June 9th, 2005

A Pocket Full of Murder

Book Meme -- At Long Last

I am finally getting around to this, after being tagged by at least three people and watching everybody else on my f-list fill it out...

How many books do you own?: Without actually getting up and counting them, about 200-250. That's not counting all the books that I used to own but have disposed of, sold, loaned out and never got back, etc. in the last twenty or so years since I started making my own book purchases -- that would make the total closer to 500, I'd think.

What is the last book you bought?: Patricia C. McKillip's Riddle-Master trilogy in omnibus form. I keep meaning to write an entry about what a profound influence this trilogy had on my own writing, and how picking it up again for the first time in fifteen years just hammered home to me how much that influence still lingers.

What is the last book you read?: I'm in the middle of several books at once, but the last one I finished was the aforementioned Riddle-Master. Before that, it was Lois Lowry's Gathering Blue, which I took out from the library a couple of weeks ago.

Name five books that mean a lot to you: For the purposes of the meme, I'll take this to mean fiction works rather than non-fiction, and proceed accordingly. I'll also leave out the Riddle-Master series, since I already mentioned it and explained something of its personal significance above. So, in no particular order other than the one in which they come to mind, here I go:

1. The Beekeeper's Apprentice by Laurie R. King. Still my favorite of the Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes series, it stands as the only book which I have ever read twice, cover to cover, within a twenty-four hour period. I'd been reading a lot (and I mean a lot) of Holmesiana, in pastiche and essay form, up to that point, but none of it had ever come close to scratching the itch the way King's treatment did.

2. The Narnia books by C.S. Lewis. Mad, undying love through endless re-reads. My father read them to me when I was a child; now I'm reading them to my own children. My favorite of the lot, I think, is The Silver Chair, though I'm very fond of The Horse and His Boy as well. And every time I read them over again, I'm blown away by just how much Christian theology is woven into the stories; I spot something new every time.

3. The Lord of the Rings. Do I need to explain this? I thought not.

4. The Wimsey/Vane novels of Dorothy L. Sayers. Do I need to explain this either? Well, maybe a little. I had these recommended to me when I was in my late teens, and still firmly believing that I didn't like mystery novels (I'd only ever read a couple of Agatha Christie books, you see, and cordially loathed them due to Christie's lack of interest in real characterization). However, I trusted the friend who recommended them, so I gave them a try. I did not fall in love with Lord Peter, but I certainly came to regard him with deep affection, and I consider the whole Wimsey/Vane relationship to be one of the best and most satisfying romances I've ever read.

5. To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis. Willis is a very strange author: she has two distinct and definite writing modes, one of which I adore and the other of which I hate with a passion. Light Connie, as in this book and her novella "Spice Pogrom", is a balm to my soul. Dark Connie, as represented by Doomsday Book and most of the stories in her anthology Fire Watch, invariably makes me want to drop-kick the book across the room. Go figure. But anyway, I go around recommending this novel to anyone who likes time travel, the Edwardian era, romantic comedy, dogs, cats, punting, penwipers, or basically just good fun reading. It made me grin idiotically for about twenty-four hours after I read it, which is about the best endorsement I can think of.

And now I feel like Scully -- "I only get five?" And that's even after cheating and counting series (or sub-series) as single books...