my occasional musings on life, love, art, perfume ... what else is there?


Literary Meme

With a bow to Kyahgirl of Mother Hen's Place for her tag, here are my meme answers:

1. One book you have read more than once.
Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

2. One book you would want on a desert island.
Voyager by Diana Gabaldon or anything by Dorothy Dunnett, especially from the House of Niccolo series or
The Lymond Chronicles

3. One book that made you laugh.
Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons (mwah, Sarasotagirl!)

4. One book that made you cry.
Mourning Ruby by Helen Dunmore (thanks again to Sarasotagirl!)

5. One (or more) books I wish I had written.
Anything by John Fowles, particularly The Ebony Tower or The Magus. Or In a Dark Wood Wandering, a novel of the middle ages by Helle Hasse.

6. One (Two) book(s) you wish had never been written.
Lord of the Flies by William Golding or Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess

7. One book I am currently reading.
The Emperor's Children by Claire Messud (blowing a kiss to Scentered!)

8. One book I have meant to read.
Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky

9. One (Two) book(s) that changed your life.
Three Black Skirts: All You Need to Survive by Anna Johnson and The Princessa: Machiavelli for Women by Harriet Rubin

photo by Rene Bolduc


Blogger WinterWheat said...

Thanks for the recommendations! I must say I didn't particularly enjoy either Lord of the Flies or A Clockwork Orange. The brutality and misogyny (in ACO) were too much for me. I'm never far away from the author's psyche when I read a work of fiction or view a fictional movie. I've seen and read enough male hate fantasy to last a lifetime.

5:43 PM

Blogger mireille said...

No kidding. And one more that comes to mind is A Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood. One of the scariest books I've ever read in my life. xoxo

6:39 PM

Blogger Bela said...

I had to read Lord of the Flies for my Eng Lit BA and I loved it: one of the best studies of the English Establishment, of the male psyche and of how little it takes for us to become animals again (I'm sure it would have worked with little girls instead of little boys). I've only seen the film of Clockwork Orange and loved it too. I guess I'm not squeamish. I'm also perhaps a strange feminist who doesn't prize female writers above anything else and who doesn't need female characters to be interested in a book.

I would nominate Mein Kampf as the book I'd wish hadn't been written.

7:55 AM

Blogger WinterWheat said...

Re: Mein Kampf. That was my point exactly. I wish some males would keep their hate fantasies to themselves.

11:05 AM

Blogger Bela said...

I can't believe you're comparing Lord of the Flies and A Clockwork Orange to Mein Kampf. The first two are fiction; the third isn't and advocates the eradication of a whole race. Lord of the Flies is an allegory; not a 'hate fantasy' at all.

12:32 PM

Blogger sarasotagirl said...

MWAH back. Did you read the latest installment of the Gabaldon?

12:58 PM

Blogger mireille said...

Nope, but I ordered it! I'm such a sap. xoxo

1:21 PM

Blogger ariel said...

I'm with Béla on Clockwork Orange and Lord Of The Flies. I loved both. not to mention those are the only ones I know of your list other than Crime And Punishment. :)

1:51 PM

Blogger lucindasans said...

Interesting choices! I'll have to check those out.

4:00 PM

Blogger lucindasans said...

ooops, the above is Actonbell.

4:00 PM

Blogger Minka said...

I second Ariel...loved Lord of the flies, first book I read in English and Clockwork Orange is a masterpiece...but i also read harry my opinion is probably not the most convincing one :)
Crime and punishment, really? have you looke dat teh size of that thing? You are a brave woman!
I think 4 out of 5 did Kyah´s meme now...she is too sweet to say no to :)

4:07 PM

Blogger Bela said...

Hmmm... I've been thinking: I should probably have prefaced what I said with 'in my opinion'. I know what you mean, WW, about male hate fantasies, and I agree with you - men are the main perpetrators of violence and we don't particularly want to be reminded of that when we read a book, but I believe that Golding and Burgess do not glorify violence and evil, nor do they advocate them; they quite clearly denounce them. That's why I cannot reject those books - apart from the fact that, in the case of Lord of the Flies anyway (since I haven't read A Clockwork Orange, the writing is absolutely wonderful. I try very hard not to blame writers for tackling unsavoury subjects or for being unsavoury characters themselves - within reason, of course, and I don't always succeed (I can't read Ezra Pound, for instance).

I wish women writers were bolder in their scope. We know why they haven't been until now. I hope they start seeing the bigger picture, as it were.

M, Crime and Punishment is the best detective story ever. :-)

6:34 PM

Blogger Kyahgirl said...

