance as a place of wit and charm, for letting me live as Elizabeth Bennett for a few crucial years (age 17 to 20 or so) until, as I’ve written before, Emma (and James’ Portrait of a Lady) helped me move on.
  4. James Baldwin, Another Country for helping me understand the possibilities and dangers of the world I wanted to live in: a world in which each creates a family out of friendships and friendships cross lines of sex, race, sexuality, and class. I read this book in high school and it described the grown-up version of the life I was living. It made me feel the little tense utopia we had was possible to maintain into adulthood. That, in fact, it had been done before. It changed my life.
  5. William Butler Yeats, Complete Poems for being the first poet I chose on my own to learn from A to Z.
  6. Tsitsi Dangarembga, Nervous Conditions for helping me change the lives of my students, for reminding me of the hunger to become educated and the privilege of being so.

I’m late to this meme so I won’t pass it further but thanks, Genevieve. I love these desert-island-disk questions.