Grayswandir (_grayswandir_) wrote,

...more book stuff!

Heh, I love how everybody is already making posts about how they feel about 2011 so far. As for me, I am definitely not off to a terribly productive start. So far, I have slept a lot and read a lot of Dinosaur Comics. And also my sister and I sat around and watched like two hours' worth of Flight of the Conchords stuff on YouTube. Oy. Though I did watch Becket on New Year's, so that was at least something. (It was very good. Strange, though, seeing O'Toole play Henry II again, but play him as such a completely different character. And once again, I have so much trouble picturing Peter O'Toole as not gay. WHY IS HE ALWAYS SO GAY?)

Also, I've noticed that I suddenly seem to have started saying "twenty" when talking about the year, as in "twenty-eleven" instead of "two-thousand-ten." Maybe because "eleven" is just too many syllables already.

Anyway, to follow up my last post, which was about the books I read in 2010... Here's a 2010 book meme post!

How many books read in 2010?

Thirty-six books read, if I count Tolstoy's novellas as separate books.

Fiction/Non-Fiction ratio?

Twenty-one fiction. Fourteen non-fiction. And then there's In Cold Blood. >_>

Note, this is by far the most non-fiction I've ever read in a year; in fact, most years I don't read even a single nonfiction book, unless you count textbooks. Granted, ten of the fourteen nonfiction books I read this year were school-assigned (er, as was In Cold Blood). But hell, even four nonfiction books in a year is probably a record for me.

Male/Female authors?

Let's see...

Female authors:
Harriet Jacobs - Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl
Phillis Wheatley - Poems of Phillis Wheatley
Zora Neale Hurston - Their Eyes Were Watching God
Emily Brontё - Wuthering Heights
Male authors:
...all the rest, including seven books by Tolstoy and two by Borges.
So, four female authors (with four books); twenty-five male authors (with thirty-two books).

This is also far more books by female authors than I normally read. Not deliberately, exactly; it's just that I generally read classics, and, well. There weren't that many female authors back in the day.

Favorite books read?

Hmm. That New Year's meme asked for best book read, and I said it'd have to be Anna Karenina (not counting Paradise Lost, as it was a reread); but then I said the books that affected me the most were David Walker's Appeal and Fear and Trembling. I'm not sure any of these really qualify as favorites, though. Favorite book... hell, it might be Copenhagen. I don't even know.

Oh, hey, wait, the question is plural. Books. Well -- all of the above, in that case.

Least favorite?

Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said. I need to read something good by Philip K. Dick again soon so that I can stop thinking he sucks. :|

Oldest book read?

Othello, which is from 1603, roughly. Also Paradise Lost, from a few decades later.


Pullman's The Golden Compass and The Subtle Knife were, I think, the only books I read that weren't at least several decades old (they're from the 90's). As usual, most of the stuff on my reading list was between 50 and 200 years old.

Longest book title?

Uh. Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, I guess. Kind of a strange question. I mean, it would be hard to get into an interesting discussion on the subject. ...Boy, that Frederick Douglass! He sure knew how to make up long titles! What a crazy guy!

Shortest title?

We. (Equally short in the original Russian, as it happens: Мы.)

How many re-reads?

Four. Paradise Lost, Wuthering Heights, and Othello for school (plus Lolita and War and Peace, which I didn't completely reread, but reread large parts of); also The Golden Compass because I decided to start the series over.

Most books read by one author this year?

Heh, definitely Tolstoy. Seven novellas and one 800-page novel.

Any in translation?

Well, obviously all the Tolstoy ones. Also The Tale of Kieu, translated from Korean; We, translated from Russian; two collections of Borges, translated from Spanish; and Fear and Trembling, translated from... Danish, I think? *checks* Yep, Danish.

How many of this year's books were from the library?

Six. Again, more than usual! I normally don't like checking books out from the library, because I figure if they're not good/interesting/important enough for me to want to own them, they probably shouldn't be at the top of my reading list. But I read several things for research this year that I don't feel I need to keep forever. (There were a couple of books I checked out, though, that I wish I'd bought. Copenhagen is one; The Sound and the Fury is another.)

Book that most changed my perspective:

Lord, I don't even know. It's like... a five-way tie between The Life of Mahatma Gandhi, Fear and Trembling, Milton's God (these latter two changed my perspective in opposite ways, so I'm not even sure what my perspective is anymore), and... uh, everything we read in my Tolstoy class, and several of the things we read in my African American Lit class?

I mean, mostly these are not so much "changed my perspective" as "broadened my perspective," so if we're looking for a book that made me do a total about-face, it was either Fear and Trembling representing Abrahamic religion in all its glorious, dramatic, primal magnificence, or else Milton's God reminding me why Christianity is an ugly, hypocritical, dangerous religion. (I am very ambivalent about religion at this point, thanks not only to these books but also to Gandhi and Tolstoy. Who were actually pen-pals, did you guys know?)

Favorite character:

Counting only books I read this year for the first time, I'll pick Stepan Arkadyich Oblonsky, the brother of the eponymous Anna Karenina. He's this brisk, oblivious, cheerful, materialistic, but irresistibly charming fellow whom Oscar Wilde would have probably enjoyed writing (he's not a wit, but there's just... something Wildean about him, I feel). He's a beaurocrat and therefore basically a completely superfluous person, and some of the other characters find it irritating that he can be so content with himself while being so useless to society. But he's just such a good-natured, artless, harmless person that nobody can stay irritated. In a novel that's all about unhappy people trying to find meaning and substance in their lives, I guess it was refreshing to have this one character who got by just fine without even worrying about what the meaning of life was, because he was just too busy enjoying himself.

If I'm going to count all the books I reread this year, I'd have to include Othello, Heathcliff, and, uh, Satan, on the list. So... all the characters who are the exact opposite of the cheerful, well-meaning Stepan Arkadyich Oblonsky. (Okay, I exaggerate about Othello. Still, though. Oblonsky couldn't be jealous of his wife if he tried. Poor woman.)

Favorite scene:

Hmm. Well, the one that comes to mind, and that certainly made a tremendous impression on me when I read it, was the childbirth scene in Anna Karenina -- not Anna's child, but Kitty's. It's told from the viewpoint of her husband Lёvin, and the whole ordeal is so horrific that it reads more like a death scene than a birth scene; in fact it reads more like a death scene than any of the actual death scenes in the novel do. There were a lot of really good scenes in Anna Karenina, but for me this one stood out the most.

I'm having trouble choosing a runner-up for this section. I think all of my favorite scenes were probably from various Tolstoy works -- I can think of several from War and Peace offhand. Tolstoy does absolutely beautiful work in creating vivid and memorable scenes.

Favorite quote:

There are way too many quotes from Paradise Lost that deserve mention here, but one of my favorites is the one Shelley quotes at the beginning of Frankenstein:
Did I request thee, Maker, from my clay
To mould me man? Did I solicit thee
From darkness to promote me?
Which is Adam talking, if you couldn't guess. On the whole, Satan gets most of the best lines in the book, but Adam and Eve definitely have a few good ones, too. I'm also not even going to try to start quoting things from Lolita, because that could go on forever. Othello is, I find, actually one of Shakespeare's less quotable plays, but of course it has its moments, most of which belong to Iago. "I am nothing if not critical" is the one I quote the most.

But, yeah, I think on the whole Paradise Lost will supply at least the first sixty or seventy answers to this question.

...Okay, enough book posts for a while. Though somehow I made a lot fewer book-related posts than usual in 2010, in spite of reading more books than usual. So I guess I'm just making up for it after the fact.
Tags: books, college: asu, john milton, lev tolstoy, literature, movies

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