11.26.2012

Seven things

Magnificent Octopus has tagged me with seven bookish questions:

1. What book (a classic) do you hate?
Tess of the d'Urbervilles (Thomas Hardy). You know, it's really rather unfair of me, too, I'll freely admit that. I read the book for a graduate course in Victorian literature at Temple University. Spring semester 1988, I think. Class met in the early evening at one of the satellite campuses. A lot of eager English lit types, the sort who turn in single-spaced papers with quarter-inch margins in order to say all they feel compelled to say while remaining within the professor's strict weekly two-page response requirement.

The week we were to discuss Tess, he opened as always, with a leading question about our response to the novel. For whatever reason, the class was silent, almost guiltily so. Didn't they read it? I wondered. He asked again. The absence of pseudo-erudition became most uncomfortable. We can sit here all night, people, the professor sighed.

Well, I offered with a light laugh and a glance around the room, that Angel is rather a slow one, eh? Who knew he'd be such a pill?

I was being a smartass. The lone journalism major among this set of English prof wannabes, I turned in papers according to conventional standards -- double-spaced, one-inch margins -- and I actually read the books. Every book. Every page. Of course I realized that Angel was a creature of the conventions and limitations of his time, but wasn't it fun to call him out on his double standards from the relative comfort and social tolerance of the late 1980s?

I guess not.

The professor spent the next two hours using my remark to demonstrate how utterly "some people" missed the point of the novel, how "limited" readers are when they can only frame their responses from their own experience, and so on. And my classmates? Who hadn't even read the feckin' novel? What a bunch of sycophants they turned out to be: Oh, yes, professor. Some people. So limited. How foolish.

They had nothing to say about Tess or Angel or Victorian mores. No, better to talk about a reader's flippant comment than the actual text, especially if you haven't read said text. I remember it all as if it happened last night.

I hate Tess of the d'Urbervilles because isn't it much more acceptable to say you hate a book than to say you hate a person?

2. To what extent do you judge people by what they read?
Where once I judged -- sharply! -- what people read, now I am often just so grateful to see that people read at all.

3. What television series would you recommend as the literariest?
"LOST" comes to mind simply because of the number of books referenced, but if by "literariest" you mean "like a good book," then I recommend both the Wallander series featuring Kenneth Branagh and the Sherlock Holmes series featuring Jeremy Brett.

4. Describe your ideal home library. 
Mine.  


5. Books or sex? 
Both, of course.

6. How do you decide what to read next?
The book chooses me. Oh, I can acquire and stack and list and plan and organize and commit, but the book chooses me.

7. How much do you talk about books in real life (outside of the blogging community)?
More than most readers have an opportunity to do, I suppose, since I am steering two readers through high school, but less than I would like. In a perfect world, it is what I do all day long: Read. Talk about what I'm reading, what others are reading. Read about what I'm reading, what others are reading. Write, often about reading. Read some more. Sleep.

Pages Turned, Girl Detective, Semicolon, would you folks like to answer the same seven questions?

1. What book (a classic?) do you hate?
2. To what extent do you judge people by what they read?
3. What television series would you recommend as the literariest?
4. Describe your ideal home library.
5. Books or sex?
6. How do you decide what to read next?
7. How much do you talk about books in real life (outside of the blogging community)?

12 comments:

Lindsey in AL said...

I love your story about why you hate "Tess." I had to read it in 12th grade AP English and while I had a hard time getting into it, I really enjoyed it. All I remember is that it was sad in places. And I really DID read it, I promise. I think it may be time to dig it back out, 18 years later, and remember what it is I liked so much. Maybe during Christmas break, if I don't get any new books for my birthday next weekend.

Melora said...

I stole your bookish questions theme and used it in my blog, but I gave you credit -- is that okay? Loved the story about Tess, and your home library Is lovely!

Mental multivitamin said...

Melora, I'm happy that you're participating (which is *not* stealing).

Thanks to both of you for your comments!

Melora said...

Oh good! Thank you. I didn't know if it was quite kosher to participate without invitation, but I hoped it was!

Carol in Oregon said...

Would you be so kind as to tell me how you put the framework of your library together?

IKEA? Custom built?

This is exactly what I want and need. I have wanted a wall of books for as long as I can remember.

Donna Boucher said...

Thank you for sharing this meme. It was fun to play along on my blog today!

Mental multivitamin said...

Carol, they are Billy from IKEA, backless and with the risers. They are connected, one to the other and then anchored to the wall. The black/brown cases line that room and the one behind it, seen in this entry:

http://mentalmultivitamin.blogspot.com/2011/12/jenny-linsky.html

In the top photo in that same entry, you can just make out that the shelves continue down the hall. Those are the brown Billy, again with the risers. The color scheme is somewhat warmer down that end of the house, a little more casual. That configuration continues into the girls cave.

The risers make the cases seven-shelves tall, which gives the appearance, at first glance of floor to ceiling coverage. Many people mistake it all for built-ins. My husband did all of the work with Miss M-mv(ii) as his assistant.

For more about decorating with Billy, check this out:

http://www.apartmenttherapy.com/beautiful-bookshelves-when-ikea-is-done-right-168223

http://www.apartmenttherapy.com/decorating-with-books-127196

Girl Detective said...

Yes I will, thank you for asking! I really enjoyed Hardy's Far from the Madding Crowd, especially for how it's echoed in The Hunger Games.

Mental multivitamin said...

Donna, thank you for participating! You, too, Girl Detective!

Carol in Oregon said...

Thank you!

Thankyouthankyouthankyouthankyou.

I think we are making progress. My husband has outlawed particle board, so Billy is not welcome.

However, Hemnes is wood. I have a configuration that works with our dimensions. I just need to pick a color and drive 4 hours to Portland to the nearest IKEA.

My next question: how are your books shelved? These are questions I could ponder for days. I love to organize books.

ChristineMM said...

Love #2. Ditto LOST. My FIL went to dental school at Temple!

Mental multivitamin said...

*smiling at Christine*