A Literary Meme or Two

Today's meme roundup is two-for-one on a literary theme. Laura tagged me for the 1-2-3 book meme, and Heather tagged me about two weeks ago for a bookish meme that I knew would take some time to think through, being the sort of person that struggles to locate "just one" of anything.


For the 1-2-3 meme, the directions are:

1) Pick up the nearest book (of at least 123 pages).
2) Open the book to page 123.
3) Find the fifth sentence.
4) Post the next three sentences.
5) Tag five people.

The nearest book on my table, as semi-boring as it seems, is MacBook for Dummies. Page 123 finds us in the chapter about taking your laptop onto Safari, the default internet browser for Mac computers, which I take personal issue with because I switched out the Safari browser for the lovely Firefox shortly after I got this computer. I'm tempted to reverse this meme and pick a different book instead in protest! Sigh. But I will continue.

The fifth sentence on page 123 is the preface to a list: "Figure 8-5 illustrates the sheet that appears, in which you can 1) enter the name for the bookmark, and 2) specify whether you want the bookmark to appear in the bookmarks bar, the bookmarks menu, or an existing bookmarks folder."

Stimulating reading, indeed. It appears we have stumbled into a tutorial on setting up internet bookmarks.

To continue with the following three sentences, we learn: "To return to a bookmark, use one of these methods. 1) Click a bookmark button on the bookmarks bar. 2) Click the bookmarks menu and select a bookmark." Wow!

Okay, that was silly. It would have been more profound if I'd selected a different book. But memers can't be choosers.


As far as Heather's bookish meme goes, the questions are as follows:

1) One book that changed your life. I'm going to have to go with Anne Lamott's Traveling Mercies. I read this book back in 2000-2001, after having already read her cranky, cantankerous, wildly hilarious and honest Bird by Bird book on writing. When I learned that Lamott had become a believer, I had to learn what spirituality was like for this dreadlock-wearing, liberal, fiercely feeling white woman. Traveling Mercies is a book that moved me further along in the path toward grace. It helped me get more comfortable in my own quirky skin and to see the delicate, astounding beauty in every human being on this earth. Thank you, Anne Lamott, for helping my faith become as fierce and devoted and honest and raw and real as it is today. You have been an integral part of my journey.

2) One book that you have read more than once. This one is gonna have to be My Name Is Asher Lev by Chaim Potok. This is a book about a little boy who discovers an extraordinary artistic gift that both consumes and terrorizes him. The problem is, he comes from a devoutly Hasidic family, and his father is a leader both locally and internationally within their Jewish faith. "Making pictures" is considered unacceptable sacrilege. His father despises Asher's gift, and yet Asher can hardly control it and can only conclude that this gift has been given to him by God. It is an intensely vivid novel that explores the tension between art and faith and plunges one into the artistic mind and its highly emotional process. I've read it at least five times. Cannot recommend it highly enough.

3) One book you would want on a desert island. I know it sounds funny, but I would choose Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller. It's funny because this book is primarily about community, about the ways that the collective members of the body of Christ can learn to love more purely, and yet I would be bringing it to a place where community only comes in packs of wild animals. (Yikes!) But I would choose it anyway for two reasons. First, because reading Donald Miller helps me feel so much less alone. His beautiful words on themes that mean much to me would make the isolation less painful. And second, because these themes move me so deeply that I would likely be moved to prayer for the collective body of Christ back on the mainlands of civilization. In my isolation, I would offer only what I could, making use of otherwise useless time, and still offering my own participation to a body that divinely connects and transcends location.

4) Two books that made you laugh. I think the first book I was conscious of spontaneously laughing out loud while reading was Nick Hornby's About a Boy. I read that book shortly before the movie came out several years ago (and the book was way more hilarious than the movie), and it had me laughing so frequently and happily that I went straight on to read Hornby's several other books. Just could not get enough. Don't you love that, finding an author who does that to you?

Another book that made me laugh was Anne Lamott's Grace, Eventually. Really, all of her books make me laugh, but this is the one that most recently did it for me. Kirk says that he can always tell when I'm reading Anne Lamott because I have a special kind of laugh that only comes out when one of her books is in my hand, when her words are running through my mind and steeping into my consciousness of life and what it's all about. What can I say? The girl disarms me, helps me take life a little less seriously, while heightening my attention to it at one and the same time.

5) One book that made you cry. This one's easy. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini. I read this book after writing a research paper on the film version of the novel that released in December. I was writing about the negotiation that took place between Paramount Vantage and the families of the young boys in the film, who were disputing the inclusion of some of the thematic material in the script and were fearing for their safety in Afghanistan once the film released. After spending two weeks staring at photographs of the two central characters in the film, reading about the conflict, learning why the conflict was an issue in the first place, and becoming emotionally tied to the way this story was affecting these boys' real lives, I had to go right out and purchase the book, carrying those two boys' faces in my mind as I read.

I carried the book on the plane with me when we headed out to California for Christmas, and I read straight through for eight hours, leaving just about 60 pages for the next morning. I did not expect it to affect me the way that it did, but I bawled several times -- on the plane, no less!! Several times I had to put it down and push it away from me because the tears were so fast and furious and the pain and connection so deep. Oh, this book moved me so deeply. I wish I could eat it and let it become a permanent part of my insides. But I guess, in a way, it already is.

6) One book you wish you'd written. I wish I'd written Traveling Mercies, mostly for the reason of its being a beautifully rendered account of one woman's spiritual journey, laced with grace. All three of these things -- beautiful writing, spiritual themes, the infusion of grace -- are so important to me in my own life. And I suppose I look upon Traveling Mercies as a pinnacle because it represents so much of what I've come to value and is one of the books that started me on my journey toward an embrace of these themes in my life and this kind of writing in the first place.

7) One book you wish had never been written. I can't say I have one in particular for this category, but I do wish none of the books that were written solely for financial gain, sensationalism, or trite answers to life were ever published. All they do is clutter the world with drivel and are a detestable position from which to apprehend life and reality.

8) Two books you are currently reading. My reading has slowed these days. I'm eeking my way through several, as indicated on my sidebar, but none of them have me gripped in their throes. I guess I'll say that I'm reading Secrets of a Freelance Writer by Robert Bly because I'm considering how I might make a living freelancing my services to corporate clients as I continue to wait for illumination from God on how to serve his people's hearts. I'm also reading an interesting memoir called The Golden Road by Caille Millner, an author who is my age and who grew up in California but who, at age 29, has already graduated from Harvard, has written for Newsweek and the Washington Post, has received several prestigious writing awards, and serves on the editorial board for the San Francisco Chronicle. Hello! Can you say accomplished?! Part of me envies her success, but another part of me knows that her road has not been an easy one (which is the story of the book). The deeper parts of me try to remember that we are each on a journey just our own.

9) One book you've been meaning to read. I've been meaning to read A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier. Anybody read it? Recommend it?


And now for the tags. I'm going to tag some of my literary-loving friends out there because I'd love to learn what they're reading and what books have helped make them who they are today. And, because I did a two-in-one meme, I take the liberty of tagging 10 people instead of just 5. I tag:

Kirsten at Lattes and Rainy Days
Sarah at I Am Sarah Grace
Rebecca at Rebecca's Kitchen Window
Jen at Bourgeois Baby
Christin at Renewed Day by Day
Chloe at Beauty in the Breakdown
23 Degrees at 23 Degrees
Eclexia at Eclexia
Terri at Listening Out Loud
Nate at Stealthy Darky

Feel free to do one or both of the memes, and to tag as many or as few people as you like in return. I look forward to reading your responses!