Saturday 16 February 2013

Chuck a Book with Melanie from We Sat Down

On Chuck a Book today I am pleased to welcome Melanie from We Sat Down. Melanie runs the blog with her teenage daughter - a lovely reviewing duo.

1) The best book you have ever read.
There isn’t just one and next week I might offer up a different choice: maybe The Color Purple, The French Lieutenant’s Woman, The Unbearable Lightness of Being or Bessie Head’s Collector of Treasures.  But today I’m going to pick a Margaret Atwood novel. I’ve read so many of them – and loved most but not all. I often point people towards The Handmaid’s Tale (which I do love and thought was brilliant) but I’m choosing Surfacing. This was her second novel, published in the early 1970s. I read this when I was nearing the end of my first year at university. I would have been 19 (when I read it; not when it was published) and I was discovering so much about the world and myself that I had never even dreamed was out there. I was realising that feminism wasn’t all just about burning bras. I guess in a way, I was also surfacing. The comment that I wrote at the time about Surfacing was simple: Excellent. Mind expanding.
2) A book you loved from your childhood.
The Enchanted Wood by Enid Blyton (and the rest of the Faraway series). 
I loved the characters who lived in the tree – especially Moonface, Silky and Saucepan Man. And the circling cloud at the top, and the slide inside the tree. I’m quite a bit older now but I often like to think that our local wood has some kind of wonderful, adventurous enchantment going on.
3) A book that made you laugh.
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. 
I don’t often read novels that I remember as making me laugh. But my 20 year old self wrote ‘Funny’ as my reading comment for this book. Recently, a book that made me laugh quite a bit was My Brother Simple by Marie Aude-Murail.
4) A book you could not finish.
There are quite a few of these too. For years, I’ve not forced myself to finish a novel. There are too many out there and I read fiction mostly for pleasure now. I’m choosing Under the Dome by Stephen King. I’d read quite a few Stephen King’s when I was a teenager and thought I would revisit him through his new works. I liked the idea of Under the Dome having different cover options. But very quickly, blood was spewing everywhere for pages and pages and for no good reason. I’ve given it to a charity shop.
5) A book that made you swoon.
Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell. 
I read this when I was about fourteen. It was a huge hardback that sat on my grandmother’s shelf. It had really fine paper – like old Bible paper. It might even have been printed with double column text, like a newspaper.  At the time, it was my ‘best ever’ novel and I started to handwrite it out for my best friend who was overseas at the time. She didn’t like reading but I thought she would love this. I gave up after a page or so....
 I’ve always thought Scarlett should have gone for Rhett.

6) A book you can’t wait to read.
MaddAddam by Margaret Atwood, coming out in august 2013. 
Well, it’s Atwood! Following on from Oryx and Crake and The Year of the Flood, this one’s billed as the third in the MaddAddam trilogy (although I thought she’d always said it wasn’t really a trilogy and certainly I read the previous two in reverse order).
7) A series you have read and loved.
The Mary O’Hara Wyoming ranch trilogy -  My Friend Flicka, Thunderhead and The Green Grass of Wyoming. 
These books were about a sensitive boy who lived on a ranch and wanted a horse to break-in. It’s all about his relationship with his family, living on the ranch and relationships with wild horses. I never wanted any of these books to end.
8) A book that made you cry.
Plenty. It’s difficult to think of a really good book that doesn’t bring a tear to my eye. Some of the books I’ve already mentioned made me cry: My Friend Flicka and Gone With the Wind. But, I’ll choose a contemporary one: A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness. I think I might have cried most of the whole way through.
9) Your guilty pleasure book. 
My China by Kylie Kwong. 
This is a beautiful Chinese recipe book. It’s enormous and sumptuous, has a ribbon bookmark and the recipes are easy – yes to all of those! It follows Kylie’s journey round the parts of China where she has family. So, it’s also part travel guide, part personal journey. Anyone who knows me well knows that travel is one of my biggest guilty pleasures.
10) A book that took you out of your comfort zone.
Vernon God Little by DBC Pierre. 
This one is also unfinished. I can’t remember why but I remember that I stopped reading and hid it away.  I thought I’d given it away but I spotted it peering up at me from a low shelf just the other day.  I must have thought that it presented me with a challenge that I should face up to one day (or maybe not). I wonder what the psychs would think.....
Thank you Melanie for some hidden treasures there. I used to love the Faraway Tree books too.

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