Wednesday, October 17, 2007


I finally - at long last, a month after finishing the book - changed the 'What I'm Reading' at the sidebar. What AM I reading?

"Garlic and Sapphires", by Ruth Reichl. Memoirs from a former New York Times restaurant critic. I worked at newspapers as a young woman, but it was nothing like the snake pit that was the New York Times in the nineties, when Reichl was there. She's a great writer - funny, evocative, entertaining, and did I mention, REALLY FUNNY. She has written other books, I find, and I think I'll get them and read them, too. That's the highest praise I can offer.

I got tagged by Anne for a book meme thingie. I found it more interesting than memes usually are (sorry, but it's true), so here you go.

1. Hardcover or paperback, and why: Mostly paperback, because I'm a cheapskate. Occasionally I will buy books in hardcover, but only because I think I'll die if I wait until the paperback is out. (Generally, this means Harry Potter novels, J D Robb mysteries, and anything by Jaqueline Carey.) This also means I cannot stand the wait list at the library.

2. If I were to own a book shop, I would call it: "The Bleeding Heart", and sell nothing but paperback romances and mysteries.

3. My favorite quote from a book is: This is a hard one. But one of my most-used lines is from the "In Death" series by J D Robb, spoken by character Eve Dallas. "Act like an asshole, get treated like an asshole."

4. The author (alive or dead) I would love to have lunch with is: J R R Tolkien. Possibly a cliche, but I would love to pick his brain about his books, and what symbolism he was thinking of when he wrote them. If any. Plus I hear he was a nice, interesting guy.

5. If I were going to a deserted island and could only bring one book (other than a survival guide), it would be: Another hard one. Something long. Something long and dense. Tolstoy, maybe, or Tolkien. The complete works of Shakespare in one book? Something like that. The complete works of SOMEONE. Agatha Christie, maybe.

6. I would love for someone to invent a book gadget that: I've got a half dozen book lights of different design, and none of them really work right. I'd like a book light that stays where I put it and lights the page, and doesn't keep the husbeast awake next to me.

7. The smell of books reminds me of: Libraries. I spent a lot of my childhood in libraries. Good memories. If they could bottle the scent, I'd wear it as perfume.

8. If I could be the lead character in a book, it would be: Honestly, I wouldn't want to be the main character of any good book. To be a good book, that means the characters have to go through hell to make a good story. Phedre, of the Kushiel books by Jaqueline Carey, is a very cool person, smart and resourceful and kind. But she goes through a lot of hell I'd rather skip. Even if she does bag a lot of hot men. And women. Haha.

9. The most overrated book of all time is: I've got a problem with a lot of what they call 'classic literature'. Shakespare was a hack whose only claim to fame was thinking in iambic pentameter. Sir Walter Scott desperately needed an editor to cut his work in half.

10. I hate it when a book: Has poorly written characters. If an author spends a hundred pages establishing how independent the heroine is, having her knuckle under at the first sign of trouble will REALLY piss me off. The husbeast has become quite used to me ranting at movies and TV shows when the writers have someone acting out of character. Drives me insane.

There you go. I'm supposed to tag people, but I hate that... Anyone who wants to do this, go ahead. I'd find it quite interesting. Particularly among those of you who are writers and/or formally edumacated in 'great literature'. You know who you are.


Amy Lane said...

Really? Who are those people? Can I read their blogs?

Great choices, there--I really like your 'Bleeding Heart' bookstore--excellent!!! (You mean, you wouldn't stock cookbooks? I don't seem to love those!!!)

I'm going to rant against my uberfavorite prickweenie today, but tomorrow (and tomorrow and tomorrow) I'll probably take you up on the tag...I want to think about it for a while...

Katie K said...

You really think that "Act like an asshole, get treated like an asshole" beats Shakespeare, and that Shakespeare was a hack? Tsk, tsk.

Dana said...

I read Reichl's "Tender at the Bone" and consider it one of my all time faves. I don't keep many books on my shelf (big library geek and share the love via the used book store), but I've held on to that one.PPPytfb10

Bells said...

Them's big words Julie....

Donna Lee said...

I like Shakespeare but only when performed. Reading it makes me twitch. I am with you on meeting Tolkien. His books have been my favorites for a long time. Eve Dallas is one of my favorite characters, right after Stephanie Plum and Harper Connelly and all the women in And Ladies of the Club by Helen Hooven Santmeyer.

michelle said...

ohhhh- you dissin' Shakespeare?? thems fightin words!!

but, it really isn't meant to be read on a page

still - it's not just the iambic pentameter that makes him brilliant - he wrote comedy, tragedy, romance, poetry. his female characters are as deep as his male characters, and he took borrowed hackneyed plots and made them sing.

can you name another writer who even comes close to doing all that?

oh - but since iambic pentameter mimics the human heartbeat(and also most closely resembles human speech patterns) it really is pretty brilliant

Hobbygåsa said...

Just to let you know, I have finished my Selbu mittens. Have a nice day!

Pearls Mother said...

I've read Ruth R's earlier books and they are stunning,
I've just started re-reading Agatha Christie's Poirot novels, i do this about every 18 months.

Netter said...

If I were stranded on a deserted island, I would definitely want my Riverside Shakespeare (all the plays, the poems, and things loosely attributed to him). I'm a bit biased toward Shakespeare, that junior year seminar was great (and I do have an English BA). Although, my favorite quote's not from Shakespeare, but I guess I'll have to complete the meme so you can find out what it is.

Roxie said...

Hmmm, I love Shakespere, but then I get hypnotized by the music of words, and have all the intellectual depth of a small soupbowl. He tells some great stories. Who cares if he stole them? Any commedian will tell you, it's all in the delivery.

Fun meme!

(My verification word is Woonrip. A great name for a drunken comic character)

Gráinne Ferguson said...

I recently read "Tender at the Bone", and stayed up all night to do it. I found your blog from knitty, after reading that awesome article on historic knitting (naalbinding isn't that bad, by the way, just a bit slower). When I saw that your most recent post was about a favorite author of mine, I just had to post.

RobynR said...

How funny that you mentioned Ruth Reichl. I heard her doing a reading from "Tender at the Bone" on the radio the other day and now badly want to read all of her books. (Honestly 2 week old turkey and apple pie in stew? Gads!)
Love Nora Roberts/J.D. Robb too. Dallas is so consistently cranky.

AnneMarie from PA said...

Okay, I gotta say that I'm truly shocked that someone as obviously intelligent as you dislikes the Bard. It really is, as another commenter says, all in the music, the sound of the language. I taught Shakespeare for 7 years at the university level, and it was a required humanities course. Over and over I converted many a terrified Freshman by saying, "Don't sweat the meaning of every little word-- read aloud in your mind, hear the rhythm of the language, and the overall meaning will come. Then, after you've gotten through a scene for that, we can go back over it all in class for the finer, more esoteric points of the language and dialect." By the end, most of them were really into the plays, and thought Shakespeare was just what I introduced him as-- the equivalent of someone writing primetime drama/comedy/sensationalism for the masses of his day. Kinda like J.D. Robb (Ahem). And he knew the music of language and the power of politics and characterization like no other playwright of his time (and I've read all of the big ones, plus a few of the more obscure).

Anonymous said...

I just popped over here from Knitty, after having read your food coloring article, and was sooo happy to see you mention Jacqueline Carey's Phedre! (I just noticed Kushiel's Justice was on sale at the bookstore the other day) Have you ever read anything by Lynn Flewelling? Great characterization. =)