Thanks for playing with me my dear fragrant and well read friend :-)
Of all the Gabaldon books I've read I liked Outlander best. I still have the Fiery Cross waiting in my TBR pile too.
You know, I haven't read Lord of the Flies since I was a teenager and we took it in English. It was a powerful piece of writing and well done, but awful too. I can't say I wish it was never written but its not something I would read again.
Oh, and a Clockwork Orange? Maybe I should read that now that I'm grown up. The very first time my parents let me go to a movie without them was when my brother had got his driver's license and we went to the drive-in. It was Clockwork Orange. I was about 13 and to this day remember how I felt watching that movie. It was horrifying. Its another story I should revisit I guess but part of me thinks 'why subject myself to such ugliness...I'm surrounded by it in daily life on the planet?'

Those two that changed your life? I'm going to have to check them out now!

8:25 PM

Blogger ariel said...

Kyah, it is interesting what you're saying, "'why subject myself to such ugliness...I'm surrounded by it in daily life on the planet?'". my life is peaceful and boring, thank goodness, and I love to read and watch crime stories, but sometimes I think about it, if I my parents were killed in a burglary would I still enjoy crime stories? if I'd been there in the WWII, would still want to read books like Lord Of The Flies?

Béla, one funny thing in Clockwork Orange is the Russian argo. I mean the argo it uses is of distorted Russian words, and even though I've forgotten most of the Russian I learnt in school by the time I read Clockwork Orange, so many Russian words came back to me while reading. and one more thing, what do you mean female writers' scope? what that should be?

1:39 AM

Blogger Kyahgirl said...

Ariel, I replied to you in the mail :-)

7:09 AM

Blogger Bela said...

You're right, Ariel, the strange language the characters speak in A Clockwork Orange is distorted Russian. Anthony Burgess was a polyglot and he was fluent in Russian. He could have chosen Chinese or Japanese or Italian or French (btw, his translation of Cyrano de Bergerac is the best I've ever heard and I've heard several), but I suppose he chose something in-between as regards 'strangeness'. My Russian isn't good enough for me to recognize any words, unfortunately. It must add something if you can.

What I meant about female writers is that they haven't yet on the whole tackled the world outside the home, the family, etc. - they've written about a fairly restricted number of subjects. War and Peace, for instance, couldn't have been written by a woman. Jane Austen, the greatest English female writer, hardly mentions the Napoleonic war that was raging at the time. No one can blame these women: they haven't been allowed to have a life away from their spouses and their children. If you're constantly busy with household chores and bringing up children you don't have the time nor the energy to write about what's going on in the world, in fact, you don't know what's going on in the world. The truly great female writers, the ones that can be compared to the greatest male writers, can be counted on the fingers of maybe two hands. It's taken centuries for women to gain their independence; it'll probably take centuries for them to get interested in bigger subjects and for their imagination to take flight. And for some of their female readers to be get away from Romantic fiction, which fills their heads with unrealistic expectations. Men have ruled the world and written about it.

7:11 AM

Blogger mireille said...

Thanks so much to all for all these literate comments ... and I need to file a disclaimer on the two books that changed my life: ok, I admit it. I was being sarcastic. xoxo

8:07 AM

Blogger Lulu said...

What a fascinating discussion. I've learned lots!

I am reminded, Bela, that what Virginia Woolf meant by 'A Room of One's Own' was not (at least not just) metaphorical privacy and time and quiet and freedom from responsibility, but, crucially and rather more prosaically, a small private income, i.e. the ability to BUY the room of one's own and then not work 8 hours a day to keep it up.

We must also blame publishers these days, who put pale pink and green covers and chunky multicoloured writing on any book by a woman under 40 and call it chicklit even if the writer has actually made some attempt to embrace greater themes. Everyone always wants people to fit neatly into a pigeonhole, but it seems worse in publishing now than 20 years ago.

There are no books I wish I hadn't read, whatever they made me feel. Only books I wish I had time to read. I think even male hate fantasies (e.g. some very nasty science fiction verging on pornography that I came across in my teens) have served as a salutary warning - as indeed does The Handmaid's Tale.

8:45 AM

Blogger audible said...

My parents read me Lord of the Flies as a bed time story when I was six. Somehow I mannaged to sleep fine and never considered it odd until later in life... when I found out the pap that most parents read to their children (if they read to them at all).

11:53 AM

Blogger katiedid said...

Well, even if you never hit Crime and Punishment, try The Idiot if you haven't. It's so ubiquitiously referenced in other books and films that it seems almost like it should be required reading in schools these days.

I've not read a ton of these books, and I've always meant to get around to Cold Comfort Farm. Now I have a great excuse!

Do you take requests? More book posts, please!! :)

2:17 PM


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