Friday, May 15, 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"?

I'm thrilled today to welcome Beth, from BethFishReads. I love Beth's blog - she reads and reviews some extremely interesting books. Also, thanks to her "how-to" posts, I've figured out how to make the fun little graphics I use for 451 Fridays and The Nonfiction Files. Thanks, Beth!

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

I'm excited about participating in this feature. I wrote this post in the first half March after only one 451 Friday post had been published. I was afraid that I'd be influenced by other people's choices, so I wrote mine up right away!

Greengage Summer by Rumor Godden: I first read this book when I was probably too young to even understand all of it. It's a coming-of-age story of two sisters, aged sixteen and thirteen, that that takes place in the French countryside. It has elements of romance and mystery and learning the truth about the world.

Lord of the Rings: I first read this trilogy when I was in 6th or 7th grade. The world, the legends, the languages, and the characters were utterly engrossing. There is so much fantasy available now with Harry Potter, Inkworld, and so on. But in the mid-1960s, C. S. Lewis and Tolkien were all almost all I knew.

Pride and Prejudice: I wouldn't want to be in a world without this novel. No matter how many times I read it or see different movie versions, it never fails to delight me.

A Bend in the River by V. S. Naipaul: Here's one I first read in when I was in graduate school. I just looked up the publication date (1979), so I must have read it pretty soon after it was published. It was the first Naipaul novel I read. It tells about life in Africa at the end of the colonial period. We follow one man's struggle to cope with a changing world; we feel his hope, despair, gain, and loss. The feel of the book is almost dreamlike, and it has stuck with me for 30 years.

Islandia by Austin Tappan Wright: I read this Utopia story in the late 1970s. I found out a few years later that it had an almost cult following. Who wouldn't want to live in Islandia, far from the stresses and numbing life of the industrialized world? Wright comes in just behind Tolkien in creating a full world, complete with laws, language, geography, and a complex society.

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

Okay, so which book do I want to be? I'm ruling out Lord of the Rings and Islandia by length alone (for those who don't know, Islandia is almost 1000 pages). As for the other three? I think I'll pick Greengage Summer. Here are some samples:

"On and off, all that hot French August, we made ourselves ill from eating the greengages. Joss and I felt guilty; we were still at the age when we thought being greedy was a childish fault and this gave our guilt a tinge of hopelessness because, up to then, we had believed that as we grew older our faults would disappear, and none of them did." (first lines)

"To wake for the first time in a new place can be like another birth." (p. 31)

"[I] was going to make myself speak to him when I saw he had not noticed me; he was watching Joss. When people are watching they forget to pretend and there was something in Paul's face that made me afraid; it was wild, like a wild animal that does not think of itself or any other animal but only what it wants." (pp. 169-170)

Beth, thank you so much for taking the time to share with us YOUR list of books which must be saved. Next week, Andi from Tripping Toward Lucidity will be visiting and sharing her choices. Would you like your list to be featured on an upcoming 451 Friday? Send me an email and we will chat!


Unknown said...

I have never heard of Greengage Summer or Islandia - more books to add to the wish list!
Great Post!

bermudaonion said...

I'm not familiar with Greengage Summer, Islandia or A Bend in the River, but I really want to check out Greengage Summer now!

Serena said...

I have never read Islandia or Greengage Summer. Thanks for the recommendations.

I love P&P and reread it every year or so. Its one of the books I would save as well.

mar10123 said...

Yes! Yes! Another Rumer Godden fan! It's been years since I read Greengage Summer (only because I'm a ton older than most of you) - isn't her writing marvelous? If any of you have young girls (ages 5 - 10) try her book called The Story of Holly and Ivy at Christmastime.

Beth F said...

Mar10123: I'm sure you're not a ton older than I am! It's been decades since I read that one, too. But I've always remembered it and loved it. The Godden sisters were an obsession of mine at one time.

Hazra said...

I hadn't heard of Greengage Summer or Islandia either. Interesting selection.

Anonymous said...

How have I never heard of this book? It sounds lovely. I love the line about waking up in a new place.

Margot said...

I like reading BethF Reads because she reads books I've never heard of and they all sound so good. It's like being in a new library and I can browse through all I want. Of course, now my TBR list is huge.

Anonymous said...

Totally love Beth's blog as well! Someone thinks yours is great too. Cause your blog was mentioned as A Book Blogger’s New Discovery by Alvah’s Books.

Aarti said...

I'd love to take part in this series, Elizabeth, only I can't quite figure out how to find your e-mail address :-) Hopefully this will suffice!

Beth F said...

Thanks everyone. I wonder if I can start another flush of interest in Islandia? Anyone love huge but fantastic books?

Carrie K. said...

I will definitely be adding Greengage Summer to my must-read list!

Anonymous said...

That's really cool...I would definitely have to say I'd become "Lord of the Rings"...that's my genre! :)

God bless,
Taylor J. Beisler

Becca said...

I have not heard of Greengage Summer or Islandia, either. But, like the others, I am ready to go check them out!

Thanks for featuring Beth. I love her blog, too!

Jenners said...

Another great entry in this series! And another great opportunity to put a face with a favorite blogger of mine!! I wrote my 451 Friday post up right away too so as not to be influenced so I defintely related to that aspect. And some new books to add to my radar!!! Thanks!

Elizabeth said...

farmlanebooks - thanks for stopping by. It's never ending, the list of new books to read!!

bermuda - I suddenly have LOTS of books by Rumer Godden to read!

Serena - I haven't read P&P for a while - it seems like time for a re-read.

Mom - you're an insidious group, you Godden fans! I remember The Story of Holly and Ivy - great book.

Beth - there are Godden sisters?? Okay, now I'm even MORE curious.

A Hazra - she did pick interesting books, huh?

softdrink- I loved that line, too!

Margot - Beth does read the most interesting books. I can't keep up with all her recommendations.

J. Kaye - thanks! That was nice to hear.

Aarti - I will get in touch!

Carrie - it's on my list now, too.

impossiblewriter - that's a very good choice.

Rebecca - it was my pleasure to have Beth here today.

Jenners - isn't it fun to get to know each other? Book bloggers are the best!