Hello everyone. Sorry about that. I have been elsewhere.
It is fair to say that I will be posting a lot less in future though. I have discovered eBay.
This is a joke.
Right – here we go.
(1) A book that changed your life
“How many a man has dated a new era in his life from the reading of a book!” says Henry Thoreau, showing that (a) he has never heard of the question mark, (b) he has not read anything by Germaine Greer and (c) he believes a book can change your life. I’m not so sure. A lot of books have made me think. But I hope I have always thunk, and this doesn’t count as life-changing. I will come back to this one! Right I’m back! (I realise that the passage of time doesn’t translate too well into writing, so have a little pause here… Ready?) I am picking Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser. I think this counts because the way I viewed fast food before and after reading it were profoundly different. I’m not saying that I ate much of the putrid stuff pre-FFN either, but it definitely changed my life! It doesn’t mean it is a good book though. (It is a good book, but it is not is life-changeliness that makes it so.)
(2) A book that you’ve read more than once
We-ell, almost every book I have ever read. Except the shit ones. Sometimes even the shit ones. I sometimes feel I haven’t given them a proper chance, you know? I am changing this one!
(2a) A book that you’ve read again and again
Well, lots, again. I am going to pick Harry Potter and the [insert rest of title here]. Mainly because reading a series as it is being written does necessitate re-reading the old material before a new release. Well, I think it does anyway. That is why when people are reading the new Harry Potter they ask me “Why is such and such significant?” or “When did thay happen?” because I think it is important to know. This is fact #48 that you can use to prove that Chris is anal.
(3) A book you’d want on a desert island
Um, Smith and Thomson’s Guide to Getting off Islands? How about Learn to Swim Long Distance in a Week? Or Making Boats out of Palm Trees For Idiots? It would have to be something long and very re-readable, I suppose… You wouldn’t want to go mad and end up talking to a volleyball. I would choose something that I haven’t yet read so I at least get the first read through as fresh. In fact I would choose War and Peace as it is legendarily long and I liked Anna Karenina so it can’t be that bad.
(4) A book that made you giddy
Hmm. Well manly men like me don’t really do giddy, you know. I remember reading the end of Leviathan by Boris Akunin and having a sudden rush of understanding (not on an important plot point, I should point out, but on a side story!) that made me feel a little vertiginous. Or, maybe Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, which made me so giddy I fell over. However, as I was rushed to hospital about an hour later with suspected meningitis, I feel this is perhaps not so much the book, and more the bright light I was reading it by.
(5) A book you wish had been written
Um, How to Speak to Pretty Girls When You Are a Fourteen-year-old Adolescent, You Freak? Perhaps not. As hard as it is to talk about something that specifically doesn’t exist, I will go for either a Famous Five book where Julian admits he is gay, or a decent sequel to Vurt by Jeff Noon (i.e. one that isn’t the mediocre Pollen). It is the last one that is my serious choice, I think.
(6) A book that racked you with sobs
Well, I refer you to the manly man I mentioned before. Having said that, I have to blush and admit that I do shed a tear at the end of The Unbearable Lightness of Being. I wouldn’t say I’m beside myself or anything, but it is a great bit of writing that makes me sad. It’s doubly incredible that it’s about a dog, and I don’t even like dogs! (Well, I mean, technically it isn’t about a dog, it’s about the human condition and all that guff, but you get the picture.) Pomgirl will no doubt be confused by this choice, but Kundera really is proof that you can be “unbearably” pretentious and still a complete and utter genius. Immortality is even better, but not as tear-provoking.
(7) A book you wish had never been written
No hesitation – Wicked by Gregory Maguire. It is unremittingly awful. It makes all other books look like Immortality! It has so many different bits of story, none of which are connected, by theme or event; the characters behave in a very inconsistent manner; the interesting bits suddenly stop and throw you 10 years into the future, leaving you wondering what the hell is going on; and perhaps worst of all, it claims to be revolutionary in its outlook, making great social commentary, but never succeeds in making a single, coherent point. It is a big old pile of rubbish! Although, (and there’s always an although, isn’t there?!) it did inspire the eponymous Broadway (and now West End) musical, which is really very good, so maybe I don’t wish it had never been written. But I do wish it had been written better/by someone else. Does this count?
(8) A book you are currently reading
The Lord of the Rings – by you-know-who (no, not Lord Voldemort, the other one). I have been reading this for about 14 years on and off. It is… not great! I like the films, I really do, and the story is not itself a bad one… but what made Tolkien think he was a writer?! He has the cheek to claim in his prologue (which itself runs at about 1.4 million pages) that the only criticism he will allow of his magnum opus is that it is too short. Too short! Get a grip, man. It is longer than a piece of string (but only if that piece of string can wrap itself around the globe seven times… It is written dreadfully, with different books containing separate stories and the very bare minimum of effort put into weaving these stories together. Anyway, I’ll stop now, as I know every other person in the world disagrees with me.
(9) A book you’ve been meaning to read
The Age of Reason by Thomas Paine. I have it on order now, so I’ve finally done something about this. Alternatively, A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking, as I’ve always felt I should (and it was given to me for Christmas). Similarly, The Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins, which has just come out in a 30th Anniversary edition, which may be a good excuse. I really must read more by Ann Coulter too. In fiction, I have a burning desire to read Hopscotch by someone-or-other Cortazar (I forget). My birthday is in June. Hint. Hint.
(10) Recommend a happy book for Pomgirl
Yes Man by Danny Wallace
The Consolations of Philosophy by Alain de Botton
House of Sleep by Jonathan Coe (oh no wait, I’m too late)
Pest Control by Bill Fitzhugh
Jeffrey Archer: Stranger than Fiction by Michael Crick
for various reasons. Some are funny, some are gentle and amusing, some are ridiculous. They aren’t all amazing, by any stretch, but that isn’t what you asked for. In some ways I recommend Jeffrey most of all. You will laugh your actual arse off, and so will be allowed to use LMAO, and will really learn to be smug that he got sent to gaol. For a recommendation, look no further than “I hate this book” which you will find on the front cover. (Quote courtesy of Jeffrey Archer.)
Hope that was instructive. Really it breaks my First Law of Blogging, which is not to make any post take longer than three minutes to read, but hey. If you managed to make it this far, why not reward yourself by playing with my new pet bat. He eats flies if you wake him up. (Want one yourself? Visit my links box!)