Lady Summerisle (strange_complex) wrote,
Lady Summerisle

June #bookaday meme

At the end of May, my friend [personal profile] rosamicula posted this image on Facebook for a book meme designed to be played out during the 30 days of June:

Bookaday prompt list.jpg

Although I could see from the image that it had originally been designed as viral advertising for a publisher, and a poke around on Twitter revealed that it was four years old, the prompts instantly sparked lots of thoughts and ideas, so I decided to go for it. With a bit of careful forward planning, I managed to keep it going faithfully on both Twitter and Facebook every day throughout the month, despite the fact that I spent about a third of it away from home (on holiday in Scotland, visiting my family or in Swansea doing external examining), and I felt that it captured quite a faithful cross-section of my academic and personal selves. A little belatedly, and before the posts entirely disappear down the drain of social media, I'm now transposing the results here, so that a few different people can see them and I stand some chance of finding them again in future.

1 Favourite book from childhood

The Wizard of Oz / the Oz series. These books (and the film) were everything to me between the ages of about 4 and 8, and still stand up pretty well to re-reads - v. imaginative, good jokes and lots of prominent female characters.

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2 Best bargain

The Marvels of Rome, cover price £8.99, bought for £1 in the campus bookshop at Bristol. To a student with no other way of accessing this wonderful text, this was so exciting that I bought it quickly and furtively in case they'd made a mistake.

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3 One with a blue cover

A recent translation of and commentary on Suetonius' Life of Augustus by David Wardle. Suetonius is everything that makes the ancient world worth studying - a vivid, engaging text in itself, plus lots of knotty source issues to unpick.

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4 Least favourite book by favourite author

I'm treating this as 'a favourite' rather than 'my absolute favourite', as I'm not sure I have one. I do love Diana Wynne Jones, but some of her books grab me more than others, and Cart and Cwidder kind of just slid past me.

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5 Doesn't belong to me

Year 2018! by James Blish. I spotted this on my Dad's shelves recently, and although I am not a hard sci-fi fan, I felt it deserved to be read, this year of all years, so I borrowed it. I'm finishing something else at the mo, but will read this next.

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6 The one I always give as a gift

I don't give the same book repeatedly to different people, so instead here is my most recent gift - my niece on her 7th birthday with (visible bottom right) The Usborne Art Treasury by Rosie Dickins, plus the painting you can see she has started in the picture. The book introduces famous works of art then shows simple ways to get similar effects.

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7 Forgot I owned it

Augustus, Godfather of Europe by Richard Holland. A truly mediocre book on Augustus. I already had a free ex-library copy, but forgot this when I discovered I needed to read it for a paper on Augustus and Europe and PAID MONEY for another. Gah!

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8 Have more than one copy

When you publish with a traditional publisher, they usually give you a few free copies of the book. Hence it is that I currently have seven copies of some book called Afterlives of Augustus, AD14-2014. ;-)

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9 Film or TV tie-in

John Burke's novelisation of Dracula, Prince of Darkness 1966, released as part of an omnibus. A very competent novel, with a particularly great chapter from Klove's point of view, and getting more out of the ice-breaking ending than the film. The cover art, by the way, is by Josh Kirby, later of Discworld cover art fame.

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10 Reminds me of someone I love

This is my Mum's book, which she published in 2007. It's about her step-great-grandfather, a surgeon in Victorian Birmingham who left us an archive of family documents. Mum died in 2016, so this is a very precious reminder of her work and interests.

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11 Secondhand bookshop gem

J. Sheridan le Fanu collection, released as a Vampire Lovers tie-in. One of many such books which I rifled out of charity shop baskets in my early teens. I had no internet to guide my choices, just picked anything with a promising cover.

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12 I pretend to have read it

Obvs I won't be able to pretend any more after this post, but I am a Classicist, and I have never properly read the Iliad. Selected scenes, yes, but I just can't bring myself to care about the full saga of men sulking and fighting.

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13 Makes me laugh

Jerome K. Jerome, Three Men in a Boat. Beautifully crisp language deployed in the service of an astute sense for the absurd and incongruous. Very highly recommended indeed if you need a good laugh (and only very short, too).

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14 An old favourite

Horrorshows by Gene Wright, which is my personal Horror Bible (a term coined by Mark Gatiss in one of his horror documentaries). When I bought this in the late '80s, it gave me access for the first time to systematic knowledge of screen horror, and I've been ticking off the films I've seen in it ever since.

