I found this book challenge at a really great blog. Since I’m such an instant gratification person, I will not spread the challenge out over an entire month but will simply cover it in its entirety in one post. If people want me to expatiate on any of the answers, feel free to say so in the comments.
Day 1: Favorite book.
As a voracious reader, I find it very hard to answer this question. Still, I thought about it and realized that such book exists. I have read it over 15 times and destroyed two copies of it. They simply fell apart because I used them so much. I can recite entire paragraphs from it by heart. As an immigrant to the US, I find that it gave me incredibly useful insights into this country. I have also invented over a dozen of alternative endings to it.
The book I’m talking about is Theodore Dreiser’s An American Tragedy.
Day 2: Least favorite book.
It says “least favorite book”, not “least favorite trash”, so I will go with an actual work of literature that I find hugely overrated: Tolstoy’s excruciatingly boring War and Peace.
Day 3: Book that makes you laugh out loud.
Ilf and Petrov’s The Godlen Calf is absolutely one of the funniest books in existence. It’s a masterpiece, people, and it’s available in English.
Day 4: Book that makes you cry.
I read E.L. Voynich’s The Gadfly five times. Every time, I didn’t just cry. I bawled. And it isn’t just me. Everybody who reads it cries. What’s really curious is that everybody cries for a different reason.
Day 5: Book you wish you could live in.
The answer to this question came to me instantly: The Oxford English Dictionary is a place where I want to go after I die.
Day 6: Favorite young adult book.
I’m not familiar with this genre.
Day 7: Book that you can quote/recite
There are dozens, and I can’t select just one. Right now I can recite the primary sources I use for my research. 🙂
Day 8: Book that scares you
Solzhenitsyn’s The GULAG Archipelago is terrifying because it’s all true.
Day 9: Book that makes you sick
Tolstoy’s The Kreutzer Sonata is a piece of vile, misogynist garbage that always makes me want to vomit.
Day 10: Book that changed your life
John Fowles’ The Collector. I already explained why in this post.
Day 11: Book from your favorite author
I have a new favorite author every week. Right now, I want to bring to your attention The Same Sea As Every Summer by Esther Tusquets. In the novel, a female professor of literature tries to escape from her ghastly patriarchal marriage and boring bourgeois existence through a lesbian affair with her student. Beautiful language, a very powerful narrative, and it’s based on true events, too.
Day 12: Book that is most like your life
Galdos’s That Bringas Woman hits home on a variety of levels. I don’t feel like being any more explicit right now but that’s my life.
Day 13: Book whose main character is most like you
I identify hugely with Fermin de Pas of Leopoldo Alas’s great novel La Regenta. It isn’t like there are any female characters anywhere one could identify with. Believe me, I’ve been looking forever.
Day 14: Book whose main character you want to marry
A character who is better than my N.? No writer has the kind of an imagination that could create a character that perfect.
Day 15: First “chapter book” you can remember reading as a child
I think it was Oliver Twist, one of Dickens’s weakest novels, which almost put me off the writer permanently.
Day 16: Longest book you’ve read
I think that would be Samuel Richardson’s Clarissa in 6 volumes. Make sure you read this unabridged version because there are many editions created by jerkwads who think they are entitled to mess with this beautiful text.
Day 17: Shortest book you’ve read
I have no idea. The shortness of a book is not as memorable as a book’s length.
Day 18: Book you’re most embarrassed to say you like
OK, this isn’t easy to confess, but I really dig Frances Hodgson Burnett, especially her A Little Princess. I discovered the author in adulthood, so it isn’t like I’m driven to like her books by warm and fuzzy childhood memories.
Day 19: Book that turned you on
I remember that 1,001 Nights had a huge erotic impact when I was a child. “What are you reading?” adults would ask. “Fairy-tales,” I would reply, although this book read like real pornography. Of course, you need a non-sanitized, original version.
Day 20: Book you’ve read the most number of times
Vivien by W. B. Maxwell. I blogged about it here. (There is something wrong with “the most number of times”, isn’t it? It doesn’t sound right to me for some reason.)
Day 21: Favorite picture book from childhood
There was this set of really cool books from a Soviet writer of children’s poems that I loved as a kid. And I just discovered that his books are available in English.
Day 22: Book you plan to read next
David Graeber’s Debt. A review is forthcoming.
Day 23: Book you tell people you’ve read, but haven’t (or haven’t actually finished)
It puts me to shame to confess this but I skipped huge chunks of James Joyce’s Ulysses. Which means that I lie when I say that I actually read it. God, I hate Joyce.
Day 24: Book that contains your favorite scene
It feels like some of these questions are aimed at people who don’t read a whole lot. Who has just one favorite scene in just one book?
Day 25: Favorite book you read in school
I really liked Wilkie Collins’s The Moonstone. And when I say that I read it in school, it means that I would hide it under my math textbook and read it surreptitiously during science classes. Then, the teacher would catch me doing it and send an angry missive to my parents. I’d show it to my father who’d say that it made him really proud that I was reading in English instead of wasting my time on “all those pseudo sciences like the silly math, physics, biology, etc.” 🙂 After which, my father and I would both hide the teacher’s report from my mother, a math teacher.
Day 26: Favorite nonfiction book
Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique changed my life. Very highly recommended. That’s what feminism is supposed to be about, instead of the toothless “respect my choice to be a doormat in exchange for being kept.”
Day 27: Favorite fiction book
This has already been answered in Day 1.
Day 28: Last book you read
Just finished We Had Won the War by Esther Tusquets.
Day 29: Book you’re currently reading
Book 1 in the Hunger Games Trilogy because a blog reader whose judgment I trust recommended it. A review is forthcoming.
Day 30: Favorite coffee table book
Do I look like a person who is likely to have coffee table books? Let alone, a favorite one? Sheesh, people.