Saturday, September 29, 2007


Thanks to Stacy for her latest tagging, of this book meme.

Total number of books? Unfortunately I can't answer this one because almost all of my books are at home in New Zealand while I'm over here in Oz. I had to be ruthless when packing so I brought with me only about three books, to read on the plane. Since I got here, I've bought about ten to fifteen books, mostly secondhand Agatha Christies! I would guess I probably have at least two hundred at home.

Last book read? One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. This was a book that my former history lecturer who will next year be my supervisor said I really should read if I want to study the Soviet purges, along with a few others. I find Russian lit so daunting that it took me a long time to get around to it, but when I eventually did get it out of the library, I found myself really engrossed. I had to interrupt my reading a few times for lunch or dinner and found myself absolutely amazed at how delicious the food was, even the most basic snack such as carrot sticks, because I had become so caught up in this portrayal of a gulag (especially its food).

Last book bought? This was actually the book I wrote about last post (Lost in Austen) so I'll mention the book I bought before that - First Among Sequels, by Jasper Fforde. This is the latest Thursday Next novel released, and it's no disappointment. I don't know how to even start describing this series of books because it's just so wild - all I can say is, if you're a fan of literature and comedy, you really should read these books, starting with The Eyre Affair.

Five meaningful books?

1) The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald. We had to read this book for school in Year 13, and ever since then, this has been one of my benchmarks for how a book should be written. I don't know if everyone would agree with me or not, but it seems to me Fitzgerald captured the perfect tone.

2) Persuasion, by Jane Austen. Something I find quite strange is that this is one of the least popular Austen novels. Stacy wouldn't agree with me! But personally, I think this book is Austen's most thoughtful and mature work, with some of the best characterisation. Being more mature doesn't mean it loses any of its humour, either. As Jane Austen is my favourite author and I want to be Just Like Her (well, actually, I don't want to be exactly like her but that's another story), this novel is very important to me and my favourite novel full stop.

3) The short stories of Katherine Mansfield. I am sad Mansfield never wrote a novel but her short stories, especially those set in New Zealand, are some of my favourite pieces of literature. I love her style and tone and subject matter - she doesn't make a big deal of plot but somehow her stories are irresistible anyway. Most of all, I love that she is an author who wrote from a New Zealand perspective and also wrote really well - there are not a huge amount of good (or at least well-known) New Zealand authors out there but I would like to be one of them one day, and Mansfield's work encourages me that it can be done.

4) The Collected Short Stories of Roald Dahl. These creepy and rather macabre stories are so clever and so well thought out that I can't seem to get enough of them. Dahl was a master of The Twist, and I really love how he avoids telling us exactly what happens, and how this seems to make it even creepier. I wish I could one day be clever enough to write like him.

5) The Ordinary Princess, by M. M. Kaye. I haven't exactly chosen a genre yet but I think that if I ever make it as an author, I'd really like to write at least one children's book. Children's lit doesn't seem to get a lot of serious attention, but this fantastic little fairy tale taught me that just because a book is written for children doesn't mean it has to be any less well written or clever or funny.


JenKneeBee said...

I love children's lit because it can seem so simple, but there's often quite a bit of depth inside. I'll have to check The Ordinary Princess out, I've never heard of it before.

Stacy said...

You know, I actually think I haven't read Persuasion. I thought I'd read all of Austen's books (and I own Persuasion) but I can't, for the life of me, remember the book, so I must have bought it, started it, and never finished it.

I should put it back on my to-read list.

e. said...

Oh, brilliant, brilliant from the picture to the fifth on the list! I couldn't agree more with one through four, and if your taste is anything to go by, I must get around to The Ordinary Princess. Have you read Shannon Hale's Austenland yet?