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The diary that was to have been featured today is not available, so it’s time for an Open Forum.  Today we’ll talk about becoming the book you love most.

Do you remember how, in the chilling film “Fahrenheit 451,” the protagonist, Guy Montag, encountered a forest full of people who were “walking books”?  

In the dystopia depicted in the film (based on the book by Ray Bradbury), “firemen” went around burning any books they found. Possession of books was completely forbidden.  Only government-approved forms of entertainment, such as TV and radio, were allowed.  It’s been a long time since I saw the film but I remember the TV screen filled an entire wall in Guy Montag’s house. His wife had little shells in her ears, like earphones, through which she listened to a steady stream of music or whatever programming was permitted.

But in the forest there were people who’d memorized their favorite books.  They spent their days reciting them so they wouldn’t forget the well-loved words.  One of them walked up to Montag and said, “I’m (name of book).  I can recite myself for you whenever you like!”

I’ve never forgotten that scene. I remember how amazed and touched I was that people would do that. What an invisible boon it would be to have memorized one’s favorite book!  No one could see it.  No one could steal or burn it if you kept quiet about it. There was another fictional dystopia, A Handmaid’s Tale, in which books were not permitted. Handmaids were doomed to a boring life.

Put to such a test, which book would YOU be? I’ve just had a great deal of fun wondering which book I’d choose. The first two books that came to mind, Jane Eyre and Pride and Prejudice, I rejected, thinking a lot of other people would choose them.  Then I thought about Margery Sharp’s Cluny Brown, surely one of the most engaging heroines ever to inhabit the world of fiction. As many times as I’ve read that book, it can still make me laugh. Or what about Margaret Drabble’s The Realms of Gold?  The character of Frances is one of the most interesting fictional women I’ve ever encountered—her unflinching honesty about herself (“I am a vain and self-satisfied woman.  I stole all this from Nature and got it for myself”), her willingness to take risks, and her astonishing ability to make herself comfortable wherever she happens to be--a nice address in London, an archaeological dig in the Middle East, or an abandoned cottage—make her larger than life.

Still another possibility was Rosemary Sutcliffe’s The Eagle of the Ninth, a story that never fails to move me, about a young Roman soldier whose life did not turn out the way he’d planned it.

Having considered all these, I’ve now chosen my book.  It would be Magdalen Rising,by Elizabeth Cunningham. The original title was Daughter of the Shining Isles, which is why I picked it up from the library bookshelf in the first place. Two words in the title tipped me off that this novel would be Goddess-related:  “daughter” and “isles.”  The Craft of the Wise emphasizes the female principle and “isles” made me think immediately of the Isle of Avalon, the Land of Apples in the West, where we go when we die.

Talk about independent, irrepressible heroines—Maeve is even more engaging (and intelligent) than Cluny Brown, even more brutally honest than Frances.  When the book opens, she’s a girl living on an island with her mothers—all eight of them.  They’re Goddess-Witches who control the weather.  (I particularly liked the mother who was of a lachrymose disposition and therefore expressed herself in fogs and mists.)

Maeve, a feisty red-haired teenager, leaves the shining isles to go off to college—but the college is the College of Druids on the Isle of Mona, and the year is A.D. 15!  One of her fellow students is a quiet, dark-eyed young man from the East, whose name is Esus—and thereby hangs a tale.

Yes, this would be my book if I were to become a walking book:  as Maeve I’d fill your ears with my exploits and shock you with my hobbies!  You’d never be the same again.  I certainly wasn’t after I read Magdalen Rising.

Now—if the worst came to pass and books were forbidden, tell us which book YOU would be, and why!  We’ve drawn up our chairs and now we’re looking at you, eager to hear which book you’ll tell us about…

Originally posted to Readers and Book Lovers on Fri Aug 31, 2012 at 05:00 AM PDT.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.


Have you ever memorized all or part of a book?

26%19 votes
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| 73 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

  •  Well, when I was about six years old (21+ / 0-)

    I checked a book out of the school library that had the "Dumbo" story in it, amongst others.  I fell in love with the story (hadn't seen the movie) and I copied it down, complete with my own illustrations so I could have it forever.  

    One of my older brothers very unhelpfully told me I was breaking some law or another, which scared me to death, so I quickly abandoned it.  I was pretty sure the Book Police would be pounding at the door and Mom and Dad would be angry about that!


    Metaphors be with you.

    by koosah on Fri Aug 31, 2012 at 05:10:05 AM PDT

  •  Not sure which book (15+ / 0-)

    I would pick, I love so many. However, the Council of Elrond in The Lord of the Rings was one of my all time favorite sections of any book. After the Flight to the Ford and now with the Elven Wise trying to figure out a course of action, Frodo stepped up.

    Frodo is one of my all time great heroes because he saves the world and didn't get to enjoy it. The fame went to Sam, Merry, and Pippin. He had the injuries that haunted him, but he did get to cross the Sea so that is something.

    I must admit though that I love the idea of travelling around Majipoor like Lord Valentine did in his exile in Lord Valentine's Castle.

    Great subject!

    The Spice must Flow!

    by Texdude50 on Fri Aug 31, 2012 at 05:13:35 AM PDT

  •  DUNE (13+ / 0-)

    Borrowed from the library of a friend's father in sixth grade, it was the first science fiction novel I had ever fact, it was the first novel I had ever read...and from there my fate was sealed. It was only a short leap to the DUNE board game, Star Trek reruns and all my high school electives being in science.

    But if we are being serious, I generally eschew the demigod genre and favor society based drama like...


    (-9,-9) pragmatic incrementalist :-P

    by Enterik on Fri Aug 31, 2012 at 05:27:31 AM PDT

  •  i have a thing for books set in the deep south (8+ / 0-)

    i don't know what it is.  i think it is a pace of life, and possibly a food thing.  and most of the authors talk about the way the light looks and that makes me happy.  
    i think if i had to pick one it would be "All the Kings Men".  i don't even know how many times i have read it.  it is just too good to be true.  some of it is just marveling at how anyone could write such a book.  how does a mind like that work?  and the politics is also interesting in that one.

    We are raised to honor all the wrong explorers and discoverers - thieves planting flags, murderers carrying crosses. Let us at last praise the colonizers of dreams. - Peter S. Beagle

    by jk2003 on Fri Aug 31, 2012 at 05:28:55 AM PDT

  •  So many choices... (11+ / 0-)

    I'd like to be more like Siddhartha in his later days - I feel I'm passing though 'fat Siddhartha' now, and would like to reach enlightenment at some point.

    But there's also the L.E. Modesitt Candar series, which all have strong protagonists who actually do 'build it', since most of them are craftsmen and women of one kind or another - woodworkers, blacksmiths, engineers.  While they're powerful influences on the world around them, they don't simply ignore the smaller, closer to home details, but keep creating lasting good at the micro-level as well as at the political level.

    I wouldn't mind being like Nylan, the smith who also designs and builds the keep of Westwind in 'Fall of Angels'.

  •  "A Soldier of the Great War" - Mark Helprin (6+ / 0-)

    after years of reading dreck, I had forgotten how much I loved to see the English language in action.

    Have you hugged your Boeuf Bourguignon today?

    by wretchedhive on Fri Aug 31, 2012 at 05:45:08 AM PDT

    •  You know, the Great War doesn't receive nearly (5+ / 0-)

      as much attention as it should.  We all seem focused on WWII, but the Great War was absolutely horrific.  Dearly Beloved and I toured the Passchendaele Museum one year, and visited the monuments to the war dead in the town of Ieper (formerly Ypres).

      It was very sobering.  Glad to have you in the forest with us, wretchedhive.

      "Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich."--Napoleon

      by Diana in NoVa on Fri Aug 31, 2012 at 05:54:07 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Agreed (5+ / 0-)

        On my first trip to Britain I realized that memorials to the dead of WWI were ubiquitous. Name upon endless name engraved on plaques at work places, schools and villages.

