Booked Solid

Peter tagged me with a book meme, and after a long week of cranking out the finishing touches of a (slightly) overdue article for a book collection, I’m looking for a good excuse to procrastinate on grading and other important tasks (at least until the mighty Boilermakers steamroll Notre Dame this afternoon). By the way, I caught Quinceanera last night at the local art house. Solid, enjoyable film. Not sure I’ll have much else to say about it, but given the dearth of movie choices around here, I was pretty much starved to get myself into a theater. Now about that meme….

1. One book that changed your life?
It’s not really a stand-alone book, but I always find myself returning to Walter Benjamin’s essays collected in the book Illuminations (and to a lesser extent, the essays in Reflections). Pretty much everything I’ve written owes something to Benjamin’s “Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction.”

2. One book that you have read more than once?
I’ve read dozens of books more than once. It comes with the territory of teaching literature courses. One of the books I’ve most enjoyed re-reading (and teaching) is Michael Chabon’s The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay.

3. One book you would want on a desert island?
Peter’s choice of David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest is tempting, since I haven’t read it and know that it’s a demanding text. But to throw out a similarly dense and big novel that I’ve never read, I’ll suggest Thomas Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow (so what does it mean that I’m confessing to a list of books I haven’t read?).

4. One book that made you cry?
Katherine Patterson’s Bridge to Terabithia, when I was about eleven years old, is the last one I remember. Glad to see that it’s still in print.

5. One book that made you laugh?
Kurt Vonnegut’s novels helped get me through the most stressful moments of my graduate school years. Breakfast of Champions is one of my favorites. The satire of the Hoosier car dealer was especially meaningful for someone living in West Lafayette, Indiana.

6. One book you wish had been written?
This is a difficult question simply because there are a number of books I wish I’d written. I’ve always admired Ralph Ellison’s Invisble Man, so I’ll go with that.

7. One book you wish had never been written?
This is a difficult question simply because it verges on censorship. Maybe the collected works of Anne Coulter?

8. One book you are reading currently?
Michael Berube’s latest, What’s Liberal About the Liberal Arts? I’ve been finding it incredibly valuable in helping me to think about my new teaching position here at Fayetteville State and my teaching career in general. And I’m not just saying that because he’s on my blogroll (hoping to write a longer review here a little later).

9. One book you have been meaning to read?
I’ve been dying to read Zadie Smith’s On Beauty. I’m a huge admirer of White Teeth and also liked Autograph Man quite a bit. Maybe I’ll find some time over Thanksgiving break. This reminds me, I really miss riding the subway in DC. I had so much more time for pleasure reading when I was commuting by train rather than having to drive everywhere. End rant.

10. Pass it on
Versions of this meme have been floating around for a while, so I’ll just issue an open invitation to partciipate. Don’t feel obligated to hyperlink your titles. I’m not even sure why I did.


  1. Dan Said,

    September 30, 2006 @ 12:53 pm

    My answers to 8 and 9 are pretty much the same as yours. Berube’s book is great as far as I’ve gotten–as well as being clear and straightforward enough that I’m tempted to give it as a gift to some people in my family (parents, say) who still don’t quite get what I’m doing in grad school.

    This is Dan from our peer advising group at U of I by the way. Back in the day. I found your blog a while back and have been meaning to drop a line for a while. Congrats on the job!

  2. Cats & Dogma Said,

    September 30, 2006 @ 1:12 pm

    Ditto on Kavalier and Clay, On Beauty, and Bridge to Terabithia

    And especially ditto on the subway…When I was commuting from College Park to GW, I got so much pleasure reading done…I really miss that.

  3. Chuck Said,

    September 30, 2006 @ 1:57 pm

    Hey, Dan, good to hear from you. I’ve been thinking about giving the Berube book to a couple of family memebrs as well for the reasons you describe. I’ll be sure to follow your blog from now on, too. I like your review of Wordplay and didn’t happen to notice that the director had some Maxim videos to his “credit.” Also interesting to see your comparison with Spellbound. Hopefully Wordplay has earned him some better opportunities.

    Ryan, I think the subway system is one of the things I miss most about DC (aside from the art house theaters, museums, libraries….).

  4. seb Said,

    September 30, 2006 @ 10:15 pm

    Oh yeah! I want to read that Zadie Smith book too!

    Hmmm, on Coulter, isn’t it great that her sheer lunacy can be captured so perfectly through film and books(I have to assume on the books part, I haven’t read any of her works, shame on me for trashing something I haven’t even read:)

  5. Dylan Said,

    October 1, 2006 @ 1:32 am

    I. LOVED. Bridge to Terabithia when I was a kid. I still read it about once a year or so…

  6. Chuck Said,

    October 1, 2006 @ 10:16 am

    On Coulter, I think you’re right. I also think that Matthew has a far better answer to that question than I do.

    Sounds like Bridge to Terabithia was a popular choice.

  7. Scrivener Said,

    October 5, 2006 @ 8:39 am

    I’m reading White Teeth right now, though I’m also re-reading Moby Dick, so they’re both going very slowly. You have convinced me to make Berube’s latest the next on the list.

  8. Chuck Said,

    October 5, 2006 @ 10:39 am

    All of my reading is going slowly right now. I keep waiting for that mythical moment when I’ll have time to read for pleasure on a consistent basis.

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