The Books of My Numberless Dreams

Archive for the ‘quizzes/memes’ Category

Thursday quiz at OUP

Section Seven: Espionage and Intrigue
1. Spy for Walsingham and stabbed in a brawl, as legend has it.
2. Pseudo-equine archetypal guise for malice.
3. The Prince’s schoolmates set against him by a usurping uncle.
4. An anarchist plots to blow up the Greenwich Observatory.
5. A holiday sailing trip cum plot to foil the Germans.

Section Eight: Political Animals
1. A sea monster lends its name to his principle of a strong state.
2. Taking America as a model, it Pained the English government.
3. Her vindication laid the foundations for modern feminism.
4. For everyone and no-one, this book killed the deity.
5. This tract takes its title from a head of state.

Yes, another one that is perhaps more fun and, to fit the site, book-related. To commemorate the relaunch of the Oxford World Classics — they’re getting a fresh new design and everything! First heard about it on Bookslut — the OUP blog is posting a series of quizzes the answers to which will be posted on Friday. I’m dismal at it but maybe you could give it a go?

Monday’s quiz

Section One: Their Daily Bread
1. The witch of the place presides over a rotten wedding feast.
2. His sweet tooth eats through a Wilkie Collins epic.
3. He fried his kidney in Dublin town.
4. She takes the credit for the boef en daube.
5. Her cupboard was full of jam tarts, lemon tarts, Spanish tarts and cheese-cakes.

Section Two: ‘It’s a hard-knock life’
1. Misselthwaite’s maid.
2. Raksha’s man-cub.
3. Discovered in a handbag at Victoria Station.
4. Would rather sail the Mississippi than paint a fence.
5. Left Kansas for emerald delights.

Tuesday’s quiz

Section Three: Black and White and Read All Over
1. A seductive Mother Superior and a naïve with no vocation.
2. This cloistered anti-hero’s downfall is akin to Legion’s end.
3. An eighteenth-century reverend faces the trials of Job in Edenic England.
4. This almost-saint journeyed from Huntingdon to St Albans.
5. His saucy epic satires spite his regal Roman name.

Section Four: In the Wars
1. Russian epic retelling of the Napoleonic invasion.
2. The Wretched man the barricades in grande Paris.
3. Story of young Henry at Chancellorsville.
4. Led the invasion of Gallia and wrote about it.
5. A Prussian intellectual’s military manifesto.

Wednesday’s quiz

Section Five: That’s Amore
1. Sanskrit text on life, love and spirituality.
2. Banned as obscene, it revolutionised the understanding of female sexuality.
3. Roman poet banished for his subject of adultery.
4. This Parisian’s deviance gave his name to unconventional proclivities.
5. Classic mother who murdered the progeny as the ultimate revenge.

Section Six: Neither Flesh, Fish, nor Fowl
1. An Italian puppet with greater ambitions.
2. This mad scientist’s creation begs for a female companion.
3. Has coffin, will travel.
4. This loch-dwelling mum seeks medieval revenge.
5. Gothic nocturnal female whose bloodlust stoked a later novel.

Keep an eye on the blog for the other two!

The original authors of this exercise are Will Barratt, Meagan Cahill, Angie Carlen, Minnette Huck, Drew Lurker, and Stacy Ploskonka at Illinois State University. If you participate, they ask that you PLEASE acknowledge their copyright. (via Charlotte’s Web)

Bold the true statements. You can explain further if you wish.

1. Father went to college
2. Father finished college
3. Mother went to college
4. Mother finished college

5. Have any relative who is an attorney, physician, or professor.
6. Were the same or higher class than your high school teachers.
7. Had more than 50 books in your childhood home.

8. Had more than 500 books in your childhood home
9. Were read children’s books by a parent
10. Had lessons of any kind before you turned 18
11. Had more than two kinds of lessons before you turned 18

