Saturday, October 06, 2007

Pardon me Meme, but could spare a dime?

CD's in Play: The Flaming Lips, Transmissions from the Satellite Heart. Hüsker Dü, Zen Arcade.


The Book Meme Challenge


Geosomin tested and Pacian approved. Here it goes...

Total number of books owned: No bloody clue. Too many packed away in storage and every book my Dad owns I inherit. Somewhere around the 400 mark at the very minimum.

Last Book Bought: If it didn't have such a gaudy cover, it would have been Christopher Priest's The Prestige. The cover as it stands now has "FALL 2006, A MAJOR MOTION PICTURE" in big bold red letters. Blah... tacky. So I resumed reading the Inspector Rebus series - "Tartan Noir" at its finest - by Ian Rankin with The Naming of the Dead. Just starting the book so I don't have much to say at this time. Another Rebus book was released in September, Exit Music. Potentially the last Rebus novel, I would be interested if Rankin chose to revisit or even develop some of the other characters from the series sans John Rebus, like Siobhan Clarke. (assuming she doesn't get killed off in this latest outing)

Last book read: An almost tie. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and Fleshmarket Close by Ian Rankin. I liked Deathly Hallows quite a bit, but I do have a complaint. I think that the book really does handle the end of the conflict and the fates of Voldemort and Harry quite well. However, the book's epilogue is most unsatisfying. As Pete Chattaway and I were discussing, the ending of Deathly Hallows is what Tolkien's Return of the King would have been like without the chapters "The Scouring of the Shire" and the "Grey Havens".
There has been a major conflict in the magical world, mundane and magical folk alike have been killed. People in positions of power have abused said power for their own ends and need to be dealt with. What becomes of Dolores Umbridge, imperiused individuals like Pius Thicknesse, the Death Eaters, etc. Yeah, Rowling discusses their fates in interviews and we can read them on Wikipedia - but it really should have been in the book. An the book's epilogue is not enough, there are many characters we care about and know nothing about their fate. We know what becomes of of the practically non-character of Teddy Lupin, but what of Mr. and Mrs. Weasley, Fred, Percy, Professor McGonagall, etc. The ending is just too abrupt. In pop-psychology speak: I want closure.
Fleshmarket Close is topical, dealing with human smuggling and the modern day slave trade. I still need to go back and re-read Rankin's A Question of Blood. "Close" is a Scottish term for alley, by the way.

Five books that mean a lot to you: Some tough choices here.

1. The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings: An unavoidable tie. The Hobbit is the first big book I can remember reading all the way through on my own at the age of seven. I read The Lord of the Rings when I was eleven years old. These really shaped my imagination and probably are as responsible for my interest in the early Medieval period as my Father was. There have been many imitators, but few can hold even a birthday candles worth of light to Tolkien's masterpieces.

2. Sea Wolves - The Viking Era: This one is packed away so I can't give the authors full names but it was by Birkenbak and Barren. My Dad gave this to me when I was five and an obsession was born. While my Dad was enamoured with Viking ship building and settlement, I was enthralled by the tales of blood and vengeance. The book has since been expanded and updated as book simply and unoriginally entitled as, The Vikings.

3. Find the Constellations and D'Aulaires Book of Greek Myths: Another unavoidable tie. Find the Constellations was a book my parents bought for me after a visit to the Planetarium. H.A. Rey, the man who brought us Curious George, did a children's version of his book The Stars: A New Way to See Them. Rey helped millions of people see the the constellations in an easier way than had been available before his efforts. My Mum and I (and occasionally my Dad if he didn't have work the next day) would sit out on a clear night in any season and watch the sky using Rey's book to find the constellations.
Part of my love and interest in the constellations was fueled by my love of Greek mythology. Visits to the Port Moody Public Library often entailed me signing out D'Aulaires Book of Greek Myths yet again. Author Ingri D'Aulaire and illustrator Edgar Parin D'Aulaire really sparked my imagination with their rather comprehensive book on Greek myths. I was always disappointed as a kid that no one had done a similar book for Norse mythology.

4. The Prydain Chroncles by Lloyd Alexander: I first started to read The Book of Three at the age of six and The Castle of Llyr shortly after. I'd read a chapter and and my Mum would read a chapter. The Port Coquitlam library didn't have the complete set of stories and none of my schools had the books at all until I attended Mission Junior. In Grade 9 I read the entire series, which was good for me at the time since the series' follows the main character, Taran, from his emergence from childhood into adolescence and onto manhood. I re-read the series pretty faithfully up to my late 20's and they always seemed to help me get through tough times. Loosely based on Welsh mythology, I was also fascinated by the series since part of my family came to Canada from Wales.

5. The Quiet American by Graham Greene: Certainly not the first adult novel I had read, but perhaps the most crucial. I read this at a time when many people who shared my Faith were in the process of conforming to an Evangelical way of thinking and being. I had been refusing to conform, discovering who I am and what I am. It is a lonely path to walk sometimes. I had been told about an English writer, a very devout Catholic named Graham Greene. With the exception of C.S. Lewis, Evangelical writers had not impressed me at all, but Greene's work struck a chord. A Christian can be someone who thinks, who cares and is opposed to the way things are done in the West. A Christian can be an individual. A writer who is a Christian can actually create an important work of art. It need not be fluff, it need not play to the lowest common denominator. I am sure I did not realise all of that at the time, but the Quiet American has always stuck with me as has my soft spot for Greene's work.

Most worthy mentions and unfortunate victims of the list limit are the works of Charles Williams, particularly War in Heaven and Descent into Hell. Watership Down also deserves mention as does Rankin's spy novel Watchman, which really helped to make me an active reader again.

2 Comments:

Blogger Geosomin said...

I remember pouring over the mythology books as a kid as well.
And Watership Down? can't believe I forgot to mention it.

How was your weekend?
Have some turkey?

09 October, 2007 08:13  
Blogger Magnus said...

The weekend was wet. I took my friend Gavin to a store with comics and toys - Doctor Who toys - so we could figure out what to get his son for Christmas.
Figure we'll split on pack with two 5" remote control Daleks with sound effects. Also comes with a Cyber Controller action figure.
Other than that I am oozing turkey from every pour and need to put some of my left over turkey in the freezer.
Et toi?

09 October, 2007 09:01  

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