Last week, Amy tagged me for a meme about books I love. I warned her immediately that asking a literature graduate student to talk about books is asking for trouble, and to prove myself right I’ve been thinking about my answers for over a week. I’d be remiss if I didn’t include a disclaimer that I cannot possibly narrow my favorites down; I could fill ten of these surveys. However, I’ll try and keep this short; here goes nothing.
1. What book are you currently reading?
I’m currently reading two (in addition to my constant reading for my classes).
First is Medieval Lives by Terry Jones. Yes, that Terry Jones. He was at the Medieval Congress here a few years ago, and Jason got me a signed copy as a graduation present from my MA program. It says, “Dear Mick, Congratulations! Terry Jones.” What a perfect gift, when one considers my current path. The book is incredibly good. It’s an informative, but never boring, look at what every day life was really like in Medieval England. It’s actually pretty hilarious, which is not surprising at all.
Secondly, when I need a break from all things medieval, I’ve just started Choke by Chuck Palahniuk. If you’ve read anything by him, you won’t be surprised by this book. It’s visceral and funny, but still haunting. I really love his writing, but it is nothing if it’s not dark. I read Lullabye a few years ago in one day, but then basically needed counseling afterward.
2. When you think of a good story, what are the first three books that come to mind?
The Sirens of Titan : Kurt Vonnegut
This is one of Vonnegut’s earliest books, to my knowledge, and it’s still one of my favorite stories of all time. It’s more sci-fi than some of his other stuff, and to this day is one of the best things I’ve ever read. The ending will literally knock you back. When I finished I was amazed that something that creative could come from someone’s head, and to me that makes for the best kind of literature.
A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius : Dave Eggers
I started reading this book in the ICU when my dad was in a coma, and read it during that month, finishing it right before he died. It’s some really great creative non-fiction, and it’s so honest and real and flawed that I’ll always love it. Eggers’ voice is frank and direct(I also love his short stories for the same reason), but this book made me feel like I wasn’t the only one to go through rough times. It’s never preachy, and is usually downright hilarious. It’s heart-warming without being saccharine, enlightening without being condescending. So great.
Still Life With Woodpecker : Tom Robbins
Tom Robbins is one of my favorite authors ever; I’ve read everything he’s ever written. This was the first I read, and is still my favorite. Robbins writes fiction like a poet: each word is so carefully chosen, and each sentence is like a work of art. Ironically, this never detracts from the flow of his work; everything still seems so effortless and natural. This book is radical, hilarious, and damn sexy. Whenever I read anything of his, I always say to myself, “If I could write, I’d want to write like that.” Jitterbug Perfume has the exact same effect on me; I can’t recommend Robbins highly enough. The dude rocks.
What 3 books would you recommend for summer beach reading?
I like a good epic over the summer, something I can really sink my teeth into. I love the feeling of sadness when putting down one of these books, like you don’t want to let go of the characters yet.
One Hundred Years of Solitude: Gabriel Garcia Marquez
This is a story that spans hundreds of years, recounting the lives of an entire family. It is so juicy and good, I couldn’t put it down.
Middlesex : Geoffrey Eugenides
Another tale of a family with a different ethnic background than my own, this adds hermaphroditism and incest into the mix. (Wait, the last book I mentioned also deals with incest. What a disturbing trend. Don’t worry, I won’t recommend Oedipus Rex next.) Definitely something that will engross you on the beach or on a rainy day.
Gone With the Wind : Margaret Mitchell
I don’t think I really can say anything about this book. Soooo much better than the movie, and the movie is one of my all-time favorites.
4. Any knitting books you care to share?
Right now I’m really enjoying Mason-Dixon Knitting. I love the little stories and tid-bits. The blog always cracks me up, and the book is the same.
Normally I wouldn’t tag anyone, but I love getting suggestions for new books. Whitney, Marianne, and Lindsay, I’m looking at you, as well as anyone else who’s got some goodies to share. So, if anyone wants to participate, go right ahead! I’m gathering my summer reading from used bookstores as we speak (I checked the “1000 books to read before you die” list, and I’ve read 100! Not too bad. I picked up Atonement and Persuasion the other day, so hopefully by the end of the summer I’ll be able to cross off two more. Yay!)