Monday, April 28, 2008

This favourite book - and 123 meme

Firstly, continuing the This is... meme this week (theme brought to you by Dees from Daisy in LaLa Land). This is supposed to be my favourite book. I'm sorry, I just couldn't do it. Asking for a favourite book is like asking for a favourite song - honestly, it depends on the day, on my mood, etc etc. I really did try to narrow it down, but this is the best I could do.

I imagined that I had to get on a plane right now, and could only take three books from my bookshelves - so what would I pick? First, I grabbed this one - because I'm in that kind of mood today:

The Oxford Book of English Verse 1250-1918. Chosen and Edited by Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch. I've no idea where this book came from. I know it once belonged to my mum and she let me take it with me when I moved out of home. But only because she'd never opened it before, and I'm sure it came to her from someone else. Maybe a grandparent? I'll have to ask. Anyway, I spent much of my Uni days pouring over this book - lost in the romantic imagery of poets such as Keats, Wordsworth, Coleridge, Blake. I have so many poems bookmarked in this book, and I lost an hour this morning going back through them. In fact, I enjoyed flipping through this book again so much, that I've decided to start doing a Monday's Verse on this blog. And I will post a favourite poem (not just from this book - I have many!!!) each Monday. Not sure for how long - until I get bored of it I guess. So for now, here's my favourite from this book:


What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare? -

No time to stand beneath the boughs
And stare as long as sheep or cows:

No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass:

No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night:

No time to turn at Beauty's glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance:

No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began?

A poor life this if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.

- William Henry Davies

I know poetry isn't everyone's cup of tea, so for those who are starting to nod off, here is another book that I would have to take on that plane with me.

Actually, I could have grabbed any Tom Robbins book - I've read them all more than once. But today I would feel like reading this one. Skinny Legs and All - here's a bit of the blurb:

...An Arab and a Jew open a restaurant together across the street from the United Nations...It sounds like the beginning of an ethnic joke, but it's the axis around which spins Tom Robin's gutsy, fun-loving, and alarmingly provocative new novel, in which a bean can philosophises, a dessert spoon mystifies, a young waitress takes on the New York art world, and a rowdy redneck welder discovers the lost god of Palestine - while the illusions that obscure humanity's view of the true universe fall away, one by one, like Salome's veils...

It's a great read. Trust me. Read it!

And lastly, I would also take a very recently read novel - Eucalyptus by Murray Bail.

I read this book for Book Club, but I really rushed through to get it read on time. And it was a bit like scoffing a very fine meal. I want to go back and savour it. It is written like a fable, although set in a one-horse town in New South Wales it brings the fable into the bush which gives it a unique flavour. This is a book to read not only for its story, but for its stories within the story - and for its meanings within those stories. Which are all too easily missed when trying to rush through the narrative. It is a gentle read, and I started out quite non-plussed about it - but the aftertaste has lingered, and I keep finding its subtle magic swirling around in my mind, whispering to me to come back to it.

And on a not entirely different note - I have been tagged by the wonderfully literary Paula from Great Stories, for a 123 meme (if ever you need inspiration for reading suggestions or book reviews, please head on over to visit Paula - I've had many a great book recommendation from her). Anyway, I figured what better place to do it than in this post about books. So here's the deal.

1. Pick up the nearest book.
2. Open to page 123
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the next three sentences.
5. Tag five people, and acknowledge who tagged you.

It's an interesting meme, to find out if three sentences can convey a writer's style, or the feel of a novel. So the nearest book to me is actually none of the above three, but the book I have just finished reading (for Book Club again).

Water for Elephants. By Sara Gruen. And here they are:

The voices drop. There's a shuffling, and someone shushing someone. "What is it?" calls August.

Hmmmm, not sure if the above is really telling much about this novel - but I do recommend it for an absolutely absorbing read, with a cracker of an ending. And after all this, I really don't know who to tag, so I think this time I will leave it open. If anyone would like to take part in this easy literary meme, please do, and leave me a comment so I can come and check it out :)

Happy Monday everyone, and happy reading :)


Paula Weston said...

Hi Bec,

Thank you so much for joining the meme.It's always a bit nerve-wracking tagging people and wondering if they really want to play!

I really enjoyed your post, and am definitely going to add Skinny Legs and All to my reading list. Sounds right up my alley.

I also love the look of your first book (must be wonderful to touch by the look of that jacket cover - like being back in high school!).

Glad you liked Water for Elephants. There's something so appealing about modern day fables.

And for the record: I love your rants about books.

(And thanks too for your kind words about my blog - hope I can keep up the standard!)

Bird Bath said...

Looks like you know your literature! These are all new to me. I really enjoyed the verse - looking forward to more next week.

Nanette said...

Your choice is beautiful! I love a bit of romantic imagery, thank you for the quoted poem too. It was nice to read the whole thing as part of that poem is used in a UK TV ad for a chain of holiday camps!

I was too much of a wimp to post my favourite fiction, but now I'll make up for it by joining the 123 meme! I loved this post and the joke about dropping off to sleep listening to poetry!

Jodie said...

Loved water for elephants and have recommended it to everyone I know - A GREAT READ!

BigCat said...

I'm not usually a poetry fan but I liked that piece.

You book reviews are great too. They inspired me to think about doing some reading. Thanks.

Levin (and Emily) said...

the poem was wonderful - i think more people should read it and apply it to their lives - perhaps if everyone took the time to stop and gaze we wouldn't have road rage?! life is not about winning the race, it's about enjoying the journey.