        There is a heartbreaking memorial in Cambridge to the lost students of the war generation. A bronze statue of a bareheaded youth in military kit striding off to war. His helmet hangs from the barrel of his rifle that rests across his shoulder like a fishing rod or a hobo's bindle. He looks for all the world as though he's off on some boyish spree.

        To this day the Brits observe a two minute silence nationwide on Remembrance Sunday in memory of the dead.  

        Nothing human is alien to me.

        by WB Reeves on Fri Aug 31, 2012 at 12:46:40 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  I thought this was a wonderful book. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      wretchedhive, LSophia

      A testament to a vanished world and a vanished generation.

      Nothing human is alien to me.

      by WB Reeves on Fri Aug 31, 2012 at 12:27:59 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Think I'd Do a WWI Book, Too (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      wretchedhive, LSophia

      A Very Long Engagement by Sebastien Japrisot that begins with five French soldiers being marched under guard to the battlefront on the Somme. They are condemned to death for shooting themselves in the hand to avoid military service.

      But I don't know a line of the book by heart.  If there were a way to record it into my memory via a chip, I'd be that book.  If I had to do the work of memorizing, I doubt I could even be a paragraph.

      Readers & Book Lovers Pull up a chair! You're never too old to be a Meta Groupie

      by Limelite on Fri Aug 31, 2012 at 02:45:23 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  It'd have to be something subversive. (11+ / 0-)

    "Catch-22" or "Slaughterhouse Five," maybe.

    Something with a number in the title.  ;-)

  •  A History of the American People blew my mind... (10+ / 0-)

    Up to that point, my view of American history (as taught through the textbooks) was a series of one great leader after another setting a vision and miraculously overcoming the odds to change the course of the country.

    Zinn's book gave voices to the voiceless....the everyday average Joe that bonded together with their neighbor to push for reforms in labor, to build the railroads, to get the vote, to fight the wars, to protest in the streets. It showed that many historical events were not the result of a lone politician growing a conscience, but a wave of people demanding change.

    Indeed, Zinn showed that WE BUILT THIS. We put a man on the moon, we won the second world war, and we built this nation.

  •  Fahrenheit 451, of course. OK, (10+ / 0-)

    probably not, but I could do worse. I formulate the question to myself this way: Which work of literature would I want to be absolutely sure would be preserved, and for which I would take personal responsibility (at least for my lifetime) for preserving?

    It's a long list, but there are practical considerations: Would I want to really learn all of Joyce's Ulysses? I'd imagine that these books should be preserved in their native languages, so that leaves out Homer. Dante? I could probably handle the Italian, but I don't have visceral love for La Divina Commedia. Which of Shakespeare's plays? So leave that to someone else. Goethe? My German is too weak. Proust? (See comment on Ulysses.)

    So I guess that my own penchant would be for the Canterbury Tales, because life is not only tragedy and not only prose; Coetzee's Waiting for the Barbarians, which would probably be at least a partial explanation and reminder of why I'd have to memorize a book in the first place, and Garcia Marquez's One Hundred Years of Solitude, to remember that life can be various, strange, and filled with unexpected change.

    We must use what we have
    to build what we need. -Adrienne Rich

    by Xapulin on Fri Aug 31, 2012 at 06:13:45 AM PDT

    •  Xapulin, these are excellent questions to ask (11+ / 0-)

      oneself before choosing.  Wish I'd thought of them!

      Thank you for your thoughtful comment.  Canterbury Tales would be a wonderful addition. I can never think of it without smiling. One of my Circle sisters teaches English to ninth-graders at Chantilly High School.  When it was time to study the Tales, she warned the class, "Now I am NOT going to teach you 'The Miller's Tale' because your parents would complain to the principal and I'd be arrested!"

      A couple of days later one of the students triumphantly informed her, "Mrs. P., my sister sent me 'The Miller's Tale' and I READ it!" "Oh, did you," my friend said, unable to repress a smile.

      Chalk one up for Geoffrey Chaucer!

      "Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich."--Napoleon

      by Diana in NoVa on Fri Aug 31, 2012 at 06:38:55 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  The Miller's Tale is still one of my all-time (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        FloridaSNMOM, lgmcp, redwagon, LSophia

        fave stories. Whatever one thinks of Alysoun's role, she doesn't kiss an arse (Absolon), or have a red-hot poker struck in hers (Nicholas), or breaks her arm (her hubby). All of the men, however, end up looking stupid.

        Then, of course, the tale was famously referenced by Procol Harum, so it's also got that going for it.

        Your friend is so sly. Of course the surest way to get the students to read the tale was to warn them against it, and to hint at why!

        We must use what we have
        to build what we need. -Adrienne Rich

        by Xapulin on Fri Aug 31, 2012 at 08:30:25 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  My high school English teacher (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        Said the same thing to us back in 1976. I'm glad to see it still works :o)

  •  I would hope (7+ / 0-)

    that someone would memorize the Oxford English Dictionary.  

    Well, maybe I will try that.

    Fun diary, DiN.

    Just waitin' around for the new Amy Winehouse album

    by jarbyus on Fri Aug 31, 2012 at 06:43:40 AM PDT

  •  I have a lot of books memorized. (19+ / 0-)

    Unfortunately most of them start with things like "I am Sam, Sam I am. That Sam I am that Sam I am I do not like that Sam I am. 'Do you like green eggs and ham?' "
    Or how about "The cow says moo, the sheep says baa, three little pigs say la la la! NO no you say that isn't right, the pigs say OINK all day and night!"
    Or "What did that say? Back there on that page, did that say there was a MONSTER at the end of this book?"

    I guess that just goes to show how often I read to my sisters, the kids I babysat and my own children when they were little? But there is good reason to preserve those books as well, books that start children off into the journey of literacy.

    Of course in Fahrenheit 451 world I guess that would add another charge "corrupting the morals of minors".

    "Madness! Total and complete madness! This never would've happened if the humans hadn't started fighting one another!" Londo Mollari

    by FloridaSNMOM on Fri Aug 31, 2012 at 06:46:41 AM PDT

    •  LOL, love your comment, FloridaSNMOM! (5+ / 0-)

      Those books do have a way of drilling into one's brain, don't they?

      I remember an eight-hour journey by car to Tennessee one time in the 1960s.  My friends were in the front seat while I sat in back with their little girl.  I had to read Green Eggs and Ham to her over and over again until I felt like throwing the book right out the window!

      Fortunately night fell so I was able to stop reading.  :)

      Florida, I hope you checked "An entire book" on the poll!

      "Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich."--Napoleon

      by Diana in NoVa on Fri Aug 31, 2012 at 07:10:04 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Just call me "Children's Corner" (5+ / 0-)

        And yes I checked an entire book in the poll.

        I have many others I didn't quote that are memorized as well, a lot of them Dr. Seuss books.  (I can even do parts of Fox in Socks.) They are all stuck in my brain from reading them over and over and over again.

        "Madness! Total and complete madness! This never would've happened if the humans hadn't started fighting one another!" Londo Mollari

        by FloridaSNMOM on Fri Aug 31, 2012 at 07:24:58 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I can Identify (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          FloridaSNMOM, LSophia

          from the opposite side. Before I learned to read, I managed to memorize The Sneeches just by having my mother read it to me repeatedly. I even knew when to turn the pages. It caused a bit of a stir the first time I recited it.

          Nothing human is alien to me.

          by WB Reeves on Fri Aug 31, 2012 at 12:52:38 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  My daughter did that with several books. (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            WB Reeves, LSophia

            Including "There's a Monster at the End of This Book" and "Cinder the Bubble Blowing Dragon".

            I like the Sneeches as well with the stars upon 'thars'.

            "Madness! Total and complete madness! This never would've happened if the humans hadn't started fighting one another!" Londo Mollari

            by FloridaSNMOM on Fri Aug 31, 2012 at 01:39:35 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  "All the star bellied Sneeches had bellies with (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              FloridaSNMOM, LSophia

               But the plain bellied Sneeches had none upon thars."

              Love it still. Gave a copy to my great-nephew for his birthday.

