Tuesday, December 02, 2008

The Baseline Book

Okay, you've given me your baseline movies, what about your baseline books? I can remember when mine was The Dam Busters by Paul Brickhill, then it was Joyce's A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, then it was Nabokov's Lolita. But now I don't seem to have one. Poems yes - Intimations of Immortality, The Skaters etc - but whole books, no. This is not, remember, a question of great books, but of books one rereads for the consolation of familiarity. You?

30 comments:

  1. The Complete Molesworth

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  2. Right Ho, Jeeves...

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  3. Patrick O'Brians Aubrey/Maturin novels.

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  4. For baseline, comforting, familiar books I return to my childhood - Malory Towers (reread over+over), Harry Potter, What Katy Did, The Secret Seven, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Chronicles of Narnia

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  5. It's more a case of baseline writers, for when brain hurts. Elmore Leonard, James Lee Burke, much of Norman Lewis, P.G. Wodehouse. Poetry is usually too demanding when brain hurts, but I will open Collected Auden at random and read, say, ten pages.

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  6. Do plays count? In which case always, always Henry IV pt1. Otherwise: The Wind in the Willows. And a copy of Keats is never far away.

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  7. O'Brian's Aubrey/Maturin series; the Moomintroll books; Pride & Prejudice; the novels of Mary Renault; Stalky & Co.

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  8. fup me, if you won't tag us for memes next!

    Super-tramp and Three men in a boat (the first has poems at the back but I would skip those).

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  9. Always Graham Swwift's 'Waterland'

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  10. Further Cuttings from Cruiskeen Lawn by Myles na Gopaleen

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  11. I'm an Aubrey/Maturin fan, too. I've read them all but not actually any of them twice, but there's so many that you can escape into that world whenever you need to. Austen, Dickens, Wodehouse provide similar refuge.

    That's what this baseline thing is really about, isn't it? Going into a world that pleases you more than the real one. Thus the appeal of Tolkien, Harry Potter, Pratchett etc.

    Can't say I have a particular baseline book now, but as a child I loved Just William, Greek myths, the Susan Cooper 'Dark is Rising' books, amongst many, many others.

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  12. Ah Brit me old fruit, man after me own heart, Wind in the Willows it is.
    Dare one mention Tom Sawyer.
    When clapped out, Maigret, interesting, undemanding. For the warming of the cockles then On the Eve. For the geekside, George Johnstons A shortcut Through Time.

    Bryan, may I pre-empt tomorrows test....Twice a month except when one of us has a cold.

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  13. Three Men in a Boat; England Their England; The Compleet Molesworth, any William book; The Magic Pudding; anything by Bill Bryson; Poe's poems, especially Annabel Lee and The Bells (great name for a rock group!); Yeats.

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  14. oh and of course The Beano Annual

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  15. I like a bit of Philip K Dick, especially 'The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch'. As a nipper, like Brit, Just William & Greek Myths, especially Enid Blyton's renditions in tales of long ago. also. When I can't be bothered to concentrate I tend to crack out what are pretentiously called 'Graphic Novels'. Old clasics such as Watchmen or Judge Dredd, plus there's a modern zombie series called Walking DEad which is a page turner and some surreal stuff by a chap called jim Woodring. Never Jimmy corrigan though, that's crap, no matter what the Guardian says.

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  16. Definitely Tove Jansson’s Moomin stories. Generally, rereading the books you loved as a child is a bad move: wherever the magic was, it’s gone, and you’re left feeling a little sad. But the Moomin saga stays strange - it’s still full of funny, scary wonders whenever you go back to it.

    Otherwise, and quite differently, Anthony Powell. The Dance novels don’t come close to being great literature, I’d say, but they have all the addictive, comforting, maddening qualities of a great soap.

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  17. Any Jeeves, Frank L Baum's Wonderful Wizard of Oz, Mary Renault's The Persian Boy, Ian Fleming's Bond series and Sellars and Yeatman's 1066 and all that, which concludes with the end of World War One when 'America was thus clearly Top Nation, and history came to a .". Shades of Fukuyama.

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  18. Narcissus and Goldman, man. Herman Hesse.

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  19. Dorothy Sayers' "Gaudy Night," which I am in fact rereading right now, having just spent three months reading nothing but Engdahlian eurofiction with a Japanese title thrown in for good measure (see my long essay on this in the winter issue of the Hudson Review -- at the moment my brain hurts).

    Other comfort books: Aubrey/Maturin, yup. I read the first two of those again before I began my Euro-project.

    In my teens, the rereading consisted of Tolkien's "Lord of the Rings," but I can't take that anymore, dunno why.

    Did reread two beloved books from childhood last year and loved them both: "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn" by Betty Smith (I rec this book to anyone -- fantastic portrayal of growing up poor amid all the immigrants then flooding NYC's burgs early in the 20th century) and "Lad, a Dog," by Albert Payson Terhune.

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  20. Jim Thompson- The Grifters, Patricia Highsmith- Strangers on a Train, Stephen King- The Shining, Charles Bukowski- Post Office and Ham on Rye.

    I find dark books comforting.

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  21. Dante - he can be read in any mood and you'll find something new, something good.

    Tolstoy's 'Hadji Murad' is an old favourite, taut, good stuff.

    i find something consoling, in the best sense, about 'Hamlet' and some books of the King James (eg Isaiah), and Kierkegaard generally perks me up.

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  22. And heres me thinking Elberry was more like Chuck Norris. He didn't read books, just stared them down till he got the information he wanted.

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  23. Richard Ford's The Sportswriter

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  24. "Leaves of Grass".

    Nothing else is even in the ballpark.

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  25. Peter Fleming's One's Company. vicarious travel. No eggs.

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  26. Elizabeth Kostova's 'The Historian' for no good reason other than I just love it for some reason or other.

    Other than than, any Philip Roth book from ' The Ghost Writer' onwards, and 'Letting go' from his earlier work.

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  27. Raymond Chandler’s The Long Goodbye or E.L. Doctorow’s Book of Daniel

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