Saturday, September 29, 2007

Read on

Kristen from From Here to There and Back tagged me for an irresistible book meme. Maybe you'll want to play, too.

Total number of books?

For many years, I kept every book I read, packing and unpacking them and carting them around with me from college residence hall room to college residence hall room and from apartment to apartment. Sometime in my post-Bud years, though, I decided that I just didn't need them all and I cleared the bookshelves and donated them away with wild abandon. These days I only hang on to the books I lovelovelove and the books I think I might read again, which comes out to about three (smallish) bookshelves full. How many books is that? I'm not sure. I'm not good at that kind of estimate. A bunch. A good number. More than a few; less than a ton.

Last book read?

Sadly, I have not had a good run lately. I've stalled with A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini , not because it's not well written (it is), but because one particular plot point stopped me cold, hitting me too close to my emotional center. That happens sometimes. I'd like to say that I'll go back to the book, but I really don't think I will. (I'm being intentionally vague about the plot point for those who plan to read it. It's not the book; it's me. You should read it.)

Before A Thousand Splendid Suns, I started but didn't finish another book that will (in the spirit of The Believer magazine) go unnamed. After several chapters, I still didn't care about any of the people in the book. Life is too short; I moved on.

Before that, I read What You Can Do Right Now to Help Your Child with Autism, which frankly doesn't really feel like it counts. It was more a handy reference guide than a BOOK.

So, by process of elimination, I'm going to have to go with Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Not especially high-brow or impressive, but, then, neither am I.

Last book bought?

Again, Harry Potter. I borrowed A Thousand Splendid Suns, and the other two were sent by the publishers. Before that? I'm not sure. I tend to seek out hand-me-down books more than I buy new ones. It might have been Andrei Codrescu's New Orleans, Mon Amour. (An excellent book, and a bargain at any price.)

Five meaningful books?

Not Even Wrong: Adventures in Autism by Paul Collins - This book was meaningful to me in many ways. It was one of the first autism books I read in which I "recognized" the child - on page after page, Collins' son Morgan reminded me of Bud. (He still does, in fact; in this interview with Collins and his wife, they report that Morgan is currently fascinated by TV and movie logos. I have spent many an hour drawing TV and movie logos for Bud. I'm not sure whether or not I should introduce him to the YouTube videos that Morgan finds so fascinating.)

On another level (and in a story that was more interesting to live than it would be to read), Not Even Wrong set me on a trajectory that ultimately got me writing this blog. Interestingly, I discovered Not Even Wrong via an e-mail from my sister that included a link to the book's page on and a one-line message that read "I think the universe is telling me that I'm supposed to let you know about this book." (Thanks, Sis.)

A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving - This book blew me away. Blew. Me. Away.

Hamlet by William Shakespeare - Hamlet might be my favorite thing ever written. I find myself thinking about Hamlet a lot - which is interesting, because throughout the play, all Hamlet really does is a whole lot of thinking. Really, though, thinking about Hamlet's thinking helps me to remember to get out of my head when I find myself getting all "to be or not to be" on myself. (And I don't mean suicidal here, folks. I mean painfully introspective and grossly self-indulgent.) Enough said.

Operating Instructions by Anne Lamott - This book kept me sane in the first months of Bud's life. It made me feel more normal and less incompetent as a mother. Or maybe it made me feel incompetent, but in good company.

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon - This book replaced A Prayer for Owen Meany as my favorite book of all time. In fairness, I should go back and read Owen Meany again before I state that publicly, since I read Owen Meany in 1989 and Kavalier and Clay in 2005. But, too late; it's already done.

I'm not going to tag anyone specifically for this one, but I invite everyone to join the bandwagon. Leave your answers in the comments here, or just let us know that we should follow the link to read your answers on your own blog.


kristina said...

I'm not entirely sure how to get started when the subject is books--what would you say is Bud's favorite (I just had to ask)?

Cheers always.

bubandpie said...

Not Even Wrong and Operating Instructions are probably the two books that sum up what parenting has felt like for me for the last four years. I'll start working on this one - I can never resist a good book meme.

Lori at Spinning Yellow said...

A Prayer for Owen Meany is definitely on my list of top ten books ever read, so I must read The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay! Thanks for the list.