              Your daughter must be quite impressive. I'd expect a child who recalls in detail what they see and hear to pose unique parenting challenges.

              Nothing human is alien to me.

              by WB Reeves on Fri Aug 31, 2012 at 02:05:36 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  She is great! But yes, unique parenting challenge. (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                She also likes to narrate life, tell stories (and draw them), and sing everything (life as an opera, interesting some days, annoying others LOL).

                She's a smart and creative kid and I'm proud of her (can you tell?). She's also a bit of a drama queen, pouts easily, gets upset over little things, etc. But her challenges, while different than those posed by her autistic brother, are something we've always met head on. She used to get so mad (when she was two) because she'd throw a temper tantrum and we'd just look at her and ask her if that's all she got, because her brother's were SO much worse and more violent LOL.

                "Madness! Total and complete madness! This never would've happened if the humans hadn't started fighting one another!" Londo Mollari

                by FloridaSNMOM on Fri Aug 31, 2012 at 02:11:04 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  She sounds marvelous (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  FloridaSNMOM, LSophia

                  I'm biased though, since much of your description would have applied to me when I was a wee bairn. Kids make me nostalgic.

                  I have a second cousin who is autistic. You sound like a terrific Mom to me.

                  Nothing human is alien to me.

                  by WB Reeves on Fri Aug 31, 2012 at 02:43:47 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Thank you... (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:

                    I've done my best, made some mistakes, learned from them, moved on...

                    It hasn't been easy these past 17 years so far, but they've been interesting and challenging and mostly fun.

                    "Madness! Total and complete madness! This never would've happened if the humans hadn't started fighting one another!" Londo Mollari

                    by FloridaSNMOM on Fri Aug 31, 2012 at 02:46:22 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

    •  ha! (6+ / 0-)

      we are in full "monster at the end of this book" obsession mode in this house right now.  my 19 month old loves the excitement of knowing he will get "in trouble" for turning the page.  so much fun.

      We are raised to honor all the wrong explorers and discoverers - thieves planting flags, murderers carrying crosses. Let us at last praise the colonizers of dreams. - Peter S. Beagle

      by jk2003 on Fri Aug 31, 2012 at 07:10:53 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  YOU TURNED THE PAGE!!! (3+ / 0-)

        do you know you are very strong??

        Yes my daughter loved that one as well. It's one I have bought about three copies of through her 9 years. I want to get another one so I have one to read to her kids some day.

        "Madness! Total and complete madness! This never would've happened if the humans hadn't started fighting one another!" Londo Mollari

        by FloridaSNMOM on Fri Aug 31, 2012 at 07:21:35 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  I would be (9+ / 0-)

    Raise High the Roof Beams Carpenter and Seymour an Introduction by JD Salinger.

    Those are really two short stories published in one volume, so Raise High might be the more accurate choice, even though my favorite line in all of literature is in the Seymour, an Introduction story.

    PS: I almost chose TH White's The Once and Future King, but that's way too long to memorize.

    What a great topic for this diary, thanks!

    Words can sometimes, in moments of grace, attain the quality of deeds. --Elie Wiesel

    by a gilas girl on Fri Aug 31, 2012 at 07:15:40 AM PDT

  •  In a slightly different direction... (6+ / 0-)

    I would have to choose between The Dark Tower series and several different comic books. Roland, Eddie and company got me through some really bad times in my teens, and again sitting in the hospital in my late 20's bawling my eyes out at several points in the last book. Plus, King has left the story open to interpretation so there can be different iterations of the same stories.

    Which is why I would have to commit several comics to memory as well. Spider-Man, Batman, Superman. All 3 have legacies over 50 years old, with many different versions of origin story, background and timelines. That would be fun to try to recount to someone IMO. You want Superman? OK. Which version would you like, the one where his parents are still alive, both dead, Ma Kent lives, the SuperFamily? Superman from Earth-18? Pre-Crisis, Post-Crisis, Post-FlashPoint? Guess my idea of fun is a bit complicated...

    "I chose to change facts, reality, and the meaning of words, in order to make a much larger point." - Paul Ryan John Oliver

    by SC Lib on Fri Aug 31, 2012 at 07:22:01 AM PDT

    •  Ok, but if you do The Dark Tower (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      a gilas girl, LSophia

      You have to sing all the songs and recite all the poems and riddles that go with it!  I love those books as well. I'm thinking about introducing my 17 year old to them this year.

      "Madness! Total and complete madness! This never would've happened if the humans hadn't started fighting one another!" Londo Mollari

      by FloridaSNMOM on Fri Aug 31, 2012 at 07:28:11 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  This would be a great addition, SC Lib! (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      We "foresters" are certainly a varied lot, aren't we?  There would be something for everyone, and an enjoyable time to be had.

      "Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich."--Napoleon

      by Diana in NoVa on Fri Aug 31, 2012 at 10:13:05 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Thanks, a gilas girl! (6+ / 0-)

    Oh, how well I remember the books you mentioned!  When I was a freshman in college, everyone was reading them as well as The Alexandria Quartet.  (Wow, how long ago 1961 seems.)

    The forest definitely needs works by Salinger along with all the other wonderful potential "walking books" we've recruited so far.  ;)

    "Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich."--Napoleon

    by Diana in NoVa on Fri Aug 31, 2012 at 07:25:18 AM PDT

  •  Thank you, Rescue Rangers, for promoting this (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    FloridaSNMOM, LSophia

    diary to "Community Spotlight" soon! It's an honor that makes me feel pleased and proud.

    Have to go out for a while but will return to catch up with everyone who stops by.  Enjoy yourselves!

    "Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich."--Napoleon

    by Diana in NoVa on Fri Aug 31, 2012 at 07:27:22 AM PDT

  •  The Strange Death of Liberal England (6+ / 0-)

    It's not the most essential book in the world. There are more important ones, certainly. But it's the most wonderful, lyrical, impressionistic history book I've ever had the pleasure to read.

    The old British Liberal party, slowly torn asunder by socialism, by Ulster, by the suffragettes, new challenges it could not rise to, before the lights went out all over Europe and millions of men were ground up in the whirring machinery of a futile, pointless, stupid war.

    George Dangerfield writes delicately, but forcefully, sympathetically yet critically, and ornately without being overly pompous and florid. He writes in a way I wish I could, and reading his prose is like appreciating the brush-strokes in a Monet or Cézanne.

    A quote, for illustration:

    The England upon which Mr. Asquith landed in May 1910, was in a very peculiar condition. It was about to shrug from its shoulders - at first irritably, then with violence - a venerable burden, a kind of sack. It was about to get rid of its Liberalism.

    Liberalism in its Victorian plenitude had been an easy burden to bear, for it contained - and who can doubt it? - a various and variable collection of gold, stocks, Bibles, progressive thoughts, and decent inhibitions. It was solid and sensible and just a little mysterious; and though one could not exactly gambol with such a weight on one's shoulders, it permitted one to walk in a dignified manner and even to execute from time to time those eccentric little steps which are so necessary to the health of Englishmen.

    Whatever his political convictions may have been, the Englishman of the '70s and '80s was something of a Liberal at heart. He believed in freedom, free trade, progress, and the Seventh Commandment. He also believed in reform. He was strongly in favor of peace - that is to say, he liked his wars to be fought at a distance and, if possible, in the name of God. If fact, he bore his Liberalism with that air of respectable and passionate idiosyncracy which is said to be typical of his nation, and was certainly typical of Mr. Gladstone and the novels of Charles Dickens.

    But somehow or other, as the century turned, the burden of Liberalism grew more and more irksome; it began to give out a dismal, rattling sound; it was just as if some unfortunate miracle had been performed upon its contents, turning them into nothing more than bits of old iron, fragments of intimate crockery, and other relics of a domestic past. What could be the matter? Liberalism was still embodied in a large political party; it enjoyed the support of philosophy and religion; it was intelligible, and it was English. But it was also slow; and it so far transcended politics and economics as to impose itself upon behaviour as well. For a nation which wanted to revive a sluggish blood by running very fast and in any direction, Liberalism was clearly an inconvenient burden.

