Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Book meme!

Canuck-hater and soon-to-be Invading Yankee Imperialist DuWayne has tagged me with a book meme. The official rules are "list fifteen books that had the most profound impact on you - ones you can think of in fifteen minutes or less."

Well, I'll do the fifteen minutes rule, but I can't guarantee I'll think of fifteen books in that time. I'm not even sure there are fifteen books that have had a truly "profound" impact on me, and I want all killer, no filler in my list! I'll add hyperlinks and comments after the time is up.

Here goes.

"All Creatures Great and Small" by James Herriot. Made me want to be a vet for about six or seven years. I didn't stick with that plan, but the idea was what first sparked my interest in a career in or around biology.

"The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" by Douglas Adams. I was "different" as an adolescent - different from my family, and different from my peers at high school. I think this book was the first one I ever read that made me feel like my interests and sense of humour might just be shared by someone else*.

"Pride and Prejudice" by Jane Austen. I soooooooooooo thought I was Elizabeth Bennett when I was thirteen! I have "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies" on order; it's currently being held up as it's in the same order as something that doesn't come out in paperback until September. Can't wait.

"Cannery Row" by John Steinbeck. I fell head over heels in love with this book, and must have read it about twenty times by now. I turn to it when I'm stressed or unhappy, and Steinbeck's wonderful characters never fail to comfort me. This was also my gateway into his other, more serious, works, which helped shape my politics as I grew up.

That was eight minutes' worth and I'm now drawing blanks...

Oh! "Pecked to Death by Ducks" by Tim Cahill. A collection of adventure travel articles that first inspired me to try ocean kayaking. I will be forever grateful to Tim Cahill for this introduction to one of my favourite activities. I've read his other collections too, and they're all great.

Which reminds me... "Swallows and Amazons" by Arthur Ransome. Made me long for adventure; unfortunately, my one attempt at learning to sail resulted in a lot of unplanned ocean swims.

"The Chrysalids" by John Wyndham. One of my first forays into science fiction.

"Eva" by Peter Dickinson. Fuelled my passion for primates and the environment.

Well, that's eight (or twelve, if you count Hitchhiker as a trilogy of five books) - I did better than I thought I would! I'm sure I'll start thinking of more examples once I've posted this.

I tag... anyone who's ever fallen out of a sailboat.


*In his wonderful foreword to The Salmon of Doubt, Stephen Fry wrote the following:
“When you […] read Douglas Adams […], you feel you are perhaps the only person in the world who really gets them. Just about everyone else admires them, of course, but no one really connects with them in the way you do. […] It’s like falling in love. When an especially peachy Adams turn of phrase or epithet enters the eye and penetrates the brain you want to tap the shoulder of the nearest stranger and share it. The stranger might laugh and seem to enjoy the writing, but you hug to yourself the thought that they didn’t quite understand its force and quality the way you do – just as your friends (thank heavens) don’t also fall in love with the person you are going on and on about to them”.

Yeah. Been there, done that – although not with complete strangers! I would read snippets out loud to whichever friend or relative was nearest, but they never seemed to properly appreciate the words.


  1. haha, i have not fallen out of a sail boat so I don't need to think of the 15 books. (half of them would be in Swedish anyway ;) )

    interesting list though! I never liked Austin... but Conan Doyle got me wanting to be a detective/scientist with Sherlock. Guess I need to be happy I didn't aim for cocaine addict ;)

  2. I have never fallen out of a sailboat, so like chall I'm in the clear!

  3. Me neither! Interesting book list though. Cannery Row has been recommended to me a few times - I'll have to read it eventually!

  4. Oh shit!!!! Ya'll think you're clear because you didn't fall out of a sailboat???? Or because half your fucking list might happen to be in Swedish?!??!?!?!?!


    In short order, I will be posting this hit out on you motherfuckers on my own blog to make it totes official!!!!1!!1111!!11!!! But you can rest assured, that you have all been TAGGED!!!!11!11!!! And don't you worry, oh godless fucking Swede!!!!111!11! I have google translator and Swedish friends!!!! AHAHAHAHHAHHAHAHAHHAAH!!!!!!!

  5. You are all tagged!!!11!1!!!

    I will comment on Cath's list another time, it is time for me to talk to the most wonderful women ever!!!!

  6. You can't trust those Yankee Imperialists you know.

    Chall, you should do your entire list in Swedish just to make him work!

    Mrs CH, I'm in danger of overhyping it and leaving you disappointed, but it's my all-time favourite book!

  7. Chall, you should do your entire list in Swedish just to make him work!

    Snälla, jag skulle älska det om du gjorde det ...

    (Sorry, I wanted to actually get to commenting and didn't want to wait for emails - so if I just called anyone a lung-fish, I apologise - or would apologize if I weren't an evile yank, bent on world domination!!!!!!)

    I should note that I don't hate Canuckistanians...I just see increasing evidence of the need to INVADE!!!11!11

    And the fact that The Chrysalids as apposed to Day of the Triffids made your list, is just more damming evidence that bears that out...

  8. Ouch. I've fallen out of a sailboat at least 9 times in my life (hey, when you live on a boat, kinda hard not to!) so I guess I have to answer this.