Swimming, ballet, music (piano, violin, voice), a brief spurt with Judo.
12. The people in the media who dress and talk like me are portrayed positively
13. Had a credit card with your name on it before you turned 18
14. Your parents (or a trust) paid for the majority of your college costs
15. Your parents (or a trust) paid for all of your college costs
16. Went to a private high school
Private high schools in Jamaica are typically the worst things you could saddle your child with, although they are known to scoop a good public high school teacher or two when they get fed up with low government pay.
17. Went to summer camp
Yeah, loved that stuff.
18. Had a private tutor before you turned 18
For a very brief period in preparation for Common Entrance (10+) exams when I was in prep school (private elementary).
19. Family vacations involved staying at hotels
A few times but 90% of them it involved staying with family.
20. Your clothing was all bought new before you turned 18
Either bought new or sewn by my aunt or a close family friend.
21. Your parents bought you a car that was not a hand-me-down from them
Yeah, but it was used. My Mum worked with hotels and typically drove company cars so there was nothing to hand down.
22. There was original art in your house when you were a child
Not many and I have no idea where it came from because none of it was my type.
23. You and your family lived in a single-family house
My extended family (aunts and cousins). I guess it was a “single-family” house that my Mum extended it. This only happened after she decided to get my younger brother and I out of hotel living. I got shipped to boarding school. On breaks I’d as often stay with my Mum (at hotels) than in Kingston (at the house). So I only felt as if I properly lived in such a home for sixth form.
24. Your parent(s) owned their own house or apartment before you left home
Don’t have a clue.
25. You had your own room as a child
26. You had a phone in your room before you turned 18
27. Participated in a SAT/ACT prep course
Yes, but that was only after I took SAT I on my own. The tutor heard of my score and “recruited” me for his college prep programme but I never paid anything since he doesn’t prep for SAT IIs as they are subject specific. I was doing my A-levels. (SAT IIs were much easier.)
28. Had your own TV in your room in high school
Never and still don’t. The idea makes me uncomfortable — seems excessive and guaranteed to suck away precious hours. I’m in a situation now, though, when the available tv is so small and pathetic (and often co-opted by the landlady’s boyfriend-now-husband to watch Westerns) that I may invest in one.
29. Owned a mutual fund or IRA in high school or college
30. Flew anywhere on a commercial airline before you turned 16
Well, you know, us Caribbean folk like to go abroad.
31. Went on a cruise with your family
Don’t think I’ll ever do this. Stuck on a ship with fake golf courses and retirees chilling by the pool and godawful night entertainment? Do not want. (Maybe those Antarctic/Arctic cruises? Maybe. There seems to be something to those.)
32. Went on more than one cruise with your family
33. Your parents took you to museums and art galleries as you grew up
34. You were unaware of how much heating bills were for your family

Yikes. Lots more bolding than I expected. Feel free to do this one if you care to.

Verbivore tagged me for the “Kind things” meme — go see hers, it has pictures of flowers and doggies! — so I’ll take the opportunity to envelope you in fluff, like a good blogger should.

  • List five kind things you do for yourself.
  • List five kind things you do for your closest friend, partner or child.
  • List five kind things you have done for a stranger.
  • Have fun!
  • Tag five people.

Five kind things I do for myself

Walk everywhere
I don’t really exercise and my diet is regulated by vague ideas about moderation. Hmmm, have had coffee so many days in a row? Should take a break and have juice instead. Don’t forget to have an apple to balance the yummy eggs and sausage. Every so often I crave a salad. My trump card, then, is to avoid vehicular transportation whenever I can. I walk to school every day as well as to all the book stores, even the ones downtown that are 40-50 minutes by foot from where I live. I try to go at a brisk pace. Then treat myself to some ice cream.

I would explode if I did not all of you to discuss books with. I would live in book stores if I weren’t able to buy most of the books I wish whenever I like. (Library offerings are just too limited, especially when it comes to translated fiction and anyway I want to *own* beautiful, beautiful books not borrow them.)

Mark out solitary time
Although I do have a little brother the 12 year age difference is enough for me to still consider myself an “only child”, in some senses. Some of the best memories of my childhood is when I walked by the harbour nestling under trees or on the dock with a book or journal, sometimes reading, sometimes daydreaming or being quiet, absorbing my surroundings.

Canadian winters has forced me to change that system somewhat. I’ve channelled this need into doing various activities by myself, if I’m so inclined, a habit that some of my friends still find a bit odd, because, omg they could *never* go to the cinema by themselves, how *embarrassing*. (I still love them.) So during winter it’s more likely to find me enjoying my Bookforum at one of the many local coffee shops, or taking in a Bergman revival alone in the shadows, or prowling at an art gallery.

Subscribe to literary magazines
I don’t know what I do without them now! I’m addicted to the conversation among those pages even if very few of them approach my ideal. I don’t even begrudge those that devote a lot of pages to political and history books because most newspapers have become worthless for anything beyond the most basic reports.

