Data Obsessed

The weblog of an almost-librarian interested in special, corporate, and government librarianship, with occasional forays into technology and anime-related geekiness.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

miscellany + books

Trying this again, as Blogger is evidently hating me today. Note to self: Never preview.

Jessica Baumgart will be speaking to the Wisconsin Chapter of the SLA tonight; I'd love to go, but I will unfortunately be at work, and getting a sub will be impossible. See, LIS 450 meets on Wednesdays, and since the other two night reference assistants are in that first year seminar, there's no one who can work. I'll undoubtedly be spending the night memorizing my MadCat script. Bummer.

Oh well, I'll go to next month's meeting.

A few days back, Jessa at Bookslut posted a list of the books that marked a "watershed" in her life. She had 23. I can only think of 10.

Well, I'm young yet.

  • Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

  • The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

  • A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith

  • A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett

  • Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu

  • Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery

  • The Jungle by Upton Sinclair

  • The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan

  • The Bridegroom by Ha Jin

  • Bridget Jones's Diary by Helen Fielding

  • Each of these books did something different to me, I think; Wuthering Heights, for instance, I read at a far too impressionable age and is probably to blame for my not-so-secret love for all things angsty, melodramatic, and tragic. On the other hand, Huck Finn and practically everything else I've ever read by Mark Twain is the root of my love of a good sarcastic wit.

    A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, A Little Princess, and Anne of Green Gables were my growing up books. I read A Tree Grows in Brooklyn and Anne of Green Gables so often that the books fell apart in my hands. My copy of A Little Princess was hardcover and managed to survive the shy, introverted, rather unhappy little girl I once was.

    The Tao was the book that made me think about what I really believed and how I expressed that belief, and it eventually gave me more inner balance and self-esteem that was finally based on myself instead of what the rest of the world saw. Ironic when you think that I published it because I was obsessed with CLAMP's manga and anime.

    I read The Jungle when I was too young to really understand it, I think, but it still managed, along with a handful of other books (including the aforementioned Huck Finn and Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men and The Grapes of Wrath) to shape my political and social consciousness. Though I'm much less idealistic about it these days.

    The last three on the list affected me more as a writer than as a reader, I think - though I read two of them years before I ever started to write. When I write, I like to think that my characters are strong, but they have human frailties that must seem so silly to other people, and that can be attributed to both Amy Tan and Helen Fielding. Bridget Jones is famously obsessed with her weight and relies on self-help books to work through her problems, and Jing Mei in The Joy Luck Club is never able to shake the feeling that she's not good enough for her mother. These are both insecurities that are unbelievably accurate to modern life.

    And someday I hope to achieve the combination of spare, matter-of-fact words and raw, intense emotion that Ha Jin manages in each one of the stories in The Bridegroom.


    At 11:58 PM, Blogger j said...

    Hello Amanda,

    The outline of my talk and some notes from the program are on j's scratchpad.


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