    As for the Liberal Party, it was in the unfortunate position of having to run, too. It was the child of Progress, which is not only an illusion, but an athletic illusion, and which insists that it is better to hurl oneself backwards than to stand still. By 1910, the Liberals had reached a point where they could no longer advance; before them stood a barrier of Capital which they dared not attack. Behind them stood the House of Lords.

    •  History written in exquisitely ironic language (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      a gilas girl, LSophia

      I can see why you like this writer, Freshly.  Y'know, the period between the turn of the century and the Great War is one of the most fascinating historical periods and one of the least noticed.  It was the time of "The Great Game," as depicted in The Great Impersonation by Oppenheimer (still one of my favorite books, in spite of the ghastly female characters).

       We would enjoy this recitation!

      "Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich."--Napoleon

      by Diana in NoVa on Fri Aug 31, 2012 at 10:18:10 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Only one? (8+ / 0-)

    That's like eating only one peanut, back when I could eat peanuts!

    I couldn't choose just one. And if I did, the next day I'd think of five others that were better and wish I could be those instead. :)

    I could choose some I'd never want to be and never want anyone else to be, either. That'd be easier for me. :D

  •  Several books, actually (4+ / 0-)

    Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas by HST
    Rules for Radicals by Saul Alinsky
    Galaxy Of The Lost by E.C. Tubb - My introduction to SF

  •  My favorite is David Copperfield (5+ / 0-)

    and the scene in which he shows up at his great-aunt's house and she takes him in.  She starts off by saying, "No boys here" but then he says, "if you please - aunt..."

    I guess I have memorized something!

    I simply adore Betsy Trotwood.

    (And if anyone cares, I write Greek mythology based novels which you can read abouthere.)

    by chloris creator on Fri Aug 31, 2012 at 10:11:03 AM PDT

  •  One Hundred Years (4+ / 0-)

    of Solitude, probably.

  •  For me, one gave me a profound (5+ / 0-)

    change - Ishmael, by Daniel Quinn.

    More recently, One Second After by William Forstchen is chilling.

  •  Not sure I'd be up to it, but I could (4+ / 0-)

    I'd be George Eliot's Middlemarch.   It's such a sensitive, complex tapestry of humany types and motivations.  

    "The extinction of the human race will come from its inability to EMOTIONALLY comprehend the exponential function." -- Edward Teller

    by lgmcp on Fri Aug 31, 2012 at 10:12:58 AM PDT

  •  i'll go for simplicity (5+ / 0-)

    I would like to be "Where the Wild Things Are" - Let the Wild Rumpus Start!

    "Kossacks are held to a higher standard. Like Hebrew National hot dogs." - blueaardvark

    by louisev on Fri Aug 31, 2012 at 10:26:28 AM PDT

    •  what fun! (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Monsieur Georges, LSophia

      the whole idea of being a book is challenging isn't it, because there are, of course, the books that are meaningful to you but then there's the books that are just fun to be.

      Words can sometimes, in moments of grace, attain the quality of deeds. --Elie Wiesel

      by a gilas girl on Fri Aug 31, 2012 at 11:26:44 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I read this to my grandson every night for at (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      FloridaSNMOM, LSophia

      least a year!  He is 25 now and each time I see him his greeting is, "And it was still...." and I say, "COLD!"  Because that is what I would say as we turned the last page.  And, of course, he would correct me - still does.  We laugh like loonies.  He has kept that same copy and is reading it to his daughter!    

      "May the forces of evil become confused on the way to your house." - George Carlin

      by Most Awesome Nana on Fri Aug 31, 2012 at 12:27:30 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  The book that changed my life is (9+ / 0-)

    the book I am now in the process of publishing.

    At the end of WWII my father and other young men came home. Our small town changed dramatically. Many of these young men would frequently meet socially and talk about all sorts of things, but mostly they talked about the future. They let me sit with them, and they would patiently answer any question.

    I learned, I took to heart, their view of what America was supposed to be. These men who fought for America had thought about the America they wanted for themselves and their loved ones. They were constantly describing just how our government and other important institutions should serve the common man. This conversation lasted for many years and was still going on when I went away to college.

    In high school I decided that I would study our institutions and try to devise ways to improve them. I realized that I would have to study them all my life because my viewpoint would change as my age and circumstances changed. I vowed that when I reached retirement age I would write a book about what I had learned, provided, of course, that I had learned anything at all.

    I started writing the book in the summer of 2004, and now, finally, I am finished. I am in the process of formatting it to meet the printing requirements of the publisher.

    This book has changed my life in many ways. I am glad that I had this project to work on throughout my life, and I am glad that it still strongly connects me to those veterans and to their loved ones who stayed home and worried while the battle raged.

    This book has served to connect the various eras of my long life. It is like a diary of my thoughts, what I have experienced, and what I have learned. And it has a purpose. What if my ideas for improving our institutions are good ones? What if they are timely? What if…

    Might and Right are always fighting, in our youth it seems exciting. Right is always nearly winning, Might can hardly keep from grinning. -- Clarence Day

    by hestal on Fri Aug 31, 2012 at 10:29:26 AM PDT

  •  The Dark Tower series. (5+ / 0-)

    Eddie of New York.   Junky overcomes addiction and his past to become an unsung hero of The White.

    All is silent in the halls of the dead.
    All is forgotten in the stone halls of the dead.
    Behold the stairways which stand in darkness;
    behold the rooms of ruin.
    These are the halls of the dead where spiders spin, and the great circuits fall quiet, one by one.  

    At the RNC: An Empty Chair opens for an Empty Suit.

    by Beelzebud on Fri Aug 31, 2012 at 10:31:34 AM PDT

  •  the book that has most impressed me (8+ / 0-)

    Godel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid
    by Douglas R. Hofstadter
    "A Metaphorical Fugue on Minds and Machines in the spirit of Lewis Carroll"
    (Pulitzer Prize winner)

    The author writes about ideas which are found in music, math and art - the same ideas, in different forms (note the title). It is supremely intelligent and witty and insightful.

    My favorite chapter is 'Contrapunctus', in which self-reference (a key to intelligence) is discussed. The chapter is a giant acrostic (Spoiler alert!) and the acrostic has another acrostic inside it!

    Has a dog Buddha-nature?
    This is the most serious question of all.
    If you say yes or no,
    You lose your own Buddha-nature.

    Thank you for letting me join the discussion.

  •  I would be... (5+ / 0-)

    ...David Reck's "Music of the Whole Earth."

    This extraordinary book explores the richness of sound, instruments, and music from the world's astonishing variety of cultural and musical traditions. David Reck is one of the few musical scholars to realize that music can be broken down into a few basic ideas, and to show how those ideas manifest themselves in disparate cultures. Here he discusses the similarities and differences between the Western oboe and the Indian shehnai, between our large orchestras and Bali's gamelans, between a Mozart symphony, a Japanese noh drama, and a Tibetan chant.Profusely illustrated with photographs, drawings, maps, diagrams, and even instructions on how to make one's own instruments, Music of the Whole Earth helps to narrow the gaps between audience and performer and between our own musical culture and that of other people. For anyone who has ever been puzzled by the unfamiliar strains of non-Western music, Music of the Whole Earth is the ideal answer--an exciting and accessible companion to the sounds of the world.

    Freedom isn't "on the march." Freedom dances.

    by WarrenS on Fri Aug 31, 2012 at 11:10:10 AM PDT

  •  There is only one choice for me. (6+ / 0-)
    In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and ...
    I first read The Hobbit when I was ten. It has been a part f my life ever since. Now I am reading it to my seven year old daughter. I already could paraphrase the entire book, and in fact told parts of it by campfire light.