MOM-NOS said...

Kristina, it's hard to say what Bud's favorite is. He's a book guy. He's a big fan of the Henry and Mudge series, and still loves all his old picture books. We just finished reading A.A. Milne's Winnie-the-Pooh at bedtime and have just started in on House at Pooh Corner. And we've got a big stack of fantastic-looking chapter books on the bedside table, courtesy of my book-maven sister who sent them for Bud's birthday.

B&P, I look forward to reading your post. I was hoping you'd play!

Anonymous said...

Your favorites are mine. I love Owen Meany (I still rememember exactly how I felt when I finished reading it, and that was 2000) and I adore Anne Lamott. She lives in the Bay Area (so do I) and I fantasize about running into her! Kavalier and Clay was also amazing -- did you read Summerland by Michael Chabon? You'd like it a lot -- it's sort of Harry Potterish.

xo :-)
karen in ca

Kitt said...

Excellent post. I adore "Operating Instructions," which persuaded me to reconsider my thoughts of having a kid on my own (Mom's advice: "Get a dog first").

"Not Even Wrong" is also most excellent. If you are interested in reading about Asperger's, you might also try "Born on a Blue Day" by Daniel Tammet. And right now I'm reading "Look Me in the Eye" by John Elder Robison, which is turning out to be much better than I anticipated for a piggyback memoir (he's the older brother of Augusten Burroughs, of "Running with Scissors" fame).

I don't usually pick up blog memes that I'm not specifically tagged for, but I may just follow up on this one. You set such a good example for it. Bud's so lucky to have a lit-lovin' mom.

kristen said...

Can you believe I've never read A Prayer for Owen Meany? Actually, I'm not sure I've ever picked up a John Irving. Guess I have some catching up to do. Thanks for playing!

MOM-NOS said...

Lori: yes, you must.

Karen: I haven't read Summerland. I'm adding it to the list.

Kitt: I'm glad you'll jump aboard. I ws afraid that if I tagged, I'd tag all the wrong people (i.e., those for whom it would be a burden).

Kristen: Yes, you have some catching up to do. But be warned: do not read too much John Irving in succession. Trust me; I've done it. It did things to my brain. (It was similar to the point in my life when I read too much Kurt Vonnegut back-to-back. Entirely different stuff, but a similar brain-warping effect.)

David said...

Nice words of warning on the John Irving mom-nos. The Vonnegut Effect was pronounced on my adolescent brain fo sho. Garp was the last Irving I could stand.

How about the Philip Pullman trilogy, Golden Compass, Amber Spyglass, Subtle Knife?? Ever try them?

MOM-NOS said...

David, I haven't read any Philip Pullman, but Kristina from Autism Vox (see comment above) has recommended him in the past. Sounds like I really need to check him out...

MOM-NOS said...

P.S. David: I think it was The Hotel New Hampshire that put me over the Iving edge.

Drama Mama said...

My pick? EXPECTING ADAM, by Martha Beck.
Wowza. She's got the whole meaning of motherhood right THERE.

Oh, and right now I'm all wrapped up in John Robison's LOOK ME IN THE EYE. De-lish.

Miss M loves RULES. Loves. Do you think Bud would enjoy?

MOM-NOS said...

Drama Mama, Bud still carries Rules around with him sometimes, even though it lives on my bookshelf and is clearly "my" book. For whatever reason, it speaks to him enough for him to seek it out and thumb through it. I think the plot itself is still too "old" for him, but it's probably only a matter of time...

Mary P Jones (MPJ) said...

What a fun meme. Thanks for posting and letting me play along.

Kelly said...

Operating Instructions was, for me, an absolutely lifesaver, so your mentioning of it in your list is like a gift. My copy became dog-eared and frayed and stained by little splatters of coffee. "In good company," as far as feeling incompetent, as you describe it, is an apt way to sum up. I do fully credit her with keeping me somewhat sane.

I'm doing these meme, when I get a chance. Thanks for sharing.

Florinda said...

I found this meme via Bub and Pie's post, which referenced yours. I've taken you up on the open invitation and posted my responses on my own blog - thanks for such a fun book meme!