[DWJ] Classic books (was What are you reading?)

Gili Bar-Hillel gbhillel at netvision.net.il
Fri Nov 6 14:08:09 EST 2009

Trust this list to just EXPLODE with activity right when I happen to be away
and unable to check my email for a week. I was attending the World Fantasy
Convention, which is a blast: it's a small con and dominated by
professionals, almost every one there is either a writer, editor, agent,
publisher or something closely related. The sort of place where you can put
faces to the books you've been reading, and you keep brushing up against
people of unbelievable talent and having to squelch the inclination to go
all fannish on them.

Going to WFC involved long stops in three airports: Ben Gurion, Heathrow and
San Francisco. And of course the first thing I compare in each one is the
bookstores. Let me just say, if I had to be stuck reading only what arrived
at one airport's bookstores for the rest of my life, there is absolutely no
question I would choose Heathrow. For the trip to San Francisco I bought
Philip Reeve's "There's No Such Thing As Dragons" (short but sweet) and
Patrick Ness' "The Ask and the Answer" (which I discovered I didn't really
want to read after all). There were several other books I was considering,
as well as several I'd already read. In San Francisco it was hard to find a
single book that looked attractive or intriguing. They had a whole shelf
devoted to vampire books, which only served to completely turn me off the
idea of vampire books, though conceivably some of them may have been
alright. Right now I'm reading something by Robin McKinley which was in my
unbelievably laden WFC swag-bag. The fact that I can't remember the name of
the book is indicative of nothing, I usually really enjoy McKinley.

-----Original Message-----
From: dwj-bounces at suberic.net [mailto:dwj-bounces at suberic.net]On Behalf Of
Jane Scarlett
Sent: Tuesday, November 03, 2009 9:41 AM
To: 'Diana Wynne Jones discussion'
Subject: Re: [DWJ] Classic books (was What are you reading?)

I've been trying to read one classic book a month, mostly from those
littering my shelves which I've either never read or read way back in school
days.  Not sure about life changing, but I'm hooked on George Eliot, and in
particular Adam Bede and Middlemarch (and not The Mill on the Floss, which
was the only one I read in school!).  Also enjoying Jane Austen, loved the
use of language but found Jean Genet hard going, lining up Joseph Conrad for
next, and then maybe Trollope.  Can't face Dickens though - I'm convinced by
never having read even a sentence that I won't like him!


-----Original Message-----
From: dwj-bounces at suberic.net [mailto:dwj-bounces at suberic.net] On Behalf Of
Melissa Proffitt
Sent: 03 November 2009 04:20
To: Diana Wynne Jones discussion
Subject: Re: [DWJ] What are you reading?

On Mon, 2 Nov 2009 14:16:25 -0500 (EST), deborah.dwj at suberic.net wrote:

>I'm curious what people are reading. Me, mostly I'm caught up
>with the materials I'm reading for class, but it's been so long
>since we had a good general book discussion that I'm not sure
>what we've talked about. I'm pretty sure we have never talked
>about Jellicoe Road, and I'd really love to know if other people
>read that one.

I am reading--nothing, actually.  I go through these phases where I am
positively afraid to begin reading anything with profound emotional impact
for fear it will take over my whole life.  It happens.  So I had _Jellicoe
Road_ on my shelf for a bit before it went back to the library, and neither
_Fire_ nor _Catching Fire_ has been read, ditto the third Alcatraz book...I
blame October and a five-week period of doing nothing but costumes.

Mostly, I've been re-reading things with an eye to a new experience.  In
particular I enjoyed _The Barsoom Project_, book two of the Dream Park
novels by Larry Niven and Steven Barnes.  It is mainly a murder mystery, but
the primary subplot is about weight: how we feel about it, how we gain or
lose it, etc.  I like that all the different characters have different body
types and different attitudes towards their bodies.  Plus, it's always fun
to imagine a place where you could LARP in a fully immersive and reactive

I started a blog as an extension of my reading journal; it's much easier for
me to type than handwrite, so I don't feel the need to shorten an entry for
the sake of my poor aching hands.  Of course, then I didn't keep up with it
for, that's right, all of October.  If anyone is interested, it's at
www.janessafari.com (it's there if you're not interested, too).  :)

I hope your course is going well, Deborah.  I read _The Shadow Speaker_
based on your class list and liked it very much.  That reminds me that the
other thing I'm doing for the new year (aside from keeping up my blog) is
starting to read from a list of Classic Books I've Never Read But Probably
Should Have.  The idea is based on a reading group an acquaintance of mine
is in; they read English (I think just English, might be English-language)
novels that are commonly regarded as classics that the group members never
actually read in school.  I don't think you can really create a definitive
list of must-reads, and the idea is *definitely* not that one cannot be
well-read without having experienced these books, but there are plenty of
novels I've never read and it would be nice to have some sort of guideline
for choosing them.  (My list is probably going to be packed with Dickens,
for whom I developed an early distaste that intellectually I know is
ridiculous, but the feeling is still strong.)  So if anyone's interested in
posting, say, a list of ten classic novels that changed your life, I'd be
glad of the input.

Melissa Proffitt

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