Now, it may seem like cheating to do a meme instead of writing about a book I've been reading for pleasure, but I think that a lot of the answers to this meme are going to talk about books I read for pleasure, so that should count. Besides, Jane tagged me! (I'm ridiculously pleased by getting tagged.)
1. One book that changed your life?
Oh dear - why is it that as soon as I start these memes I'm stricken with amnesia? Okay, lemme think... All right, this is embarrassing, but: Katherine by Anya Seton. It's a historical romance novel, written in the 50s, which I found in the stacks of old paperbacks that my mom brought with her from her single days in England (the price on it was marked in shillings) and which I read when I was around thirteen. Anyway, this book is set in fourteenth-century England - the days of Chaucer and the Black Death - and details the life of Katherine Swynford, the mistress and ultimately wife of John of Gaunt, third son of Edward III. (Looking up those links, I am amazed to find that there is a Katherine Swynford Society! The medievalists out there probably already know that she has recently started co-blogging with Chaucer.) Seton manages to pack this book full of fun medieval historical events and figures, like the plague (as a student once said to me, "Mass death - always fun!"), Chaucer himself, Julian of Norwich, and the Peasants' Revolt of 1381. Katherine was beautiful, John of Gaunt was handsome and arrogant, their romance was doomed from the start - what more could you ask for?
Oh, so why did this change my life? It began my love affair with the Middle Ages. We had two sets of encyclopedias (my dad is a great believer in the encyclopedia), a 1950s-ish World Book (VERY amusing to read - it still categorized the developmentally disabled as idiots and morons, each with their own specific characteristics, and also talked about the negroid and caucasoid races, though I can't remember what it called Asians ETA: I remember now - mongoloid!) and an 1980s vintange Encyclopedia Britannica (much harder to get through). After reading Katherine, I sat down and pored through both sets of encyclopedias, looking for entries on absolutely anyone ever mentioned in the book at all. (I was sort of peeved that the EB only included a brief paragraph on Katherine.) I wanted to know MORE.
(My runner-up for this category is Margaret Atwood's Cat's Eye, which qualifies as my favorite book.)
2. One book you have read more than once?
Okay, to be honest - what book have I NOT read more than once? (Remember, we're talking pleasure reading here, none of that academic work stuff.) When I like a book, I ALWAYS reread it. Partly this is because I read so fast, initially, that I make it to the end of the book before I've really processed the beginning of it. So I tend to turn around and read it again almost immediately, because it hasn't all sunk in yet. I do this with almost all fiction I read, but I can tell you the books I reread regularly: C. S. Lewis's The Chronicles of Narnia; Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House books; the Harry Potter books; My Antonia; Anne McCaffrey's Pern books; Dorothy Sayers's Peter Wimsey mysteries... That's just what I can think of off the top of my head. Yes, I like series, and kids' books. I do read other stuff, but I keep coming back to these - they're like comfort food. (And yes, one of those things is not like the others...)
3. One book you would want on a desert island?
I'm going to say the Bible - I think being lost on a desert island would be the only circumstances under which I could get myself to read it, and it's one of those works I feel like I should know for its cultural/historical significance (especially as a medievalist), and except for a few bits that I teach - nope.
4. One book that made you laugh?
5. One book that made you cry?
Oh, god, I cry over books at the drop of a hat, but animals-in-jeopardy always get me. I cry every time I read about Jack's disappearance and return in Little House on the Prairie, and Jack's death in On the Banks of Plum Creek. I sobbed in numerous places in Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy (like the threat to Lyra's daemon, and what happens to Lee Scoresby). I am a huge sap. You can imagine that reading Where the Red Fern Grows went over well in grade school.
6. One book you wish had been written?
I'm not creative enough to answer this one.
7. One book you wish had never been written?
Despite my answer to #3, part of me wants to say the Bible. Oh, I know - The DaVinci Code! Please, people - it's not real - get over it! (and I refuse to link to that.)
8. One book you are currently reading?
Louise Erdrich, Love Medicine.
9. One book you have been meaning to read?
Jill Ker Conway, True North (because my mom sent it to me because she thought I'd find it interesting, and she keeps asking me if I've read it yet!).
10. Now tag five people: