Yesterday Rarely Likable seized upon New York Magazine's new feature of 5 random books from an author's bookshelf and challenged others to do the same. (I wanted to be first, but Shaken & Stirred beat me). I'm taking up Likable's challenge. Using the nifty gadget from my LibraryThing catalog, I selected five. Wouldn't you know -- I hated 2 of them. Oh well, here goes:
1. Sibley's Guide to Bird Life, David Allen Sibley. A great book if you are a birdwatcher, or a handy occasional reference if you live in the woods like I do and sometimes want the answer to 'what kind of bird is that?". This was a Christmas present a few years ago. It's a beautiful book. If I didn't have this book, I never would have known anything about those birds that looked like they had dipped their wings in paint (Cedar Waxwings) or what they were doing when they looked like they were playing a bird version of Spin the Bottle (communal feeding behavior). A treat for the occasional naturalist!
2. The City of Falling Angels, John Berendt. Another Christmas present -- this one from 2005. I haven't read this yet, but since I'm planning a trip to Venice later this year, I probably will read it soon. I heard a snippet of an interview with the author and was intrigued by his talk of meeting the King of Rat Poison who claimed to know all of the secrets of cuisine around the world as part of his business. Since he had to know what rats like to eat, he tailored his poison to the area's cuisine. A book that would capture such a weird factoid always has a high probability of landing in my TBR pile. If that's not in this book, then I'm terribly confused and can only hope that there some equally offbeat intriguing tidbit that will make the read worthwhile.
3. Following the Equator, Vol I, Mark Twain. I realized when I cataloged my books last fall that I had 2 copies of this. Not surprising in itself, but I noted that they have the same publisher, appear to be similar font, claim to be complete and unabridged, but one is several pages longer than the other. I read excerpts from this when I was in college. I don't remember reading the entire work and I think both copies may belong to my dear partner. Glancing through the TOC, I couldn't resist reading Chapter 13 'What Cecil Rhodes Found in a Shark'. Didn't anyone remember this tale when the whale was caught in the Thames recently? Yes, there is a difference between a whale and a shark, but it must have been a very big shark -- maybe even larger than that whale!
4. As I Lay Dying, William Faulkner. Another book read in college during a summer-session course on Faulkner, Hemingway and Sherwood Anderson. Sherwood Anderson? Yep -- it was the Prof's specialty. He said we'd all be tired of Gatsby by the time we were 40 because we'd have to teach it so often to teens who wouldn't understand it, so there was no reason to read Fitzgerald. I quite teaching high school long before I turned 40 -- but Anderson?. The class discussed Winesburg, Ohio for a full week and devoted the next five weeks to all of Faulkner and Hemingway. I hated this book at the time. I only liked one chapter: "My mother is a fish".
5. Losing Battles, Eudora Welty. I hated this book too. It was a selection for my reading group. I looked forward to reading this book. The only other work of Welty's I had read (shortly after it was published in '84) was One Writer's Beginning, a book borrowed at lunch time from a co-worker and returned, completed, the next day. I couldn't get past the dialog in Losing Battles. I struggled throughout the first 50 pages, never quite finding the voice I needed to 'hear' to understand the rhythm of the dialect. Knew I could never make it through the next 400 pages. If someone out there in the blogosphere can recommend a Welty work that will change my mind, I'll give her another chance.
What are 5 books in your library? Post a link in the comments.