Monday, April 20, 2009

I love a good book meme.

1. What author do you own the most books by?
I think it might be a tie between Tamora Pierce and Robin McKinley.

2. What book do you own the most copies of?
I have two of a few books ("good" copies and lending copies). But I get attached to the copy I read (yes, I mark my favorite lines/passages, and sometimes write notes in margins), so I don't usually feel the need to buy multiples of books.

3. What fictional character are you secretly in love with?
I'm not very secretive at all about my fictional crushes, as evidenced by my previous post about them.

4. What book have you read more than any other?
Well...the books I've edited. But besides those, probably Matilda by Roald Dahl, Beauty by Robin McKinley, and the aforementioned Alanna books.

5. What was your favorite book when you were 10 years old?
See last answer. That's why they're the ones I've read most!

6. What is the worst book you've read in the past year?
I was very disappointed by Breaking Dawn, I must say.

7. What is the best book you've read in the past year?
You mean besides the ones I've worked on again, right?

I loved Graceling by Kristin Cashore, The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, Paper Towns by John Green, Asta in the Wings by Jan Elizabeth Watson, Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta, The President's Daughter by Ellen Emerson White, and Spook by Mary Roach.

8. If you could tell everyone you tagged to read one book, what would it be?
Oh, my. Criss Cross by Lynne Rae Perkins or Megan Whalen Turner's books.

9. What is the most difficult book you've ever read?
Hm. That depends what "difficult" means. Ulysses by Jame Joyce was one of the most challenging books I've ever read, but it also teaches you how to read it as you go, so I never felt overwhelmed by it, and it's so, so, so rewarding in the end. The first Octavian Nothing by M. T. Anderson was the hardest for me to get through because it's just not the book for me.

10. Do you prefer the French or the Russians?
I feel pretty indifferent to both, actually.

11. Shakespeare, Milton, or Chaucer?
Shakespeare. I'm a theatre dork.

12. Austen or Eliot?

13. What is the biggest or most embarrassing gap in your reading?
I've got big gaps in my reading of the canon. Like, I've never read 1984, Catcher in the Rye, Kurt Vonnegut, On the Road...

14. What is your favorite novel?
For reals? I can't answer that.

15. What is your favorite play?
Hard one! Reckless by Craig Lucas, Private Lives by Noel Coward, The Real Thing by Tom Stoppard.

16. What is your favorite poem?
Many of a college friend of mine, who is yet to be published. I love very short, evocative poems that capture specific moments and feelings.

17. What is your favorite essay?
I don't know that I have one, though I quite like reading them.

18. What is your favorite short story?
I adored Karen Russell's collection St. Lucy's Home for Girls Raised by Wolves.

19. What is your favorite non-fiction?
Dear Genius, edited by Leonard Marcus.

20. What is your favorite graphic novel?
I'm not widely read in graphic novels, but I really liked American Born Chinese and To Dance and Robot Dreams.

21. What is your favorite science fiction?
The Hunger Games

22. Who is your favorite writer?
Way, way, way too many to try to pick one. Writers are tremendously creative and talented and amazing people.

23. Who is the most overrated writer alive today?
I'm not a Dan Brown fan, but plenty of people are. I don't like calling writers overrated. They work so hard, and there are so many readers with such widely varying tastes.

24. What are you reading right now?
The Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Desai.

25. Best memoir?
I can't remember the last memoir I read!

26. Best history?
I have to be honest, I don't enjoy reading history. I like biographies, and nonfiction in general, but history often is presented too dryly for me. I'd love suggestions for one that I might like, though!

27. Best mystery or noir?
The Westing Game

Friday, April 17, 2009

Adversaries, take 2. The nicer take.

"This isn't romance. This isn't a declaration of love or affirmation of friendship. This is something more." --Melina Marchetta, Jellicoe Road

It occurred to me after reading the couple of comments on the adversaries post that the same dynamic is important in non-opponent relationships, too. Finishing Jellicoe Road recently also underscored it, as I watched how Taylor and Griggs's opponentship and relationship unfolded.

The people who a protagonist spends time with, whether as friend, enemy, family, or love, have to be people worth that time for both the character and the reader. The king and queen of Attolia are one of literature's greatest couples because they challenge each other both as opponents and as lovers. Nick and Norah (of the Infinite Playlist) work because they challenge each other. Mildred and Jacob in Me and the Pumpkin Queen are such great friends because they understand, support, and complement one another. The same with Billy, Tommy, and Ernestine in Tracking Daddy Down. And Toot and Puddle. The most compelling relationships are the ones in which the characters are different, but equal.

Maybe this is the germ of a future conference talk, but I'd love to hear what others have to say.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Poetry Month!

I get the Academy of American Poets poem-of-the-day emails during Poetry Month, and I particularly like this one.

How to Read a Poem: Beginner's Manual
by Pamela Spiro Wagner

First, forget everything you have learned,
that poetry is difficult,
that it cannot be appreciated by the likes of you,
with your high school equivalency diploma,
your steel-tipped boots,
or your white-collar misunderstandings.

Do not assume meanings hidden from you:
the best poems mean what they say and say it.

To read poetry requires only courage
enough to leap from the edge
and trust.

Treat a poem like dirt,
humus rich and heavy from the garden.
Later it will become the fat tomatoes
and golden squash piled high upon your kitchen table.

Poetry demands surrender,
language saying what is true,
doing holy things to the ordinary.

Read just one poem a day.
Someday a book of poems may open in your hands
like a daffodil offering its cup
to the sun.

When you can name five poets
without including Bob Dylan,
when you exceed your quota
and don't even notice,
close this manual.