30 Day Book Meme: Day 24

Best quote from a novel

Wow. I have read quite a bit of Oscar Wilde, among many other witty fellows. How the hell am I supposed to pick a single quote as “best”? I used to collect quotations from novels, films, and other sources, so you’d think it’d be easy, but really, it’s the opposite: I have a wealth of fabulous quotes to choose from.

So, here is a sampling:

“I adore simple pleasures. They are the last refuge of the complex.” – Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray.

“Wherefore do ye toil; is it not that ye may live and be happy? And if ye toil only that ye may toil more, when shall happiness find you? Ye toil to live, but is not life made of beauty and song? … Toil without song is like a weary journey without an end. Were not death more pleasing?” – HP Lovecraft, “The Quest of Iranon”

“For what do we live, but to make sport for our neighbors and laugh at them in our turn?” – Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

There are too many to list from the Discworld books. There’s a big collection at L-Space.

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30 Day Book Meme: Day 23

Most annoying character ever

Hm, a tricky one. I tend to avoid books with characters who annoy me. Generally, it’s relationships that bug me in books, not characters. An exception would probably be Rincewind n the Discworld books. He’s a wizard who isn’t particularly good at what he does and is basically a coward. I get that he’s a satire of the typical fantasy hero sort of character, but he just… doesn’t work for me. Thankfully, most of the time he shows up in books that feature a bunch of characters I do like: the faculty of Unseen University. They’re a bit of a satire of the stuffy college faculty set in the UK university system, and they slay me. That helps a great deal to make up for Rincewind being a stupid blighter whose chief talent is running away shrieking.

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30 Day Book Meme: Day 22

Favorite non-sexual relationship (including asexual romantic relationships)

This is a tricky one. The first thing that springs to mind is the relationship between Commander Samuel Vimes of the Watch and Lord Vetinari, Patrician of Ankh-Morpork, in the Discworld books. The second is the one between Harry Dresden and the spirit Bob (he has an actual name, but as he’s an air spirit, it’s not really pronounceable by humans).

Both are borderline frenemy relationships, for which I have a definite weakness. Bob is essentially Harry’s captive — he gets Harry information, and has a vast store of his own knowledge. When Harry sends him out info-gathering, he has to be very, very clear or Bob will take the opportunity to hang out in strip clubs (he has a serious facination with human sex, in spite of lacking the necessary equipment to engage in it himself). There’s a real affection there, though. When it looks like Bob has been destroyed, or at least had his brain wiped, Harry is distressed for reasons beyond the loss of his best assistant.

With Vimes and Vetinari, things are even more complicated. Both men love the city they serve, but they are very different people and tend to get on one another’s nerves. Plus, Vetinari is highly intelligent and knows exactly how to wind Vimes up and point him in the direction he wants him to go, which Vimes finds aggravating. He can’t resist, though, because part of Vetinari’s brilliance is pointing the fellow at people he can’t help wanting to take down. Vimes takes a certain pleasure in annoying Vetinari whenever possible, which is frequently. There’s a very real respect between the two men, however. Some fans even go so far as to speculate that Vetinari is grooming Vimes as a successor.

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30 Day Book Meme: Day 21

Favorite romantic/sexual relationship (including asexual romantic relationships)

To answer this, I must confess a secret: I don’t just like Jane Austen, as previously mentioned. I am hopelessly fond of Georgette Heyer.

I know. Not very rock ‘n Roll.

But she has written easily one of my favorite relationships ever, that between Abby Wendover and Miles Calverleigh, in Black Sheep. Her niece (a flighty, spoiled thing raised by Abby and another aunt) falls for Miles’ nephew (who has lost all his money and is trying to get himself hitched to an heiress, which Abby’s niece conveniently is). Miles doesn’t really care at first (he’s mostly entertained by people getting into scrapes, if he even notices), but when he starts to care about Abby and sees how distressed she is, he puts in an effort.

He’s hilarious and charming and Abby is intelligent and witty, and together they’re hysterical. Black Sheep is one of my favorite Heyer novels.

I shall now go listen to my entire Led Zepplin collection to get my rock cred back.

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30 Day Book Meme: Day 20

Favorite kiss.

WTF? What is this, a meme for Harlequin-reading romance fans?

All I can think of is that line from “The Princess Bride” — “Is this a kissing book?”

FFFFffffff. *rude gesture*

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30 Day Book Meme: Day 18

Favorite beginning scene in a book

It’s a cliche (and one hardly befitting a rock’n’roller like m’self) but I have to go with Pride and Prejudice.

I know, I know.

But! It is easily one of the snarkiest openings ever. Austen’s narration is so incredibly bitchy toward the women scheming to catch themselves (or their daughters) a wealthy husband, how can one not love it? Plus, Mr. Bennett is one of my favorite father characters of all time, and he’s at his finest here.

IT is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.

However little known the feelings or views of such a man may be on his first entering a neighbourhood, this truth is so well fixed in the minds of the surrounding families, that he is considered as the rightful property of some one or other of their daughters.

“My dear Mr. Bennet,” said his lady to him one day, “have you heard that Netherfield Park is let at last?”

