Saturday, August 12, 2006


1. One book that changed your life?
Whatever was the first book my parents ever read to me. It shaped me more than they ever could have guessed.

The book that changed my life that I consciously remember is To Kill a Mockingbird. It was the book with which I first learned about literary analysis. The first book in whose margins I jotted notes. The first time I learned how deeply a book can affect me. Also, it was the first experience, aside from my parents, that began to shape my social consciousness. And it made me want to be a lawyer for many years. Until my 2nd year in college, when I realized I love literature way more than law and politics.

2. One book you have read more than once?
There are many. To Kill a Mockingbird of course. I practically have it memorized. Same goes for The Great Gatsby. It's a very close second behind Mockingbird as far as most influential in my life. It moves me just as much as Mockingbird, but in a different way. Actually, I've read everything by Fitzgerald several times. Same goes for much of Faulkner's work. There are also a couple young-adult books I still go back and read regularly. My favorite from that category is The Witch of Blackbird Pond. First read that in 7th grade and fell in love with it. I still read it about once a year, and it's still one of my favorites.

My answers here, of course, do not include the many books I read over and over again in college and grad school. I usually read a book several times when working on a paper about it.

3. One book you would want on a desert island?
The blog from which I stole this questionaire mentioned a survival guidebook, which is a brilliant answer. But aside from that, I think I'd want the Riverside Shakespeare. It's only one book, but has all his works in it and would provide years' worth of reading and thinking. Plus, I could always read The Tempest repeatedly for commiseration.

4. One book that made you laugh?
Right now I'm reading Confederacy of Dunces, which consistently cracks me up. Everytime I open it, I read something that makes me laugh out loud. Also, Franny and Zooey by JD Salinger, though it's been about 12 years since I read that. I just remember it made me laugh. Also, for a fun, feminist retort to all that annoying "gotta-get-married" chick writing, Kiss My Tiara cracked me the hell up.

(I'm not sticking to this 'one book' part of these questions, am I?)

5. One book that made you cry?
Oh hell, a lot of them make me cry. Some make me cry not because of anything emotional in the story, but simply because of something beautiful about the way it was written. And some make me cry for both reasons: story and aesthetics. For example, the last 20 or so pages of Lolita made me cry like a baby. The story is tragic and the writing is unbelievably was an overwhelmingly emotional reading experience.

6. One book you wish had been written?
Can't answer that question. I'm still trying to get through all the books that HAVE been written. If there's a book that should be written and hasn't yet, perhaps I'll write it myself.

7. One book you wish had never been written?
Lord. Many of them. Pretty much anything by Nicholas Sparks. Or that guy who wrote the Mars/Venus books. And Ann Coulter.

8. One book you are currently reading?
See answer to question 4.

9. One book you have been meaning to read?
Many. Still haven't read Ulysses. My stack of 'To Read' books is neverending, not that I would want it to end.

10. Now tag five people:
I don't know what the hell this means. Does 'tag' mean to tell people to answer this survey? If anyone wants to give their own answers, I'd truly love to read them. Post them as a comment here, or leave a comment with a link to your own blog where you've posted your answers.


At August 20, 2006 1:05 PM, Anonymous Emily said...

Ok, fine, I'll answer your damned book questions!
1. Life-changing book: La Regenta by Leopoldo Alas Clarin. It's this Spanish realist novel from the 1880s. It's SO misogynist, man... I wrote a kick-ass paper about it in which I made the case that it couldn't technically be considered realism, because the strict definition of that genre is an objective portrayal of reality. (which probably isn't possible for a human to create, but anyway...) But the main character of La Regenta definitely is not an objective portrait of a woman. She's just this skewed-ass, perverted fantasy of the demented male narrator. It's rather hardcore, actually.
2. I read Heart of Darkness twice. The first time I read it was in college, and I was too stoned to really understand it. Then I read it again last year and worshipped it. I have also read Stephen King's Salem's Lot several times, because I really love vampires. Heart of Darkness is kind of vampiristic too, coincidentally. And I'm sort of dating this long-haired Romanian dude now too. But if you want to know more about that, you have to actually email me!
3. Desert island: I have never actually read Rayuela ("Hopscotch") by Julio Cortazar, but that seems like an appropriate desert island book. Supposedly, he wrote it in some fucked up way so that you can actually read the book itself in multiple sequences. Like you can jump around in the pages or whatever and create different plots. I don't exactly know how it works though. I guess I should just read it.
4. Laughing book: Don Quijote. That shit really is as funny as they say.
5. Crying book: Evidently ice water runs through my veins, so I don't know that I've cried over a book.
6. Unwritten book: Hmm. Well, I first visited the Ursuline convent in New Orleans when I was like 15. I think it was built in like the 1600s or 1700s, and it used to be a bording school for French girls. So, my warped mind has always been interested in creating some kind of erotic narrative about that particular place, because I don't think one exists yet. Nuns are really erotic to me, for some reason. But then, you know this :)
7. Book that should have never been written: Aves sin nido ("Birds Without a Nest"). I don't even remember who the author is. It's this sappy-ass Peruvian novel about noble white people who save the Indians by making them white. Like white people are really that cool.
8. Currently reading The Russian Debutante's Handbook by Gary Shteyngart. See my Myspace profile for more extensive commentary.
9. Meaning to read: Lolita, actually, now that you mention it.
10. "Tagging": Does this refer to posting gang-related grafitti on someone?
Alright, man, I answered your survey now. So email me someday, dammit!!

At August 21, 2006 9:28 PM, Blogger Heather said...

Emily...check your inbox. There's a real email from me waiting for you.
Also, thanks for answering these questions! Yay Emily! As I'm sure you know, I haven't read most of the books on your list, since I'm not familiar with much Spanish or Latin American literature. But I've had to read Heart of Darkness for about a million different lit courses as an undergrad and grad student, which is fine with me since I like it. And yes, you should read's brilliant. I think you'll love it. Oh and you definitely need to write that book set at the Ursaline Convent...I'd read it.
If you want to melt the ice water which evidently runs through your veins, go back and read something like The Giving Tree, by Shell Silverstein, since even as an adult that book makes me teary (it's just a short kids book). Man, seriously, you've never cried over a book???? If you ever decide to read Harry Potter, I can point to a few places in those books where I bet you'd drop a few tears.
P.S. Where the hell in St. Louis did you meet a long-haired Romanian? I love how you link that to your comment about vampires in literature.


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