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It’s a bookish meme

A book meme, via Laura, Pavlov’s Cat and Sterne. My post will be far less impressive and humorous than any of those but there you go.

What was the last book you bought?
The Gift of Speed by Steven Carroll. It was the day the Booker was announced and I had originally gone to the only-half-decent-bookshop-in-town to buy the winner but couldn’t bring myself to pay $35 for a paperback. Call me tight. All the books on the shortlist were a good $5-$10 more expensive than the average PB price. It was a rort. Anyway, I am happy with my investment so far.

Name a book you have read MORE than once
All my books are still packed in boxes AND LibraryThing is down so I don’t have the shelves to peruse to jog my memory. So, The Secret History, The Thin Man, The Children’s Bach, Monkey’s Mask, The Reader, Fredy Neptune, the Deidre Bair biog of Simone de Beauvoir…

Has a book ever fundamentally changed the way you see life? If yes, what was it?
I agree with Tim, it’s hard to point to a book changing one’s life immediately but there is a great feeling of things changing over time. Some things are whittled away, other things become more complex. It’s why I read books and why I can not live without them.

How do you choose a book? e.g. by cover design and summary, recommendations or reviews?

Usually a recommendation, or a review, or an award, or some controversy. In other words: I have no idea.

Do you prefer fiction or non-fiction?
It depends. I honestly tend to sway between the two. I usually will be reading a bit of both. As I get older, and realise how much time I spend in front of a screen, I am tending towards fiction. I don’t know how those two facts are related. I think I feel in need of a total escape from the laptop sometimes. I work on computers, I build websites, I critique websites, I write about them (sometimes). I still consider myself a book person at heart and fiction seems, to me,  to be the antithesis of my experience of the web.

What’s more important in a novel – beautiful writing or a gripping plot?
Neither. I’ll read something and appreciate its writing and have often forced myself to read something because it is wonderfully written but will, like Laura, put up with crap writing if the story has sucked me in. The reason why a book works, or it doesn’t, isn’t as easy to isolate as ‘beautiful writing’ or ‘gripping plot’.

Most loved/memorable character?
I’ve always had a penchant for Ripley and as far as I am concerned he looks nothing like Matt Damon (he’s not blonde for a start).

Which book or books can be found on your nightstand at the moment?
The aforementioned Gift of Speed, Parklife by Nick Varley, and the incredibly-hard-to-get-hold-of Rosalie Gascoigne by Vici McDonald. I’m going to have to return it to the library soon. I am sure my mother must have renewed it more than once by now…

What was the last book you read?
Alice Garner’s The Student Chronicles. I was picking up my son from my parents’ place and saw it on the shelf so I grabbed it.

Have you ever given up on a book halfway in?
Many, many times. As a young child I remember giving up on a book because it ‘depressed’ me. I can’t remember the name or the author but it was the first time I could not continue with a book. I was 10 and I have never forgotten that moment when I put it down and thought, I’m not going to read that.


It’s a meme

I haven’t done a meme in ages. I saw this at Ampersand Duck and Pavlov and thought I would take it and run:

What was I doing ten years ago?

Experiencing one of the most turbulent years of my life. Finishing Uni. Starting a new part time job that would eventually lead to an entire career, whether I liked it or not.

Five snacks I enjoy in a perfect, non weight-gaining world:

1. Anything pickled (esp onions and chillis)

2. Top Deck.

3. Blue Castello (aka ‘fat on fat’)

4. Salami of any description

5. Whatever is left over from last night’s tea

Five snacks I enjoy in the real world:

1. Anything pickled (esp onions and chillis)

2. Bananas

3. Crumpets

4. Salami of any description

5. Whatever is left over from last night’s tea

Five things I would do if I were a billionaire:

1. Give up the job and write

2. Go to Anfield

3. Buy a house

4. Pay off family debts

5. Give it away

Five jobs that I have had:

1. Information Architect

2. Web Editor

3. Admin assistant

4. Book shop assistant

5. Milk delivery girl

Three of my habits:

1. The internet

2. Chewing PK orange gum

3. Reading on the loo

Five places I have lived:

1. Sawtell, NSW

2. Alstonville, NSW

3. Newtown, NSW

4. Leichhardt, NSW

5. Coogee, NSW

As I am possibly the last blogger on earth to do this meme I can pass it on to no one. If you want it, it’s yours.

