report on recommended reading

Kathleen Jennings s368333 at
Wed Aug 7 21:41:06 EDT 2002

Kathryn Andersen wrote:
>haven't read Passage myself, but other ones I've enjoyed, like "To Say
>Nothing of the Dog" and "Belwether", I don't feel any great desire to

I haven't read it, but "To Say Nothing of the Dog" is a really good title. I
think people underestimate the power of titles sometimes, but there are some
wonders out there: "A Brief History of Time" is one that *should* belong to
the best of speculative fiction, but Terry Pratchett elbows a few onto the
list now and then: Carpe Jugulum, The Fifth Elephant.

>ideas too.  But then I don't tend to *re-read* books for their ideas.
>Things that make a book re-readable are the characterisations and the
>style, I think.  Because you may want to relive that stunningly poetic
>passage, or re-travel that road with characters you love... as distinct
>from characters you like, perhaps?  Or maybe it's a question of

Hear, hear. I reread Prydain for two reasons: to meet Gurgi and Gwystyl
again and to cry at the ending, _Farmer Giles_ for Garm ("help, help, help")
and the Sword in the Stone for Archimedes ("There is no owl?), Pellinore and
Grummore's joust and the list of the contents of Merlin's study. But ideas
have a lot to do with it too. There are some books I would reread for their
ideas: E. Nesbit's stories stick with me sometimes for the situations but as
often for the ideas underlying them, and what she does with them. I love
reading Pratchett, but sometimes when I put the book down it's the ideas
that stick with me, not the one-liners. Occasionally, as in _Lords and
Ladies_ they're just a bonus. I recommend that book on the basis that it is
one of the few truly dark and terrifying fairy-tales I have read: the humour
only makes it darker. (Likewise with the little-red-riding-hood scene in
Witches Abroad). TP really is an ideas man. Maybe if the characterisation
and style weren't so palatable, I might not go back for the ideas, but that
works the other way. It takes a special sort of book to be so beautifully
written and stylish that you can forgive it for being derivative or banal or
bad as far as the ideas go. I constantly read _The Ordinary Princess_ which
is about as derivative as you can get, and yet it manages to stand out.


Hve blásnautt er hjarta sem einskis saknar.
How destitute is a heart that misses nothing.
       - Ýmir, Einar Benediktsson
Kathleen Jennings
s368333 at

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