Join the anime club
Now my life is complete.


Five kind things I do for my closest friend/s

Buy stamps
The Shoppers Drug Mart is closer to my place (and she’s too lazy to get off the bus to make a stop at the one on her bus route) so I get the stamps she needs for her letters.

Some people seem to attract drama even though they’re the nicest person on the planet. It’s weird.

Encourage their independence
Sacrificing your life to keep people happy is not worth it.

Being frank/accepting
I can almost see the sigh of relief when I don’t provide the carefully looked for reaction of shock/disgust/ridicule/condemnation when they tell me about so and so. And this goes for both conservative and liberal views. I’m not perfect at withholding the harsh condemnation but I’m working on it.

Buy them pizza
I honour my bets (sigh). And a large three topping pizza for ten bucks is pretty good.

Five kind things you have done for a stranger

Provide bus fare
I hope it was for bus fare

Donate time to food bank
I, along with a bunch of others, collect for the food bank every Halloween. Good times.

Be friendly to international/exchange students
Because of the times I travel in and out of Canada I inevitably meet a foreign student who’s come to Canada for the first time at the airport who’s heading to the same school. I’ve made a lot of great friends that way so it works out for me too. It’s much better, for me, than the official shadow programme the International Students Association provides. It’s a good programme but I think it’s so much easier for both involved when you meet up in an informal environment and hit it off rather than (potentially) getting stuck with someone who wants to burnish their resume.

Donate books
Instead of bartering them at the bookstore I’ll sometimes donate them to the public library, especially if they are fairly recent releases that they haven’t acquired yet or wouldn’t mind more copies of.

I do it a lot, although it has slowed down some now that I’m in grad school. I’m thinking of signing up for a semi-regular position at the local public library but all of the posts require that you own a car or have access to one, and I don’t just want to shelve books or sit at a desk.


Here’s Dewey’s Negativity meme

1. When you dislike a book, do you say so in your blog? Why or why not?
Wild horses couldn’t stop me from verbally stabbing a book in the spine if it has the temerity to disappoint me. 😀 I write however I feel about books here so the negative has to be mentioned at some point. The occasional bad read is unavoidable but I prefer complete enjoyment, especially the kind that is multifaceted.

2. Do you temper your feelings about books you didn’t like, so as not to completely slam them? Why or why not?
Ahh…no. What I might do is read over a few pages to see if they’re as bad as I remember but if they are then I convey that. I can feel passionate about a book but I’ve been vicious or vindictive (as far as I know) and I’m more careful to provide evidence for negative reviews.

3. What do you think is the best way to respond when you see a negative review about a book you enjoyed?
If it’s the unsupported, thumbs-up-or-down kind I ignore it and if it’s not I may share my different reaction and perhaps comment on any examples the reader provided to say if I saw the same thing but from a different angle or if it simply didn’t bother me, things like that. I don’t mind disagreement and I’ve never had trolls in my comment section.

4. What is your own most common reaction when you see a negative review of a book you loved or a positive review of a book you hated?
I don’t have one, I think. It all depends on the review’s quality — if it’s good I’ll be attentive, if not, dismissive.

5. What is your own most common reaction when you get a comment that disagrees with your opinion of a book?
Same answer to question 4.

6. What if you don’t like a book that was a free review copy? What then?
Same approach applies. If a publisher can afford to send them, it can afford to lose control of the results.

7. What do you do if you don’t finish a book? Do you review it or not? If you review it, do you mention that you didn’t finish it?
If I haven’t finished a book I’ll post some commentary depending on whether I feel the urge to and, of course, I mention it’s incomplete status. I would not consider such commentary a “review”.


Quizzes from my reliable source, Shaken & Stirred.

Your Score: Tigger

You scored 14 Ego, 13 Anxiety, and 16 Agency!

And as they went, Tigger told Roo (who wanted to know)
all about the things that Tiggers could do.

“Can they fly?” asked Roo.

“Yes,” said Tigger, “they’re very good flyers, Tiggers
are. Strornry good flyers.”

“Oo!” said Roo. “Can they fly as well as Owl?”

“Yes,” said Tigger. “Only they don’t want to.”

“Why don’t they want to?” well, they just don’t like it

Roo couldn’t understand this, because he thought it
would be lovely to be able to fly, but Tigger said it was
difficult to explain to anybody who wasn’t a Tigger himself.

