12.02.2010

Thursday Book Questions: Part 11

Five questions a week. Eleven weeks. Post your answers in the comments (or on your own blog if you prefer, just link back in the comments) and I'll do the same thing.

We've come to the last five questions in the Thursday Book Questions meme. Now I have to come up with something else to do on Thursdays. Thinking...

Last week was Thanksgiving, but two weeks ago we found it difficult to determine what it meant to skim a book. Read it really, really fast? Try and hit the high points while overlooking the rest? We weren't sure, but some of us do it, some of us don't, and some of us even admitted to skipping ahead. (I've done that, too--but only if I think the book likely to be depressing.)

We also talked organization, which brought about some of the most interesting responses we've had yet (Mr. Pond used to arrange books by the color of the binding until that became impractical, Sarah [mother of three small children] just tries to keep hers on the shelf, Donna says "Ahem. I am a librarian.", John Stanifer keeps C.S. Lewis and all his critics together, and Masha takes the cake with "I like to organize my authors based on who might have gotten on with each other - Kierkegaard and Rilke are together, Hemingway and F. Scott. I also like to put people like Sartre next to overly pious authors and imagine the arguments.") And others. There were too many to list.

This week's questions get personal, even dramatic:

51. Are there any books you’ve been avoiding?
(answer here)
52. Name a book that made you angry.
(answer here)
53. A book you didn’t expect to like but did?
(answer here)
54. A book that you expected to like but didn’t?
(answer here)
55. Favorite guilt-free, pleasure reading?
(answer here)

I'm looking forward to your answers!

18 comments:

  1. 51. Are there any books you’ve been avoiding?
    This month I shamelessly avoided my book club's pick, Animal Vegetable Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver. It wasn't that it didn't look interesting--but it was a humongous non-fiction book, and NaNoWriMo took priority. :)

    52. Name a book that made you angry.
    I spent much of Kristin Lavransdatter furious at some of the characters. Girl, was it necessary to screw up your whole life with a jerk like Erlend? Bah.

    53. A book you didn’t expect to like but did?
    I had a hard time with this one, since Harry Potter doesn't quite count. I had no idea what to expect the first time I picked up the first of those books. But maybe Erica Bauermeister's The School of Essential Ingredients; it's well outside my genres of interest, but I did enjoy it.

    54. A book that you expected to like but didn’t?
    Most of the time, I have pretty moderate expectations, and I rarely really despise a book. I did hate Tess of the D'Urbervilles, though. If I remember right, I hadn't expected it to be a tragedy.

    55. Favorite guilt-free, pleasure reading?
    It's all in the re-reads. I'm sure you know what those are by now: Jane Austen's works, Jane Eyre, Harry Potter, Little White Horse, Narnia, Speaker for the Dead, Princess Academy...

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  2. 51. Are there any books you’ve been avoiding?
    I've been avoiding reading 'Home' by Marilynne Robinson. Rather, I've been keeping it on my bookshelf for...I don't know, a week's vacation when I can read it and actually absorb it.

    52. Name a book that made you angry.
    Lord of the Flies. And the Twilight books. Sorry Jenn!

    53. A book you didn’t expect to like but did?
    I was delightfully surprised into liking murder mysteries. Agatha Christie, Chesterton and especially Dorothy Sayers.

    54. A book that you expected to like but didn’t?
    I would put Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights here. They are epic, but you hear so much about them that you expect Jane Austen and you get, well, Anti-Austen.

    55. Favorite guilt-free, pleasure reading?
    Austen, Rowling, L'Engle, Sayers, Montgomery, Lewis, Chesterton, MacDonald...etc.

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  3. 51: Night, by Elie Wiesel.

    52: A lot of theological works, actually. And books of and about sermons. Probably too many to list, or too obscure to be worth mentioning. As far as stories, though, I'd say The Bridge to Terabinthia--which I consider irresponsible--but it doesn't count cause I've only seen the movie, and glanced at the book long enough to know I would like it no better.

    53: The Harry Potter books. I was a little Harry Hater in my day. Sad but true.

    54: This is a toughie. I usually know what I'm getting into when I pick up a book (I sneer at advertising of all kinds) so I'm generally psyched for the experience. I think the biggest disappointment would have to be How Mumbo-jumbo Conquered the World:
    A Short History of Modern Delusions
    , by Francis Wheen. It looked very promising (it had a giant chicken on the cover) but quickly revealed its content to be the matter of the title--mumbo-jumbo and modern delusions.

    Oh, and Eragon. That book should have been much better than it was.

    55: Terry Pratchett and Brian Jacques. Brilliant!

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  4. 51. Are there any books you’ve been avoiding?
    Not really, I guess books like Les Miserables. Books that seem insurmountably intimidating.

    52. Name a book that made you angry.
    Hmmmmm, well, to follow a theme "Eat, Love, Pray." Other thatn that, I can't really think of any. I know there have been some, but they aren't coming to mind. I'll post later if I remember some.

    53. A book you didn’t expect to like but did?
    I guess I would have to put "The Eye of the World" in this category...shhhhhh, don't tell, Jenna. It truly goes to show "Don't judge a book by its cover."

