Saturday, June 16, 2007

Friday (but really Saturday) Five: books, books, books

This from Sally, who has just returned from a meeting in Cambridge where she took the opportunity of a free afternoon in Cambridge's wonderful book shops... she claims only to have bought a few!

So with her head full of books she's seen and a long wish list in her mind, she brings us a Friday Five on books... which I'm getting to at 7:15 on a Saturday morning...!

1. Fiction what kind, detective novels, historical stuff, thrillers, romance????

I actually am quite the fiction omnivore... I adore the classics-- Jane Austen and Charles Dickens are particular favorites. I love the breadth of their narratives, the details of description in which I can completely lose myself. I also love contemporary writers... Barbara Kingsolver is dependably wonderful, with her luscious descriptive and spiritually charged prose. I also really dig Jim Crace, who has written two really strange and challenging novels, Being Dead (about the bodies of a couple who were murdered decomposing in the woods while their families search for them) and Quarantine, an imaginative retelling of Jesus' days in the wilderness (neither of these is for the faint of heart). And the religiously themed, gorgeously written novels of Gail Godwin are favorites too.

I have been reading the detective novels of P. D. James for about 25 years at least; I spent the months immediately following my separation from my husband reading about murders being deciphered and deconstructed by the tragic poet Adam Dalgliesh. I also really got into a Kay Scarpetta novel (by Patricia Cornwell) when I was in a traveling nightmare last January; I seem to like to lose myself in murders when it seems a better option that actually putting my hands around another human being's throat.

As for historical fiction, I fell in love with the Dorothy Dunnett books about 10 years ago... I read through the Lymond Chronicles (set in the time of Mary Queen of Scots) and have recently read the first two of the Niccolo Rising serie

And of course, there's the book which must not be named, whose arrival I await on my sidebar and in this post.

2. When you get a really good book do you read it all in one chunk or savour it slowly?

Depends on the book. I am reading On Beauty by Zadie Smith (an updated homage to Howard's End... taking on race, campus politics... so, so amazing), and find that I am savoring it. The Harry Potter books I tend to devour whole, like a snake eating an elephant. As a result, I need to re-read them at a more leisurely pace when the next one is about to come out. I want to savor book 7, but also realize that the whole world will be buzzing with the ending (much as the Sopranos finale has been so hotly debated), and it will be hard to shield myself from all that.

3. Is there a book you keep returning to and why?

I have struggled with this answer. I think the books I tend to re-read are the classic fiction, Austen and Dickens, because in their scope they hold up so well to constant re-examination. But the truth is... I want the new stuff. I love, love, love reading new things that thrill me.

4. Apart from the Bible which non-fiction book has influenced you the most?

This would probably be some kind of biblical commentary... Marcus Borg's Meeting Jesus Again for the First Time is a book I teach as often as people will let me, and so I end up re-reading it quite a bit. The work of Luke Timothy Johnson was a real revelation for me in grad school 20 years ago. Phyllis Trible was on the faculty of my seminary, but left just before I arrived-- but I had read Texts of Terror years before. The New Interpreter's Bible keeps me coming back for more. I guess contemporary scripture scholarship has influenced me enormously... it has enabled me to open the bible win a way that offers endless possibility and discovery. So... not a book, but a movement, I suppose!

5. Describe a perfect place to read. ( could be anywhere!!!)

Thing is, I can read anywhere. But one of my favorite memories is of reading Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. I was with Petra at our local park, which has a nice swimming pool. While she romped in the water, I sat on a quilt under a tree and escaped into the wizarding world, a gentle breeze rustling the leaves above me. It was well-night a perfect reading experience...

1 comment:

Sally said...

Excellent play- I too like the new stuff, and am rather eceletic in my reading tastes.