    "Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed." Eisenhower.

    by Mxwll on Fri Aug 31, 2012 at 11:14:08 AM PDT

  •  2 books come to mind (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    a gilas girl, Diana in NoVa, LSophia

    Uncle Wiggley's Adventures by Howard R Garis. I was 7 years old and opened this book for the pictures. Then I started reading, page after page. I guess that I was in the 2nd or 3rd adventure, when I suddenly realized that I was reading! Amazing! I had this self-aware moment that I knew how to read.

    2nd imfortant book for me was G. I. Gurdjieff's Meetings With Remarkable Men. It's supposed to be an autobiography of his early days in search of esoteric knowledge. Although one can never tell about Gurdjieff. But each adventure became more and more astonishing to me. How he got out of scrapes and more importantly what he learned from the remarkable men that he met on the path. Think my favorite was when he was disguised in some dreadful place in the Afghan mountains, where he was the wrong color, the wrong race, the wrong nationality, the wrong languge, the wrong religion and he survived by catching sparrows and dyeing them yellow and selling them as American canaries. This book gave me the courage to take chances in life.

    the Republican brand is totally bankrupt.

    by vlyons on Fri Aug 31, 2012 at 11:16:25 AM PDT

    •  Love this story, vlyons! (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Think my favorite was when he was disguised in some dreadful place in the Afghan mountains, where he was the wrong color, the wrong race, the wrong nationality, the wrong languge, the wrong religion and he survived by catching sparrows and dyeing them yellow and selling them as American canaries. This book gave me the courage to take chances in life.
      [Emphasis mine]

      Will you consider doing a diary about Meetings with Remarkable Men for September?  This sounds really interesting!

      "Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich."--Napoleon

      by Diana in NoVa on Fri Aug 31, 2012 at 11:31:46 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yes, I would (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        llywrch, LSophia

        I'd have to reread it, which would be wonderful again. There was a movie made of it, Starring Terrance Stamp, I think. But the movie did not convey the humor or the irony of the book.  Want another of his aventures?

        He was in Russia during the Russian Revolution trying to get together an archeology expedition--in the middle of the revolution! And he had to use trains, which were frequently being intercepted by competing armies. But ... he managed to get around with a pass signed on one side by a czarist official and the other side signed by a revolutionary official. -

        Loved this book

        the Republican brand is totally bankrupt.

        by vlyons on Fri Aug 31, 2012 at 11:58:59 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  And let me also say... (4+ / 0-)

    ...that I would also gladly be Theodore Zeldin's magisterial, compassionate and fascinating book, "An Intimate History of Humanity."

    Here is the Table of Contents, which is worth the price of admission in and of itself:

    Table of Contents

    1 -- How humans have repeatedly lost hope, and how
    new encounters, and a new pair of spectacles, revive them.

    2 -- How men and women have slowly learned to have
    interesting conversations.

    3 -- How people searching for their roots are only
    beginning to look far and deep enough.

    4 -- How some people have acquired an immunity to

    5 -- How new forms of love have been invented.

    6 -- Why there has been more progress in cooking than
    in sex.

    7 -- How the desire that men feel for women, and for
    other men, has altered through the centuries.

    8 -- How respect has become more desirable than power.

    9 -- How those who want neither to give orders nor to
    receive them can become intermediaries.

    10 -- How people have freed themselves from fear by
    finding new fears.

    11 -- How curiosity has become the key to freedom.

    12 -- Why it has become increasingly difficult to
    destroy one's enemies.

    13 -- How the art of excaping from one's troubles has
    developed, but not the art of knowing where to escape to.

    14 -- Why compassion has flowered even in stony ground.

    15 -- Why toleration has never been enough.

    16 -- Why even the privileged are often somewhat gloomy
    about life, even when they can have anything the
    consumer society offers, and even after sexual liberation.

    17 -- How travellers are becoming the largest nation in
    the world, and how they have learned not to see only what
    they are looking for.

    18 -- Why friendship between men and women has been so

    19 -- How even astrologers resist their destiny.

    20 -- Why people have not been able to find the time to
    lead several lives.

    21 -- Why fathers and children are changing their minds
    about what they want from each other.

    22 -- Why the crisis in the family is only one stage in
    the evolution of generosity.

    23 -- How people choose a way of life, and how it does
    not wholly satisfy them.

    24 -- How humans become hospitable to each other.

    25 -- What becomes possible when soul-mates meet.

    Freedom isn't "on the march." Freedom dances.

    by WarrenS on Fri Aug 31, 2012 at 11:18:27 AM PDT

  •  A cut of the deck between (4+ / 0-)

    Dos Passos
    Cormac McCarthy

  •  I think I would have to be (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Diana in NoVa, Dumbo, LSophia

    a trilogy.

    "The Hunger Games"

    WOW, got the first one on my Kindle app, couldn't stop until I finished it, and bought the other 2 the next morning and finished those over the weekend.

    For me, Gripping.

    And, I think it would fit in with Fahrenheit 451 very well.

    Keep moving. Its harder to hit a moving target.

    by KatGirl on Fri Aug 31, 2012 at 11:29:58 AM PDT

  •  Human Traces, by Sebastian Faulks (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Diana in NoVa, Limelite, LSophia

    I have a lot of favorite books which have moved me deeply, but this one really did change my life.

    It is a book set in the late 19th century about two friends and your academics who both seek to answer the question "what makes people human?" What is "humanness?"  One is interested in evolutionary biology and the other in psychology and they each think they can answer the question best.  It is certainly a book for academics (I am one) and so much of the fun is reading about their quest, but what is most profound about it is that they never really make any great breakthroughs.  So in one sense, they seem to fail--it's not a book about great discoveries academically.  But while that seems like a shame, by the end of the book, they are both old, are still close friends and have both suffered through the highs and lows of life, and look around themselves to see their children and grandchildren.  And while never being so heavy-handed enough to say it, it becomes clear that they have in fact discovered what humanness is all about--it is about all those things.  Loving, being loved, suffering, joy.  And being able to look back at it all and see the future generations.

    I had never felt strongly about having a child, but after reading Human Traces, and in the context of my own life, I felt that this was something I wanted to do.  My son is 2 years old now and he is more amazing than I could ever have imagined.

  •  Never heard of it before, WarrenS, but wow, (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    it sounds very thought-provoking.  It also sounds rather upbeat, which is a welcome change to all the crummy news we've been having lately.

    Please consider doing a diary for us!

    "Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich."--Napoleon

    by Diana in NoVa on Fri Aug 31, 2012 at 11:33:29 AM PDT

  •  General plea to R&BLers (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    KatGirl, Limelite, emidesu, annieli, LSophia

    Friends and fellow members, please consider contributing diaries for the month of September. I'll be on vacation next week and if no one steps up to the plate to supply a diary, I'll have to write one myself! We can't have that, can we?

    In fact, there's only one more diary I can write about a book that changed my life.  I've already written several diaries about such books (I've had a decently long life), but, uh, I can't keep on being the sole contributor to this series.  

    A diary for "Books That Changed My Life" needs only three basic paragraphs.  I'll send the template to whoever requests it (as long as you request it before Monday morning). Boiled down, it's these three:

    1.  Where you encountered the book

    2.  Who wrote it

    3.  How it changed your life.

    "Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich."--Napoleon

    by Diana in NoVa on Fri Aug 31, 2012 at 11:38:51 AM PDT

  •  Great diary, Diana! (5+ / 0-)

    Hard decision.  Like so many others, there have been hundreds of books that influenced, and continue to influence, my life.  

    But I must go with Seamus Heaney's poetry, probably Opened Ground: Selected Poems 1966-1996. The poems were all published in earlier books.  Not only do they cover the thirty year growth of his genius, but all of our human condition.  Birth of a child, death of a child, work, play, love; all our humanity and inhumanity (the Irish Troubles).  

    And I have already memorized huge swaths.

    From Blackberry Picking....

    You ate that first one and its flesh was sweet
    Like thickened wine: summer's blood was in it
    Leaving stains upon the tongue and lust for
    Each year I hoped they'd keep, knew they would not.
    Yes, I can see myself walking through our forest reciting Seamus Heaney.  (I already do - while walking the dog - and he thinks I am talking to him!)

