Wednesday, 13 September 2006

one book meme

Swiped from Steg, who swiped from Kate, who swiped from Diddums:

1. One book that changed your life.
It's a cliche, but 'Stranger in a Strange Land' by Robert Heinlen. It brought to my notice that there were people out there for whom nuclear families were not the norm. That and Marion Zimmer Bradley's 'Darkover' series, which also has a society composed of a variety of different family units. Darkover also provided me with the bridge between reading fantasy and reading science fiction - the novels encompass aspects of both.

2. One book you've read more than once.
Lots and lots to choose from here. I re-read pretty much everything I enjoy. And I am a book-hoarder. At the moment, I am re-reading 'A Deepness in the Sky' by Vernor Vinge. He writes really, really good science-fiction. Not 'big space ships and bigger guns' type stuff (the kind of thing that 'smells of boy'), but really thoughtful and well constructed speculative fiction based on various 'what would people do in THIS particular situation'-type hypotheses. I recommend.

3. One book you'd want on a desert island.
Can I have a series? If so, I'd like Dorothy Dunnett's 'Lymond' novels. There are six of them and they are the most complex, engaging and entertaining set of historical novels that I have ever read. They're set in Europe in the first half of the sixteenth century. Francis Crawford of Lymond would certainly be useful to have on on a desert island and I would like him as a companion, even if only to quote poetry at me as I was starving to death. Or if I can't have them, I would like 'The Left Hand of Darkness' by Ursula Le Guin, which in my opinion is one of the best books ever written.

4. One book that made you laugh.
I have just been given 'Hen and the Art of Chicken Maintenance' by Martin Gurdon. It made both B and I laugh aloud.

5. One book that made you cry.
The Time Traveller's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger. I was in floods and floods at the end.

6. One book you wish you had written.
Probably The Time Traveller's Wife, actually. B has a theory that it might have been written as part of some kind of grieving process. Some of it was so powerful that it left me with a physical weight on my chest.

7. One book you wish had never been written.
'Lord Foul's Bane' and the subsequent series by Stephen Donaldson. The protaganist is a thoroughly unlikeable person, the writing and the plot are unwieldy, badly constructed and hard to follow and the whole thing is depressing in the extreme. They are the only series of books that I have ever thrown away - I felt that it wasn't fair to give them to Oxfam in case someone bought them and felt they had to read them. I would also like to nominate anything by Terry Brooks ('Magic Kingdom for Sale') or Terry Goodkind as being repetitive, clumsy, tripe.

*removes ranting hat and subsides in to seat, palpitating*

8. One book you are currently reading.
'A Deepness in the Sky' by Verner Vinge - re-reading, as above. I'm also reading 'The Englishwoman's Diary' by Harriet Blodgett (really). Made up of various excerpts from womens' diaries from about sixteen hundred onwards, with a little commentary about who the women were.

9 One book you have been meaning to read.
Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell by Suzannah Clarke. People keep telling me how good it is and I have got as far as getting out of the library (Did I mention I'd joined the library? It comes once a fortnight and parks down by the flats, and there are now five of us in the village who use it.). But I have not yet started it and the library comes back tomorrow; although I think I can renew.

Steal at will and leave me a comment so people can come and visit you.

In other news:

  • I can't catch the bloody cat to look at his head OR to take him to the vet. He sees me coming and legs it up the road.
  • Adoption session was cancelled - we hadn't done enough of our homework to make it worthwhile - and I get the impression she was quite relieved to be able to re-arrange anyway.
  • My parents have left. It was lovely to see them. I am pleased they have gone again. And I hope they come again soon - but maybe only for four nights, rather than five.
  • The two chicks I thought were malformed seem to be sorting themselves out. I think that their legs splayed on the slippery floor of the incubator and they now seem to be getting about much more easily. Yay!
  • B has gone to Edinburgh for a couple of nights.
  • I am about to drink the rest of the elderberry wine.
That is all.

34 comments:

  1. now here's a curiosity. I have never read the Darkover novels and you're the second person in a week to recommend them. where would be a good starting place?

    Pete's first rule of SF says that if Heinlein wrote it post 1960 don't bother and Stranger was 63!! ok its not as bad as I will fear No Evil, Time Enough For Love and Number of the Beast.

