Sunday, February 19, 2006

These are Some of My Favourite Books

I was tagged by the vivacious Atenah.

1) What is the total number of books you've owned?
I cannot remember. But one day, I am going to bring together all my books which are scattered in various houses and merge them in one large library. Nestled among all this is my crown jewel, the kohinoor in my book collection: a cloth bound, first edition of my most favourite book in the world which cost me an arm and a leg. I caress it on quiet evenings and look in wonder that this book belongs to me. One day, my favourite child will inherit it. It may not have the monetary value of other possessions but it is so rich in emotional value.

2) What is the last book you bought?
A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian by Marina Lewycka which I bought in Cardiff.

3) What is the last book you've read?
Alias Chin Peng: My Side of History. I have an obsession about this part of Malaysian history because it was just one crazy, mad time. I am curious about what people do when things get crazy and mad. But the book itself was disappointing though. I never got to know the real Chin Peng.

4) What are you currently reading?
World Poverty and Human Rights by Thomas Pogge. Riveting.

5) What are the 5 books that have meant a lot to you or that you particularly enjoyed?
(Why just 5 , why. That makes it all the more difficult. Some of these books may not be very high on literary merit but I am dwelling on the books that have a particular emotional appeal to me.)

Franny and Zooey by JD Salinger. Rhapsody here.

Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie. The narrative complexity, the magic realism and most of all, the dextrous language which seeps into your pore and possess you. Brilliantly imagined and executed in such chaotic cacophony that it leaves me breathless and levitating at the same time. Yes, literary orgasm entirely possible here. If I had to be moored on an island and take just one book, this would be it. I will never feel alone with Saleem Sinai and Parvati the Witch snickering at the background

The Mayor of Casterbridge by Thomas Hardy. I first read this book as an abridged version on a long school holiday spent at my grandma's. One of the older cousins must have left it there and I remember being gripped by the story of Michael Henchard so much. Some years later, I picked up the original and cried my heart out with the forlornness of it all, learning that destiny is irrevocably weaved by character. I know if I read it today, I will still brood for a few days. Maybe not the best Hardy but it's another one of those books that grew with me.

The House of Spirits by Isabel Allende. This is one of those epic folk-tale like stories that transports me into a realm of surreal magic. It beguiles you in a feminine way, spreds softly into your heart and never quite lets go.

White Teeth by Zadie Smith. For its fresh brazenness. A book with attitude, chronicling the displaced British Asian with such verve. I remember this book so intimately, I am overwhelmed sometimes. It's here that I learn the word raggastani (say it out loud, its got such a funky feel to it). For a first novel, it is phenomenal. That she wrote this at 21 is even more amazing. And like I mentioned before, when I went to Kilburn, I looked hard for dear old Samad Miah.

Possession by A.S.Byatt. I am cheating by adding a No.6 but this book means so much to me with its romance of the obsessive, bitchy world of academia. When I am down in library basements, I remember Roland Mitchell trawling dusty tomes at the British Library. I descend into this cloistered esoteric madness as I follow the adventure every time.

6) What book(s) would you wish to buy next?
Way too many (My 'to read' list keeps growing all the time) but this is a selection.
Istanbul by Orhan Pamuk and Maximum City by Suketu Mehta: I love books that romance and demonize cities.

The Delia Collection, Italian by Delia Smith. This is a great 5 minute stress buster. Short read with gorgeous pix which leave me happily salivating. Food porn.

7) What book(s) that caught your attention but never had a chance to read?
Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell (yea, I am that outdated) cause it's supposed to be a sublime achievement or so I hear.

Two from last years Booker list: The Accidental by Ali Smith and The Sea by John Banville.

The Argumentative Indian by Amartya Sen

Salina by A.Samad Said (thanks to this person)

Some very esoteric ones which nobody cares about.

8) What book(s) that you've owned for so long but never read?
The Jungle is Neutral by F. Spencer Chapman. Story of a British spy who fought in the Malayan jungles during the Japanese invasion. I keep stopping at the part where he gets sloshed by the tropical rain for some strange reason.

