Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Book Tagged

I was book-tagged by Virginia O'Dine, which means I get to answer the following questions and then tag 5 more victims . . . er, bloggers.

Total number of books I've owned:

While I did catalogue and count the number of comic books I own (approximately 4000), I haven’t done that with my books. I’m guessing it’s got to be somewhere in the realm of “hundreds upon hundreds upon hundreds” -- our home not only has one room whose walls are dedicated to stocked bookshelves, but there are two more rooms and a stairway landing with smaller stocked shelves. We keep running out of space to put the newly acquired books, but always find new and creative places.

The last book I bought:

The Lincoln Lawyer by Michael Connelly which was a Christmas present for Francine. She has since finished reading it and I just started it. Connelly is a brilliant writer -- I’ve yet to read a single one of his books that I haven’t loved.

The last book I read:

I just finished two at about the same time. Stories From The Vinyl Café by Stuart McLean and Dime Store Magic by Kelley Armstrong.

While I’m a huge fan of McLean’s writing and his weekly CBC Vinyl Café program, there were only a handful of stories from this collection that I really enjoyed. Perhaps it was because these tales were earlier in his career and represented “younger” efforts, or maybe it’s because many of them didn’t feature “Dave and Morley” as much -- or maybe it had something to do with hearing the stories in that annoying voice inside my head rather than in McLean’s voice, because he does have a wonderful knack for verbal presentation. In any case, the best story in this 10th Anniversary Collection, IMHO, is the last one: "Remembrance Day" -- like the best McLean stories, it leaves you with that heartwarming feeling.

And though I gobbled up Armstrong’s first two novels in the “Women of the Otherworld” series within the span of a couple of days it took me longer than normal to get through the third one. It’s not her writing, which is great, and it’s not the storyline or plot, which is tight and interesting. I’m thinking that perhaps I just didn’t like the main characters as much as I liked the character of Elena in the first two. No worries, she's a writer definitely worth reading, so I'll keep following the series (though I am a few books behind because I'm eager to get to the "ghost" focused ones)

Five books that mean a lot to me:

Frameshift - Robert J. Saywer. Reading this book inspired me in a life-altering way, and I don't think I ever properly thanked Rob for that. If you’re dying to know what it is, email me and I’ll tell you, but I’m not going to share it on the blog.

Fifth Business - Robertson Davies. I never did finish reading this novel when I was supposed to in Grade 9. Several years ago I began the practice of choosing to read a few “classics” that I’d either always wanted to or “should have” read. The belief, which has held true so far, is that when I was supposed to have read the book at a younger age, I likely wouldn’t have enjoyed it as much. I thus had this book with me in 2002 while hunting with my cousin and father on Manitoulin Island. I didn’t hunt, just cooked, cleaned, read and worked on my novel Morning Son. Great memories of a satisfying writing process, an equally stimulating read (no wonder they wanted us to read this novel in Grade 9 -- that man was a solid, brilliant writer), and a timeless male bonding ritual.

Humans - Robert J. Sawyer. Rob is a tremendously gifted storyteller. There is a beautifully moving scene in the book which takes place at the Vietnam Memorial in Washington. (Chapter 22 - read the full excerpt here, then go buy the whole triology) This chapter perfectly illustrates Rob’s gift as a writer. I had this book with me while sitting with my father in a Sudbury hospital prior to an operation to remove his kidney. I was telling him about the book and how it was set in Sudbury at the Neutrino Observatory. Despite the fact that he wasn’t a sci-fi reader, he seemed to enjoy hearing about the book. It was one of the last conversations we’d had -- he never made it out of the recovery room.

Love You Forever - Robert Munsch. I’ve tried, several times, to read this book to my son without getting all choked up. I know, I know, it’s about a mother-son relationship, but you can’t blame a guy for getting all teary-eyed at the combined bizarre and touching tale (Munsch is good at both - like a kid's version of Stuart McLean). After a recent crying episode (my son had pulled it off the shelf in his bedroom and I started leafing through it), I thought -- wow, what a great book to buy for my Mom. I’ll be sending her a copy for Valentine’s Day.

Guerrilla Dating Tactics - Sharyn Wolf. I’ll never forget the time when Francine and I were friends and living in Ottawa. The type of friends, of course, that you’d watch on a sitcom and you’d yell at the television screen moaning that it was obvious they had deeper feelings for each other. But for several years we remained oblivious friends while dating others. This book was one of a variety of books I’d bought in trying to improve my disastrous dating life, and it was a fun read with some good advice. (It seemed to eventually work for me) I remember one time when Fran had asked to borrow it and I considered leaving something inside the book as a hint to let her know that I had “more than a friend” feelings for her; but I didn’t. About a year or so after we got together she admitted that she looked through the book to see if I might have left anything like that in the book.

