6 random things, and homework:

A. I’m cross-posting the 6 random things meme here, having posted it on my main blog. Here goes-

I’ve been tagged by two people for the 6 random things meme. Help! The rules, as I understand them (and I’m sure Teresa and Deirdre will correct me if I’m wrong) are to jot down 6 random things about yourself and then tag 6 people to do the same, including the person who tagged you. I don’t think I understand that last rule, though? Doesn’t it mean that Deirdre and Teresa would end up doing the meme over and over again – once for every person they tagged? Does that count as a random thing?

1. Best present I ever gave anyone, IMHO: I had someone from the State come and put up two bluebird houses on my parent’s property for father’s day one year. We have had bluebirds, tree swallows, or both nesting in the boxes from that year forward.

2. I wanted to be an astronaut when I was a little girl. I don’t know quite what dissuaded me from this dream, but Apollo 13 might have had something to do with it?

3. I am terribly shy about singing on stage, but it’s something I always wanted to do. (And now I can say I’ve done it!) OTOH, I’m very comfortable singing in a choir or chorus, and love that even more.

4. If I could turn into an animal, I think it might be a bird, because I’d love to be able to fly.

5. I used to feel awfully guilty about leaving our dog when I had to go to school. One day, when we were kids, my brother and sister and I rode our bikes to Church. We hadn’t chained up the dog, who followed us in and marched right up the aisle! (He was a beagle. Very cute, but how embarrassing!)

6. And the thing I mentioned in another meme – I took my goldfish to the vet. That fish died, eventually, but he gave me another who’s now the subject of an experiment – the doc helped me set up one of his “clean tanks” in a home setting. That’s had its ups and downs! But Charlie Weasley goldfish is still with me after 3 1/2 years and counting, which is the best I’ve ever done with a goldfish. )

Tagging Teresa, Deirdre, Sigune, Anne Arthur, Miriam, Froggyfield and R.J. Anderson, but only if you are happy to do it and haven’t already. I’ll put the tags in properly, Teresa and Deirdre, if/when you show me how! (Is that random thing 7?)

Happy Epiphany, everyone!

B  John’s extremely difficult homework assignment:

Ten favorite books – eek! Like Deirdre, I actually don’t think I can do this. If I had to stop at three, or perhaps five, it might be easier. But I’ll give it a try.

1. The Lord of the Rings, by Tolkien. No contest. Probably the most beloved and formative book of my life;  I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve read it. It has its flaws – Tolkien was certainly a man of his time – but it has great generosity of spirit, nonetheless, and it’s certainly a work of genius.

2. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, by Lewis. Dad read us this one when we were six, and I still feel compelled to reread it at Christmastime. Magical, and it will always be my favorite of the chronicles.

3. But I’m more likely to reread The Children of Green Knowe, by L.M. Boston. Gorgeous, gorgeous writing and deeply imaginative. I have a short essay about this book and how it influenced me on my other blog.

4. a Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle. I read this one when I was ten, after having heard the first chapter read by my fourth grade teacher. Meg was the first character in a book I ever identified with strongly and consciously – she’s a great character!- and  Wrinkle was also the first book I read that gave me nightmares, but which I loved, anyway, even though I mostly didn’t (and don’t ) like scary books.

5. Great Expectations, by Dickens. I loved Oliver Twist as well, but Great Expectations was my favorite Dickens novel through my teen years, and I think it still is. I loved the characters and the clarity of the plot. Pip’s a very believable boy, and Miss Havisham is unforgettable! As for poor Magwitch, who wouldn’t love him?

6. The Inheritors, by William Golding. I’ve often asked myself: why do I love this book? It’s a tragedy, and a pretty gruesome one, if you think about it. But it’s also very compassionate, very intelligent, and beautifully written. It concerns a small band of Neanderthals who encounter modern humans, and I fell in love with it at 15 and still admire it greatly. It’s even better than Lord of the Flies – but also sadder.

7. The World We  Live In. A time -life book from the 1960s; no idea of the author, but I wish I still owned it. It’s basically the history of life on earth, from the birth of our galaxy to the rise of mammals. Lots of great information and illustrations; my favorite browsing book as a kid. I wish there were something like it now, but we tend to compartmentalize information these days.

8. King Solomon’s Ring by Konrad Lorenz. I just love animal books, and this is the one that came to mind – it’s a classic about the Austrian behavioral scientist and his life with animals. His description of imprinting a band of ducklings is probably the best known of the stories here- and very funny!

9. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. I agree with Deirdre on this one. Mr. Rochester may be problematic by modern standards; the plot may be pure melodrama, but Jane is thoroughly human, and a character who displays great integrity and courage. I love her.

10 My Life and Hard Times by James Thurber. Very short, very dry, and always has me laughing helplessly, especially at “the Night the Bed fell on father”.

And now I just realized all I left out! No Sayers – but I love her! – and none of the other Inklings. No O’Connor; no Padraic Colum or Madeleine Polland; no Lloyd Alexander and no Ursula LeGuin. How could I leave out LeGuin?!

I bet this list would look different if you did it on a different day. But I think there would be one thing about it that was consistent. I bet most people notice (I certainly did) that their favorite books are those they fell in love with in late childhood or early to late adolescence. Is that the point of this exercise, I wonder?

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