Classics of Political and Moral Philosophy. Drives me to zzzz land. I carry it along when I walk around the department though so that everybody thinks that I am all clever and everything. Heh.

9) Who are you going to pass this stick to (3 persons) and why?
I am not going to pass it to anybody in particular lest they feel obligated to do it but I would love to know what these 3 make out of it:

30in2005 who has such a voracious reading list .

Evening Star who reads with so much passion.

Mint Chutney because I just know that she will come up with a list that will be well thought out but dotty.

(I thought of Kak Teh but I can ask her that myself. She is but a tube line away)


starlight said...

Jane, I'm terribly flattered and will get right to it! This will be fun!

may said...

woo-hoo! love this new template, and especially that profile picture of yours. let's hope your paragraphs stay just the way they are now ;)

Jane Sunshine said...

Starlight: Will be looking forward to it.

May: I wouldn't have been able to tweak without your help dear. Thank you very, very, very much dear girl. Also, the profile picture is to mislead people. I am not slim nor graceful like that. It is something I aspire to be noting that I am oversized and hobble around.

Blabarella said...

You are "oversized and hobble around"?? What nonsense!! May, she's LYING through her teeth!! :D

Ooo, this book list makes my eyes go blink2 (mainly because I think I only know of one book on that list, eep) - you're such a clever girl, you are!!

Love this new template!! I was trying to tweak mine by myself as well, but it didn't work. I may just get out that Caz templates thing. Someone mentioned it to me earlier as well, but was too malas then. :)

Jane Sunshine said...

Blabs: I am not LYING. Even when I hold my breath really hard, the folds on my stomach still flab to glory. Sigh.

Yeah, I moved due to technical problems at the previous blog. Try the templates. Holler if you need advice.

Jo: Thanks! May has been very kind, taking time out to help me on this, noting that I am a tech nitwit.

Mint Chutney said...

"..well thought out but dotty."

Was that a back handed compliment?

30in2005 said...

I'm on the job. My books towers have collapsed what with me pulling random books out. Will be up and readable by the end of today I hope. I'm so flattered!

Sunrayz said...

Wow!! What a nice template...makes me want to move my arse on that template change I have been planning for awhile now :)

Plus a book post! Yay! So can't control writing a long comment.
- I loved 'Midnight's Children' and 'House of Spirits' too! Plus, Allende's 'Paula' is touching...
- Loved 'Maximum city' till 'Shantaram' came along. Mumbai up close and personal in 'Shantaram' left me gobsmacked. Am waiting for the price of 'Istanbul' to fall on :)
- I have been gazing at 'Cloud Atlas' too but have not bought it as yet.
- And, finally, I bought 'The Argumentative Indian' while I was in India and it is by by bedside , waiting to be read.
I better stop now!

Sunrayz said...

Plus, I bought Zadie Smith's 'The Autograph Man' last week at a second hand bookshop in Stoke Newington ( one of the best places for great second hand books!). Have you read it??

Anonymous said...

vivacious? hmmm *rubbing my chin*

Jane Sunshine said...

Mint: That was a genuine compliment! I love it that you make no pretensions about likes, dislikes and hates. I just know that your list will be honest and fun.

30in2005: Ah, enjoyed your selection.

Sunrayz: Girl after my own heart! You must be a kindred spirit if you like all these books that are so special to me. We should both read Cloud Atlas and Amartya Sen soon and exchange notes. And I must go get Shantaram now. As for 'Autograph Man' I've tried a few pages but it couldnt captivate me enough. But all is forgiven because Zadie Smith can do no wrong in my eyes. Autograph Man and the new one, On Beauty I think are the experimental books. I am going to wait in earnest for the fourth one which no doubt will be masterful. Why do I think so? Because she needed those two books to find new shape and form.

Kak Teh said...

Sorry, am late here - just to register my presence and will be back - must dashhhhhhhhhhhh!