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Monday, January 05, 2004

The books not yet read

So this is one of the most high maintenance memes I've seen -- though, I suppose, most people don't bother to annotate. I don't have quite the quantity of Mely, but hopefully the commentary proves enlightening, if only on the issue of HOW I avoid going broke with such a bad book habit (the answer being -- free books are my friends).

So, not including reference books or books in my queue (meaning the depths of my nightstand, which will be read at some point -- honest):

Edwin Abbot, FLATLAND: A ROMANCE OF MANY DIMENSIONS Dover Thrift Edition, accquired for a dollar. A math lover's book, I suspect, and I love math. I just don't remember any of it.

Dick Allen (ed.), SCIENCE FICTION: THE FUTURE Book of essays and fiction. Some big names -- Asimov, Le Guin, etcetera

Stanley Appelbaum (ed.), INTRODUCTION TO FRENCH POETRY Poems in both the original French and English translations, from ma vie en ecole. I still remember a bit of French from high school. Just don't ask me to speak it.

Charles and Mary Beard, THE BEARDS' BASIC HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES Found at the Strand six years ago, after having read sections for my AP history class. Surprisingly engaging, the parts I've read, and a great counterpoint to Howard Zinn's PEOPLE'S HISTORY, which is in my queue.

Poppy Z. Brite, EXQUISITE CORPSE I keep feeling too squeamish to read this. But the more I read Brite's LJ, the more I want to understand all the references she makes to her earlier works.

Elizabeth Barrett Browning, SONGS FROM THE PORTUGUESE Dover Thrift Edition. Some rainy afternoon, I'll sip tea and read this.

Anthony Burgess, A CLOCKWORK ORANGE After graduation, a friend of mine was shedding himself of his worldly possessions before romping off to England to live with his girlfriend. From the pile of things on his apartment floor, I scored ORANGE, THE GRAPES OF WRATH, and a rotating fan. The summer was shaping up to be warm indeed -- as it turned out, though, I just spent a lot of time at the movies.

David Carnahan, SHORT FRENCH REVIEW GRAMMAR Dated 1920, this belonged to my dad's mother, and is replete with pencil notation and figures. It smells the way old books should.

Maria DiBattista, FAST-TALKING DAMES Survey of Hepburn et al and the screwball comedy scene. A long-ago Christmas gift from Dad, who knows what I want to be when I grow up.

Emily Dickenson, SELECTED POEMS Dover Thrift Edition. Partially read. A total delight.

Gustave Flaubert, MADAME BOVARY I started this four years ago. My bookmark is still at page 108.

Thaisa Frank, FINDING YOUR WRITER'S VOICE When I received this as a birthday present, I figured I had my voice down pretty well. Uncertain recent days, however, have seen me eyeing this book more than once.

Wallace Fowlie (ed), FRENCH STORIES Another dual-language book, including Voltaire, Balzac, and Camus. Part of that eternally fun game -- how many of these words do I really remember?

Laurie Fox, MY SISTER FROM THE BLACK LAGOON This was included in one of JET's joyful care packages a few years ago, and was only recently rescued from my bookcase at home.

Charlotte Perkins Gilman, HERLAND Dover Thrift Edition. Damn you, high school dystopian obsession!

Howard Goldblatt (ed.), CHAIRMAN MAO WOULD NOT BE AMUSED Subversive short stories from "Today's China", though today's China is today the China of 1995. Purchased as a counterpoint to the trashy fiction I was bringing on a beach vacation. Remained untouched.

Barbara Meil Hobson, UNEASY VIRTUE Acquired at Johns Hopkins University during the summer of 1997. While wandering about one of the buildings after a class, a Magic-Markered sign led me to a women's studies professor in the midst of clearing her office of miscellaneous texts, most on the historical role of prostitution.

Note to Wile E. Coyote: to dine on succulent Liz flesh, place a sign reading "Free Books!" beneath the boulder.

Susan Jeffords, THE REMASCULINIZATION OF AMERICA Another JHU acquisition.

John Keats, SELECTED POEMS Usually, I can remember exactly when and where a book was acquired. This one's stumping me, however. An old paperback copy (copyright 1950), with "Charles P. Russell '66" written inside. Garage sale? A used bookstore deal from high school? I bought a lot more poetry back then.

