Saturday, 30 January 2010

Defined by Books


Simon of Stuck-in-a-Book tagged me in his ten books meme three weeks ago and I am only now getting around to posting; both another cookie crumbles and JoAnn of Lakeside Musings tagged me in the honest scrap "ten things" award so this is also a response to them with ten bookish things about me.

Simon's rules:

1.) Go to your bookshelves...
2.) Close your eyes. If you're feeling really committed, blindfold yourself.
3.) Select ten books at random. Use more than one bookcase, if you have them, or piles by the bed, or... basically, wherever you keep books.
4.) Use these books to tell us about yourself - where and when you got them, who got them for you, what the book says about you, etc. etc.....
5.) Have fun! Be imaginative. Doesn't matter if you've read them or not - be creative. It might not seem easy to start off with, and the links might be a little tenuous, but I think this is a fun way to do this sort of meme.
6.) Feel free to cheat a bit, if you need to...

Seeing as Simon fully sanctioned cheating ... I did. To be fair, I instinctively know where all of my books are so I couldn't have picked them unknowingly blind but I did choose them at random by looking at the bookshelves and quickly choosing ten books from ten different shelves, one or two of them as intentionally representative of something about me.

Everything I Needed to Know about Being a Girl I Learned from Judy Blume: this title is self-explanatory and true. I could have shared one of my Judy Blume books but instead I thought this was far more revealing about me. I loved Judy Blume as a girl and still hold a soft spot for some of her books (Just as Long as We're Together, Here's to You Rachel Robinson, Tiger Eyes, Deenie ...)

Trumpet by Jackie Kay: there are several books that I could have used to tell you that I am from Glasgow but none quite as beautiful as this one, in which the 1960s sections are set in my home-city (Kay also grew up there).

The Collected Stories by Katherine Mansfield: I was first introduced to Katherine Mansfield by a beloved English teacher at school who gave us "The Doll House" to read, which remains one of my favourite short stories because of its apparent simplicity yet also inexplicable quality. This book reveals not only a cherished bookish memory from school but also that I own a replica Victorian dollhouse (I used to own two, but my sister now has my first one) and collect miniature furniture, including books, a Swan Lake screen, a tiny Tiffany lamp (post-dating Victoriana but too cute to resist). Furthermore, it reveals my obsession with silver Penguin Modern Classics, of which this one is a favourite.

Bold Girls by Rona Munro: another set text from school (for Higher English), Rona Munro is a Scottish playwright although this play concerns four women in war-torn Belfast. I loved this play when I studied it and a friend bought me my own copy and wrote a dedication inside likening me to one of the characters (whose part I had read in class). I am a huge fan of drama; I don't read or see as many plays any more as I used to but I have a full shelf on my bookcases dedicated to plays and that doesn't include my numerous books by and about Shakespeare. I forget that readers of my blog probably don't know that I am an English Literature graduate (I also have my Master's) but it is an intrinsic part of me.

Nights at the Circus by Angela Carter: I couldn't define myself using books and not include Angela Carter. Anyone who doesn't know that I am a Carter devotee hasn't been reading my posts closely enough! Nights at the Circus was the first book of hers that I read and hence meaningful.

Mog's Christmas by Judith Kerr: along with Dogger by Shirley Hughes this was my favourite picture book as a child. My much-loved and dog-eared copy was handed down to my sister and is still at home but my boyfriend bought me a lovely mini hardback copy a few Christmases ago.

Reading Like a Writer: A Guide for People Who Love Books and for Those Who Want to Write Them by Francine Prose: another perfect gift choice by my boyfriend, this book is indispensable and I love close-reading a chapter at a time over and over. The subtitle is revealing as I am both of those people; the book sits on my writing shelf, where I have writing style handbooks, creative aids, and a number of short story volumes by writers included in the book.

The Brons Went to Woolworths by Rachel Ferguson: I began to consciously collect the original green-spined Virago Modern Classics in April 2008 and very early on I coveted an elusive copy of this book. Shortly after looking at expensive copies online, I went into an Oxfam Books in Glasgow, purposefully seeking a copy; I instantly honed in on a green spine (a skill known by all that collect these editions) and it was the one I was looking for! Priced at a wonderful £2.49. Very surreal and quirky, this book bears re-reading but I know that I am never going to part with it, even if Bloomsbury have re-issued it in a particularly lovely ice-cream copy.

A Room of One's Own by Virginia Woolf: I adore this essay by Woolf and love to pick it up and luxuriate in her words and thoughts. As a feminist I love to read about Woolf walking on the lawn of Oxbridge and adore her creation of Judith, Shakespeare's sister. Although I am attached to this Penguin edition I am somewhat obsessed with the earlier purple and cream striped one; I own most of the Penguin merchandise that imitates the iconic edition: the bookbag, the notebook and poster and I covet the postcard and mug.

Love by Toni Morrison: this is the book I'd rescue from a burning building, not because of the book itself but the inscription inside; my boyfriend bought me this for our first Christmas together and wrote something beautiful to me. This is one of several books that have something meaningful written to me inside but this one, above the others, is incredibly special; if I shared it online, it would betray my boyfriend and I would never do that.

Did you learn anything new about me from this meme and did you notice that all of my books are written by women?


