Musings on children's and YA literature, the academy, and the relationship between them, from an English professor and mother.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

A Life in Books

From The Miss Rumphius Effect:

1. What are your 5 most important books?
I'm not sure what the difference is between "important" and "books I couldn't live without." Hmm. Still thinking about this. Right at the moment, though, here's what comes to mind:
  • The Dark Interval: Towards a Theology of Story, John Dominic Crossan
  • His Dark Materials, Philip Pullman
  • Gilead, Marilynne Robinson
  • Gone with the Wind, Margaret Mitchell (cheesy, racist, and still the first book that made me cry. Sigh.)
  • Jane Eyre, Charlotte Brontë
2. What is an important book you admit you haven't read?

Well, there's always The Canterbury Tales. Still. I did finally read Beowulf, though!

3. What classic (or childhood favorite) was a little disappointing on rereading?
Oh, so many! The Chronicles of Narnia, for example--I can barely reread them anymore (especially The Last Battle); I find the triumphalist Christianity so distasteful. The Lord of the Rings (series) and Swallows and Amazons (series) were also deeply disappointing on rereading. The Tolkien for the faux-medievalism, which I ate up with a spoon in sixth grade, and the Ransome for being, well, boring! The endless descriptions of knot-tying and sailing techniques...! The food descriptions are pretty good, though. The Mary Poppins books were also disappointing on rereading, for the racism, though I still think they're better than the movie.

4. What book do you (or did you) care most about sharing with your kids?
I really enjoyed reading Lloyd Alexander's Chronicles of Prydain with Nick. In earlier years, the "Little Bear" books by Elsie Holmelund Minarik, Where the Wild Things Are, and (though I don't remember them from my own childhood), the Arnold Lobel "Frog and Toad" books and his Fables were among our family favorites.

5. Name an acclaimed book, either classic or contemporary, that you just don't like.
Hmm, well, I've already named several above. I had to read Crime and Punishment three times in college, and it only made sense to me when I was delirious with fever. Recently I've stopped thinking of that as my problem.

Anyone else want to play?

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