Friday, March 20, 2009

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"?

Today, I am thrilled to welcome the lovely and talented Aerin to 451 Fridays. I first met Aerin when I was holding my 100th post contest, which she happened to win. We've also connected on PaperbackSwap, and I always love reading her blog posts. She enjoys fantasy like I do, so there's always something that she's just read that I need to put on my list! She blogs at In Search of Giants.

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

I'd save these books:

1. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

I read this book when I was 10 years old, and I think it had the most influence on my development second only to my mother. I knew from an early age I would enter a career that was service-oriented, and wished to be good-hearted like the March girls. We grew up poor, so I empathized with Meg and Amy at the vanity they could not indulge, even as I dreamed of writing amazing stories as Jo did. Through it all, they had each other, just as my three siblings and I have. The four of us are closer than close. In a world where it seems "normal" to fight with your siblings or at least be somewhat distant from them, I cherished the example Little Women provided.

"The girls had never been called angel children before, and thought it very agreeable, especially Jo, who had been considered a "Sancho" ever since she was born. That was a very happy breakfast, though they didn't get anything of it; and when they went away, leaving comfort behind, I think there were not in all the city four merrier people than the hungry little girls who gave away their breakfasts and contented themselves with bread and milk on Christmas morning."

2. The Complete Works of Shakespeare (presumably by William Shakespeare, but not definitively.)

It may seem like I'm paying lip service - who actually reads Shakespeare, anyway - but I do, in fact, like Shakespeare. I was privileged to have studied the Bard under a brilliant and funny professor in college, so that I came away not only appreciating Shakespeare, but understanding his works and even enjoying them. They are so much the foundation for our culture (western-centric though it is) that I can't imagine not securing the future of this tome.

3. The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkein

Although I didn't read LOTR until my late twenties, I felt a keen sense of recognition as soon as I did. I'm a fantasy/spec-fic nut, and every archetype, every spur to the imagination that can be found in Western European history is here. But what Tolkein did for fantasy was to personalize it. Readers found themselves moved by the friendship between lower-class Sam and his master Frodo; they yearned for the fidelity among eight of the Nine; they lost themselves in the sorrow Aragon bore as king. While I loved the LOTR movies, the language of the books spoke in deep, ancient tones and gave permission to an entire century of people to use their imaginations.

"For the Quest is achieved, and now all is over. I am glad you are here with me. Here at the end of all things, Sam."

4. The Sleep Book by Dr. Seuss

I love sleep. Sleep is wonderful. Sleep is my favorite thing in the whole world, right after books. This is the book I grew up falling asleep to, and the one I read my children now. I suppose we could just sing children to sleep, but to lose Dr. Seuss would be a severe tragedy of the highest degree.

They're sleeping on steps! And on strings! And on floors!
In mailboxes, ships, and the keyholes of doors!
Every worm on a fishhook is safe for the night.
Every fish in the sea is too sleepy to bite.
Every whale in the ocean had turned off his spout.
Every light between here and Far Foodle is out.
And now, adding things up, we are way beyond billions!
Our Who's-Asleep-Score is now up in the Zillions!

Ninety-nine zillion,
Nine trillion and two
Creatures are sleeping!
So. . .
How about you?

When you put out your light,
Then the number will be
Ninety-nine zillion
Nine trillion and three.

5. St. Lucy's Home for Girls Raised by Wolves by Karen Russell

This collection shows the power of postmodern feminism in ferocious and magical ways. I think of her as the next Margaret Atwood. You can read my review here. Here are a variety of quotes:

Now the thunder makes the thin window glass ripple like wax paper. Summer rain is still the most comforting sounds I know. I like to pretend that it's our dead mother's fingers, drumming on the ceiling above us.

I shadow the spirit manatees, their backs scored with keloid stars from motorboat propellers. I somersault through stingrays. Bonefish flicker around me like mute banshees.

Somewhere, an Avalanche is about to happen without us. Rangi must know this before I do, and the dead bear in eyes comes racing towards us across old snow.

And sometimes, if she sits long enough, it happens. Beneath the hum of her own blood, beneath the hum of the world itself, she thinks she can hear the faint strains of another song. It's a red spark of sound, just enough to cast acoustic shadows of the older song that she has forgotten.

What book would you become?

I'd become this book because it's fanciful and sparks imagination while keeping alive beautiful, if somewhat archaic, language:

A Midsummer Night's Dream by Shakespeare (That was tough. Second choice is Merchant of Venice Third is Hamlet.)

Captain of our fairy band,
Helena is here at hand,
And the youth, mistook by me,
Pleading for a lover's fee.
Shall we their fond pageant see?
Lord, what fools these mortals be!

Aerin, thanks so much for taking the time to give us YOUR list of books which must be saved. Next week, Ruth from Bookish Ruth will be sharing the books she is passionate about. If you would like to share your list, leave me a comment and we will chat!


bermudaonion said...

I've made progress on my list. I'm up to 4. After all my struggles, you'd think my list would be fabulous, but it's not. This is much harder than it appears. Great list, Aerin!

Megan said...

Love this feature! I definitely need to give some thought to what would be my five, but it's just so hard to choose!

Beth F said...

Another great list. Love this feature.

Melanie Avila said...

What a great idea. I love hearing why people love the books that move them.

Amy said...

What great thoughts and insight from my friend, Aerin! Thank you for offering "451 Fridays" and featuring her! I will be back for the Fridays to come.

Edward Yablonsky said...

Resplendent Victory -The author is my heroic figure -It is of the life of Carmelite Fr Jacques de Jesus and they made a movie of it a foreign film Aur Revois Les Infants

Jenners said...

Wow! This was great! I love her choices -- Little Women is one of my all-time favorite books -- I forgot it on my list though! And Dr. Suess is a genius. We were just reading "Fox in Socks" today. I'm going to have to check out The Sleep Book -- haven't seen that one. And Shakespeare is definitely worth saving -- how many phrases, plots, ideas, stories come just from him? This was wondeful and this series is just great.

Elizabeth said...

Bermuda - I KNOW your list will be fabulous!

Megan - Thanks! I'd love to have you participate...=)

Beth - I'm so glad people are enjoying it!

Melanie - you are welcome to submit your own list if you'd like!

Amy - thank you! Your friend Aerin is a pretty cool chick!

Edward - I LOVE that movie! I had no idea it was a book - I will look for it.

Elizabeth said...

Jenners - I know, I loved the Dr. Seuss addition - it had not occurred to me to put kids book on my list, but it's a brilliant idea.

mar10123 said...

Aerin - Love your choices! I don't know #5 - so I suppose it will get added to my ever-growing, never-ending pile. You are ambitious to aspire to memorize a full Shakespearean play! If I COULD do it, I would probably chose Merchant of Venice - it's always relevant.