Saturday, August 26, 2006


Sara Kearns tagged me into this book blog. I think just about everybody has given it a go... and it's a nice reminiscence...

Name a book(s) that changed your life.
Lao Tzu “Tao te Ching”
Chuang Tzu “Basic Writings”
Freud’s “The Future of an Illusion”
Freud’s “Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality”
Freud’s “Totem and Taboo”

“We may be inclined to suppose that savage and half-savage races are guilty of uninhibited and ruthless cruelty toward their enemies. We shall be greatly interested to learn, then, that even in their case the killing of a man is governed by a number of observances which are included among the usages of taboo. These observance fall easily into four groups. They demand (1) the appeasement of the slain enemy, (2) restrictions upon the slayer, (3) acts of expiation and purifcation by him and (4) certain ceremonial observances.”

Of course there are more.

What books have you read more than once?

Aside from poetry books, which are meant to be read over and over, I’ve read at least twice JD Salinger’s “The Catcher in the Rye,” Victor Hugo’s “Les Miserables,” Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice,” W.Somerset Maugham’s “Of Human Bondage” and Aldous Huxley’s “The Doors of Perception.”

“I was way early when I got there, so I just sat down on one of those leather couches right near the clock in the lobby and watched the girls. A lot of schools were home for vacation already, and there were about a million girls sitting and standing around waiting for their dates to show up. Girls with their legs crossed, girls with their legs not crossed, girls with terrific legs, girls with lousy legs, girls that looked like swell girls, girls that looked like they’d be bitches if you knew them. It was real nice sightseeing, if you know what I mean. In a way, it was sort of depressing, too, because you kept wondering what the hell would happen to all of them. When they got out of school and college, I mean. You figured most of them would probably marry dopey guys. Guys that always talk about how many miles they get to a gallon in their goddam cars. Guys that get sore and childish as hell if you beat them at golf, or even just some stupid game like ping-pong. Guys that are very mean. Guys that never read books. Guys that are very boring – But I have to be careful about that. I mean about calling certain guys bores. I don’t understand boring guys. I really don’t.”

Which book would you want on a desert island?

If I have to choose one, an unabridged English dictionary.

sus'lik n. (Russ.)--1. a small gopher or ground squirrel, Spermothilis citilis, of north-central Eurasia; a spermopile. 2. its mottled, grayish-brown fur.

Name a book that made you laugh.

“A Confederacy of Dunces.”

“Who took you off the streets and gave you a job when the cops was about to lock you up for vagrancy? You might think about that sometime when you’re goofing off behind them goddam glasses.”
“Goofin off? Shit. Goofin off ain cleanin up this mother-fucking cathouse. They somebody in her sweepin and moppin up all the shit you po, stupor customer drippin on the flo. I feel sorry for them po peoples comin in here thinkin they gonn have theirself some fun.”

Name a book that made you cry.

Mr Ives Christmas,” by Oscar Hijuelos. It wasn’t a great book, but it was tender.

“With eyes that invited pity and a sad smile, Ives was a fine example of “a poor poor thing.” On one of those visitors’ days, around Christmas, he found himself standing before a well-dressed, middle-aged gentleman, whose own eyes were sad –the older Mr. Ives- who placed his warm hand on the boy’s face and kneeling before the lad, took a long, long look, making his decision.”

I wish I had written?

Pilgrim at Tinker Creek” by Annie Dillard.
or “The Da Vin$i Code.”

“I want out of this still air. What street-corner vendor wound the key on the backs of tin soldiers and abandoned them to the sidewalk, and crashings over the curb? Elijah mocked the prophets of Baal, who laid a bullock on a woodpile and egged Baal to consume it: “Cry aloud: for he is a god; either he is talkig, or he is pursuing , or he is in a journey, or peradventure he sleepeth, and must be awaked.” Cry aloud. It is the fixed that horrifies us.”

I wish had been written?
The one about how Israel came to live with the Arab world in relative peace, how global warming was halted, how all people decided nuclear weapons were insane, how a down-and-out doctor found a cure for cancer, you know, that kind of fantasy book.

I wish had never been written?
There’s a lot of inconsequential bullshit out there clogging the population’s brains. Many many “self-help” books, the fucking chicken soup series, the 5 guys you meet in Heaven, Tuesdays with Moron, all that stuff.

I'm currently reading?
The dictionary. The last “reading book” I read was John Banville’s “Athena,” which was excellent.

I've been meaning to read?
“John Henry Days” by Colson Whitehead, which my stepbrother gave me a couple years ago at least.

Oh, and my father’s last book.


Sam of the ten thousand things said...

An interesting list Sarah.

kate5kiwis said...

hey, i loved reading your book list.
never heard of most of them. now that's an unintellectual admission, huh? ;o)
and just to add: i l-o-v-e-d tuesdays with morrie, perhaps just the life-stage i'm at..

Bob Hoeppner said...

Tao teh King changed my life, too.

Amanda Auchter said...

The Catcher in the Rye was so very close on a few questions -- it's one of my all-time favs. I made an (embarrassing addendum) to my blog about the Flynn question. Go see why you should never ask me questions in the wee hours.

Clock copier!

Just kidding. =)

lorguru said...

Interesting post, Sarah!

SarahJane said...

hi all -
fun list to make.
consider yourselves tagged if you haven't done this already.

michi said...

i enjoyed reading about your picks, sarah. i keep seeing this list everywhere these days.



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