Tuesday, 25 November 2014


“To limit the press is to insult a nation; to prohibit reading of certain books is to declare the inhabitants to be either fools or slaves.” - Claude-Adrien Helvetius

A friend sent me to complete this meme list recently, so I gladly oblige to fill in my answers, making this my offering for Book Tuesday.

1. Name one book that changed your life:
My first alphabet book, from which I learnt to read and write. Had I not been given the opportunity to learn to read that, my life would certainly have been different… Literacy is the cornerstone of civilised life. As far as other books that influence our lives are concerned, I agree with the words of E. M. Forster:  “I suggest that the only books that influence us are those for which we are ready, and which have gone a little farther down our particular path than we have yet gone ourselves.”

2. What is the one book that you have read more than once?
The Little Prince” by Frenchman Antoine de St Exupéry. It is a fairy tale, a love story, a philosophy book, a children’s book but also, anything but a children’s book. It is magical, it is make-believe, it is real, it is fantastical, it is fantastic! It has told me different things every time I read it. It has made me laugh, it has made me cry.

3. One book you would want on a desert island?
“Practical Boat Building & Sailing for Beginners” by Robinson Crusoe. :-)

4. What is one book that made you laugh?
Don Quixote de la Mancha” by Spaniard Miguel de Cervantes. A classic tale, an allegory, a drama and a comedy, a grand work, a reflection of life. Touching and poignant at times, farcical at others. One empathises with the hero, one feels for him, and yet he also strikes us as the buffoon, the aloof aristocrat, the knight in shining armour and the idealist in an imperfect world. One of the great classics of world literature.

5. And what about one book that made you cry?
When I was young and impressionable, still in High School, I read a book by Sylvia Engdahl called “The Heritage of the Star”. This is a science fiction book, but well written and has a plot that is engaging and makes a social comment (as I guess, all good science fiction books do). I remember staying up all night to read this and the emotionally charged ending that brought me to edge of tears. Ah, how sensitive our youth, how soft our heart is then…

I have been trying to find my copy of this book, lately, but I cannot locate it, which is very annoying, as I usually know where all my books are and I don't lend out my books (I give books as gifts, but do not lend mine, especially to friends!).

6. Name one book that you wish you had written:
Guy de Maupassant’s “Short Stories”. Well written, amusing, poignant, varied in scope and extent, thematically varied. Marvellous gems of the short story genre.

7. Is there one book you wish had never been written?
No book is evil, the person who writes it, may be. No book is immoral, the reader may be. As Oscar Wilde says on the matter: “There is no such thing as a moral book or an immoral book. Books are well written or badly written. That is all.”
All books must be read and understood for what they are. There are good books and bad books. “A bad book is as much labour to write as a good one, is comes as sincerely from the author's soul.” Says Aldous Huxley.

Books that contain terrible deeds in them must be read so that we know what atrocities people are capable of and eschew them; books containing horrible thoughts inoculate our minds against the horrors they describe and give us ammunition for our arguments against violence, injustice, prejudice and inequity. An intelligent person can read any book and learn something from it.

8. What book are you currently reading?
Spanish author Carlos Ruiz Zafón’s “The Angel’s Game” (El juego del ángel, 2008), which is a prequel to the 2001 novel “The Shadow of the Wind”, which I have also read and greatly enjoyed. Like “The Shadow of the Wind”, “The Angel’s Game” was translated into English by Lucia Graves, daughter of the poet Robert Graves, and published in 2009. “The Angel’s Game” is set in Barcelona in the 1920s and 1930s and follows a young writer, David Martin, who is approached by a mysterious figure to write a book. The novel returns to The Cemetery of Forgotten Books in Barcelona’s Raval district, and the Sempere & Sons bookshop, from “The Shadow of the Wind.”

9. One book you have been meaning to read:
 “Tales from the Mountain” by Miguel Torga

10. Anyone who reads this and wants to do this meme, please do so and write a comment so other readers (and I!) can peruse your answers!

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