The books in my collection where the physical object means a lot to me:

A Writer's Tale - Richard Laymon. The physical fact that the book is signed by Richard Laymon means a lot to me, but the book itself is priceless in content -- It’s a look into the mind of a wonderfully gifted horror writer who (as most horror writers do), wrote in the shadow of the King’s, Koontz’s and Rice’s of the world. I rank this book right up there with Stephen King's "On Writing" for it's insight, advice, and biographical content. It’s filled with wisdom and insight and wonderful advice for writers. Truly priceless. I interviewed Richard shortly after reading this book, and it might well have been one of the last interviews he gave before he died unexpectedly. You can read the full interview online here.

The galleys of Changing Vision- Julie E. Czerneda. Julie sent me these galleys to go over because she’d used me and my name for a character in the novel. Rudy Lefebvre. (The original name had been Leslie Lefebvre, but her editor talked her in to changing it to Rudy) She’d originally been hoping to surprise me and have me find out when the book was published, but decided to check with me first because the character wasn’t exactly a nice guy and it wasn’t too late to change his name if I was offended. I was both honoured by Julie doing this as well as touched -- I was also delighted with the fact that she let me read this before it was available on bookstore shelves -- that alone was tremendously exciting. This is also my favourite of the whole “Web Shifters” series (not because of my namesake character, but the story, the writing, the brilliant plot)

Tag five people and have them fill out their own answers in their blogs:

Malice, Michael Kelly, Carol Weekes, Francine (I want to try to pry her out of hibernation) and Robert J. Sawyer (since two of his books made it onto my list, I’m going to tag Rob and see if he’ll play along too) Appended: I'm also going to tag Lara, because as you can see from her comment, the love of books is something that only GROWS and EXPANDS. (Oh no, I just noticed Lara was just tagged by someone else...whoops, sorry to hit you with a back-to-back tag like that)


Zephyr said...

This is so cool. I love books too... I hope no one ever asks me how many books I own. Even after majoring in math I'm not sure I could count that high!

"Love you forever" is such a tear-jerker book! I got it from my mother as a baby gift when my oldest was born. I remember trying to read it to him with tears running down my face so heavily that I couldn't see! I still get watery eyes from it almost 14 years later... though my kids are at the age when having them point and laugh and ask "what are you crying for" isn't necessarily a good thing. So we no longer read it often!

My favorite book is probably "The Phantom Tollbooth" by Norton Juster. I have read it dozens of times. I have read it out loud to college friends, as well as to my children. I love the way you discover new things every time you read it... the depth of humor is far beyond a child's level, so you can read it at every age and continue to discover more.

I totally envy your ability to write books. I've had people tell me that I write well, but I can only write short segments... even a complete short story is beyond me. I can close my eyes and describe a scene so you can feel you are there (luckily I don't have to look as I type!)... but I can't introduce a character.

Mark Leslie said...

I'm going to break the tag-convention rules and also tag you, Lara. Give your readers a chance to peek at the books that mean the most to you. :)

Zephyr said...

haha you weren't supposed to ask me how many books I own! No worries on the back to back tags... I'll work on this one over the next few days or so... that counting will take a while! ;)

Actually once we build our new home in a year or two I'll have a library. The "den" on the floor plan is being converted into a library with floor to ceiling bookshelves on all walls, including those old-fashioned rolling ladders. I'm afraid it might be full before we get it finished though... lol But I am already casually looking for some library type software for a home library so I can categorize and organize my books, as well as "check them out" to friends so they aren't lost if you loan them.

Virginia said...

Hi Lara.
I spotted an ad for exactly that type of software you are looking for. It even has an option to order a bar code scanner. It's out there.. somewhere... if I come across it again, I'll let you know.

Not a great help, I know. : )

Robin said...

I'll love you forever
I'll like you for always
As long as I'm living
My baby you'll be.

Damn -- I tear up every single time.

Franny said...

Excellent list there Mark. I see a few of my favorites in there too!

Zephyr said...

That'd be great Virginia! I don't really need it until I start moving INTO the library, so it's no rush... but it's nice to know it exists!

MacManus said...

The lincon lawyer is awesome, I finished it last week and have just passed it on to my GF.

Enjoy :)