Okay, so Gary tagged me with the book meme (list current books, favorite books, tag others) this morning. Or last night. Sometime. Anyway, he’s one of my more loyal readers and even though I don’t write for, like, a month, he’s still there when I do.
Okay, so here’s the meme (and I’m not sure what that means exactly, by the way.)
How Many Books Do You Own? Several hundred. I own almost 50 Stephen King books and they have their own shelf in another room. But I have three bookcases in my loft, another in my office and yet another in my bedroom. They are all quite full to overflowing. On Gary’s response he also posed the question “who the hell taught you to read?” For me that would be my parents. They let me read in church every Sunday instead of listening to all the other stuff going on. I didn’t even need to stand and sing. While I was appalled that they made me leave the books at home once I turned 10 or so, I think this practice explains why I’m an English teacher and definitely not a minister.
What is the Last Book You Bought? This is a disgusting answer. It’s something like the Jane Austen Book Club…a fluffy book about women and one guy who sit around and talk about Austen. So that’s my answer but I don’t really want it to count. So, the last book I bought before that was Ira Levin’s Rosemary’s Baby. Haven’t read it yet, but I’ve seen the movie (teach it in class as a matter of fact) and I’m planning to read it by the pool this summer. If at all. I have purchased many books that I’ve never read. Oh well.
What is the Last Book You Read? The Gunslinger by Stephen King. I’m about two chapters into the second book of the series now. Big fan. It also gives me hope because the writing itself in the first book, written when King was not quite 20, is terrible writing compared to what he does now. It’s a beautiful thing to see. I’m also about ¾ the way through Lolita by Nabakov and some non-fiction textbook crap called Teaching Defiant and Oppositional Children.
Name five books that mean a lot to you. First of all, I’m cracking up at the capitalization choices made in these questions. They started out all first words capped, which is so incorrect, but the second question abandoned some, and now, question three, it’s actually correct.
Five books that mean a lot…….shit.
The Great Gatsby. F. Scott Fitzgerald. I read it in college and thought it was a fine book. Taught it for two years to high school juniors and their hating it made me love it. The second year I made the choice to read some of it out loud to them. This cinched it. Gatsby needs to be read out loud. If you don’t believe me, try it. It’s like one of those magic eye picture—fine to look at but once you interact with it it’s like “WHOA.”
The Last Time They Met. Anita Shreve. This book is kick ass. It’s a story of a romance, but it’s written backwards…starting when the main characters are 50 and working backwards to when they originally met as teenagers. There are certain sections of the book that strike me so deeply I could cry now if I thought about them specifically enough. Fan-fuckin-tastic.
The Fountainhead. Ayn Rand. Not just because it made me question my own concepts of individuality vs. collective behavior, but it’s just a damn fine story. This is another book I teach and it makes the largest impact on students. I tell them that if they stick with it the length of the novel is worth the payoff in the end. Those that believe me and follow it through say that it changed the way they’ll read books forever. I agree.
On Writing. Stephen King. This is King’s autobiography/handbook on writing. It served two purposes for me. First, it got me back into writing, which has been HUGE in my life. I think without writing as a focus I’d still be drifting aimlessly through teaching and life being completely miserable. Second, it made me a fan of King. I had read Misery before and seen a few movies, but I was an apathetic member of the “Stephen King is paid more than he’s worth” following. Let me tell you now, Stephen King is a genius of our time. I feel absolutely privileged that he’s alive while I’m alive, in the same way that I wish I had been alive when F. Scott Fitzgerald was alive. If you haven’t read King, do it now. Don’t just watch the movies—with the exception of Secret Window because Johnny Depp is in it his movies are largely crap. Read the books.
Staggerford. Jon Hassler. This was the first book I read that when I finished it I threw it, literally, across the room and vowed to never read it or any other Hassler again. Staggerford is a town and the novel takes place over nine days. The main character is an English teacher and he is the universal English teacher…cares about his kids, lugs his papers dutifully back and forth, not married and so the talk of the town, misunderstood by his administration…..it’s all so ridiculously real. Bad things happen (hence the book throwing) but you’ll be happy to know that I read it again recently and fell in love with it—and Hassler—so everything is all okay.
Now “tag” five individuals to provide their own lists. Okey dokey.
First is Jodi because she’s the first blog I ever read and followed regularly and I don’t think she’s done this list before and it will be so right up her alley. She’ll not be happy about the last question, though, for two reasons that I’m sure she’ll explain to you.
Second is Patricia just because she’s fantastic and I want to give her the opportunity to write.
N. because I miss her tons and want to hear her voice again.
Matthew because he was a counselor at the camp I went to when I was 11 and during our 4 hours of activity time in the afternoon the only reason I snuck out of the cabin and away from Misery by S. King was if he was doing an activity I could do.
And….uh…well…okay, it’s only four but they’re quality people.
Now I have to go and revise this story. Mentor deadline is less than a week. Six days. Hells bells.