Sunday, May 31, 2009

451 Fridays

***editor's note - I'm re-posting this, because it was the unfortunate victim of my blog blow-up between Thursday night and Friday morning. Jane has prepared a fantastic list, and I'd like everyone to have the chance to actually be able to read it! Jane - I am so sorry!!!

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 Jane from Fleur Fisher Reads to 451 Fridays. Jane reads the most interesting books - just look at her list of challenges! I love visiting her blog, because I know I am going to find out about some fabulous read I've never heard of before - just what I need!! Welcome, Jane!

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

At first this seemed easy - the five best books I could think of.

But then I thought a little more and decided that I should look to avoid the really well known books. I'm sure that someone else would have saved them and, even if they didn't there would be enough communal memory to reconstruct them.

And it seemed important to pick books that would have something to say to people living in the sort of world that had no books. Books that would work told aloud, maybe in episodes. Books that could stir the intellect and the emotions, books that could provoke discussion and debate, books that could transport you into a very different world...

Here they are:

Woman in the Wall by Julia OFaolian

I really wanted to include a story about the power of faith, and Woman in the Wall is just that.

In the 6th century Radegunda, Queen of Gaul, retreats from the world to establish a religious order. But even behind convent walls, life is not simple and outside war is coming closer.

An extraordinary story building to a powerful and thought-provoking conclusion.

Little Boy Lost by Marghanita Laski

A man travels to France after the war to look for his son - he knows that his wife died but his son may have survived. And he finds a child. Is it his son? Can he ever know? Should he take him home?

Little Boy Lost is a wonderful story, clearly and beautifully written, gripping, with maybe the best last line ever.

You can live and breathe with the characters, as you will them on towards what you desperately hope will be a happy ending.

Nights at the Circus by Angela Carter

I just had to save something by Angela Carter - I don't want to imagine a world without her words.

An American journalist tries to put together the story of Fevvers, a famous trapeze artist, whose claim to fame are the giant wings that keep her aloft during her act.

He traces her childhood and then follows the circus through extraordinary adventures across Europe, Russia, Japan, Siberia...

An amazing flight of fantasy but a story firmly rooted in reality - amazing storytelling in lush and vivid prose.

This is most definitely a tale, and a heroine, with the power to transport you.

South Riding by Winifred Holtby

I really wanted to include a story about community. South Riding is just that - a community is in a small town in the north of England in the 1920s.

A dedicated teacher, a woman whose children are grown who is now a pillar of the community, a gentleman farmer struggling to make ends meet and bring up his daughter alone, a brilliant child whose education is sacrificed by her feckless father, a landlord with an ailing wife, and many, many more.

A wonderful cast from right across the social spectrum and, although they have different views, you can understand and empathize with each one.

Winifred Holtby weaves their stories together brilliantly to create a marvelous tale.

Ten Tales Tall and True by Alasdair Gray

This is a wonderful, wide-ranging collection of short stories - I'd rather like some short stories to scatter between the novels.

The book is enriched with the author's own fine lettering and drawings - I wonder if I'd be able to save those...

The stories themselves are quite impossible to describe - the sub-title "social realism, sexual comedy, science fiction, satire" is as close as I can get. What I can say is that each tale is thought provoking and a joy to read.

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

It's very difficult but I think it would be Nights at the Circus. In real life I am not the kind of person who would run way to join the circus but the chance to do that through a book is just irresistible.

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

"Lor' love you, sir!" Fevvers sang out in a voice that clanged like dustbin lids. "As to my place of birth, why, I first saw the light of day right here in smoky old London, didn't I! Not billed the 'Cockney Venus' for nothing, sir, though they could just as well 'ave called me 'Helen of the High Wire', due to the unusual circumstances in which I come ashore - for I never docked via what you might call the normal channels, sir, oh, dear me, no; but, just like Helen of Troy, was hatched."

Jane, thank you so much for stopping by this week and sharing with us YOUR list of books which must be saved. Would you like to see your list featured on an upcoming edition of 451 Fridays? Send me an email, and we will chat!


Serena said...

wow, these sound like great picks. I've not read any of these!

bermudaonion said...

Wow, not only have I not read any of those books, I've never heard of any of them. Fleur is one smart cookie, I think. It was great to see what she looks like.

Beth F said...

I've only read 2 out your 5, but interesting list. Thanks so much for sharing it.

Andi said...

Great choices! I love me some Angela Carter but have not had the pleasure of reading this particular book.

Anonymous said...

Elizabeth, you have nothing at all to apologise for. I am only sorry that technology let you down when you had put in so much time and trouble.

I loved putting my list together and I am thrilled that other book lovers have found books that look interesting that they haven't read. It was always my intention to provide something that readers might not not know already for a bookless world.

Elizabeth said...

Serena - me either! But now, of course, I will. =)

bermuda - She is VERY smart, indeed!

Beth - well, your 2 beats my 0!

Andi - I haven't read anything by Angela Carter - any recommendations?

Fleur - well, I'm just irritated it happened on the day your post was scheduled! I think you definitely met your goal with this list - it's great.

Ana S. said...

I've loved Angela Carter for years, but it wasn't until a few months ago that I first read Nights at the Circus. Then I of course cursed myself for waiting so long :P Love your choices!