    Brooks? I would agree but the shannara books are like Popcorn.

    Le Guin. Left Hand is a classic.

    Vernor Vinge? Yeah he's a goody VERY under rated.

    Terry Goodkind. I enjoyed the first one but it goes on and on and on. I've given up.

    You could have added Robert Jordan's series!!

    Oh and Donaldson? A serious lack of taste Ally :) BUT the Gap Series is better.

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  2. now here's a curiosity. I have never read the Darkover novels and you're the second person in a week to recommend them. where would be a good starting place?

    Pete's first rule of SF says that if Heinlein wrote it post 1960 don't bother and Stranger was 63!! ok its not as bad as I will fear No Evil, Time Enough For Love and Number of the Beast.

    Brooks? I would agree but the shannara books are like Popcorn.

    Le Guin. Left Hand is a classic.

    Vernor Vinge? Yeah he's a goody VERY under rated.

    Terry Goodkind. I enjoyed the first one but it goes on and on and on. I've given up.

    You could have added Robert Jordan's series!!

    Oh and Donaldson? A serious lack of taste Ally :) BUT the Gap Series is better.

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  3. I nearly included Robert Jordan, but felt that I was coming across as a miserable fantasy-hating snob. So I didn't. But you are quite right :).

    I don't like the Gap series at all - I started, but didn't persevere. They made me feel really wierd - they included quite a lot of violence against women, if I remember rightly. I DID like The Mirror Of Her Dreams though, oddly.

    Darkover. There are various schools of thought - but the 'read them in the order they were written' school is what Bradley recommended, as her writing style matured over the years and she did change some plot inconsistencies - and create some.

    I would recommend The Heritage of Hastur as a good starting point. Or The Spell Sword, followed up by The Forbidden Tower. This is quite a good intro to the series. Both entry points will give you a feel for what it's all about and then you can go on and see where you get to.

    I am a bit of a Darkover nerd, as you can see - it's my comfort-reading equivalent to a large bar of dairy milk and a bottle of red wine. Speaking of which ...

    Oddly though, I don't like the Mists of Avalon, which Steg (and a lot of other people I know) rate really highly. However, I think the Arthurian thing was done best for me by Mary Stewart.

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  4. I nearly included Robert Jordan, but felt that I was coming across as a miserable fantasy-hating snob. So I didn't. But you are quite right :).

    I don't like the Gap series at all - I started, but didn't persevere. They made me feel really wierd - they included quite a lot of violence against women, if I remember rightly. I DID like The Mirror Of Her Dreams though, oddly.

    Darkover. There are various schools of thought - but the 'read them in the order they were written' school is what Bradley recommended, as her writing style matured over the years and she did change some plot inconsistencies - and create some.

    I would recommend The Heritage of Hastur as a good starting point. Or The Spell Sword, followed up by The Forbidden Tower. This is quite a good intro to the series. Both entry points will give you a feel for what it's all about and then you can go on and see where you get to.

    I am a bit of a Darkover nerd, as you can see - it's my comfort-reading equivalent to a large bar of dairy milk and a bottle of red wine. Speaking of which ...

    Oddly though, I don't like the Mists of Avalon, which Steg (and a lot of other people I know) rate really highly. However, I think the Arthurian thing was done best for me by Mary Stewart.

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  5. yes there is violence against women but I THINK he pulls it off. There are degrees of redemption. He doesn't create heroes he creates flawed people. There is a degree of redemption.

    Mordant's Need? Its probably his "nicest" series. I like all his stuff.

    I liked Mists of Avalon but I liked Mary Stewart as well.

    Have you read Guy Gavriel Kay?

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  6. yes there is violence against women but I THINK he pulls it off. There are degrees of redemption. He doesn't create heroes he creates flawed people. There is a degree of redemption.

    Mordant's Need? Its probably his "nicest" series. I like all his stuff.

    I liked Mists of Avalon but I liked Mary Stewart as well.

    Have you read Guy Gavriel Kay?

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  7. Hmm. You read the rest of the series past Lord Foul's Bane? I am impressed (and mystified). I have to confess failing at about chapter 3, I hated it so much - this was in the midst of my deepest fantasy phase, *and* I rarely give up on a book once started. Hated it.
    Liked the mists of avalon though. Liked Guy Gavriel Kay. Didn't hate Terry Brooks (but stopped reading them once the deepest darkest phase was past: see above!)

