Friday, April 17, 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 TJ from Book Love Affair to 451 Fridays. I love TJ's blog - she writes great reviews on a wide variety of books. She also does a feature called Friday Focus, where she talks about books that she loves from years past - both children's and adult books. I love to read about the books that hold a special place in reader's hearts, so I always look forward to TJ's Friday Focus. Thanks for stopping by, TJ!

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

Les Misérables by Victor Hugo - Before I read Victor Hugo's Les Misérables, I hadn't the least bit of interest in literature or history. Les Mis really ignited an interest for both in me. Not only was I immediately sucked into the world of Jean Val Jean, the passion of Enjolras, the misguided justice system of Javert, the tragedy of Gavroche (as I am every time I open the pages of this book), but it set me on fire to go and learn more. Or read it again. Or read anything new. It's difficult to explain, this reaction I had to Hugo! But, perhaps it's easiest to just say that Les Mis made me feel alive and wanting to learn. It is by far my favorite book for this reason.

Winesburg, Ohio by Sherwood Anderson - Not enough people have read this book. I cannot emphasize that enough. Winesburg, Ohio is any little town where the people know each other by name and yet don't know the demons that lurk in each other's minds. Winesburg, Ohio chronicles all those grotesque inabilities to express oneself, to truly communicate... Winesburg, Ohio are those lonely people who never plan on living a lonely life. It's gorgeous and tragic and true.

Going After Cacciato by Tim O'Brien - Of course, it's important to remember the horrors and soldiers of the Vietnam War. O'Brien just does so in a way that literary, poignant, surreal, tragic, gripping, and beautiful. If I'm ever confronted by a reader that contends that only non-fiction can capture war or true human tragedy, I direct them to O'Brien's The Things We Carry and Going After Cacciato.

Illiad by Homer - The Illiad is both a manifesto for and a warning against the embracing of individualism. These messages are wrapped in beautiful verse and an unforgettable character of myth: Achilles. And, I think it's important for everyone to perhaps remember what great heights one can achieve--as Achilles did--but also, when one hits that "Oh, I really shouldn't do this" moment, to also remember how it brought Achilles down, the same as any mortal.

The Awakening by Kate Chopin - I will forever champion Kate Chopin. Perhaps I'm overcompensating for the ostrasizing she received while she lived; however, still she seems pretty misunderstood, if my English courses are a fair sample! Her prose is amazing (if I could write prose like she does, I'd never do anything else.) Her imagery is gorgeous--and her characters are complex. The Awakening, though outdated by strict social views, still has very important messages, or at least very important questions, especially regarding a woman's place in society and motherhood.

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

The book I would choose to become is Winesburg, Ohio. Though I love Les Misérables best, I think losing Winesburg, Ohio would be a too-easy to tragedy. And my favorite passage from Winesburg, Ohio by far is:
"The nervous expressive fingers, flashing in and out of the light, might well have been mistaken for the fingers of the devotee going swiftly through decade after decade of his rosary."

TJ, thanks so much for taking the time to share YOUR list of books which must be saved. Next week, Sandra from Fresh Ink Books will be joining us to share her choices. If you would like YOUR list featured, send me an email - I'd love to include you!


bermudaonion said...

Wow! I haven't read any of those. After my list posted last week, Carl pointed out to me that I didn't follow the directions. Sorry about that. :(

Tea said...

Hi Elizabeth,

Thanks for commenting on "The Dew Breaker." I agree. It's a captivating book. I couldn't put it down until I finished it.

I love your blog. I would like to add it to my follow list.

TJ said...

I just realized I need to add "As Usual" to my blog roll!

I had such fun with my "451 Friday".

Elizabeth said...

bermuda - it's no problem! Each week can be as individual as the participants. =)

tea - I'll follow you if you follow me! =)

TJ - thanks for participating! You have a great list, and now I have to go track them all down.

Beth F said...

Nice choices. Chopin is a favorite of mine, too -- but I'm happy Winesburg will still be in the world.

Jenners said...

Another great one in the series. And I'm convinced now that I need to read Winesburg, Ohio.