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.