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  8. Hmm. You read the rest of the series past Lord Foul's Bane? I am impressed (and mystified). I have to confess failing at about chapter 3, I hated it so much - this was in the midst of my deepest fantasy phase, *and* I rarely give up on a book once started. Hated it.
    Liked the mists of avalon though. Liked Guy Gavriel Kay. Didn't hate Terry Brooks (but stopped reading them once the deepest darkest phase was past: see above!)

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  9. I haven't read Guy Gavriel Kay - will see what the library has tomorrow!

    I tend to keep reading once I've started, too - hence reading past chapter three when I really, really hated it, in the hope that it would get better. It didn't. Ghastly. Made me feel soiled.

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  10. I haven't read Guy Gavriel Kay - will see what the library has tomorrow!

    I tend to keep reading once I've started, too - hence reading past chapter three when I really, really hated it, in the hope that it would get better. It didn't. Ghastly. Made me feel soiled.

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  11. Ohhhhh - Dorothy Dunnett and Lymond! How could I forget about those? I only read one or two - always meant to go back and read the whole lot. Lymond is a surprise. She doesn't say "this is a good person" then explain why... she just deals with him like anybody else, and it only slowly dawns on you. That's how I remember it - maybe I would read it another way next time.

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  12. Ohhhhh - Dorothy Dunnett and Lymond! How could I forget about those? I only read one or two - always meant to go back and read the whole lot. Lymond is a surprise. She doesn't say "this is a good person" then explain why... she just deals with him like anybody else, and it only slowly dawns on you. That's how I remember it - maybe I would read it another way next time.

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  13. Kay is superb. Try one of the singletons first. Tigana is excellent as is Song for Arbonne - must be read those two again.

    I think the popular misconception is that Covenant is a bad person. I know he rapes someone in the first 100 pages BUT he's not a bad person. Must admit its a bit of shock . He doesn't believe in the Land to him they are not real people its a dream if you like. Are you guilty of adultery, for instance, if you dream of sleeping with that cute boy/girl from accounts? Later he believes in the land and feels terrible guilt. The books are about redemption.

    Anyway I've read them many times.

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  14. Kay is superb. Try one of the singletons first. Tigana is excellent as is Song for Arbonne - must be read those two again.

    I think the popular misconception is that Covenant is a bad person. I know he rapes someone in the first 100 pages BUT he's not a bad person. Must admit its a bit of shock . He doesn't believe in the Land to him they are not real people its a dream if you like. Are you guilty of adultery, for instance, if you dream of sleeping with that cute boy/girl from accounts? Later he believes in the land and feels terrible guilt. The books are about redemption.

    Anyway I've read them many times.

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  15. I couldn't get on with the Thomas Covenant series by Donaldson at all. I'd bought the first three books second-hand, forced myself to read as much as I could stand (about half of the first one) and then sold them on eBay. I do like Mordant's need though.
    If you want fantasy you can't go far wrong with Stephen (and Leigh) Eddings, especially the Belgariad and Malloreon series which are both very readable.

    Re the cat - ambush 'im! Bait trap with favourite treat and trap cat in a room until he gives in and comes to you.

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  16. I couldn't get on with the Thomas Covenant series by Donaldson at all. I'd bought the first three books second-hand, forced myself to read as much as I could stand (about half of the first one) and then sold them on eBay. I do like Mordant's need though.
    If you want fantasy you can't go far wrong with Stephen (and Leigh) Eddings, especially the Belgariad and Malloreon series which are both very readable.

    Re the cat - ambush 'im! Bait trap with favourite treat and trap cat in a room until he gives in and comes to you.

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  17. It's slightly a worry to me that the only books I've read on your list are the Thomas Covenant ones. I read them over and over again as a teenager. They were a sort of reference book for the endless discussions I had about morality with my atheist, vegetarian Goth friend Tim Royal who loved them. Maybe only men like them, there are some books like that.

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  18. It's slightly a worry to me that the only books I've read on your list are the Thomas Covenant ones. I read them over and over again as a teenager. They were a sort of reference book for the endless discussions I had about morality with my atheist, vegetarian Goth friend Tim Royal who loved them. Maybe only men like them, there are some books like that.

