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A Book A Day Keeps…No, Wait. That’s Not It.

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Every once in a while I get into one of those frustrating bottlenecks that make me despair of ever finding my way out, and that’s where I got to today with something called the Book A Day Challenge.

I first saw the Book A Day Challenge because people were posting their answers to it on FB, and I naturally–being a simpleminded person–thought it was a FB thing.

It turns out that it is, instead, a Twitter thing, but that doesn’t help.

FB makes my computer freeze up, which is why I look at it on my Kindle.  Twitter won’t let me copy and past the photograph with the questions on it, and I can’t figure out how to link to it here.

If you like, you can go to


and see it for yourself.

Right now, I’m just going to answer the first twelve items, and after that I may go on from there.

I will say that I’m having one of those days when the Spirit of Capitalism seems to me to be rank stupid.

Yes, everybody makes money from the ads and we need ads to keep going, but if your ads make it impossible for even 20% of your audience to access your site, you’re not doing yourself any favors.

Now, in the probably vain hope that I will one day be able to put these things up on FB, I’ll answer the first twelve items and see what you think of them.

Or see if you’ll post your own.

Or something.

Day 1: Favorite book from childhood.

Caroline Keene.  The Ghost of Blackwood Hall.  My first Nancy Drew and, please note, from the original editions of the series.  The later editions really blew the whole point of the series, which was empowerment for girls before anybody had ever heard of such a thing.

Day 2: Best Bargain.

Almost certainly a copy of Meyer Shapiro’s volume of essays on Medieval Art, bought for a quarter–that’s 25 cents–at the local library’s little used book store.  Plates and everything.  I love books about painting and sculpture and all the rest of it, but they’re just SO expensive.

Day 3: One With A Blue Cover.

Here’s a dilemma.  I don’t usually notice covers.  Let me put in the paperback edition of Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique because it did indeed have a blue cover, sort of grey blue, and I noticed.  I never bought a copy of that for its cover, though.

Day 4: Least Favorite Book by Favorite Author.

Definitely Death at Pemberley by P.D. James.  James is, as far as I’m concerned, the greatest writer of mystery in the history of the genre, and like half the other writers I know, she’s enormously enamored of Jane Austen.  But she’s not Jane Austen.  The sensibility is not the same, and this book just irks me.  It’s neither good Austen nor good P.D. James.

Day 5: Doesn’t Belong to Me.

My first instinct here is go go–wait! Do you mean there are books that don’t belong to me?

But I’ll try to get a little serious here.  Because we should all get a little serious.  Although I don’t know why.

I’ll go with Reaper Man by Terry Pratchett, which lives in the house but belongs to one of my sons.

I once had a very funny afternoon with that book.  I went in for an ambulatory hernia operation and I brought the book with me as something to read while I waited.  The edition my sons have has a picture of the Grim Reaper as a skeleton with a scythe wearing a pair of overalls on the front cover, and I was so nervous about the operation, it took me quite a while to figure out why all the little old ladies in the waiting room kept staring at it.

Day 6: The One I Always Give As a Gift.

Terry Pratchett again, this time Small Gods, which is both very funny and the most remarkably elegant extended metaphor for Christianity I’ve ever seen.  If I ever got a chance to construct the Canon for myself, this would be on it.

Day 7: Forgot I Owned It.

Niven and Pournelle, The Mote in God’s Eye. Forgot I owned it twice and bought it a third time.  And I still haven’t managed to read it yet.

Day 8: Have More Than One Copy.

See above.  They’re in the house somewhere.  But I’ve also got more than one copy of The Razor’s Edge, by W. Somerset Maugham, because it’s one of my favorite books of all time.  I’ve got the matched Maugham set edition that was my mother’s, a hardcover copy of another edition I bought used many years ago, and a paperback Penguin edition I bought in London to carry around on the bus.  I used to read this book every Christmas. Some Christmases, I still do.

Day 9: Film or tv tie-in.

I’m not too sure how I’m supposed to interpret this one.  A film or tv tie in where I read the book before I saw the other media? Or that I read because I saw the other media?

With the first interpretation, I would say Jose Saramago’s Blindness, which is the book that made me want to learn how to read Portuguese.

With the second interpretation, I would say The Nun’s Story by K. Hulme. 