Linda K. Kerber, WOMEN'S AMERICA Another JHU acquisition. Sample chapter title: "Were slave mothers at fault?"

Mick LaSalle, COMPLICATED WOMEN: SEX AND POWER IN PRE-CODE HOLLYWOOD I think this was another present from Dad. Another fascinating book that I keep forgetting I own.

Tim Lucas, THROAT SPROCKETS A gift from Nicky. Sweetie, it's not that I'm chicken or anything. I'm just waiting for the right time to enjoy a novel that Bret Easton Ellis finds "disturbing and sophisticated." That's all.

Oliver Mayer (contrib.), OUT OF THE FRINGE: CONTEMPORARY LATINO/A THEATER I took a playwriting class from Mr. Mayer, which I really enjoyed. But at the tail end of the semester, I slacked off, and wasn't able to read his play in the time allotted. I still feel really bad about this, and someday I'll sit down, read his play and email him to tell him so. This may take a few more months yet, however.

Edna St. Vincent Millay, RENASCENCE AND OTHER POEMS Dover Thrift Edition. And okay, I admit it freely -- I own a lot of poetry. But, y'know, I can't check it out from the libraries, as it takes me way too long to read. A book of Adrienne Rich currently rests on my nightstand. It's been there for a year and a half. Of course, that's still not as long as ULYSSES has been there.

Janet Miller, LADY OF THE KNIFE I admit it, Mom, this is the only of your books I haven't read yet. But you've been saying that there's going to be a new revised edition. We'd both probably prefer it if that was the one I read

Sir Thomas More, UTOPIA Dover Thrift Edition. And no, I don't own this because I thought Ever After was supercute. That would be silly.

David W. Rintels, ANDERSONVILLE, A SCREENPLAY The former chair of the USC screenwriting department wrote a blurb for the back cover of this book, and one day every member of the senior class found themselves with a gratis copy, myself included. It may find its way into my queue soon, if only because COLD MOUNTAIN has finally got its claws into me and I'm in a Civil War state of mind

John Robbins, DIET FOR A NEW AMERICA A gift from a vegan friend from high school, and vegetarian propaganda, I'm presuming. Someday I'll acquire FAST FOOD NATION and have myself a book double-feature.

E.W. Robson, THE FILM ANSWERS BACK A 1947 reprint, found in a used bookstore in London. Adorable for two reasons, the first being that a book written about the cinema before 1950 is always full of peculiar pleasures, and the second being that the first line is "EPPUR SI MUOVE!" If you've ever IMed me, you can appreciate the irony of it.

Mark Rose (ed.), SCIENCE FICTION: A COLLECTION OF CRITICAL ESSAYS Sontag and C.S. Lewis -- a potent combination. I suspect this book was found in a bin of freebies. There's no other explanation for its presence here.

Christina Rossetti, GOBLIN MARKET AND OTHER POEMS That's the thing about Dover Thrift Editions. They deceive you into thinking you have fewer books about poetry than would normally seem possible.

Neal Stephenson, CRYPTONOMICON Borrowed from my parents ages ago, but daunting both in weight and subject matter. However, I hear that there are riots in Los Altos, and there's a major allure to that.

Booth Tarkington, THE MAGNIFICENT AMBERSONS Retrieved from the library's free books bin, because the title sounded familiar. Having seen the movie a few years ago, I've been meaning to read this since. This intention, however, was partially thwarted by the book being hidden in the recesses of my closet for the span of that time.

Henry David Thoreau, WALDEN I forget if Dillweed gave this to me or I bought it because of a conversation we had. All I know is, it's a lovely hardback edition, and it remains pristine.

Mark Twain, A CONNECTICUT YANKEE IN KING ARTHUR'S COURT I love Mark Twain, but this copy, rescued from a free shelf of my high school library, smells a bit funny. The cover's neat, though.

David Foster Wallace, INFINITE JEST This is going on Year 6 of stagnation. I keep hoping to break my leg or something so I'll have no excuse but to sit my ass down and read.

William Wordsworth, THE PRELUDE Another of Charles P. Russell's books, this one from 1962. Who are you, Charles P. Russell, and how did I acquire your poetry?

Man, that was exhausting. But at least there have been questions answered, and writing done, and inventories created.

Maybe next time, I'll inventory the nightstand and polish off that gigantic stack of magazines.

And then I'll finish ULYSSES.

::pause for laughter::

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