Friday, February 5, 2010

451 Fridays

Yikes! I feel like the entire month of January just disappeared - where did it go? It's been hard to find time to spend here, but I'm hoping that will change in the next few weeks. Most especially, I am excited to share some fantastic 451 Fridays posts with you! So, without further ado....

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"?

When I started the 451 Challenge, I invited all the participants to create a 451 Fridays post to share, and I'm thrilled that several of them took me up on the offer! Today, I'm happy to welcome Rachel to 451 Fridays. Rachel blogs at Jacobs Beloved, and shares book reviews, recipes, and lots of other fun things. She also has two adorable little girls - really, aren't they cute! Welcome, Rachel!

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

Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley

This book takes a feminist look at the classic story of King Arthur by telling it purely through the eyes of the females in Arthur's life. While I don't consider myself a feminist, I am a huge fan of understanding the stories I grew up with from the female's point of view. This book is also a great representation of all of Bradley's works and an excellent representation of the fantasy genre.

The Red Tent by Anita Diamant

As a Christian, any novel that retells stories of the Bible has definite appeal to me. This novel not only retells the dramatic story of Jacob and his four wives, but also sheds light on the customs and traditions of the culture, and all through the eyes of Jacob's only daughter Dinah. While another title that could be considered a feminist work, even my husband loved it.

Life of Pi by Pi Patel

I admit I avoided this book like the plague when it first hit the Bestseller's Lists merely as a matter of principle. Years later when my husband read it and would not stop pestering me about it, even going so far as to read passages out loud to me against my will, I finally gave in and read it. After reading it, I couldn't remember why I originally was so against reading it! Written like an autobiography, I still find the story hard to believe as only a work of fiction. As an unparalleled story of survival told through the framework of religion and philosophy, Pi Patel's book is worth remembering.

A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole

I chose this work because the plot takes place in Louisiana, where I am from. The author is also from there, and unfortunately he committed suicide before he ever saw its publication. It has since won a Pulitzer Prize. The main character of the story possesses an originality that can be a bit much for some to stomach, but whether one hates it or loves it, the book is unforgettable.

Kushiel's Dart by Jacqueline Carey

I had to consult my Goodreads list of books to pick a fifth title, and then from a list of hundreds! While it may not be the best idea to pick a book from a series, I felt I had to put this in since I love, love, LOVE the Kushiel's Legacy series by Jacqueline Carey, even with some of its very "adult" themes. The beginning title of the series marks the beginning of Phedre's life, a girl marked by her god to experience pain and pleasure simultaneously.The thoroughness of character development and world-building in this series I find intensely fascinating and rather addicting.

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

Though it is hard to narrow my choices down to just one, I think I would choose to become The Red Tent. In a world without books, I think it would be important to remember the culture of the Holy Book of the most wide-spread religion in the world, Christianity. The book explores all the female aspects of that culture, from being a daughter, a sister, a mother, a lover, to a wife, as well as how the Hebrew people began as one family. Dinah is neither great heroine nor remarkably memorable, but her story is replete with love and loss that would be both familiar and appreciated by any woman of modern times.

Do you have any favorite quotes from that book, so we know why you love it so much?

"We have been lost to each other for so long.
My name means nothing to you. My memory is dust.
This is not your fault, or mine. The chain connecting mother to daughter was broken and the word passed to the keeping of men, who had no way of knowing. That is why I became a footnote, my story a brief detour between the well-known history of my father, Jacob, and the celebrated chronicle of Joseph, my brother. On those rare occasions when I was remembered, it was as a victim."

"And now you come to me - women with hands and feet as soft as a queen's, with more cooking pots than you need, so safe in childbed and so free with your tongues. You come hungry for the story that was lost. You crave words to fill the great silence that swallowed me, and my mothers, and my grandmothers before them.
I wish I had more to tell of my grandmothers. It is terrible how much has been forgotten, which is why, I suppose, remembering seems a holy thing.
I am so grateful that you have come. I will pour out everything inside me so you may leave this table satisfied and fortified. Blessings on your eyes. Blessings on your children. Blessings on the ground beneath you. My heart is a ladle of sweet water, brimming over.

"Why had no one told me that my body would become a battlefield, a sacrifice, a test? Why did I not know that birth is the pinnacle where women discover the courage to become mothers? But of course, there is no way to tell this or to hear it. Until you are a woman on the bricks, you have no idea how death stands in the corner, ready to play his part."

"Just as there is no warning for childbirth, there is no preparation for the sight of the first child. I studied his face, fingers, the folds in his boneless little legs, the whorls of his ears, the tiny nipples on his chest. I held my breath as he sighed, laughed when he yarned, wondered at his grasp on my thumb. I could not get my fill of looking.
"There should be a song for women to sing at this moment, or a prayer to recite. But perhaps there is none because there are no words strong enough to name that moment. Like every mother since the first mother, I was overcome and bereft, exalted and ravaged. I have crossed over from girlhood. I beheld myself as an infant in my mother's arms, and caught a glimpse of my own death. I wept, without knowing whether I rejoiced or mourned. My mothers and theirs mothers were with me as I held my baby."

Rachel, thank you so much for taking the time to share with us YOUR list of books which must be saved.

I'm always looking for more participants - if you'd like to join to fun, let me know!

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