Friday, May 1, 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"?

This week, I'm thrilled to welcome Kristen to 451 Fridays. Kristen blogs at WeBeReading, and is the fabulous host of Poe Fridays, which I love. Also, it was her birthday not TOO long ago - you should all stop by and wish her a Happy Belated. =) Kristen, thanks for playing along with me today.

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

Alright ... here is my list at this time in my life ...

1. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte because it really shows the best of human nature with Mr. Rochester caring for the wife he was tricked into marrying and Jane Eyre loving Mr. Rochester regardless of his reduced state. Mr. Rochester is also a man who is able to see past fortunes to people's true selves. This was also one of the first times a woman was able to reveal herself as a successful author, throwing off the pseudonym of Currer Bell.

2. Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand because it has the best and the worst of people to remind us what man is and what man could be. It gives value to individual thought and originality. It might be a bit melodramatic and the politics and economics are questionable but the basic concept -- that all men should strive to be self-reliant and self-sufficient -- is sound.

3. The Double Helix by James D. Watson because it's science made accessible and exciting. There will always be advancement in science if men and women with imagination enter the field.

4. The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde because it's hilarious and smart and it has a happy ending. It shows the best of love, both sweet and earnest, and that you can never be too young or old for love.

5. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley is about the quest for humanity and companionship and it's an example of some of the baser emotions.

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

I think that I would "become" Frankenstein.

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

This book consists of some of the most beautiful prose I have ever read. I have chosen a few passages that are good examples of the depth of the writing but this book really needs to be read in its entirety.

I feel exquisite pleasure in dwelling on the recollections of childhood, before misfortune had tainted my mind, and changed its bright visions of extensive usefulness into gloomy and narrow reflections upon self. Besides, in drawing the picture of my early days, I also record those events which led, by insensible steps, to my after tale of misery: for when I would account to myself for the birth of that passion, which afterwards ruled my destiny, I find it arise, like a mountain river, from ignoble and almost forgotten sources; but, swelling as it proceeded, it became the torrent which, in its course, has swept away all my hopes and joys. -- Victor Frankenstein, Chapter 2

Thus not the tenderness of friendship, nor the beauty of earth, nor of heaven, could redeem my soul from woe: the very accents of love were ineffectual. I was encompassed by a cloud which no beneficial influence could penetrate. The wounded deer dragging its fainting limbs to some untrodden brake, there to gaze upon the arrow which had pierced it, and to die--was but a type of me. -- Victor Frankenstein, Chapter 9

The abrupt sides of vast mountains were before me; the icy wall of the glacier overhung me; a few shattered pines were scattered around; and the solemn silence of this glorious presence-chamber of imperial Nature was broken only by the brawling waves, or the fall of some vast fragment, the thunder sound of the avalanche, or the cracking reverberated along the mountains of the accumulated ice, which, through the silent working of immutable laws, was ever and anon rent and torn, as if it had been but a plaything in their hands. These sublime and magnificent scenes afforded me the greatest consolation that I was capable of receiving. They elevated me from all littleness of feeling; and although they did not remove my grief, they subdued and tranquillised it. In some degree, also, they diverted my mind from the thoughts over which it had brooded for the last month. I retired to rest at night; my slumbers, as it were, waited on and ministered to by the assemblance of grand shapes which I had contemplated during the day. They congregated round me; the unstained snowy mountain-top, the glittering pinnacle, the pine woods, and ragged bare ravine; the eagle, soaring amidst the clouds--they all gathered round me, and bade me be at peace. --Victor Frankenstein, Chapter 10

"How can I move thee? Will no entreaties cause thee to turn a favourable eye upon thy creature, who implores thy goodness and compassion? Believe me, Frankenstein: I was benevolent; my soul glowed with love and humanity: but am I not alone, miserably alone? You, my creator, abhor me; what hope can I gather from your fellow-creatures, who owe me nothing? they spurn and hate me. The desert mountains and dreary glaciers are my refuge. I have wandered here many days; the caves of ice, which I only do not fear, are a dwelling to me, and the only one which man does not grudge. These bleak skies I hail, for they are kinder to me than your fellow-beings. If the multitude of mankind knew of my existence, they would do as you do, and arm themselves for my destruction. Shall I not then hate them who abhor me? I will keep no terms with my enemies. I am miserable, and they shall share my wretchedness. Yet it is in your power to recompense me, and deliver them from an evil which it only remains for you to make so great that not only you and your family, but thousands of others, shall be swallowed up in the whirlwinds of its rage. Let your compassion be moved, and do not disdain me."--The Monster, Chapter 10

Kristen, thanks so much for taking the time to share YOUR list of books which must be saved. Next week, Eliza from Violet Crush will be visiting and sharing her choices. Would you like your list featured in an upcoming 451 Friday? Send me an email and we will chat!


bermudaonion said...

Wow, Kristen's list is so intellectual. The only one of those books I've read is Jane Eyre.

Beth F said...

Interesting choices. While I'm glad I read Atlas Shrugged, I don't think I'd be sorry to see it gone from the world. I'd pick Emerson for self-reliance! But you've picked well, and I'm happy that Frankenstein will still be with us.

Serena said...

Great selections, Kristen!

mar10123 said...

Frankenstein is so much more than a book about a monster. The true monster lurks in us all. Wise insights and choices!

Ruth King said...

I was very surprised the first time I read Frankenstein. I was expecting it to be like the old movies. Instead, it was a truly beautiful story. I need to revisit that book soon.

Jenners said...

Wow! I feel like a moron!!! Seriously though, what awesome (yet intimidating) picks! And I love the thoughts on Jane Eyre -- made me appreciate it even more. And I LOVE that I now have a face for Kristen! Woo hoo! I can imagine you now!

Another great installment!

Elizabeth said...

bermuda - well, she's a smart cookie!

Beth - that's the cool part about this, though, that we each pick books others wouldn't consider. It would be a boring place if only the books I like made the cut. =)

Serena - I agree!

Mom - There's so much about Frankenstein that I just didn't GET when I read it in junior high. I'll have to give it another go.

Ruth - from Kristen's examples, it sounds beautiful. I don't remember much of it - I want to reread it also.

Jenners - I don't think anyone's list is any "better" than anyone else's - we all just look for something different in a book to love. That's why seeing everyone's choices is so interesting. And you are NOT a moron!

Becca said...

What a fantastic list of books! I love reading these every week.