Simon’s Meme – What Your Books Say About You

Simon T at Stuck in a book developed this meme. Simon S at Savidgereads has since done it, and both have made fascinating reading. It’s a development of the ten random things about yourself type of meme. So I thought I’d have a go too. Here’s how to do it…

1.) Go to your bookshelves…
2.) Close your eyes. If you’re feeling really committed, blindfold yourself.
3.) Select ten books at random. Use more than one bookcase, if you have them, or piles by the bed, or… basically, wherever you keep books.
4.) Use these books to tell us about yourself – where and when you got them, who got them for you, what the book says about you, etc. etc…..
5.) Have fun! Be imaginative. Doesn’t matter if you’ve read them or not – be creative. It might not seem easy to start off with, and the links might be a little tenuous, but I think this is a fun way to do this sort of meme.
6.) Feel free to cheat a bit, if you need to…

That last point was to prove very useful. As my books are just everywhere, I thought that to get the best sample, that I’d use a random number generator to pick the books from my Librarything catalogue. If I couldn’t think of anything to say about the books – I moved to the next down the page. Well – it is meant to be fun (see rule 5)!

1. Fantastic Voyage by Isaac Asimov

I got this particular Corgi paperback from the Girl Guides jumble sale, where my Dad & I always managed to control the book stall, from which we did rather well over the years. So you can see that even at the age of about 12 I was addicted.

This was my first proper science fiction read too, and was to spark off a passion that lasted through university. I was also able to enjoy the SF classics that we read at school – Day of the Triffids and Brave New World amongst them. I still enjoy an occasional SF novel today, and I adore SF movies. I also make no secret of have been a huge Trekker, although I never went quite so far as to buy a uniform – it was close for a while though!

2. The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood

I’m going to have to re-read this one, having read it shortly after it was published. I remember it left me slightly cold, but that was before I started writing notes on my reading so I can’t remember why. I haven’t read many novels by Canadian authors apart from Atwood and lots of Robertson Davies some years ago. I have a couple of Mordecai Richler’s books on the TBR pile, but am very open to recommendations for others.

I’d love to visit Canada one day too – I have some distant relatives, that I’m pretty sure that I’ve never met, who live in the wonderfully named town of Copper Cliff, Ontario. One day I may make contact! …

3. The Wind in the Willows by Alan Bennett

Bennett really is a national treasure – and never more so than at the National Theatre where his plays have had their debuts in the past few decades. I saw The Wind in the Willows twice on successive Christmases, 1990-1. The casts were different, Griff Rhys Jones & Patrick Barlow were the Toads, supported by great casts of British character actors. Bennett’s gentle and hilarious adaptation made great use of the Olivier Theatre’s moveable stage – rising up to create Badger’s sett and Ratty’s waterside hole.

Also of note, the music to this production is by Jeremy Sams – who was a great musical star at my brother’s school, Whitgift in South Croydon. Sams has gone on to compose for film and TV, winning a BAFTA, and directed Chitty Chitty Bang Bang in the West End amongst other accomplishments. I remember all of us girls admiring him from afar at the school concerts!

4. Pompeii by Robert Harris

We holidayed on the Sorrento peninsula back in 2007. It was one of my favourite vacations. Naturally, one of the must-see sites nearby was Pompeii. We had been advised that the way to get the best out of it was to hire a private official guide there – they would be able to unlock houses that joe public don’t get into. The only problem was a guide was €70 and no-one else wanted to share when we got there. Pompeii itself was huge, crowded and hot, and bloody hard work clambering over the lumpy roads and pavements.

Later in the trip, we went to Herculaneum which was small and perfectly formed with no crowds or closed houses. Guess which I preferred?

5. WLT: A Radio Romance by Garrison Keillor

I had a very small moment of radio fame last year – when I got to do a book review on Radio Oxford one afternoon in their monthly book club feature. I did it by telephone – and although the DJ Jo Thoenes put me at my ease, I kept on interrupting as I couldn’t see her and her regular bookseller guest. I’m sure I ummed and aahed more than I would have liked too.

I never did listen again though, but I’d love to have another go if they’d have me …

6. Tales of the City by Armistead Maupin

The inhabitants of Barbary Lane in Maupin’s tales of Bohemian folk in San Francisco in the late 1970s have such a good time! As a tourist in San Francisco in the mid 1980s though, although a lovely, friendly city, you wouldn’t recognise it from its hippy heyday in the late 1960s. We went to the famous Haight/Ashbury intersection but didn’t get any vibes. The City Lights Bookshop where the Beats hung out was nice though, and I found it easy to buy some books to get a souvenir bag!

