Wednesday, February 3, 2010

451 Fridays - Beth from Beth Fish Reads

As promised, another installment of 451 Fridays featuring one of our 451 Challenge participants - enjoy!

451 Fridays

451 Fridays is based on an idea from Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. In his novel, a group of people (Bradbury calls them Book People) are trying to keep the ideas found in books alive. Instead of actually saving the books, the Book People each "become" a book - memorizing it, word for word, and passing it down to the next generation.

451 Fridays asks what books you feel passionate about. What book do you think is so important that you would be willing to take on the challenge of "becoming"?

I'm thrilled today to welcome Beth, from BethFishReads. I love Beth's blog - she reads and reviews some extremely interesting books. Also, thanks to her "how-to" posts, I've figured out how to make the fun little graphics I use for 451 Fridays and The Nonfiction Files. Thanks, Beth!

What 5 books do you believe are important enough to be saved, and why?

I'm excited about participating in this feature. I wrote this post in the first half March after only one 451 Friday post had been published. I was afraid that I'd be influenced by other people's choices, so I wrote mine up right away!

Greengage Summer by Rumor Godden: I first read this book when I was probably too young to even understand all of it. It's a coming-of-age story of two sisters, aged sixteen and thirteen, that that takes place in the French countryside. It has elements of romance and mystery and learning the truth about the world.

Lord of the Rings: I first read this trilogy when I was in 6th or 7th grade. The world, the legends, the languages, and the characters were utterly engrossing. There is so much fantasy available now with Harry Potter, Inkworld, and so on. But in the mid-1960s, C. S. Lewis and Tolkien were all almost all I knew.

Pride and Prejudice: I wouldn't want to be in a world without this novel. No matter how many times I read it or see different movie versions, it never fails to delight me.

A Bend in the River by V. S. Naipaul: Here's one I first read in when I was in graduate school. I just looked up the publication date (1979), so I must have read it pretty soon after it was published. It was the first Naipaul novel I read. It tells about life in Africa at the end of the colonial period. We follow one man's struggle to cope with a changing world; we feel his hope, despair, gain, and loss. The feel of the book is almost dreamlike, and it has stuck with me for 30 years.

Islandia by Austin Tappan Wright: I read this Utopia story in the late 1970s. I found out a few years later that it had an almost cult following. Who wouldn't want to live in Islandia, far from the stresses and numbing life of the industrialized world? Wright comes in just behind Tolkien in creating a full world, complete with laws, language, geography, and a complex society.

Of those 5, which book would you choose to "become"?

Okay, so which book do I want to be? I'm ruling out Lord of the Rings and Islandia by length alone (for those who don't know, Islandia is almost 1000 pages). As for the other three? I think I'll pick Greengage Summer. Here are some samples:

"On and off, all that hot French August, we made ourselves ill from eating the greengages. Joss and I felt guilty; we were still at the age when we thought being greedy was a childish fault and this gave our guilt a tinge of hopelessness because, up to then, we had believed that as we grew older our faults would disappear, and none of them did." (first lines)

"To wake for the first time in a new place can be like another birth." (p. 31)

"[I] was going to make myself speak to him when I saw he had not noticed me; he was watching Joss. When people are watching they forget to pretend and there was something in Paul's face that made me afraid; it was wild, like a wild animal that does not think of itself or any other animal but only what it wants." (pp. 169-170)

(originally posted on As Usual, I Need More Bookshelves on 5/15/09)