Of making many books - Livre d'Or

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Of making many books
Sunday, 12 March 2006 at 04:12 pm

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j4 is generally brilliant, but she's surpassed even her own standards recently. And I've been meaning to link to her for a while, but have been too busy to collect my own responses together. For a start, her essay entitled She goes on (I'm fond of that song myself) is really lovely.

But the main point of this post is to link to j4's post talking about World book day. Lists of Great Books are always easy blog fodder, but j4 has a take on this particular bit of manufactured non-news which is hilariously snarky and makes interesting points at the same time.

j4 ends her post by making a list of books first read while still in full-time education and which I believe significantly changed the way I think. I can't manage a response at the level of her original post, but I can make lists, and this seems an interesting exercise.

I posted on a similar subject last year, so I'll pick a different set this time round. I'm not sure about picking books that have changed the way I think; to some extent, every book I read changes the way I think, just like all my experiences. As a teenager I made a concerted effort to read through every single title on whatever list of a hundred classics was circulating at the time, and I found some decent stuff that way as well as a lot I might just as well not have bothered with. Also rysmiel suggested in the discussion of j4's post that the list should exclude books that change one's thinking about books, which seems fair enough, but that is the main effect most books have on my thinking.

There's probably more, but those are the ones that came to mind when I thought of this post.

Whereaboooots: Shelford, Cambridge, UK
Moooood: thoughtfulthoughtful
Tuuuuune: Bob Marley: No woman no cry
Discussion: 3 contributions | Contribute something

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rysmiel: currying favour
Date:March 13th, 2006 03:30 pm (UTC)
21 hours after journal entry, 11:30 am (rysmiel's time)
I wasn't suggesting people should leave out books that changed the way they thought about books as a general principle, actually. Just that I should do so myself, or else there would have been a dozen or more entries on my list tagged "This, too, it is possible to make work in fiction, but I'm not telling you what it is because that would ruin the book; go forth and read." Which gets a bit dull.

You have, fwiw, read well more than half of the books I would list in that context, usually at my instigation.
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livredor: livre d'or
Date:March 13th, 2006 05:40 pm (UTC)
23 hours after journal entry, 06:40 pm (livredor's time)
I don't know, I think a list of books that you think people should go forth and read because they do cool novel things would be very interesting indeed. Thank you for recommending and giving me lots of very cool books though. Look at all the stuff I've tagged rysmiel on my online log. And that isn't nearly all of it, because I'm resisting the temptation to spend too much time going back through old stuff and sorting archives.

I think it was a good idea to follow what I thought was your advice, even if you didn't intend it. Because a list of books that changed how I think about books would be pretty much equivalent to a list of good books, and that sort of list isn't restricted enough to be inspiration for LJ posts.
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j4: kanji
Date:March 14th, 2006 01:53 pm (UTC)
1 days after journal entry, 02:53 pm (j4's time)
*blush* -- I will try to live up to your compliments!

You definitely should read Tristram Shandy (and I for my part would like to read Jacques le fataliste now you've described it) -- it's very funny.

I was supposed to exclude books that changed my thinking about books.

As a kind of thought-experiment I started trying to answer the question of whether there are many thoughts-about-books which don't (at least potentially) have some bearing on thoughts-about-things-that-are-not-books -- e.g. the issue of intertextuality could raise various metaphysical questions about whether or to what extent a thing's thingness is dependent on its context; many thoughts about literary writing styles have implications and applications for other forms of communication ... and so on.

(I do, in general, find it quite hard to say where one thing stops and another thing starts, with all except the most concrete of things, and even then I'm never certain.)

Then there's the problem of how specific a "thought" can be: that is, there seems to be an unspoken agreement in our discussions of this that a "thought" must be in some sense general (or generalisable). So while I suppose thoughts-about-books which were not applicable to things-other-than-books could include very specific things like "I enjoyed reading Some Book by Anne Author", those wouldn't be very interesting changes-of-thought. On the other hand, "I am enjoying reading X" could be the start of thinking along the lines of "The books I enjoy most seem to be books where X happens", which might prove to show something more general and more interesting about one's aesthetic judgements, or the type of characters (and hence people?) one likes (or wants to be) ... and so on.

That's not to say that the general is always more interesting, but it's more, uh, generally applicable.

I think I may have just beaten my own personal record for "smallest point made in largest number of words", there. :-}
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