You scored as Tigger!

ABOUT TIGGER: Tigger is the newest addition to the Hundred Acre Wood, and he lives with Kanga and Roo, because Roo’s strengthening medicine turned out to be the thing that Tiggers like best. Tigger is bouncy and confident -some of his friends think he is a little TOO bouncy and confident, but attempts to unbounce him tend to be fruitless.

WHAT THIS SAYS ABOUT YOU: You are a positive and confident person. You feel capable of dealing with anything and everything, and funnily enough, you usually ARE. You don’t worry about much, and you love to go out and find new adventures.

Your friends and family might sometimes be a little exasperated by your boundless enthusiasm. You don’t like to admit your mistakes, and when you find yourself in over you head, you tend to bluff your way out of things. You would be surprised, however, at how happy the people around you would be if you would actually admit to a mistake. It would make you seem more human, somehow.

Link: The Deep and Meaningful Winnie-The-Pooh Character Test written by wolfcaroling on OkCupid, home of the The Dating Persona Test
View My Profile(wolfcaroling)

Wow. This blog quiz, like, totally knows me.

You Are a Question Mark

You seek knowledge and insight in every form possible. You love learning.
And while you know a lot, you don’t act like a know it all. You’re open to learning you’re wrong.You ask a lot of questions, collect a lot of data, and always dig deep to find out more.You’re naturally curious and inquisitive. You jump to ask a question when the opportunity arises.Your friends see you as interesting, insightful, and thought provoking.(But they’re not always up for the intense inquisitions that you love!)

You excel in: Higher education

You get along best with: The Comma

via Charlotte’s Web and loose baggy monster.


Here’s my February book haul. Being ill is good for something — there purchases experienced a downturn.

My ÀntoniaWilla Cather

The Mill on the FlossGeorge Eliot

This may be the exact same edition that’s in Jamaica — one of my first classics purchases. I think it was bought along with The Lord of the Rings and Nicholas Nickleyby all of which appealed to me because they were nice and thick. This time around it was the A.S. Byatt editorial role that got me excited. I have this mental list of writers whose brains I’d like to have preserved in a personal collection and she’s on it. Is that weird?

 Rogue MaleGeoffrey Household

Sarah Weinman said it was great and she’s never steered me wrong so far. Btw, NYRB Classics is having a ridiculously good moving sale, offering up to 60% off. Do your part to help bolster the US economy by March 9th!

Book of a Thousand DaysShannon Hale

I know, I know. But I don’t have to read it this year. In any case, what with Sarah Hall’s The Carhullan Army currently on my plate I’ve already broken my year-long moratorium against F/SF books. I even considered getting that “free” copy of Neil Gaiman’s book American Gods.

He’s an author that millions have recommended to me and I’ve accepted them graciously but with silent scepticism. So, I thought the HarperCollins freebie would be an opportunity to try him out. Until I went to its website and saw the horrible monstrosity they expected me to sit down at my computer all day and read because I couldn’t download it. Didn’t even read the first page; I mentally flipped the bird and went on my way.

Tor, on the other hand, was kind enough to give me a spankin’ mobile copy of John Scalzi’s Old Man’s War. Tor: 1 HarperCollins: don’t make me laugh.

 Old Man’s WarJohn Scalzi

Well, this is it. An honest to god novel with a spaceship on the cover. How do you think I’ll do?

Muriella PentRussell Smith

Thank god for campus book sales. Picked this one up for four bucks and a song. I ignored the “columnist” (writer) and “post-colonial” (book) label and allowed myself to be taken in by the “Caribbean-born” protagonist. It’s a Canadian novel but it isn’t about an outsider stuck out into the prairies or a typical “immigrant” narrative (yawn). Most importantly, the first page made me smile. Although the front cover proclaims its “National Bestseller” status, only 20 copies appear on LibraryThing. Weird.

The Carhullan Army – Sarah Hall

Well. I don’t want to shoot the book out of my hands (yet?). That must count for something.

Is the blog title work safe? Anyway, two fluffy items appear for your viewing pleasure. First the “first lines of the month” meme which I spotted at the Classical Bookworm.

January: “One day Chuang Tzu fell asleep, and while he slept
he dreamed that he was a butterfly, flying happily about,
And this butterfly did not know that it was Chuang Tzu

February: Lee is caught smoking pot at her boarding school and is expelled.

