Wednesday, February 28, 2007

New Book Meme - A Life in Books

Inspired by the relatively new addition to the Periscope section of Newsweek entitled A Life in Books, I propose this Meme based on questions from the magazine's own survey. (The last question, however, is mine!)
  1. What are your 5 most important books? (When I first read this, it screamed nonfiction, but I think any book that has moved you to act or think in different ways is what they mean. It's certainly how I interpreted it.)
  2. What is an important book you admit you haven't read? (Alright, 'fess up, we've all got these literary skeletons in our closets!)
  3. What classic (or childhood favorite) was a little disappointing on rereading?
  4. What book do you (or did you) care most about sharing with your kids?
  5. Name an acclaimed book, either classic or contemporary, that you just don't like.
Drum roll please . . . Here are my answers.
My five most important books:
  1. Ann Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl by Ann Frank - The one book I read in high school that forever changed my view of the world.
  2. Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America by Barbara Ehrenreich - You will never look at the working class poor in the same way once you read this book. It gives new meaning to the fight for both a living wage and health care for all.
  3. Savage Inequalities by Jonathan Kozol - This book was handed to me by the principal of an urban elementary school while I worked in a private school in the same city (teaching her son, no less). It immediately changed my view of public education.
  4. The Origin of the Species by Charles Darwin - What can I say, I'm a science geek at heart.
  5. Gilead by Marilynne Robinson - A wonderful book about parental love, laid bare in all its glory.
An important book I have not read: War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy (Forgive me Kelly!)

A childhood favorite that was disappointing on rereading: All those Bobbsey Twins books I read and loved as a kid.

The book I care most about sharing with my son: The Mouse and His Child by Russell Hoban. It's quite simply, a moving and thought-provoking story that encourages us to think about the power of redemption and transformation.

A classic that I don't care for: Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll. Sorry, but I just find Alice so darned whiny and annoying!

I'm tagging the following five folks because they always have such wonderful, thoughtful things to say and because I can't wait to read their lists.
And YOU! Yes, YOU! If you read this, consider yourself tagged. Feel free to respond in my comments (oh PLEASE DO!) or in your own blog. If you do answer these questions, please comment or link back here so I can read all your wonderful responses. Meme away!


  1. Tricia,

    I'm working on my list.

  2. Tricia,

    It's been more than forty years since I read some of these books--so I can't remember a lot of details.

    My five most important books:

    1. THE GOOD EARTH by Pearl Buck. I read this book about China when I was in high school. I was impressed by this story about the changes that take place in the structure/relationships of a peasant family once the family becomes rich and begins to lose respect for the land--and the wife/mother--that had sustained them for years.

    2. BRAVE NEW WORLD by Aldous Huxley. I was facinated by this science fiction tale about a society of the future.

    3. SLAUGHTERHOUSE FIVE by Kurt Vonnegut. I loved this book! So it goes...

    4. 1984 by George Orwell. My husband and I were just talking about this book last night. We agreed this would be a good time to reread this story about doublethink and newspeak.

    5. THE MISMEASURE OF MAN by Stephen Jay Gould. Gould tells how a scientist let his own prejudices taint his research and how IQ tests were shown as proof--in the first half of the 20th century--that certain ethnic/immigrant groups were of low intelligence.

    I have not read OLIVER TWIST.

    I have not reread any of my childhood favorites.

    The book I cared most about sharing with my daughter and my students:
    CHARLOTTE'S WEB by E. B. White. It's a perfect book. It gets better with every reading. It is beautifully written and has gentle humor. It's a touching story of friendship, love, self-sacrifice, and the cycle of life.

    The classic book I hated:
    THE HOUSE OF THE SEVEN GABLES by Nathaniel Hawthorne. It was required reading. I tried--but I couldn't finish the book.

    I enjoy reading nonfiction. One of the best nonfiction books I've read in recent years, E=mc2: A BIOGRAPHY OF THE WORLD'S MOST FAMOUS EQUATION by David Bodanis, was recommended to me by Don Brown--the award-winning author and illustrator of picture book biographies for children. He had read it when he was doing research for his book ODD BOY OUT: YOUNG ALBERT EINSTEIN.
    Don also recommended Michael Paterniti's DRIVING MR. ALBERT: A TRIP ACROSS AMERICA WITH EINSTEIN'S BRAIN. This is a true story of one offbeat road trip. It's a great read!

  3. Hi Elaine,
    This is a great list. I read The Good Earth in 9th grade for my Asian and African American cultures class. I loved it then, so I'll need to revisit it and see if I still feel the same way about it.

    I LOVE Odd Boy Out, so I will definitely look for the Bodanis book.

    Thanks for responding to the questions. And by the way, I can't wait to read your poetry Friday interviews.


  4. Awesome meme, Tricia! And I forgive you for "War and Peace" (though you might want to consider reading it...)

    I'll answer sometime this evening. I have POWER!!!!!!

  5. I've just answered your meme on my blog.

  6. I put my answers on my (tortoise lessons) blog, too, Tricia. Thanks for the nudge!

  7. Done!

    (And tomorrow, I bet, the answers would be different.)

  8. Thanks for the meme. I did it!