17 comments:

StuckInABook said...

What a lovely response to the meme, Claire, it was worth the wait! The one on 'Love' was very sweet, and I'm delighted to see KM there.

Nymeth said...

I'll never forgot the first time I read the passages of A Room of One's Own about Judith. I think that was the first time I truly understood what feminist was about. I was just thinking yesterday that this is a book I need to re-read soon.

I remember you telling the Brontës Went to Woolworths story before, but it was nice to read it again - that IS quirky, surreal, and very very awesome :D

Rebecca Reid said...

I'm planning on reading A Room of One's Own soon so glad to hear it's a defining book! And I am delighted to hear that Katherine Mansfield is so great, it sounds like I need to find that one.

thecaptivereader said...

An always interesting meme and a very nice response. Several of these title were new to me, but now I want to track them down (Bold Girls in particular - love the title).

verity said...

I would have had to cheat if I had done this meme too! I'm not at all surprised by some of your choices. I would love to read the book about Judy Blume - she is such a seminal author for girls growing up, but unfortunately the library doesn't have it :(

JoAnn said...

Lovely choices, Claire! I'm thinking of reading "The Doll House" for my short story this week. Also must read A Room of One's Own very soon... Woolf in Winter seems to have taken over my reading at the moment.

Paperback Reader said...

It was a wonderful meme, Simon! Thank you. KM had to be there; I want a month of reading her short stories, one or two a night.

Ana, I was thinking the same! I will definitely reread A Room of One's Own Soon.

I remembered sharing The Brontës Went to Woolworths story before and mentioning Katherine Mansfield (although not my own dollhouse). I can't wait to read Alas, Poor Lady!

Rebecca, I envy you reading A Room of One's Own for the first time! I hope you love it as much as I do.
I highly recommend Katherine Mansfield and hope you do read some of her stories.

Thanks, Claire. Bold Girls is fabulous!

Verity, I'd post it to you if it wasn't a hardback so remind me the next time we're meeting and I'll loan you mine.

Oh, JoAnn, you must read "The Doll House"! If not for this Monday then for one soon; I can't wait to read your thoughts!

Woolf in Winter has made me want to read Woolf and nothing else! I have a few of her books still at home in Glasgow and I'm desperate to have them here so that I can read them all!

savidgereads said...

Great response Claire, I wish I had cheated more with mine now hahahaha! Loved all the answers and did learn a little bit more about you, though seeing you monthly I learn lots that way too but those out there that havent met you are sure to learn loads from this.

winstonsdad said...

what a great idea ,have done my own post now ,love you choices and what they say about you

Thomas at My Porch said...

I was like you when I chose my 10 books. I know my collection too well and any amount of blindfolding wouldn't have really helped in the randomization.

Samantha said...

What I loved most about your post is that it truly conveys what a book lover and reader you are and if I were that copy of The Brontes Went to Woolworths I would now rest easy knowing I have a home for life!

p.s. I went back to university for a second time to do an English major - I am still pondering doing a masters too :-)

anothercookiecrumbles said...

An amazing post... and I haven't read any of the books! I did notice that all the authors were women though...

I think I've read The Doll House in school, but right now, for the life of me, I can't remember.

softdrink said...

I didn't know you were from Glasgow. I had to Google Trumpet...it sounds like a fascinating book. I think I need to read it. :-)

claire said...

The books we love do define us. I remember your affinity with Love (from your white bookshelf post), and how much you love Angela Carter, but all of the others you picked told me a little bit more about you. And how fascinating that you picked all women!

Paperback Reader said...

Simon, glad that you enjoyed it and learned a little even though you are learning more in person.

Stu, glad that it prompted you to complete it yourself and look forward to reading your response.

Thomas, I would have instinctively gone for the same books with a blindfold! There was a little bit of impulse with this but no surprise (for me).

Oh, thank you, Samantha :). Books are such an intrinsic part of my life and I do want it to show that I love them.

Let me know if you do decide to do your Master's; I'd love to do further study at some point.

anothercookie, thanks! Pleased you enjoyed it. If I had to choose any that you must read then of course it would be Nights at the Circus!

"The Doll House" is an exquisite story about the cruelty of children.

Jill, I am indeed ... Trumpet is fascinating and tragic.

Claire, I think choosing books all by women is telling of my interests, even though I have so many favourite male writers.
I'm glad that my choices informed you a little bit more; it's wonderful to share the books we love and why we love them.

Buried In Print said...

Well, I learned a lot of new things about you because I've only sporadically been following book-blogs for a few weeks now, but I was pleased to see so many of my own favourite reads in your list because it makes me think that I'll enjoy the others there as well. I'm especially keen on exploring Angela Carter and Toni Morrison in a more serious way (i.e. make a spreadsheet and obsessively read and re-read my way through the lists of their works from start 'til stop). This meme is a lovely way to say hello ::waves back::

Paperback Reader said...

Hi Buried in Print, thanks for commenting. :waves: good to "meet" you and I'm glad that you feel fully introduced now!

I am rationing out those Carter and Morrison books that I have yet to read but I love the thought of obsessively reading them (I do that; I love doing that). I'll be reading and reviewing one of Toni Morrison's novels this month, after wanting to read it for some time yet holding back.