In both cases, the work was better in the version I originally encountered it in. 

Day 10: Reminds Me of Someone I love.

Well, for God’s said.  William L. DeAndrea.  The Lunatic Fringe. It was his favorite book of his.  It’s not mine, but it’s one of those things.  When I reread it, I can hear his voice in my head.

Day 11: Secondhand Bookshop Gem.

This is difficult, because what I tend to do in secondhand book shops is to buy things I’ve already read but that I don’t have a copy of anymore, for whatever reason.

Let me go with Erle Stanley Gardner’s The Case of the Velvet Claw, which was the first Perry Mason novel (as opposed to short story, etc).  And you can’t get the damned thing anywhere anymore, and I have of course lost my copy.

Because, when you have this many books, you lose them all the time.

Day 12: I Pretend to Have Read It.

This is something that, as far as I know, I don’t do.  I do sometimes make polite noises around other writers whose work I don’t know, but I don’t actually claim to have read anything.

I’m not entirely sure why this is the case, but it is. 

I keep trying to think of a comparable situation, but I can’t, except for the being professionally polite thing. 

Somewhere in the middle of all that, there must be someone I gave that kind of impression to, but I can’t think of who.

So those are the first twelve.

I’ll get around to the rest of the month later, if I can negotiate ad-encrusted web sites to let me have the list again.

Written by janeh

June 12th, 2014 at 10:30 am

Posted in Uncategorized

3 Responses to 'A Book A Day Keeps…No, Wait. That’s Not It.'

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  1. If it’s on twitter OR Facebook, I’ll never see it, but:
    1. The “Mushroom Planet” books. Or JOHNNY’S SPACE SHIP in Little Golden Books? SF and I go WAY back.
    2.DARK MIND, DARK HEART–$4.95 new in hardcover from Arkham House–cheap even in 1968, and the first book I ever special ordered.
    3. Emma Jameson, ICE BLUE. Also BLUE MURDER and SOMETHING BLUE. I think she’s developing a pattern.
    4. Lois McMaster Bujold’s “Sharing Knife” books. Any of them.
    5. The GROSSE UNIFORMKUNDE. But I’d need to add on a room.
    6.Sutcliffe’s SWORD AT SUNSET? But I do try to vary with the recipient.
    7. FORTRESS by Martin Caidin. I was young. They were cheap, and they kept changing covers.
    8. H. Beam Piper, LORD KALVAN OF OTHERWHEN. Both paperback covers and the Garland Press hardback. (I’ve got six copies of THE MASTER AND MARGARITA, but those are each a different translation. The text of the three LORD KALVANS is unchanged–but one was the first I owned, one has the Whelan cover–and one is a Garland Press hardcover.
    9. BATTLESTAR GALACTICA. About the first 8 in the series retold the TV show episodes–and every time, they did a better job of it.
    10. THE SCARLET PIMPERNEL. Close to the last thing Sharon read. I couldn’t figure out where she put it for a long time and finally bought another copy. The one she read is put aside for the hypothetical grandchildren.
    11. Rafael Sabatini, THE BLACK SWAN. Still the finest Sabatini. Set me back a quarter, I think, in an old Lancer paperback.
    12. I don’t inflate my reading. I’ll grant you I can discuss a few I’ve never completed, but I’ve never claimed to have read them.


    12 Jun 14 at 5:23 pm

  2. Oops! “Johnny’s Space TRIP,” and a “Little OWL Book.” What I get for not researching my comments. But is has to be 55 years and change. Anyway, if anyone has really young children or grandchildren–my equivalent of Jane’s Nancy Drews were my Tom Swift Jr books, and they were for a measurably older readership.


    12 Jun 14 at 5:37 pm

  3. I’m with Robert in that if it’s on Twitter I’ll never see it, and if on Facebook I will probably ignore it entirely. Twitter is a nasty virus and Facebook is little better.

    My memory is so bad that I couldn’t give an accurate answer to most of the questions. I can answer the least favourite book by favourite author. Same answer as Jane’s. My Second-hand Bookshop gem is George V. Higgins’s “Penance For Jerry Kennedy”, a near pristine hardcover version I got for 10 cents.


    12 Jun 14 at 7:53 pm

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