3 books you use most often for reference
To be honest, I mostly use the web for reference these days. Hm.
- Chambers Dictionary
The best small dictionary on the market; I can't afford the full OED, and regardless, sometimes a small dictionary is what I'm after.
- Hertz' Chumash
Yes, I know the translation is not ideal, (KJV with the obviously Christian bits mostly Bowdlerized) and I know that Hertz' commentary spends a lot of time polemicking against approaches to Judaism I have more sympathy with than his. But there aren't that many good translations available as parallel texts, and I know my way round the Hertz, and I happen to own a copy (it was a desperately unoriginal Bat Mitzvah present...) And it has a lot of information that is hard to find elsewhere convenientely collated into one place.
- The Penguin Dictionary of 20th Century Quotations (ed JM Cohen & MJ Cohen)
A general, rather than a 20th century, dictionary would be more use, but again, it's a matter of what I happen to own. Actually quotations are one thing I'd rather use a book for than the web; assessing reliability online takes longer than it's usually worth.
There's actually almost nothing I reread at all; 'high rotation' in this case is every few years, and I was hard pushed to think of three.
- JRR Tolkien: The Lord of the Rings
Explaining why I love this book so much could take a whole post to itself. Suffice to say I find something new in it every time I reread it, ever since my dad read it aloud to me when I was 8.
- GB Edwards: The book of Ebenezer le Page
I've already mentioned this one briefly; it will have a whole post to itself at some point.
- William Horwood: Skallagrigg
In a way Skallagrigg tends towards the sentimental, but it's amazingly well written, and treats fairly unusual subjects. The fact that I reread it at all shows how much it means to me.
3 books you read for comfort
Well, see above; I get a lot of comfort from rereading familiar and beautifully written books. But to choose something different as well:
- Michelle Magorian: Goodnight Mr Tom
It's a children's book, but that doesn't prevent it from being well-written, complex, moving and highly readable. I love children's authors who avoid patronizing.
- Edmond Rostand: Cyrano de Bergerac
I always weep buckets over this one, total self-indulgence. I can't take my own troubles seriously while crying my eyes out over some fictional star-crossed lovers. And I love the language of it; knowing large chunks of the poetry by heart incresaes the comfort value! (Yes, you can all laugh at me now, I don't mind.)
- Rudyard Kipling: Puck of Pook's Hill
Again, hard to think of a third here. But I was brought up on Kipling and tend to return to his stuff from time to time.
- Alexandre Dumas: The Count of Monte Cristo
Well, Michael gave me a copy of this for my birthday, so obviously I ought to read it. But I've been holding out for a copy in French, because I'm a snob like that.
- Primo Levi: If this is a man
See my comments on The Periodic Table
- The Koran
I've seen this among various people's answers to this questionnaire, so this is not an original thought. The main reason I haven't read it is not knowing how to find a translation I'm confident of; the copy I have is abridged (it was given to me by some Muslim equivalents of evangelists, yuk yuk yuk), which puts me right off.
Um, there are few books I'll never read; I'm not at all a snob about trash, and there are few books I find so bad that I can't derive some pleasure from the act of reading them. So I could only think of two.
- Marquis de Sade: The 120 days of Sodom
Cos I can't cope with S&M. Nuff said. I probably won't read The Story of O either.
- Protocols of the Elders of Zion