March: I’m not going out today if I can help it.

April: March was a decent month for books.

May: Moravagine was…it was something, rather, it was many things all of which I’m still trying to pin down.

June: I am busily trying to come up with a respectable post on the Ford novel, resisting the temptation to indulge in The Land of Spices‘ muted raptures.

July: It’s the beginning of July and a friend and I are planning to move out because our land lord proved especially stubborn towards admitting the most adorable, tiny, well-behaved basset hound in our midsts.

August: My first encounter with Adam Zagajewski’s Without End: New and Selected Poems was a bit discouraging: read the first poem, thought it was really good, moved on to others and met a solid blank wall.

September: In the past I expressed a wish to read a collection such as this when I read “Gode’s Story” in A.S. Byatt’s Djinn in the Nightingale’s Eye, originally published in Possession.

October: After reading both poems, “A Myth on Innocence” and “A Myth on Devotion”, despite Hades’ largely indubitable, loving tone expressed in the second, it’s Persephone’s uncertainty that my reaction more closely resembled.

November: The Short Review is a new site that was launched today by Tania Hershman, a short story writer, to provide reviews of short stories by other writers.

December: “Over the coming year, Open Letters will be proud to serialize Adam Golaski’s innovative translation of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, presenting each new part on its completion.”


Then we have the 13-books-I-should-have-read meme that I spotted in a few places but the only I can remember now is Pages turned (which conveniently links to two other bloggers who did it too).

  • Black Sunlight by Dambudzo Marechera: The excerpt on The Mumpsimus was enough to convince me that he was a writer worth reading. As it turns out the writer of the VQR article in that post also wrote a book I intended to read.
  • Letty Fox: Her Luck by Christina Stead: Woman author? Check. NYRB Classic? Check. I read the excerpt available on Amazon just for fun. It sounds that good. Why the heck haven’t I read it yet? Beats me.
  • Dream Wheels by Richard Wagamese: I discovered this one when I browsed the new shelf at the campus library earlier this year after picking up the latest from David Treuer.
  • The Healers by Ayi Kwei Armah: I had this grand notion of honouring the Literary Saloon‘s anniversary by reading one of the reviewed Complete Review books. Yeah…didn’t turn out too well. Next year!
  • The Victorian Chaise-lounge by Marghanita Laski: This one got mentioned on a lot of blogs last year, including Danielle‘s. I think it’s a Persephone book. It sounded fun and loopy. I like loopy.
  • Riders in the Chariot by Patrick White: This was also probably a part of my grand Literary Saloon project, but besides that, the bloggers there champion White any chance they can get. Their insistence worked! Sort of. He’s on my mind, anyway, and the NYRB Classics have a lovely edition.
  • Waiting for an Angel by Helon Habila: He wrote the VQR piece on Marechera but I’d heard of this novel long before then. How long ago I’m not sure but it is also lurking on the periphery, waiting to be acquired.
  • Virgin Soil by Turgenev: Here lieth another grand project: Russian literature. 2007 was to be the year that I burst through the obscure, intimidating wall that for so long had prevented me from attempting it. Then I got Demons and all the other Russians had to wait. (Sorry, ol’ Turg.)
  • An Abundance of Katherines by John Green: It was a Cybils nominee; he’s a YA blogger favourite; I liked the cover. Next year!
  • Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy: Yeah, too many people talked about him this year. I should probably get to it before they distorted into a movie.
  • On the Ideal Orator by Cicero: This one has awaited an audience since 2006. My readings were comparatively less diverse this year with non-fiction taking a killing. I just didn’t feel up to tackling the old bird.
  • Another Hollinghurst novel: When I find a book I really enjoy I try to read more from the same author. I almost picked up Folding Star this morning but the openings in The Virgin of Flames by Abani and Eclipse by Banville won out.
  • Brown Girl in the Ring by Nalo Hopkinson: Was never in the right mood for this one. Tried to get by the first page and couldn’t, not because it was bad, but because I just wasn’t feeling it. It’s one I’ll pick up intermittently until the stars align.

I was smack in the middle of a second romp through The Owl Service, working my way through the language and trying to get a better handle on my reactions, when the author appeared and told me that my efforts are hopeless, the book will *”tell me nothing”. Now my brain is malfunctioning because the neurons are frantically trying to reverse the information retrieval. What should I do? (To lay everything on the table I have not dismissed the possibility that it was my thesis advisor in disguise.)

