This little meme just keeps on chugging. I'm definitely bringing up the rear of this little trend, but since when have I been cutting-edge? I've been tagged specifically by Jared and obliquely by several others, so I suppose I should get to it.
Since there are 8 questions, I think we can consider this my Top 8 list for the week.
1.) A book that changed my life (besides The Bible): Conscience and Courage: Rescuers of Jews During the Holocaust. This book was required reading for our Philosophy class during the semester I spent in Vienna. Perhaps it was especially powerful for me because I began to read it about a week after visiting the concentration camp in Dachau. It made me take a hard look at myself and consider the lengths I would be willing to go to and the risks I would be willing to take to help my fellow man. And whether I would put conditions on my generosity. I get choked up just thinking about it. (This book also qualifies as "a book that made me cry"--even though that question doesn't appear in this version of the meme.)
2.) A book I've read more than once: It's a tie between two series Dad read to us when we were kids. I read each book in both series at least seven times, with my favorites getting at least a dozen re-reads each.
These just transport me to another place. C.S. Lewis is one of my favorite writers (his Christian trifecta: Mere Christianity, The Great Divorce, and The Screwtape Letters, nearly ended up being my answer for question one).
My favorite Narnia book is probably Voyage of the Dawn Treader, but I really love The Horse and His Boy and The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe. I think The Magician's Nephew is my least favorite, or maybe The Silver Chair. But they're still good.
Man, I loved these books. When I was a kid, I appreciated them for the good stories. Now I realize that they're full of useful information (if one needs to, say, churn butter, build a log cabin, or rid one's body of leeches). Not only that, they're full of perilous situations that I didn't recognize as a child--it's amazing the family survived. Seriously, are you kidding me with that blizzard?
My favorite was These Happy Golden Years (because that's the one where Laura and Almonzo fell in love), but I also loved On the Banks of Plum Creek. I didn't love On the Shores of Sliver Lake. Too much trauma.
3.) A book I would take with me if I were stuck on a desert island: Since my desert island happens to have a Marriott with a 5 star restaurant, I can safely assume that The Gideons have provided a handy copy of The Bible, so I think I'd bring The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (an annotated version). I'm not trying to sound all scholarly, I just really enjoyed the Shakespeare that I HAVE read, and I've been meaning to get around to reading and understanding the rest. I figure the amount of free time I'd have on my nicely-equipped desert island would lend itself to catching up. Heck, I might even memorize 'em!
4.) A book that made me laugh: Well, lots of books make me laugh--sometimes unintentionally. But lately, these two have caused me to stay up way too late and wake Steve up with my guffaws.
I can't recommend Bill Bryson enough. I've never read a paragraph that I didn't enjoy. He's smart and witty and approachable. The first book of his that I read was The Mother Tongue: English and How it Got That Way. Anyone who can win a fan with a book on the history of the English language is someone I want to meet. I want to be his best friend, but he probably swears and drinks too much for us to be truly close. He's the only living author I would ever write a fan letter to. And I'm not the fan letter type. I mean, I enjoy receiving them, but I never write them.
There was some confusion on the wording of this question, so I decided to answer both versions:
I would be happy to let any reputable publishing house finance my European traveling habit. (I don't think it counts as a habit if you've only been twice, but I'd like to make it a habit. It's a goal I have.)
Until some publisher discovers my genius, I'm happy to supply travel advice free of charge to any of my beloved friends who are lucky enough to venture across the pond. If you will agree to take me with you. Although I'd hardly fit into a suitcase right now. Maybe a steamer trunk?
5b.) A book that I wish had been written: A sequel to Gone With the Wind that a) stayed true to the characters, b) had a plot that didn't seem like it was there solely to fulfill some publisher's page-count requirement, and c) wasn't utter nonsense from start to finish. (The long-awaited Scarlett was unmitigated tripe. Piffle, if you will. And the miniseries was worse. I had waited so long to find out what happened to Rhett and Scarlett, and I feel nothing but distain for the pitiful excuse of a sequel they decided to spit out while I was in high school.)
6.) A book that I wish had never been written: Not being a fan of censorship in general, I don't particularly like this question and considered skipping it, but I figured I'd use it to voice a pet peeve.
I don't necessarily wish The DaVinci Code had never been written, but I wish it hadn't gotten so popular. Not for any lofty scholarly or theological reason, not because I'm horrified by the controversial bits. No, it's just because every irritating twit on the planet seems incapable of shutting up about it. I have a low tolerance for such things. I'd rather listen to Ty talk about Coptic grammar.
Perhaps I should be more patient and inquisitive, but I have no desire to read or discuss this thing. I've already talked about it more than my conscience is comfortable with.
7.) A book I've been meaning to read: I bought Six Wives: The Queens of Henry VIII while Steve and I were enjoying a second honeymoon in England, courtesy of the United States Air Force. I find that era of history fascinating--even moreso since touring The Tower of London and Westminster Abbey.
I read the first few pages whilst in the Emergency Room suffering from an allergic reaction to penicillin. Maybe that put me off, maybe it's just the fact that the big ol' sucker weighs even more than my purse--and that's saying something.
It's an intimidating tome, I tell you.
8.) I'm currently reading: What a surprise, the list begins with something by Bill Bryson. I'm a Stranger Here Myself is a series of essays written after Bryson returned to America after over 20 years living in England. I believe they were originally published in an English newspaper, so they have an interesting slant to them. And as always with Bill Bryson, they're hilarious.
Also on the list: Surprise, surprise! Pregnancy books. They're kind of annoying with all the worst-case scenario stuff and strict diet instructions that totally don't apply to me (since I STILL haven't gained any weight). But I have managed to glean some helpful information from them. (The one on the right is the least-annoying of the two.)
I feel obligated to confess that I've also got some pathetic romance novel on my bedside table. I can't recall the title. It's probably something like The Feisty Virgin and The Ruthless Duke's Wedding Bargain. I should be ashamed of myself.