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15 Favourite fictional father

I don't really read for fatherhood, so struggled with this one. However, Death from the Discworld is an adoptive father and grandfather, and tries endearingly hard to perform the role appropriately. I love him for that, and much else.

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16 Can't believe more people haven't read

Robert Aickman. Anything by him really, although this collection is particularly good and includes my favourite of his stories - 'Pages from a Young Girl's Journal'. His strange stories stay with you and draw you back, and any fans of the ghostly and mysterious will love him, but he is not as well known as he deserves.

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17 Future classic

This was a tricky one. Most books I read are either already classics or definitely never going to be. However, I think Caesar's Calendar by Denis Feeney, about time in Roman politics, literature & thought, will remain important for a good while.

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18 Bought on a recommendation

Multiple people, including Matthew Kilburn, recommended the About Time series to me a few years ago when I was working my way through Classic Doctor Who. They're really indispensable for both production detail and interpretation.

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19 Still can't stop talking about it

Well, thinking anyway. Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Marble Faun, first read at Bristol for the best module I ever took - Responses to Rome, co-taught by Catharine Edwards and Duncan Kennedy. A very Gothic story about the darkness beneath the surface and the alluring danger of the past.

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20 Favourite cover

The Art Deco House by Adrian Tinniswood will do nicely. A very beautiful building, nicely photographed and cropped to make a good base picture and well complemented by the colour, font and placement of the lettering. Jolly good work all round.

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21 Summer read

I can't quite remember whether it was A Room With A View or Where Angels Fear To Tread that I read on a holiday with Mum on the Bay of Naples c. 2002, but anyway this is the one that I have to take a picture of. We stayed in Sorrento and I remember reading whichever it was on the Circumvesuviana on the way to Pompeii.

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22 Out of print

Lanciani's Ancient Rome in the Light of Recent Discoveries (though I'm sure you can buy a reprint). Basically everything he could record of the treasures which came out of the ground while Rome was expanding exponentially after it had become the capital of a newly-united Italy in 1871.

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23 Made to read at school

Tacitus' Annals, for the A-level Ancient History module on the principate from Tiberius to Trajan. And three cheers for that!

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24 Hooked me in to reading

My Mum was a primary school teacher, so when I began learning to read she made me a reading book about my own life to really get me interested. Other pages showed my house, my Nanny and Grandad, a teddy and a rabbit. That is love.

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25 Never finished it

Corinne by Madame de Staël. This is a French novel, published in 1807, which I read in French. Given those conditions, I'm more quietly pleased that I got about two-fifths of the way through than downcast that I didn't actually finish it.

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26 Should have sold more copies

A Citizen's Guide to Electoral Reform by Alan Renwick. If more people had read this before the AV referendum, we'd certainly have a more thoughtful and engaged electorate, and might even have a slightly better voting system. In turn, the 2015 and 2017 elections would have been fought differently, and the 2017 one in particular might well have led to a result which made more than one coalition possible. I like to think that would have forced parties to thrash out clearer positions on Brexit, at least between themselves, rather than the awful fudging and can-kicking we have now.

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27 Want to be one of the characters

Chrestomanci. I want to be Chrestomanci and do magic, have nine lives and move between worlds, all while being nice but a little bit vague and absent-minded and living in a splendid castle. Thank you very much.

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28 Bought at my fave independent bookshop

Can you imagine living in a town which has a second-hand bookshop just for Classicists? That was The Classics Bookshop in Turl Street, Oxford - now gone. All of these ex-library Loebs came from there in the late '90s.

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29 The one I have reread most often

The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy, by Douglas Adams. I know because I kept a tally in the front showing how many times I had read it. All seven were in my teens or early 20s, so I haven't actually read it now for 20 years. I have listened to the radio series a couple of times during that period, though, including some of the newer ones from the early 2000s.

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30 Would save if my house burned down

You knew it was coming in this meme at some point, and here it is - my childhood copy of Dracula, first read when I was eight and last re-read six months ago. I'll be giving a paper on Classical references in this in October

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Tags: ancient history, art deco, augustus, books, bristol, classical literature, dad, diana wynne jones, doctor who, electoral reform, eloise, family, fantasy, french, greek mythology, h2g2, horror, horror films, italy, kehs, memes, mum, oxford, personal history, photo posts, politics, rodolfo lanciani, roma, roman history, sci-fi, suetonius, tacitus, terry pratchett, vampires

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