A weird-facts-about-me meme! Dewey tagged me.

1. Link to the person’s blog who tagged you.
2. Post these rules on your blog.
3. List seven random and/or weird facts about yourself.
4. Tag seven people at the end of your post and include links to their blogs.
5. Let each person know that they have been tagged by posting a comment on their blog.

1. I’m not a big hip hop/dancehall fan. Apparently my skin colour and/or nationality was supposed to genetically transfer these traits to me, but I would not be surprised to learn that the delivery stork dropped me before I made it to the hospital. If the listener is West Indian I allay all fears by crowing about Beres Hammond; I’m actually more of a Super Ape kinda girl, but if the listener is under 30 I’ll get no response. If she is North American I will earnestly express an interest in jazz, but that rarely works, or she replies with something about Norah Jones/Diana Krall, and I disappear.

2. I don’t have a Jamaican accent, or at least not a strong one. This has puzzled my peers (as well as myself, really, although it’s never an issue unless someone brings it up) for decades, since I was born and raised there. I’ve given all kinds of explanations: raised at a hotel for 12 years; went to a school at which most of the kids (or at least my friends) did not speak the local patois often (we had students from Canada, Surinam, China, Ireland); and my mother forbade it at home. Rarely do any of these explanations completely satisfy acquaintances so they conclude (or the assumption lingers) that I put on an “accent” in order to give the impression that I come from “foreign” and am therefore in some way superior to the local citizenry.

My general disinterest in dancehall (and hip hop, when it became big) did not help.

Conversely, I get really annoyed when I meet second generation Jamaicans here who compliment me on how “well” I speak.

3. The only tv station I watch is Turner Classic Movies. I may suffer through tv news (BBC World, which isn’t bad) but I can’t stand tv news shows in general. I don’t like the performance aspect. Gets on my nerves.

4. I would live in Newfoundland, if I could. It’s just that bioethics isn’t big up there.

5. I really like romance novels, even though I’m no longer the kind that goes through 4 books every month. (That more accurately describes my yearly purchase these days, as I enjoy the works of less and less authors.) There are lots of “literary” readers who proudly reveal their love for certain genres like mysteries or science fiction, but romance books seem to be at the bottom of the barrel, the one you really, really don’t want to be seen reading.

While romance fans often read pretty diversely, I rarely come across one (well I never have, off or online) who is as devoutly interested as I am in non-genre works. The closest to my ideal (ha ha) is Dark Orpheus, who doesn’t read romance, but manga, which is probably hanging around with romance near the bottom of the barrel.

6. I went to a boarding school that wasn’t for the rich. The typical view is that such schools offer a rarefied experience where you play…lacrosse (?) in your little dorms, jump around in plaid skirts and jet off to Paris for weekends. Of the three years I attended mind the school fee was lower than my elementary school’s. In the newer buildings there were only six to a dorm, but in the older buildings you were typically living in a huuuuge room with about 30 bunk beds. If one was lucky it had lockers at the side. The water supply was erratic so it was prudent to keep a bucket filled with water in case that was what you had to shower with in the morning.

Until recently, Jamaican boarding schools were subsidised by the government, so their high quality academics and discipline were available to a much larger segment of the population.

7. Sometimes, when I’m feeling giddy, I seriously consider staging a broadway Shakespeare adaptation on the roofs of one of the campus buildings. Then I usually segue into wondering whether I should become a professor so I can get tenure and then be able to wear a cape (and maybe a top hat) to class and not give a fuck.

*I don’t think he appreciated my enlightened, cogent assessment of Gilgamesh either.

There are memes, quiz results and potential book challenge lists to share.

Sylvia tagged me with these 10 questions bit some days ago.

1. Hardcover or paperback, and why?
Honestly it depends on my mood, how nice the dust jacket and actual hardcovers are, whether I think the author is worth $30+ for heaven’s sake (thank goodness for saner YA hardcover prices) and so on.

2. If I were to own a book shop I would call it…

I came up with a name then forgot it. A new idea would be something silly and terrible for publicity Cerebral Desserts or Book Bingers Unite!.

3. My favourite quote from a book (mention the title) is…

There can never be only one.