    54. A book that you expected to like but didn’t?
    Eragon

    55. Favorite guilt-free, pleasure reading?
    Twilight series, Harry Potter, definitely.

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  5. 51. Are there any books you've been avoiding?
    Brideshead Revisited. I finally started it and it's depressing as hell. Maybe I shouldn't be reading it in the wintertime.

    52. Name a book that made you angry.
    TESS OF THE BLEEPING D'URBERVILLES. It is so beautifully written and so heart-rending that I slogged through to within 20 pages of the ending when I got to the point that I just couldn't take it anymore. I skipped to the end and read it and was so furious that I pitched it that very moment and never went back. If Hardy had been alive I would have wrung his existentialist neck. I wasn't totally expecting sunshine and flowers, but the end is COMPLETELY improbable.

    Another obvious one would be "Catcher in the Rye". What a piece of garbage. That nonsense was foisted on me as a sophomore in high school with utterly no explanation. When I got to college I read Nietzsche and it wasn't until then that I could understand Salinger and uncloak his absurd philosophy.

    53. A book you didn't expect to like but did?
    The Kristin Lavransdatter series by Sigrid Undset. And in fact, I did hate it for about two years after I read it and then suddenly when I was telling me little sister about it had an epiphany as to what the whole series had really been about.

    Anna Karenina also surprised me - I didn't think I would like it because I knew it was tragic going in, but it's powerfully and beautifully drawn.

    54. A book you expected to like but didn't?
    1984. It hasn't nearly the pathos that Animal Farm has.

    55. Favorite guilt-free, pleasure reading?
    Hee hee. This is a little embarrasing...but...Louis L'Amour.

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  6. jana.kaye, you don't have to like Twilight to be my friend. :) Also, true story about the difference between the Brontës and Austen.

    Mr. Pond, Bridge to Terabithia was a painful story. I'm totally curious as to why you think it's irresponsible, but I didn't like it enough in fifth grade to make me read it again to find out.

    Also, I think half the Blogengamot (including me) is composed of former Harry Haters. You're in good company.

    MissPhotographerB, now I can't wait to read me some Jordan. Also, I promise not to tell. :D

    Maria, I liked exactly one paragraph of Catcher in the Rye. Hated the rest. Also, we're clearly of the same mind regarding poor Tess. "If Hardy had been alive I would have wrung his existentialist neck"--that made me laugh out loud.

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  7. Wow. I just used "Also,..." four times in one comment. Guess I need to stop using that crutch. :)

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  8. In response to #54, I also hated Wuthering Heights. All my life I had heard what an amaaaaazing story it is. It is just messed up, period.

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  9. 51. Are there any books you’ve been avoiding?
    I don't think I've ever decided to avoid a book, if they catch my notice, I usually read "just to see". I have avoided rereading Alice Walker and Toni Morrison though, some books don't bear up well in a second reading.

    52. Name a book that made you angry.
    There was an awful translation of Rilke's "The Book of Hours" where the translator took the liberty of removing whole stanzas "for clarity". I was more disgusted than anything else, I'm sure she thought it very accessible.

    53. A book you didn’t expect to like but did?
    I didn't expect to like The Stranger, by Camus. I ended up in love with it, and the Cure song "killing an Arab" based on the book. Amazing!

    54. A book that you expected to like but didn’t?
    Harry Potter (sorry, I know you do)...but WHY do people think those books are anything like Narnia?

    55. Favorite guilt-free, pleasure reading?
    This is really silly, but apart from Rilke's poems, I would say Kierkegaard's Sickness Unto Death, or Kathleen Norris ANYTHING...they make me happy and they all help me see beauty.

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  10. 51. Are there any books you’ve been avoiding?
    The City of God by St. Augustine

    52. Name a book that made you angry.
    The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier. Like Mr. Pond but possibly for different reasons many theological works make me angry. Mainly because heresy & apostasy give me tummy aches. And listening to purpose driven & emergent sermons often makes me want to scream out "Talk about Jesus!!!"

    53. A book you didn’t expect to like but did?
    Well, Harry Potter. But not because I was a Harry Hater. I was actually ambivalent about Harry & thought it wouldn't really be that good. Boy, I was wrong.

    54. A book that you expected to like but didn’t?
    Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins. That's the most recent one I can remember.

    55. Favorite guilt-free, pleasure reading?
    I don't know. Most reading is guilt free for me. Maybe books on natural disasters or mountaineering tragedies?

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  11. Jenna said, "John Stanifer keeps C.S. Lewis and all his critics together."

    C.S. Lewis has critics? First I've heard of it. :)

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  12. Sorry this is SOOO very late, I have had a very busy week. I am really going to miss the Thursday questions though.

    51. Are there any books you’ve been avoiding?

    The Twilight books, I refuse to read them because of all the hype.

    52. Name a book that made you angry.
    Giants in the Earth I read it in high school and I remember throwing the book across the room when I got to the end. It is so long and depressing I was hoping for some sort of redeming end and didn't get it AT ALL. There have been others since but that one sticks out.