Meme time

I’ve seen this ‘meme’ around some blogs and thought I’d use it as a bit of blog spak-filla:

One book that changed your life
The Reader. Long-time readers of this blog will have heard me go on about it previously. Forgiveness and guilt, a keener understanding of which I needed and which this book provided. I’m still delving deeper now.

One book you’ve read more than once
I tend to read my favourite books multiple times, even crime novels. Some that come to mind immediately are Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Deirdre Bair’s biography of Simone de Beauvoir and Donna Tartt’s Secret History.

One book you’d want on a desert island
Any decent poetry anthology.

One book that made you laugh
Italo Svevo’s Zeno’s Conscience. His attempts to give up smoking are so accurately portrayed. I knew someone who would say the same thing: this is my last cigarette! And of course it never was.

One book that made you cry
Er, I can’t think of one! I don’t tend to cry when reading, I prefer to shed tears over crappy movies.

One book that you wish you had written
Um, The Reader. As you can see it’s my book of the moment and has been for several years. I love the personal-national-universal way it works. It’s scope is perfect and perfectly executed.

One book that you wish had never been written
Great Expectations. I had to read it at school and although of course I can appreciate it, I hated every second I spent reading it.

One book you’re currently reading
The child that books built by Francis Spufford. I got it from the local library. I had worked my way through some Houellebecq and Roth and felt I needed a change.

One book you’ve been meaning to read

Zadie Smith’s On Beauty. My mother gives all her children a book for Christmas every year and this was mine last year. I still haven’t read it. But don’t tell her that.

If you would like to be tagged with this meme, please consider yourself tagged and run with it.

Casting couch

Stockard Channing as GeorgI picked up this meme from Mark at LP and thought: it’s got nothing to do with books but I’m sure I can make it count as a post in times as lean as these. (Yes and it’s naval-gazing and somewhat frivolous but this is the interweb…)

And the meme is: who would I like to play me in the film of my life. I didn’t really have to think long and hard about this, there is only one option: Stockard Channing. Not that there is any resemblance whatsoever – if that were a criteria I would be having Janet Albrechtsen forced upon me – but ever since Channing’s tough but tender turn in Grease I have had a soft spot for her. I figure with her range and ability, playing a woman thirty years younger and in possession of a broad Australian accent should be a doddle. She does have the added advantage of being a little on the small side, at 5’3” she has only half an inch on me. I also like the way her face looks like it’s launched a thousand champagne bottles. And hey, age should not be a factor, we’re talking about the woman who played a 17 year old when she was 32

I’m passing this on to Genevieve and Perry.

Dash’s meme

(Editor’s note: this meme has been passed to Dash by Sage. Sage’s Mum wisely decided that all us adults had had enough meming for one century and passed the baton to a number of bloggers’ infants. My infant, Dash, will be guest-posting this evening. He prepared this piece before he went to bed).


Total number of books I’ve owned:
Well, I dunno. I guess it would be about 60. I have a shelf of my own in the lounge room bookcase and I have some other books in my room. Oh, and a stash of books next to the old’s bed. And some on Mum’s desk. I like to keep them handy. (But I don’t read them on the potty like Mum does).

The last book I bought:
That would be Bulstrode, a rather mediocre book from the Thomas the Tank Engine stable that Jane (me other Mum) picked up when were visiting Nanna and Poppy in Sawtell. It was from that bloody second-hand bookshop they always have to go into. It has trains in it, and a boat, and well, that’s it. It’s good though. Except what kind of a name is Bulstrode?