Tho’ much is taken, much abides; and tho’
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven; that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

From “Odysseus” by Alfred, Lord Tennyson (Idylls of the King and a Selection of Poems)

I wither slowly in thine arms,
Here at the quiet limit of the world,
A white-hair’d shadow roaming like a dream
The ever silent spaces of the East,
Far-folded mists, and gleaming halls of morn.

From “Tithonus” by Alfred, Lord Tennyson (Idylls of the King and a Selection of Poems)

The windy waves mount up and curve and fall,
And round the rocks the foam blows up like snow,–
Tho’ I am inland far, I hear and know,
For I was born the sea’s eternal thrall.

From “Sea Longing” by Sara Teasdale (Poems of the Sea, ed. by J.D. McClatchy)

Hear the voice of the Bard!
Who Present, Past, & Future sees
Whose ears have heard,
The Holy Word,
That walk’d among the ancient trees.

Calling the lapsed Soul
And weeping in the evening dew:
That might controll
The starry pole:
And fallen fallen light renew!

From “Introduction” by William Blake (Songs of Innocence and of Experience)

4. The author (alive or dead) I would love to have lunch with would be ….

Uhhh…Diderot, I guess. I don’t really want to have lunches with any authors. (Although I’m sure they were and are all very nice lunch companions.)

5. If I was going to a deserted island and could only bring one book, except for the SAS survival guide, it would be…

Ummm…the Collected Stories of Andre Dubus maybe if such existed. Or the Collected Fiction of Steve Stern, that could work.

6. I would love someone to invent a bookish gadget that….

It’s already been invented.

7. The smell of an old book reminds me of….

Me. Some of my musty poetry collections.

8. If I could be the lead character in a book (mention the title), it would be….

Eh, I dunno. Maud Bailey in Possession by A.S. Byatt, probably.

9. The most overestimated book of all times is….

I have a few here. Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro. My first from his, bought on the wave of publicity with which it was greeted. It was good enough but for the life of me I could not see what all the fuss was about. I promptly bartered it at a used book store and not even Darby could persuade me to purchase it again for a reread, since last I checked it’s still there.

I saw Unconsoled in hardcover going dirt cheap (about $10 if not less) at another used book store and bought it in the hopes that it would reveal Ishiguro’s true greatness. I know, I know, try the book with the ventriloquist butler, but every time I read or someone describes the plot my eyelids begin to droop. (I’ll commit heresy by stating that the movie is an excellent substitute for me, thanks.) I’d pick the one about orphans first. (And who passed on those namby pamby pastel covers? Good heavens.)

A Short History about Nearly Everything or Whatever It’s Called by Bill Bryson. I couldn’t make it past page 5. I can’t seem to stand the jocular, humouring tone of those science books for general readers. Ugh. Maybe it doesn’t really count as “overestimated” but I really, really can’t stand those general reader science books. 🙂

Harry Potter and the Philospher’s Stone and The Chamber of Secrets are mostly rubbish because the prose style is about Enid Blyton level. Fine if you’re 8 but….

It’s quite possible that had I read the Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis as a child I would have enjoyed it immensely (but I doubt it because even as a child I was never enthusiastic about bible stories that weren’t directly from the Bible). As it is I read them before the New Line adaptation was released and found most of the stories sagging with Christian theology. Only “A Horse and His Boy” and “The Silver Chair” manage to be anything exciting. I’m assuming his non-fiction is way better.

10. I hate it when a book….

Has endnotes, rather than footnotes. I’m with Sylvia here.


Heather at The Library Ladder mentioned yet another reading challenging, a Sea-Faring one, that starts on November 1st. Since I’ve already successfully completed the Outmoded challenge I decided it was no hardship to consider joining another. Going by the title you can guess that it involves books having anything to do with the sea and nautical affairs. I combed through my shelves and came up with

  • The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway
  • Celtika by Robert Holdstock
  • Captain Blood by Rafael Sabatini
  • Measuring the World by Daniel Kehlmann
  • Beowulf
  • Ingo and Tide Knot by Helen Dunmore
  • A Burnt-out Case by Graham Greene
  •  Lose Your Mother: A Journey Along the Atlantic Slave Route by Saidiya Hartman

(I edited this post on Wednesday to add the last two.)

You are accorded different ranks based on the number of books you complete at the end and I figure I could make Commodore easy, if the first two in the Dunmore trilogy are as good as everyone says they are.


I found this quiz over at Charlotte’s Web where a soup recipe is part of the fun as well.

