Sunday, June 12, 2005

A Look at my Books

"Just because" Becky asked me to talk about books (as if I needed prompting!)...

Number of books I own: Like Becky, I'd have to say that I don't own nearly enough of them. I have lists--mental and actual--and random post-it notes to remind me of some of the text I really must buy. Right now, those lists predominantly contain reference-type books.

Last book(s) I bought: All texts so I can get a head-start on grad school reading: The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov, a critical edition of Paradise Lost by John Milton, and Palimpsests: Literature in the Second Degree by Gerard Genette.

Last book(s) I read: Actually finished reading or abandoned to start reading something else? I'm pretty bad about that when I read for pleasure. I just get SO excited about books; I really can't help it!

Anyway, the last book I finished entirely was Lynne Truss's Eats, Shoots, & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation. And while I've got a number of books I really want to return to reading, I'm really trying to focus my attention on The Master and Margarita.

Five books that mean a lot to me:

- At the Back of the North Wind by George MacDonald: Books that have a special place in my heart tend to be those that have taught me both something about myself and something about the nature of reading. At the Back of the North Wind is the first book I can remember teaching me anything like that. I first read it when I was in the sixth grade and the heavy symbolism and somewhat-antiquated language/syntax gave me quite the time. But that book taught me that the experience of literature isn't always easy--nor should it be--and that the most pleasurable reading is that which challenges your abilities and even your view of the world.

- The Stone Angel by Margaret Laurence: This was a text I had to read for one of my grade thirteen English class (my high school offered three VERY different English courses at this level; I took all of them.) The Stone Angel really hammered home what I first encountered with At the Back of the North Wind.

- Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte: A perfect example of how even prose can be poetic! I love the language in this book! This is the first text to really make me consider that love can be consuming, possessive and downright nasty.

- Cassandra by Christa Wolf: Again, I love the language here. I love what it expresses, but also what it cannot articulate. This book primed me for later studies in the limits of language (Ferdinand de Saussure's Course in General Linguistics, Helene Cixous's "The Laugh of the Medusa", and especially Michel Foucault's The History of Sexuality.)

- Le Petit Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery: In my opinion, this is quite possibly the most moving, romantic story ever written. It's a special dream of mine to read it with a loved one.

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