    I am not near my library so I'll do my best:
    1) Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan - singlehandedly has made me go back to eating meat maybe once or twice a week. Not fully vegetarian like I used to be, but now I also buy organic
    2) Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser - ruined all fast food for me. Read it on a road trip vacation through the US, and we didn't eat at fast food restaurants for the entire trip
    3) Che by Jon Anderson - amazing biography on Che Guevera, made me want to travel around S. America (haven't done it yet, but on the list!)
    4) The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck - a reminder that I have it easy in life
    5) The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe - CS Lewis - when I was young, these were the books that really got me excited about using my imagination to "visualize" the book
    6) The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer - don't laugh! but this got me into King Arthur legends when I was 13, which got me into old English literature and Tristan and Isolde, which got me into reading classics full time.
    7) The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver. About a missionary family in Africa, this hit home as it described the absolute devotion to a cause that was echoed in my own family when they were missionaries in Africa. Thankfully, my grandfather never had any kids die on him :)
    8) Guns, Germs and Steel by Jared Diamond and Collapase by Jared Diamond - both hard reads, both amazing and a must-read.
    9) King Leopold's Ghost by Adam Hochschild. Covers the Congo and its acquisition by the strangest of European leaders
    10) The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje. Written like poetry, the story is pieced together like a puzzle. Favorite book of all time, the love stories in it are so tragic and satisfying

    Okay, that's 10 books in 15 minutes.

  9. Gaah, Blogger is borked today and my comment got lost. I'll try to recreate it, and copy and paste it into a safe place before posting!

    The Google translation* of that Swedish phrase made sense in that context, so I don't think anyone got called any kind of fish.

    I beg to differ on the relative merits of those John Wyndham books to me. I think Chyrsalids was the only one of his books to be written from a kid's point of view, so it really resonated with me when I first read it. I might not have gone on to read (and love) Triffids and Kraken and Midwich Cuckoos and Web etc if I hadn't enjoyed Chysalids so much.

    Any of the above would make an awesome movie now that the special effects are good enough to do the stories justice! Village of the Damned was a good take on Midwich Cuckoos, but most of the rest of the adaptations would need modern SFX to work properly.

    IS, it's interesting how much non-fiction is on your list! I enjoy non-fic, but I read it slooooowly for some reason. I'd generally prefer to read a novel after reading and writing so much non-fiction at work!

    I loved the Poisonwood Bible too, although I didn't have your personal connection to the subject matter. The somewhat similar Mosquito Coast by Paul Theroux almost made my list though - another book I read and re-read many times!

    *by website, not by cat

  10. Oh. I suppose I should have read your post before pimping "...And Zombies" at DuWayne's. :)

  11. LOL! I'll be reviewing it after I read it.

    IS, I didn't spot The English Patient on my first perusal of your list. A simply stunning book. I saw the movie first, and loved it, but the book was even better. Have you read his other stuff? Anil's Ghost was a stand-out for me.

  12. Dude. WTF are the chances? I have fallen out of a sail boat!

  13. So Where the fuck is your list!!!1!!1!1

  14. Will all Invading Yankee Imperialists be such blog meme fascists? Just wondering, it will be nice to be prepared.

  15. YES!!!!

    At least the ones who have book fetishes when it's a book meme....

  16. I haven't fallen out of a sailboat so am briefly at least in the clear.

    Cannery Row is wonderful, a richly rewarding 'feel good' book - it always cheers me up to read it. I'm on my second copy (the first fell apart after too much reading)

  17. Boo, falling out of a sailboat is ELISTIST! I demand a good, common, hard-working AMERICAN metric be used...such as anyone who's had a Big Mac.

  18. I got so distracted by the fact that I had fallen out of a sailboat that I forgot to leave my comment. I was just going to say that, I freaking love P&P too. I caught hell from my friends when I was 14 for reading it. Apparently, I was supposed to be reading Flowers in the Attic, but I thought that any book with type that large couldn't be good. :) I too am anxiously awaiting Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. I read a few exerts from the book and I am dying to read the rest.

    DuWayne - I will get the meme out soon, I swear. Don't go postal on me just yet.

  19. Jane, my original copy is looking a little dog-eared, but I'm one of those people who likes her books to look loved! Many people do not understand this. (I am very respectful of borrowed books though).

    Hermitage, does it help if I tell you it wasn't my boat and I was taking lessons at the cheapest sailing club in town? ;)

    MXX, the first part of your comment made me LOL. I've never even heard of Flowers in the Attic - did you get around to reading it eventually?

  20. haha, ok. I'll put a list up later tonight when I am at home. Clearly not 15 mins but i think I can make it blocking it out of my head until then. (I mean, I actually work too ;) )

    DuWayne> Jag är ju snäll så visst blir det en lista på svenska!

  21. Yes, I did finally read it and it was pretty lame. Everyone was reading that book and all the sequels. I did not read the sequels.
    Basically the story was a woman and her 4 kids (1 teen boy, 1 teen girl and 2 fraternal twins, a boy and girl that were 7ish or something. Their dad dies in the beginning and they are left destitute. The mother's dad is rich and dying so they move back with them so that the mom can make amends and get the money. Unfortunately, the mom and dad (who died) were cousins or niece and uncle, so the grandmother thinks they are an abomination and forces them to stay locked in the attic. She poisons them, one of the kids dies, and the teenage brother and sister get their groove on in the attic. (Hello, that's gross.) Eventually they escape. Totally freaking lame.

  22. MXX: I read at least three of them. Never really understand why they became so popular... the kids of the siblings and the siblings end up with their uncle if I remember right, which I might not.

    strange book indeed.

  23. my book list is up now. Turned out like I remembered most of my young experience....

  24. chall - who new books featuring incest would be interesting to such a large group of pre-teens.

  25. MXX: I think I would have understood it more if they were half siblings or if thy never knew each other to start with... but they knew already they were siblings... of course, I guess the whole "you are damned from the start you evil rotten children" might been the "reason" for it to go so horribly wrong!?

  26. I am sooooo glad that I never read those incest books! Hotel New Hampshire was disturbing enough ;)

    p.s. I know someone who married her step-brother. They weren't related by blood at all, but they grew up in the same household from the age of 8 onwards. To me, that's your brother, regardless of genetics. ICK!!!

  27. Very late, but I've finally responded to your tagging of me on this meme! My 15 books are here.


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