    "May the forces of evil become confused on the way to your house." - George Carlin

    by Most Awesome Nana on Fri Aug 31, 2012 at 11:51:07 AM PDT

    •  LOL, love this, Nana! (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      All dogs should have poetry quoted to them.

      That's a great quote from the poem.  "Like thickened wine...summer's blood was in it..."

      Evocative, isn't it?  Yum.  Blackberries are one of my favorite fruits.

      "Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich."--Napoleon

      by Diana in NoVa on Fri Aug 31, 2012 at 11:54:43 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Gus is usually not a fan of poetry, he prefers (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        British murder mysteries (a favorite is Dorothy Sayer's Nine Tailors); but he pays very close attention when the poem is Heaney's.  Perhaps he picks up on my feelings for the work. ;)

        Wild blackberries are the best!

        "May the forces of evil become confused on the way to your house." - George Carlin

        by Most Awesome Nana on Fri Aug 31, 2012 at 12:10:32 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Since I am a bit late to this game, some of my (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    SC Lib, Diana in NoVa, Limelite

    favorites have already been spoken for (Hobbit/Lord of the Rings, Majipoor Chronicles, Dune), so I now need to stand up for the Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, the Unbeliever.  Stephen Donaldson is a masterful storyteller, and I enjoyed this series (and most of his other works, as well).

    -8.88, -7.77 Social Security as is will be solvent until 2037, and the measures required to extend solvency beyond that are minor. -- Joe Conanson

    by wordene on Fri Aug 31, 2012 at 12:03:18 PM PDT

    •  Have to agree with you (0+ / 0-)

      about Stephen R. Donaldson, to a point at least. His newest Covenant books have been very underwhelming. It's like he wanted to hit spell check but found the thesaurus instead.

      First and Second Chronicles though? Brilliant. The Gap series? Disturbing.

      "I chose to change facts, reality, and the meaning of words, in order to make a much larger point." - Paul Ryan John Oliver

      by SC Lib on Fri Aug 31, 2012 at 12:55:30 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Been out of touch on current works (0+ / 0-)

        and was unaware of any new Covenant books, so I was only relating to the First and Second Chronicles.  Since I read all of them together in sequence, my recollection doesn't split between them.

        I'll have to check out the newer ones and see for myself, thanks!

        -8.88, -7.77 Social Security as is will be solvent until 2037, and the measures required to extend solvency beyond that are minor. -- Joe Conanson

        by wordene on Fri Aug 31, 2012 at 01:11:03 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Loathed it (0+ / 0-)

      so sorry.  The beginning just wrecked the whole series for me.

  •  "The Voyage of the Beagle" (5+ / 0-)

    because of the enormity of what was to follow in "The Origin of Species" Two books that changed the way we look at ourselves and the universe. I would have loved to have been Darwin's shipmate.

  •  So many books have (4+ / 0-)

    changed me, at different times of my life, each at a time when I was coming of (that particular) age.

    In high school, my Dad gave me "To Kill a Mockingbird" to read.  It was 1961 or 1962.   The civil rights movement, the protests were just beginning.  I was only about 16 and I did not really understand what was happening having grown up in the burbs of Philadelphia PA where in our town many people resided in ethnic areas but, at least to my mind, interacted quite easily.    

    In college, for American Lit, I had to read "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God" and my journey to find where I fit in the organized religion arena began, leading me toward much reading of historical religious texts, to the Bible, to Zen.  I am an agnostic and I believe that book got into my subconscious despite the fact I had been quite brainwashed having gone to catholic schools.  It scared me that anyone could think of even wanting to spend eternity with that kind of deity.

    Young adulthood: Lots and lots of science fiction, but the three  that most altered my life view and reinforced my already liberal political leanings:  Dune, The Dispossessed, and The Handmaid's Tale.

    Middle Adulthood:  Sweet Potato Queens Guide to Love cause at that age one learns sometimes one just needs to laugh.

    Now: Maturehood.....I am reading "Twilight of the Elites"  just cause I really love listening to Chris Hayes and so I figured I would enjoy his work.  So far I do.

    So which book would I be of these?  Probably Dune...mainly cause whenever I think about/see Roger Ailes and the damage FOX is doing to the future of all of us, I see  Baron Vladimir Harkonnen.   Whenever I hear the oil barons taking over the government I think of the spice, the need of a warrior to lead us against the empire.   It so fits in my mind.  Or I am just a b*tsh*t crazy old lady. LOL

    •  Like this quote very much: (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      It scared me that anyone could think of even wanting to spend eternity with that kind of deity.
      Yeah.  Scares me too.

      Dune is a good choice. A lot of people are very taken with it.

      "Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich."--Napoleon

      by Diana in NoVa on Fri Aug 31, 2012 at 01:36:50 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Ishmael By Daniel Quinn (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Diana in NoVa, LSophia, SherwoodB

    Ishmael . If you haven't read it...It's a must for understanding our environment, for ecology.

  •  Sorry if I'm a bit late to the conversation. (5+ / 0-)

    I think I'd choose Myra Breckenridge by Gore Vidal. It was really important for me to read it at the time that I did. It's funny and I think it may actually be fun to recite. Also, if anyone started banning books, I think this would be among the first to go.

    When Gore Vidal died a few weeks ago, I was going to write something about how important his work has been to me, but, procrastinator that I am, I still have yet to do it.

  •  cat's cradle (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Diana in NoVa, Dumbo, Caelian, LSophia

    i know, shocking.

    If only Michael Phelps hadn't smoked that pot...imagine what he could have accomplished with motivation and good lung capacity.

    by papa monzano on Fri Aug 31, 2012 at 01:16:22 PM PDT

  •  Hmmm... (5+ / 0-)

    I'm afraid I have a list as well:

    Giovanni's Room: James Baldwin,
    Brave New World: Aldous Huxley,
    The Brothers Karamazov: Dosteyevsky,
    The Cask of Amontillado, The Tell Tale Heart: E.A. Poe,
    The Space Merchants: Frederick Pohl,
    The Case of Comrade Tulayev: Victor Serge,
    Huckleberry Finn: Mark Twain
    The Master and Margarita: Bulgakov,

    I'd better stop there. I tend to retain poetry better than prose.

    Nothing human is alien to me.

    by WB Reeves on Fri Aug 31, 2012 at 01:23:19 PM PDT

  •  I have recently re-read all of Tom Robbins' (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Diana in NoVa, LSophia

    novels. Although "The World According to Garp" & "A Prayer For Owen Meany" are considered his best, my favorite is "Jitterbug Perfume." Alobar is to cool for school. His dialouge with Einstein's character is classic.

  •  So in America when the sun goes down and I sit on (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Limelite, Diana in NoVa, NWTerriD, LSophia

    the old broken-down river pier watching the long, long skies over New Jersey and sense all that raw land that rolls in one unbelievable huge bulge over to the West Coast, and all that road going, all the people dreaming in the immensity of it, and in Iowa I know by now the children must be crying in the land where they let the children cry, and tonight the stars'll be out, and don't you know that God is Pooh Bear? the evening star must be drooping and shedding her sparkler dims on the prairie, which is just before the coming of complete night that blesses the earth, darkens all rivers, cups the peaks and folds the final shore in, and nobody, nobody knows what's going to happen to anybody besides the forlorn rags of growing old, I think of Dean Moriarty, I even think of Old Dean Moriarty the father we never found, I think of Dean Moriarty.

    On the Road
    Jack Kerouac

    "There's been a little complication with my complication"

    by dash888 on Fri Aug 31, 2012 at 02:27:08 PM PDT

  •  Table Money (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Diana in NoVa, LSophia

    by Jimmy Breslin. Alcholism and family were the main topics. I had my own problems at the time.

    I remember the father in the story defending his son in an argument with the son's wife. "He's having a beer," the father said. "That's not drinking." I thought it was funny because they were having breakfast.