Mr. Bennet replied that he had not.

“But it is,” returned she; “for Mrs. Long has just been here, and she told me all about it.”

Mr. Bennet made no answer.

“Do not you want to know who has taken it?” cried his wife impatiently.

You want to tell me, and I have no objection to hearing it.”

This was invitation enough.

“Why, my dear, you must know, Mrs. Long says that Netherfield is taken by a young man of large fortune from the north of England; that he came down on Monday in a chaise and four to see the place, and was so much delighted with it that he agreed with Mr. Morris immediately; that he is to take possession before Michaelmas, and some of his servants are to be in the house by the end of next week.”

“What is his name?”

“Bingley.”

“Is he married or single?”

“Oh! single, my dear, to be sure! A single man of large fortune; four or five thousand a year. What a fine thing for our girls!”

“How so? how can it affect them?”

“My dear Mr. Bennet,” replied his wife, “how can you be so tiresome! You must know that I am thinking of his marrying one of them.”

“Is that his design in settling here?”

“Design! nonsense, how can you talk so! But it is very likely that he may fall in love with one of them, and therefore you must visit him as soon as he comes.”

It’s subtle, and not everyone’s cup of tea, but boy howdy is it right up my alley. Shameful, I know. I shall now go listen to my Essential Judas Priest collection to reestablish my rockingness.

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30 Day Book Meme: Day 17

Favorite story or collection of stories (short stories, novellas, novelettes, etc.)

Not sure I have one. I don’t have all that many collections of short stories (at least, not compared to how many full-length novels I have). I will say that the Chicks in Chainmail series have a fond spot in my heart for their silliness and their portrayal of the all-too-rare female warrior fantasy badass.

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30 Day Book Meme: Day 16

Favorite poem or collection of poetry

Definitely Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats, illustrated by Edward Gorey. I used to do puppet shows of some bits, reciting the poems and moving puppets around. For a while, I could recite all of “Macavity, the Mystery Cat.”

Macavity’s a Mystery Cat: he’s called the Hidden Paw–
For he’s the master criminal who can defy the Law.
He’s the bafflement of Scotland Yard, the Flying Squad’s despair:
For when they reach the scene of crime–Macavity’s not there!

The illustrations are charming, and the poems are delightful. I spent a lot of time in college reading all kinds of poetry, and quite liked it (I wrote my Honors Thesis on the poetry of John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester), but this was my first poetry love, and will always be special to me.

You have to love a book with cats who are pirates, supercriminals, daring acrobats, and all kinds of awesome things.

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30 Day Book Meme

Your “comfort” book

I’m not sure I really have a “comfort” book these days. When I’m stressed, I often go back to books I’ve read and loved before, like one of the Discworld books, or I’ll read a new-to-me mystery or fantasy novel. It’s more a genre thing than a specific book thing.

Things I want from a book when I’m stressed and want to feel better: humor, suspense (without killing off people I like), and a straightforward-enough plot and writing style (or to have previously read the book) so that I can get lost in the book without having to stop and think too hard. I love reading slow, interesting books (like Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell or Lord of the Rings), but not when I’m depressed/stressed/whatever. When I reach for something to read to make me feel better, it’s gotta be exciting.

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30 Day Book Meme: Day 14

Favorite character in a book (of any sex or gender)

This one’s easy: Lord Havelock Vetinari, Patrician of Ankh-Morpork, from the Discworld books by Terry Pratchett. I’ve mentioned him in a previous post, but he bears mentioning again. As it says in Guards! Guards!:

You need a special kind of mind to rule a city like Ankh-Morpork, and Lord Vetinari had it.

But then, he was a special kind of person.

Lord Vetinari is a terribly practical sort of person. His interest is the continued smooth running of the city; everything is in service to that. He has essentially no life outside his work, has an incredibly austere lifestyle (which makes him impossible to blackmail), and has the knack of listening in a way that forces you to keep talking — especially if you’re about to say something incriminating.

Here’s an example of why I am such a fan of Lord Vetinari, also from Guards! Guards!:

One of the Patrician’s greatest contributions to the reliable operation of Ankh-Morpork had been, very early in his administration, the legalizing of the ancient Guild of Thieves. Crime was always with us, he reasoned, and therefore, if you were going to have crime, it at least should be organized crime.

And so the Guild had been encouraged to come out of the shadows and build a big Guildhouse, take their place at civic banquets, and set up their training college with day-release courses and City and Guilds certificates and everything. In exchange for the winding down of the Watch, they agreed, while trying to keep their faces straight, to keep crime levels to a level to be determined annually. That way, everyone could plan ahead, said Lord Vetinari, and part of the uncertainty had been removed from the chaos that is life.

And then, a little while later, the Patrician summoned the leading thieves again and said, oh, by the way, there was something else. What was it now? Oh, yes…

I know who you are, he said. I know where you live. I know what kind of horse you ride. I know where your wife has her hair done. I know where your lovely children, how old are they now, my doesn’t time fly, I know where they play. So you won’t forget about what we agreed, will you? And he smiled.

So did they, after a fashion.

He becomes increasingly awesome as the books go on,  and continues to impress me.

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