Saturday, November 10, 2007


Hottie tagged me recently, and as I'm hibernating today, I thought I'd do the book thing. I'm afraid it's an amended version, due to my strange PhD reading habits.

4 favourite childhood books.

Enid Blyton
I think I read everything she wrote, but particularly liked the Magic Faraway Tree books and the Mystery series. The latter made quite an impression on me, as I loved the idea of solving mysteries, and did my own sleuthing when we got burgled one night while we were living in Zambia. My mum recently produced an old notebook of mine from then, with carefully drawn 'clues' like the broken window and a footprint. Exciting to be able to use my kiddie detective kit and dust for fingerprints with toxic-looking black stuff!! (I was about 6 years old then.) I think the inquisitiveness has been directed, years later, into academic research, so it's nice to know my innate curiosity and nosiness hasn't been wasted.

Alice Through the Looking Glass
I read it much more often than Alice in Wonderland for some reason. There is something mysterious about mirrors that frequently pops up in film, though I can't think of any references at the moment. I'm aware that Lewis Carroll has provoked controversy of late, as with other authors like Enid Blyton who have become viewed by some as not politically correct, and I understand the reasoning and the sentiments behind these criticisms. However, although I enjoyed some books as a child for their fantastic, imaginary worlds which created a love of reading for its own sake, years later, one is made to feel vaguely guilty for admitting to liking them. Though actually, I don't feel guilty, as academic analysis decades later often takes the books out of the cultural context in which they were written and read. It annoys me a bit, as it feels like these criticisms are somehow rubbishing or invalidating happy childhood memories, as if any innocent enjoyment you had from reading those authors is now all 'wrong'. Have either Enid Blyton or Lewis Carroll created generations of monstrous children? Or literate ones?

Books about girls that had careers
Lots of books by authors I can't remember in the Lusaka public library fascinated me. Books like 'Air Hostess Ann', 'Harriet the Hairdresser' and 'Betty the Ballerina', all about girls who wanted to do something with their lives and follow their dreams. The careers in the books are obviously limited by the time they were written... no computer technicians or Cultural Studies lecturers in those days! There was another series about a group of children who all wanted to become actors. The appeal of that career choice still escapes me, though I liked their enthusiasm.

The Chronicles of Narnia
Loved them all, I read them again and again. Preferred them to Tolkein, I'm afraid...

4 authors I'll read again and again.
I've watched quite a few films recently that are adaptations of classics, and they've made me want to go back to the original books that I read years ago. I'm hoping I won't prefer either film or book, or be disappointed when I go back to the original authors, but maybe that both film and book will enhance each other.

Some that I'm currently thinking of:
Charles Dickens - Great Expectations
Emily Bronte - Wuthering Heights
Charlotte Bronte - Jane Eyre
Mary Shelley - Frankenstein
Bram Stoker - Dracula
Daphne du Maurier- Rebecca (I've never read this before, but love the Alfred Hitchcock film)

4 authors I'll never read again.
I have a particular dislike of authors who write non-fiction academic books about really interesting subjects, but their dreadful style of writing makes the text almost impenetrable. It shouldn't be a struggle to read about something you're interested in, and it's not essential in academia to make books completely inaccessible. I'll still have to read them unfortunately, as it's work-related, but I don't have to like them.

4 on my to read list
*sigh* I don't really want to think about this, as I'll be completely immersed in loads of PhD-related books from Christmas onwards... my completion date is summer 2008. That means a hellishly long reading list, with probably a limited degree of interest for most other people.

4 books I'd take to a desert island.
If I'd completed my PhD then I'd take the classics I mentioned above, plus a DVD player to watch all the versions of the films.

I'd also take Last Train to Memphis and Careless Love, a 2-part biography of Elvis Presley by Peter Guralnick. It's extremely thick, the size of several doorstops, and I really should read it as I've had it for a year now. I'd also take some Elvis CDs to accompany it, probably the Sun Sessions and a greatest hits compilation.

But if I was on this desert island before my PhD was finished then I'd have to take a small library with me - 4 books would be useless. I'd probably do a damn good thesis too, with no interruptions.


deb said...

The bit about the desert island got me to thinking....

Worldwide, every Sunday for two hours each afternoon should be reading break.

And only for enjoyment. No required texts.

Claire said...

Not sure I agree with a fixed time for making people pursue any activity, but encouraging reading in any way can only be beneficial.

Roses said...

I remember a dreadful John Carpenter film called Prince of Darkness where mirrors were the doorway into the dimension where the son of Satan was held.

Stephen King also did an atmospheric gothic stort story with a mirror...but I'm buggered if I can remember what it's called.

I don't know whether it's those influences, but I'm never keen to look into a mirror in the dark...

Claire said...

They sound interesting, crap films or not! Absolutely no idea why I started thinking about mirrors, but they often seem to crop up in mythology too. There are worse things to think about!