    Then they came for the trade unionists,
    and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a trade unionist.

    by Ex Con on Fri Aug 31, 2012 at 02:42:12 PM PDT

  •  Actors Among Us? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Diana in NoVa, LSophia

    Someone must do The Riverside Shakespeare.  Volunteers to take center stage?

    Readers & Book Lovers Pull up a chair! You're never too old to be a Meta Groupie

    by Limelite on Fri Aug 31, 2012 at 02:48:08 PM PDT

    •  If I had to write about a play (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Limelite, LSophia

      I'd select Tamburlaine the Great, written by the other great Elizabethan playwright.

      I re-read both parts recently & was struck by how it could be the tale of any American businessman who made his way defeating every competitor who went from crushing victory to crushing victory. (Tamburlaine could be described as an Elizabethan mix of Larry Ellison & Chuck Norris.) BTW, the title character clearly has a sociopathic element to him, as many American business are said to have.

      It's probably a better work than either of Marlowe's better-known plays, The Jew of Malta or Doctor Faustus. And Marlowe's dark, sardonic humor is more easily seen in Tamburlaine than either of the other two plays.

    •  Umm...wish I could (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      LSophia, Limelite

      but no, I can't.

      "Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich."--Napoleon

      by Diana in NoVa on Fri Aug 31, 2012 at 04:57:35 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  If I Can Go the Chip-in-the-Brain Route (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Diana in NoVa, LSophia

    I volunteer to be the Walking Collected Works of Wallace Stegner because I'd enjoy "re-reading" them endlessly to whoever would call upon me to do so.

    His books never jade.

    Readers & Book Lovers Pull up a chair! You're never too old to be a Meta Groupie

    by Limelite on Fri Aug 31, 2012 at 02:54:35 PM PDT

  •  I'm torn (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Diana in NoVa, LSophia

    First I think Red Harvest, because we're going to have Huston's film version of The Maltese Falcon around forever but most people don't actually read Hammett any more.

    Then I look at the rest of the great literature on this thread, and I worry about the crap. Really - terrifically entertaining stuff never meant to last. Who's going to preserve the disposable?

    So maybe I'd go for The Man of Bronze.

    into the blue again, after the money's gone

    by Prof Haley on Fri Aug 31, 2012 at 03:33:17 PM PDT

  •  Okay, who would I be. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Diana in NoVa, LSophia, kurt

    I picked, above Strange News from Another Star by Herman Hesse.  It's a short story/novella anthology. Hesse's take on the fairy-tale genre.  I have given many copies of that book away.  I don't know how many.  I also hand-typed one story, Augustus, into a post I made back in the 80s.  (Yes, some of us were online back in the 80s).


    I might pick The Space Merchants by Fredrick Pohl and C.M. Kornbluth.  I suspect it might be more in need of a saviour, even though it's a beloved classic of old scifi.

    Summary of Augustus: A poor and desperate unwed mother, given the chance to make a wish for her son, wishes that he would be loved by everybody.  Her wish comes true, and her son grows up to be loved by everybody.  And he becomes first a heartless bastard that manipulates everybody.  Miserable with life, he returns to the man who granted his mother's wish.  This man now realizes that he made a great mistake granting the woman's wish, so he reverses it, so that Augustus will love everybody.  Everybody that Augustus ever used in his life now hates him and pillorizes him without mercy, but he is happy.

  •  I'm sorry!!! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I'm a horrible person! I forgot!

    Mine will be tossed into the queue at some point soon :)

    Nothing says your sorry like a dead bunny.

    by Caedy on Fri Aug 31, 2012 at 03:48:15 PM PDT

  •  Capote's In Cold Blood, (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Diana in NoVa, LSophia

    read as a junior in high school, opened my eyes to the limitless possibilities of nonfiction--and to realize that ALL strong writing must pull together the "correct" words, ideas, creativity, and narrative.

    Also, Collected Poems of Dylan Thomas, for his sheer celebration of language:

       Oh as I was young and easy in the mercy of his means,
            Time held me green and dying
       Though I sang in my chains like the sea.

  •  A Prayer for Owen Meany (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Diana in NoVa, LSophia

    Adore this book.  I have a signed 1st Edition.  You'll just have to read it.  Also love Me Write Book: the Memoirs of Big Foot by Graham Romlieu.

    "The truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it." - Flannery O'Conner

    by Dixiedemocrat on Fri Aug 31, 2012 at 04:23:56 PM PDT

  •  So many... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Diana in NoVa, emidesu, LSophia

    "....but I reckon I got to light out for the Territories, 'cause Aunt Betsy she 'lows she's going to sivilize me, and I cain't stand it. I been there before."

    "Call me Ishmael. Some years ago -- never mind how long precisely -- having little or no money in my purse, and nothing particular to interest me on shore, I thought I would sail about a little and see the watery part of the world. It is a way I have of driving off the spleen..."

    "...Stay together,
    Learn the flowers.
    Go light."

    "Yes I said Yes I said yes."

    "Darius and Parysatis had two sons: the elder was named Artaxerxes, and  the younger Cyrus. Now, as Darius lay sick and felt that the end of life drew near, he wished both his sons to be with him..."

    "Om! Having bowed down to Narayana and Nara, the most exalted male being, and also to the goddess Saraswati, must the word Jaya be uttered...."

  •  Combray (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Diana in NoVa, LSophia

    For a long time, I would go to bed early.

    Proust is, admittedly, an acquired taste and not the easiest author to read; but I do so love his prose.  It's almost the rhythm of breathing to me.

    [I read Fahrenheit 451 a few weeks ago.  I would soooooooo be that woman who lit the match.]

    The sun shines on a dog's ass every once in a while, so I guess it's my turn. --Capt. Phil Harris (The Deadliest Catch)

    by Laiane on Fri Aug 31, 2012 at 04:57:25 PM PDT

  •  To Kill A Mockingbird (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Vetwife, Diana in NoVa, Loonesta, LSophia

    would be my choice.  It was a huge influence in my adolescent life when I realized that ordinary lives in ordinary little towns were truly important if lived with honest morality.

  •  I LOVE Addison (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Diana in NoVa, annieli, LSophia

    but I think a book and not very famous called
    Scarlett Plume.   A book in the old west and an Apache brave who after capturing a fair maiden loved her and she in return loved the native american lifestyle and found her love and destiny with the tribe.  It was a romantic novel but it was a delicious book of cliffhanging as well.

    We the People have to make a difference and the Change.....Just do it ! Be part of helping us build a veteran community online. United Veterans of America

    by Vetwife on Fri Aug 31, 2012 at 05:50:20 PM PDT

  •  far too many texts but I have appreciated (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Diana in NoVa, LSophia

    David Lodge's Changing Places: A Tale of Two Campuses (1975), if only because of its setting and dual coding of celebrity academics, and Carolyn Gold Heilbrun's Death in a Tenured Position (1981) because it seemed so right to solve mysteries in the context of academia

    Don't roof rack me bro', Now the brown's comin' down; Präsidentenelf-maßschach; "Nous sommes un groupuscule" (-9.50; -7.03) "Ensanguining the skies...Falls the remorseful day".政治委员, 政委‽ Warning - some snark above ‽

    by annieli on Fri Aug 31, 2012 at 07:31:05 PM PDT

  •  Arthur Hamm's "Histology" was a treasured (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    textbook.  I loved the subject and Hamm presented it with such passion and clarity that what could have been a dull text was fascinating and intriguing. he held the subject in his hands, messaged it and turned it this way and that and let the reader into his mind and way of looking at histology.  Strange, but I read and re-read his book.  Perhaps sometime a TV series could be made about histology along the lines of "Bones".

    It's squirrels in my attic that I live-trap and relocate. The bats in my belfry, I fear, are permanent residents.

    by pvasileff on Fri Aug 31, 2012 at 08:10:36 PM PDT

  •  I would be "The Diary of a Young Girl (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    LSophia, Diana in NoVa

    by Anne Frank
    It was the first book I read that had a real impact and that made me understand how the Holocaust impacted real kids like me. Anne, with all of her wit, all of her talent, all of her promise, blew me away with her honesty and courage. I always like to think that she beat the bastards who killed her by putting a human face on an unfathomable tragedy.

