Friday, June 26, 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 happy to welcome Cathy, of Kittling: Books, to 451 Fridays. I love Cathy's blog for many reasons - here are a few: she's an avid series reader, and I've added about 1,438 new series to my TBR list because of her; she always has gorgeous book-related art on the top of her page; she hosts Scene of the Blog, a weekly feature that gives readers a peek into the blogging spaces of book bloggers around the world. (I'm planning to participate if I can ever get my space organized enough that I'm not embarrassed to take a picture of it!) If you are NOT reading her blog, you really should be! Welcome, Cathy!

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

When Elizabeth asked me if I would like to participate in 451 Fridays, I immediately felt akin to Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. On the one hand, I knew it was a great idea, and I did want to be a part of it. On the other hand (besides five more fingers), the thought of choosing five books to save scared the puddin' outta me.

Many weeks have passed since Elizabeth's kind invitation, and I've finally decided to stop behaving as though she asked me to solve global warming and world hunger in one blog post.

If there are no books in this world Bradbury created, the human race is going to be in sore need of stories to take their minds off the dire state of affairs--even if it's only for an hour or so around the evening fire.

With no eye toward "classic" or "worthy", here are the books I would save because of the powerful and bewitching stories they tell (and because I love them):

1. The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson, a book with one of my favorite beginnings: "Hill House, not sane, stood by itself against its hills, holding darkness within; it had stood so for eighty years and might stand for eighty more. Within, walls continued upright, bricks met neatly, floors were firm, and doors were sensibly shut; silence lay steadily against the wood and stone of Hill House, and whatever walked there, walked alone." Hill House is legendary for being haunted. So legendary that a group of investigators decide to find out if there is any truth to the stories. The results are chilling. In a world without books, what better way is there to take your mind off your troubles than to listen to the scary story of a truly evil house? By the way...didn't you leave that door open?

2. The Worst Hard Time by Timothy Egan. This history of the Dust Bowl reads like the best fiction. You feel, you think, you learn. In a world gone wrong, it's good to be reminded that we aren't the only humans who have experienced a nightmare. If they could survive a world of dust, we can survive a world without books.

3. Sea of Glory: America's Voyage of Discovery, the U.S. Exploring Expedition, 1838-1842 by Nathaniel Philbrick. Everyone knows about Magellan, Columbus and Lewis & Clark. How many people know about the U.S. Exploring Expedition that discovered Antarctica, was the first to accurately chart the coastlines of Oregon and Washington, and brought back so many unknown specimens of life that the Smithsonian was built to house them all? In a world without books, we not only need rousing tales of adventure, we also need to be reminded never to stop exploring.

4. Centennial by James Michener is an epic novel of the history, land and people of Colorado. Centered around the fictional town of Centennial, the story contains an extensive cast of characters: Native Americans, French fur trappers, English noblemen, wagon trains of pioneers, and cowboys. In a world knocked off its axis, we'll need epic stories to make us wonder how we fit in the new scheme of things.

5. The Ring and the Book by Robert Browning. And now for something completely different: a book-length poem written in blank verse because poetry should not be allowed to die. Browning's poem is based upon the proceedings of a Roman murder trial in 1698. Each of the twelve "books" is a dramatic monologue in the voice of a different character involved in the story. In reading this aloud, listeners would soon forget they're hearing poetry, and everyone would fall under the spell of the story. I can hear debates over the murderer's identity now. It's not often that one volume can cover two of my favorite genres: poetry and mysteries.

Which book would I become?

The Ring and the Book!

..."it is the glory and good of Art, That Art remains the one way possible Of speaking truth...."

Cathy, thanks so much for taking the time to share YOUR list of books which must be saved. I'm always looking for more passionate readers who want to save books along with us - email me, and I'll feature you on an upcoming 451 Friday!


bermudaonion said...

Cathy's answer made me laugh! I know how she felt though - choosing just 5 books is a difficult task. I'm not familiar with any of the books she mentioned - I'll have to check them out!

Serena said...

Cathy: what great selections. I've just put The Ring and the Book by Robert Browning on my to-read list. I had not heard of this one before, which is odd coming from someone who loves poetry.

Violet said...

I was so excited to see The Haunting of Hill House on her list. That book has been on my wishlist for a long time.

Padfoot and Prongs - Good Books Inc. said...

Another great Friday. I think this is by far one of my all time favorite events on any post. I always look forward to seeing the books that every one picks. I am not sure if I could ever just pick 5. And very interesting choice with Haunting of HIll house.

Beth F said...

Some great choices! Haven't read Ring and the Book -- now I"ll have to.

Centennial was good choice. Hadn't thought of that one at all.

Jenners said...

I love your description of Cathy ... I love her for much the same reasons! : )

And what amazing choices. I like the thought process ... even though some of the books don't sound like my cup of tea. I want to read the Hill House one though ... now that she scared me to pieces.

Cathy said...

Kathy--I was sweating bullets over my choices. I finally had enough sense to say, "Get over yourself!"

Serena--I thought that one would come out of left field for most people. I read it for a graduate level course on Robert Browning. I never thought a book-length poem could be classified as a pageturner!

Violet--I've loved Hill House for years and years...AND the original movie, The Haunting, with Julie Harris.

P&P--I love 451 Fridays, too!

Beth--the young girl who'd just escaped an unbearable life, was traveling by covered wagon to a new life where everything was looking so hopeful...and then to be bitten by a rattlesnake and die. That character still haunts me.

Jenners--What can I say? It was my week for scary things! :)

Elizabeth--Thanks so much for asking me to participate. 451 Fridays is great!

The Book Resort said...

Cathy's answers were fantastic.#1 is spooky!

Sheila DeChantal said...

This is so great! I love this and it really made me think.... could I possibly answer this?

You know if Cathy says these are the books to read and know - then they are worthy of me adding to the ever growing list!

Thanks for a great morning treat of reading your post! :)