    53. A book you didn’t expect to like but did?
    The Book of Joby, Jenna I have been meaning to tell you about this book I think you would really like it. I'll have to get the auther for you.

    54. A book that you expected to like but didn’t?

    I would have to agree with the Wuthering Heights comment, it's been awhile since I read it but I remember being dissapointed.

    55. Favorite guilt-free, pleasure reading?
    Just about anything these days. If I can find an hour to sit down and read I always feel a little guilty that I'm not doing the dishes or laundry or something.

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  13. I've got to put in my 2 cents for "Bridge to Terabithia"!

    Mr. Pond, if you've only seen the movie, I would understand the dislike of the story. I disliked the movie from the previews and haven't seen it because I don't want to be disappointed. Do you feel the same about Katherine Paterson's in any general sense?

    Terabithia is one of those books I can't get through without tears. I even cried reading it out loud to my 7th graders when I taught the book. It is painful, true, Jenna, but I think Paterson's Jesse is a beautiful character, and her ability to let the reader see through the main character's limited perspective, but still reveal more "between the lines" is incredible.

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  14. Masha, "WHY do people think those books are anything like Narnia?"

    Ooh. I could never answer that properly in a comment. Not enough space. The very, very short answer is that "Well, I do because the books moved me in very similar ways." The long answer involves symbolism and theology and love inspired and watchful dragons and requires an essay, if not a book. :D

    George, heresy and apostasy give me stomachaches too. And have you forgotten Philip Pullman? He's done a fair amount of mouthing off at Lewis. Ooh. THERE's a set of books I've been avoiding. His Dark Materials. Because outright attacks on the Church also give me stomachaches.

    Sarah, I'd never heard of The Book of Joby but I just Googled it and... yipes. It looks intense, but also like it could be really good. I'll note that one down. Thanks!

    jana.kaye, ack... terrified as I've always been to re-read Terabithia, now I sort of want to. Got a copy I can borrow? :)

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  15. I never liked Terabithia because I found it terribly depressing. It comes of that sort of literature that seems to think children need to be enlightened on all the bad, tragic things of the world. As if they don't get that soon enough through life itself.

    Ah, Pullman. I haven't avoided him because he's considered the anti-Lewis. I've avoided him because I've heard from people I trust that his writing isn't all that great. And that if people think Lewis is preachy, Pullman is ten times worse.

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  16. Alas. As is typical with me, I am late with my answers to this week's Thursday Book Questions... and it's the final installment too. My brain feels like it's been wrung out like a sponge--completely dry at the moment. I still plan to answer the questions, and post some responses to this thread (especially re: Terabithia), but it will have to wait until another night.

    Jenna, I'd understand if you decide to recap this week's answers tomorrow without my submission. :) Thanks for hosting this super fun meme!

    Be back soon...

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  17. 51. Are there any books you’ve been avoiding?
    Kristin Lavransdatter... most people hate it, but end up recommending it anyway. I've also been avoiding Anna Karenina for similar reasons (most people love/hate it).

    52. Name a book that made you angry.
    War and Peace. I resented having to read it for class instead of on my own (I would've enjoyed it more if I hadn't had to write analytical papers about it).

    53. A book you didn’t expect to like but did?
    Brothers Karamazov. Oh my goodness; I loved it! (I'm noticing a Russian lit theme here today).

    54. A book that you expected to like but didn’t?
    Two books: Show Boat (by Edna Ferber) and Gone With the Wind. I wanted to read the former because I loved the (1936, not the 1951!) movie so much and thought "the book is always better than the movie" so expected to love it. BLAH!!! The movie was so much happier and sweeter than the book! And I had a similar principle with Gone With the Wind: I figured the book would be better than the movie (because I didn't like the movie), but the book was exactly the same.

    55. Favorite guilt-free, pleasure reading?
    L.M. Montgomery books. I surprised myself there; I thought I'd answer Austen. But L.M. Montgomery is easier to read, sometimes, as her books lack the depth of Austen's but retain similar pleasure-inducing qualities. I'd put Laura Ingalls Wilder on that plane, too.

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  18. Jenna--sorry this is late. I consider Terebithia irresponsible in the texture of the story because, as Rowling says, we have the power to imagine better. We have the power to imagine hope.

    For a similar case study, and I'm talking about movies now, go watch Finding Neverland starring Johnny Depp, and then watch Through the Shadowlands starring Joss Ackland (NOT the Anthony Hopkins version, please). They are essentially the same story, and FN is arguably the better film, but I would call FN irresponsible and TSL responsible, because of how they handle their respective subjects. There is a bleak, unrelenting despair after the final scene of FN ('I see her!'); there is sadness tempered with hope at the end of TSL ('I miss her.' 'Me too.'). (Parenthetical quotes are the key lines to listen for--as if you could miss them.) On a subjective plane, remembering FN makes me annoyed; remembering TSL makes me weep.

    How do we help children understand and deal with death? How do we as adults deal with the death of a child? Terebithia, in the movie at least, merely exacerbates the despair already present in grief--and, good heavens, if I want that I'll go read Night.

    PRUBON! Beatin' y'all to the call. :)

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