    "Until one has loved an animal, part of one's soul is unawakened." Anatole France

    by Pam LaPier on Fri Aug 31, 2012 at 08:19:18 PM PDT

  •  I would be To Kill a Mockingbird (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Diana in NoVa

    We must seek justice always, no matter how hopeless a task it may be.

  •  I dunno (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Diana in NoVa

    If Huck Finn stumbled through the world of The Master and Margarita, it might be just right for me.

    As far as memorizing, I never intended to do that with any prose.  However, certain books I've read so often, and their authors so adept at turning a phrase, using the language, that there are large chunks I can repeat by heart.  Richard Farina's Been Down So Long It Looks Like Up To Me, is one.  Here's a line from there that the denizens of a website obsessed with politicians should instantly grok:  

    "The force-fed self-confidence of those who are not meek yet nonetheless shall inherit the earth."

    How perfect is that?

    Ever get the feeling you've been cheated?

    by ActivistGuy on Fri Aug 31, 2012 at 09:47:28 PM PDT

  •  I have a complex personality so I choose several (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Diana in NoVa

    I see myself as the poet warrior, so I would be Algernon Swinburne's 'Poems and Ballads' and Sun Tzu "The Art of War".
       I teach, so I would be Asimov's "Guide to Shakespeare" - advising all the Shakespears walking around
       I have a passion for history so I volunteer to be 'Citizens', Simon Shama's history of the French Revolution.
       And in terms of novels, since Lord of the Rings, Moby Dick, and Tale of Two Cities is already taken, I volunteer to be 'Lady Chatterly's Lover', since I also have, well, a thing for the ladies
       Oh, and William Burroughs 'Naked Lunch' to keep 'shocking' social criticism alive

    An empty head is not really empty; it is stuffed with rubbish. Hence the difficulty of forcing anything into an empty head. -- Eric Hoffer

    by MichiganChet on Fri Aug 31, 2012 at 10:20:25 PM PDT

  •  So many incredible reads...many of which I (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Diana in NoVa

    have partaken of, but when pressed (even as an atheist), for me, Somerset Maugham's The Razor's Edge is my FAVORITE book.

    It got me questioning my "religious" training, gave me alternative viewpoints and provided a totally engaging story and great characters.

    The 1947 movie is as good a try as they could have done it at that time.

    The 1984  version with Bill Murray (who I like very much and believe had the best intentions)

    I'm not paranoid, I'm just well informed--SherwoodB

    by SherwoodB on Fri Aug 31, 2012 at 10:24:58 PM PDT

    •  Oh, good, Somerset Maugham, one of my favorite (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      writers!  Too bad he's out of fashion now.  Doted on his short stories, especially those about lonely English people living on the outer fringes of wherever, who tried to keep up with English customs.

      Sometimes their colonial service or self-imposed exile made them mighty peculiar.

      "Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich."--Napoleon

      by Diana in NoVa on Sat Sep 01, 2012 at 05:27:54 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Great topic! For which I thank you. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Diana in NoVa

    There have been many.  In chron order:

    Alcoholics Anonymous
    Out on a Limb (S. MacLaine)
    Conversations with God (N.D. Walsh)
    The Power of Now (E. Tolle)
    Seth Speaks (et seq.) (J. Roberts)
    A Course in Miracles (Scribed by Helen Schucman)

    Kick apart the structures - Seth

    by ceebee7 on Sat Sep 01, 2012 at 02:07:35 AM PDT

  •  I did not love the book but, (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Diana in NoVa

    Jack London's Sea Wolf affected my way of thinking and thus my life.      

    •  Did it really? This Old, if it changed your life, (0+ / 0-)

      would you write a diary about it for September 21? You only need three paragraphs and I can send you a template to tell you exactly what goes in them.

      Please kosmail me if you'd like to tell us how it changed your thinking and your way of life.  We would be most interested!

      "Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich."--Napoleon

      by Diana in NoVa on Sat Sep 01, 2012 at 05:30:43 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Hard to choose one so (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Diana in NoVa

    in no particular order:
    tao te ching
    To have or to Be, by erich fromm
    king lear
    ishmael, by daniel quinn

    Blessed are the cheese-makers?!

    by pholkhero on Sat Sep 01, 2012 at 05:15:25 AM PDT

  •  My Choices (0+ / 0-)

    The Assault on Reason by Al Gore.

    They Thought They were Free by Milton Mayer.

    Idiot America by Charles Pierce.

    I Love Fantasy.  I'll go Back to Reading Fantasy when
    Large segments of the Population Stop trying to turn
    Fantasy into Public Policy.

    On Giving Advice: Smart People Don't Need It and Stupid People Don't Listen

    by Brian76239 on Sat Sep 01, 2012 at 07:16:10 AM PDT

  •  When I was in a dark place (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    livingthedream, Diana in NoVa

    I asked at a book store for a book with no mayhem, murder, psychos, depression, etc. The woman helping me was at first a bit stumped because my "not" list was pretty long. But she handed me "The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society." It's written totally in letters, taking place shortly after the end of WWII.
    This book is very healing. It's a reaffirmation of life, that after terrible things happen we can find love and contentment.
    Interestingly enough, given the topic of this diary, it's about people who chose from a very limited selection of books on a Nazi-occupied island and read that book over and over. The people on the island would meet regularly,  each discussing his or her own book, showing how that book was superior to all the others. These books did much to help the people through starvation, cruelty and heartache.
    Try it - you'll like it!

  •  I guess it would have to be one of the books ... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Diana in NoVa

    .... that I reread at least once a year....

    The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson
    The Little Princess by Frances Hodgson
    Dracula by Bram Stoker
    The Stars My Destination by Alfred Bester
    Tarzan by Edgar Rice Burroughs
    A Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs
    Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury

    Well ... probably The Secret Garden.  My parents read it to me while I had chicken pox in the first grade, and I've re-read it at least once a year ever since.  Great, great book.

  •  Catch-22 (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Diana in NoVa

    Probably the most powerful book I ever read.  Runner ups would include "The Hitchhikers Guide" trilogy by Douglas Adams or "Letters from the Earth".  Almost anything by Twain would certainly qualify.

    There are only 2 reasons for people to be Republicans; greed and ignorance.

    by Dedhed70 on Sat Sep 01, 2012 at 09:44:35 AM PDT

  •  To Kill A Mockingbird (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Diana in NoVa

    I've read this book so many times, it's just the first one that came to mind.

  •  Confederacy of dunces is one of the funniest books (0+ / 0-)

    Ever written.  I could get cozy with ignatius p. reilly

    No System of Justice Can Rise Above the Ethics of Those Who Administer It. (Wickersham Commission 1929)

    by No Exit on Sat Sep 01, 2012 at 02:08:47 PM PDT

  •  Well... (0+ / 0-)

    If I was doing it in a vacuum - that is, I didn't have to consider what other people would remember and think about duplication, I would certainly choose The Hobbit. I've probably read it more than any other book because for me it's the perfect story. I really love Heroic Fantasy as a genre, but for me what makes the Hobbit stand out is that it's mostly a story about one individual and it's very focused on him. There are only a couple of times when the narrative pulls away and shows us the rest of the world and what's going on and I think it's stronger for that. I also have some fear that by showing so much of what was happening behind the scenes, Peter Jackson may lose the flavor of the book, but we'll see. I love LORT too, but the Hobbit is my favorite because it is so individually focused on Bilbo and his story.
    If not that, I would consider Michael Oren's Six Days of War - a fantastic story of a magnificent war. It reads like a novel even though it's all true.
    If I wanted to save something obscure, I would save one of the children's books written by Enid Blyton - probably The Valley of Adventure - the first 'real' book I ever read. Enid Blyton's books are a real treasure and I would want to save at least one.

    Language professors HATE me!

    by Zornorph on Sat Sep 01, 2012 at 02:13:29 PM PDT

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