The last book I read:

(Editors note: Dash didn’t read any books tonight because he met his friend Cooper for a meal at the pub after work and by the time he got home he was ready to go to bed, with Scoop the digger in hand). The last book I read was some weird shit Mum got from the Newtown library, Sleep Tight Baboon Bear. There’s this chick in it who takes out her teeth before bed. Oooh.

Five books that mean a lot to me:

We’re going on a bear hunt
A friend of my Dad’s gave me this (all the adults thought it was funny because he was a ‘bear’ but I don’t know what they were talking about). It came with a bear toy. We read it at childcare too and I know that Mum cuts out some of the story when she reads it but it’s still good because of all the noises.

Where is the green sheep
Got this from Nanna and Poppy at Christmas and love it. It’s a hardcover too! It’s got sheep in it. You have to find the green one. At the end you find it.

First things first
I like this book because it has all different kinds of things in it like letters and numbers and rhymes and songs and stuff. My Big Nanna (Editor’s note: that would be great-grandmother) read it to me a lot at Christmas and she knew all the songs.

Hairy Mclary
It’s got dogs in it. I like dogs.

Maisy. Anything with Maisy in it.

I like Maisy. I like all her friends, Cyril, Charlie, Tullulah and wotshisname. There’s lots of colours and there’s a cat in one of them. I like cats. They say meow.

That music meme

1. The person who passed the baton to you.
Genevieve at You Cried For Night. A fellow bookworm. Cheers.

2. Total volume of music files on your computer.
5.53GB. And rising. I am an iTunes convert. I don’t own a stereo – just plug the iBook into some speakers and we’re away. Still don’t own an iPod though.

3. The title and artist of the last CD you bought.
It has been a while since I bought a physical CD. I think it was Franz Ferdinand.

4. Song playing at the time of writing
Er, none. I’ve got half an eye on Australian Story.

5. Five songs you have been listening to of late (or all-time favorites, or particularly personally meaningful songs)
I’m taking the former option, in no particular order:

– Hey Now Now – The Cloud Room
– Untitled (Velepene Screen remix) – Interpol
– Shake Break Bounce – The Chemical Brothers
– I Predict a Riot – Kaiser Chiefs
– Tits on the Radio – Scissor Sisters

6. The people to whom you will ‘pass the musical baton.’
A lot of them had already done it but these haven’t (I think):
Larrikin at Matilda

It’s blog chain mail, of sorts

I was passed the baton by Larrikin at Matilda so I will now indulge myself and bore you all by answering the set of questions circulating around the more literary of the blogs:

You’re stuck inside Fahrenheit 451. Which book do you want to be saved?
The Reader by Berhard Schlink. I always maintain that favourite books change over time but I think The Reader has a lot to tell us about forgiveness and love. It’s very pertinent now and I don’t think there’s ever going to be a time when we don’t need to be reminded of the power of these two.

Have you ever had a crush on a fictional character?

I really don’t think so. I honestly can’t think of any character to fit the bill. Sorry, I’m very boring aren’t I?

The last book you bought was…?
I bought these in a batch:
Out Here – Alan Wearne
Akhenaten – Dorothy Porter
Fredy Neptune – Les Murray

The last book you read was…?
Erm, The Big Book of Sporting Sledges. It’s by David Milstead and it’s funny, if you like sport. Ahem.

What are you currently reading?

Eugene Onegin – Pushkin
The Polysyllabic Spree – Nick Hornby
Fredy Neptune – Les Murray

Five books you would take to a desert island…
High Windows -Philip Larkin
The Reader – Berhard Schlink
The Norton Anthology of Poetry
Collected Auden
The Thin Man – Dashiell Hammett

Who are you passing this stick on to and why?
Zoe at Crazybrave and Ampersand Duck ’cause I like Canberra. Really, I do.