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  19. I think that the thing that annoyed me most about them was that Covenant was so up himself.

    He fucks up royally in the first hundred pages, as Pete says; and then he spends the rest of the series beating himself up about it, whilst not addressing any of his issues, generally flailing around and failing to believe the evidence of his own eyes. He's not logical and I thought he was stupid. I spent the whole series wanting to give him a good slap and tell him to snap out of it.

    Perhaps it IS a man/woman thing.

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  20. I think that the thing that annoyed me most about them was that Covenant was so up himself.

    He fucks up royally in the first hundred pages, as Pete says; and then he spends the rest of the series beating himself up about it, whilst not addressing any of his issues, generally flailing around and failing to believe the evidence of his own eyes. He's not logical and I thought he was stupid. I spent the whole series wanting to give him a good slap and tell him to snap out of it.

    Perhaps it IS a man/woman thing.

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  21. Steg

    isn't the Belgariad and the Mallorean the same book? well characters the same, plot the same etc!

    Don't get me wrong I enjoyed it!!

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  22. Steg

    isn't the Belgariad and the Mallorean the same book? well characters the same, plot the same etc!

    Don't get me wrong I enjoyed it!!

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  23. I enjoyed the David Eddings books too but they are a bit...lightweight! Sorry. There are much better books out there (personally I loved Katherine Kerr, they were a bit original.)

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  24. I read Kate's version of this t'other day and was thinking I might have a go myself, given that any sense of interesting topic has deserted me this week in the wake of a ferocious amount of actual work to do. Ugggh. Interested to read about the Ursula le Guin one; better than the Earthsea one with that chap called Ged? (Always think of it in an 'and Alice' context, which is probably not quite the desired effect...)

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  25. I read Kate's version of this t'other day and was thinking I might have a go myself, given that any sense of interesting topic has deserted me this week in the wake of a ferocious amount of actual work to do. Ugggh. Interested to read about the Ursula le Guin one; better than the Earthsea one with that chap called Ged? (Always think of it in an 'and Alice' context, which is probably not quite the desired effect...)

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  26. I've tried David Eddings, but never really got in to them. I enjoyed the first four Katherine Kerr series, but found the second set of four quite difficult - I think I found them a bit repetitive, thinking back. I don't have them any more.

    Left Hand of Darkness is MUCH better than Earthsea, which I always feel are essentially children's books. It's basically an exploration of gender roles. I'd also recommend Le Guin's 'The Disposessed', although I found that a bit more difficult to get in to. I think she's a fantastic writer.

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  27. I've tried David Eddings, but never really got in to them. I enjoyed the first four Katherine Kerr series, but found the second set of four quite difficult - I think I found them a bit repetitive, thinking back. I don't have them any more.

    Left Hand of Darkness is MUCH better than Earthsea, which I always feel are essentially children's books. It's basically an exploration of gender roles. I'd also recommend Le Guin's 'The Disposessed', although I found that a bit more difficult to get in to. I think she's a fantastic writer.

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  28. agree with you over Left Hand v Earthsea....

    couldn't get on with The Dispossed.

    enjoyed the The Word for World is Forest

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  29. agree with you over Left Hand v Earthsea....

    couldn't get on with The Dispossed.

    enjoyed the The Word for World is Forest

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  30. I liked that, too. One of the first of her novels I ever read was Rocannan's World. And I really rate Planet of Exile, as well.

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  31. I liked that, too. One of the first of her novels I ever read was Rocannan's World. And I really rate Planet of Exile, as well.

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  32. Wow, considering how much I like the Earthsea trilogy, I guess I should really read Left Hand of Darkness.

    You're going to love, love, love Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell. My copy went on a trip to Chicago with my friend Julie and was accidentally left on a plane (and subsequently probably destroyed under suspicion of being a bomb or, at the very least, a terrorist manual). But she was enjoying it so much that she has already bought and partially devoured a new copy.

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  33. Wow, considering how much I like the Earthsea trilogy, I guess I should really read Left Hand of Darkness.

    You're going to love, love, love Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell. My copy went on a trip to Chicago with my friend Julie and was accidentally left on a plane (and subsequently probably destroyed under suspicion of being a bomb or, at the very least, a terrorist manual). But she was enjoying it so much that she has already bought and partially devoured a new copy.

    ReplyDelete