“What Kind of Blogger Are You?”

After reading another lacklustre fantasy effort from McKillip I decided that a second serving from a different author was required. Shriek: An Afterword by Jeff VanderMeer had the lucky number. I had tried the book earlier this year and found it very, very strange. It was shelved in the fantasy section but it was unlike any other fantasy I’d read so my brain creaked from side to side, trying to find its equilibrium in the story. This was all shot to hell when I got to the scene during one of Duncan’s underground journeys in which he discovered a strange machine composed of steel, wires and hundreds of thousands of glowing, severed bodies. Mayday! Mayday! Science fiction elements here! Mayday! Mayday! I promptly abandoned the book, sure that I would try again…some other time. I even felt a bit ashamed that I couldn’t handle a “fantasy” novel that pushed the definitions of what that could be, if it didn’t break it entirely. Sort of the way I felt about experimental lit fic (though I’m getting better at that now *beam*).

Well! Over 6 months and one and a half science fiction books later I felt that I was better prepared to take it on. No matter how I felt about it at the end, the one thing I would bet against was disappointment. Handily enough Dark Roasted blend — the site for wonder and coffee lovers — put up an “exclusive” interviewwith VanderMeer who explained, among other things, what the heck “New Weird” is.

 Moving to the YA field Gail Gauthier, a YA author herself and great all-round blogger at Original Content, posted a three part series on the questionable gender portrayals on Eclipse by Stephenie Meyer. I admit my initial interest was in no small part due to the fact that it’s a series that has received all but unanimous approval from all quarters. (Even reviewed in the NYTBR for heaven’s sake, although I don’t know if it was a positive notice.)

This relationship no longer has any pretence of equality. Edward is beautiful, intelligent, strong, kind, witty, wealthy, worldly. You name it, he’s it. Bella, on the other hand, appears to be none of those things. She goes to school where she’s not a stellar student (which I like, by the way), she does the family laundry, and makes meals for her father. Except for a very part-time job and visiting a second boy “friend,” that’s it in terms of activity. It’s hard to tell what she does with herself when Edward’s not around to entertain her.

Forget “feminist sensibilities”, Bella sounds like a whiny clinger in general. But maybe I just need to mix the kool-aid, which I’ll probably try a sip of eventually.

Recently I discovered that The Book depository (best online book seller ever, ’tis true) has a nifty Tuesday top ten feature it puts up weekly. Generally this sort of thing would be met with a yawn but you actually get a lot of intriguing choices. Of the ones I read so far I liked — “liked” meaning it made me scribble a lot– Stephen Mitchelmore’s top ten that “defy simple classification” the best.

We end with quizzes! taken from my dependable cool quiz source, Gwenda Bond.

take the WHAT BAD BOOK ARE YOU test.

and go to not as good as reading a good book, but way better than a bad one.

More silly

Posted on: May 24, 2007

Your Score: Pure Nerd

82 % Nerd, 26% Geek, 26% Dork

For The Record:

A Nerd is someone who is passionate about learning/being smart/academia.

A Geek is someone who is passionate about some particular area or subject, often an obscure or difficult one.

A Dork is someone who has difficulty with common social expectations/interactions.

You scored better than half in Nerd, earning you the title of: Pure Nerd.

The times, they are a-changing. It used to be that being exceptionally smart led to being unpopular, which would ultimately lead to picking up all of the traits and tendencies associated with the “dork.” No-longer. Being smart isn’t as socially crippling as it once was, and even more so as you get older: eventually being a Pure Nerd will likely be replaced with the following label: Purely Successful.



Link: The Nerd? Geek? or Dork? Test written by donathos on OkCupid Free Online Dating, home of the The Dating Persona Test


Regarding more bookish affairs, I’ve hit another reader’s block as far as novel length fiction goes. Help a gal out?

Which book should I start next?

1) To the Lighthouse or Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
2) Brown Girl in the Ring by Nalo Hopkinson
3) A House and its Head by Ivy Compton-Burnett
4) The Land of Spices by Kate O’Brien
5) Rose of No Man’s Land by Michelle Tea
6) The Electric Michelangelo by Sarah Hall

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Yes, I know, it is the ugliest poll in the world. It doesn’t even work properly, one has to click on one’s choice for the vote to be submitted. WordPress prohibits javascript to protect us from the evildoers. 😦