7. Twilight by Stephanie Meyer
Last autumn in October I launched my Season of the Living Dead. I only read vampire books for a month, and loved it all – the good, the bad and in the case of Let the right one in downright scary. At the moment I’m minded to do it again this year, but to widen the scope slightly to include all types of undead, so I can add ghosts, zombies and all manner of supernatural beings. I shall certainly include some of Paul Magr’s splendidly humorous Brenda and Effie series.

8. The Annotated Classic Fairy Tales by Maria Tatar

I have a deep love of fairy tales. When I was little, I read all the colours in the rainbow and beyond in the collections of Andrew Lang, the twelve of which were published between 1889 and 1910. I still have my original Puffin Book of Princesses which had lovely illustrations of the Twelve Dancing Princesses and others which I carefully coloured in.

However, I can’t get my daughter to share in my love of fairy tales, myths and legends – she’s reading and enjoying Harry Potter, but I think she’s missing out on a rich banquet of super storytelling.

In Maria Tatar’s illustrated volume of some of the greatest fairy tales, each one is accompanied by a scene-setting introduction with historical notes, variants, and many interesting insights which any lover of fairy tales would find fascinating.

9. School Dinners by Becky Thorn

I couldn’t believe it when the random number generator picked this book – I actually double-checked for Becky is my sister-in-law. This is her first book which can help you reproduce all your favourites from school dinners back in the 1970s in family sized portions, (minus the Spam fritters). There are main course recipes for pies and non-pies, and loads of great puddings – Butterscotch Tart – I can feel a Homer drool coming on. The text evokes the experiences we all had wonderfully and the whole book has a nice retro 1970s feel to it with the design. An ideal present!

10. Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace

…and finally. I haven’t read this one, but it does appear to go on, and on for ever like this shaggy dog story of a jest supplied by my daughter…

Once upon a time, there were three little pigs who went to a restaurant. When the waiter came to take their order, the biggest pig chose, “Roast beef, mash and gravy” the middle pig said, “Fish and Chips” and the smallest pig said, “Two pints of water please.”
“And what would you like for dessert?” asked the waiter.
The biggest pig requested, “Apple crumble and custard.” The middle pig said, “Crème Brulèe.” The Smallest pig said, “Four pints of water please.”
“And what would you like to drink with that?” asked the waiter.
The biggest and middle pigs both wanted tea. The smallest pig asked for, “eight pints of water please.”
The waiter was totally confused and said to the smallest pig, “Your brothers are all having a normal meal. Why are you just drinking water?”
The Smallest pig replied, “Well, I’m the little piggy who goes wee, wee, wee, all the way home!”


0 thoughts on “Simon’s Meme – What Your Books Say About You

  1. BooksPlease says:

    This type of post always fascinates me – books and their owners! I like your idea of using a random number generator and LT – and have already picked out my books using this – thanks for that. I have cheated just a bit with one or two.I know I struggled at first with The Blind Assassin, but ended up loving it. I'd like to re-read it one day too.I've read Wind in the willows – never seen the play live. that production sounds fantastic.Pompeii – read the book and loved it. I went there in the 1990s. We had a trip there from our hotel – it was amazing. We went to Herculaneum just the two of us and wandering round one of the staff there volunteered to show us round – for free – it was truly wonderful.Fairy Tales and School dinners – I just loved your selection.

  2. Becky Thorn says:

    with teenagers in the house the word random often drives me insane! Today however it has a far lovelier ring to it. Thanks Random Number Generator for picking my book and go on, fry a spam fritter on me!

  3. Lizzy Siddal says:

    Enjoyed that and your idea of using your librarything catalogue. I don't usually do memes but I'm going to make an exception for this one.Considering I share more books with you on librarything than with anyone else, there's only one in this ten that we have in common – The Blind Assassin – and (not so) amazingly, we share common emotions.

  4. savidgereads says:

    I am so pleased you did this. I think Simon T was a genius to come up with this idea as it gives a little bit of added insight into everyone who does it. I was dragged round Pompeii when I was younger as my Mum is a classist and so we spent about 9 hours there… after hour two it wasnt fun! I loved going up Vesuvius though.

  5. Annabel Gaskell says:

    Dear all, Glad my random no/LT twist on Simon T's original got your approval. I shall look forward to reading both your posts.Booksplease and Lizzy Siddal – funny about The Blind Assassin. I shall definitely have to re-read it. Booksplease and Simon S – Did either of you make it to Paestum? It's a Greek site, a couple of hours drive south of Naples and has a temple as large as the Parthenon.

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