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Book Meme from Electric Grandmother
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1. One book that changed your life

Childhood’s End by Arthur C. Clarke. It was a dark and stormy day in the middle of a monsoon season in India. The Peace Corps had supplied each team with a book locker for those times when there’s no possibility of doing anything outdoors and everyone, Indian and Englishman alike, stays inside and does something to fill the time.

Midday it was so dark outside, it was like the night time. I lighted several candles (no electricity or running water) and put them on the top of the bookcase, where they would provide light over my left shoulder for reading. Over the period of several days, I read my way through the book locker until two were left: Samuelson’s tome on Economics and Clarke’s Childhood’s End.

I actually read the Samuelson first, not understanding a word, and in desperation for solace from the written word, finally read the Clarke book, even though it was merely science fiction.

I fell in love. After finishing the book, I left my hut in a blinding rainstorm, thunder and lightning, got on my bicycle, sari and all, and rode 10 miles to the nearest settlement that had a secondhand bookstore. There I found two or three books in the same genre (the proprietor wouldn’t let me in because I was soaking wet), wrapped them carefully so that they would stay dry, and cycled back to my village compound.

I’ve been a fan of science fiction ever since, for 40 years, thanks to Arthur C. Clarke (and the Peace Corps).

2. One book you have read more than once

Tolkien, Fellowship of the Ring--yes, I know it’s a trilogy, but the three are great favorites of mine.

3. One book you would want on a desert island

Shakespeare, the collected works. Yes, I know, that’s more than one book. So I cheat. I could read and re-read King Lear, Hamlet, Macbeth, Midsummer Night’s Dream—all of the plays, except the late comedies.

4. One book that made you laugh

Strangled Prose by Joan Hess.

5. One book that made you cry

Rudyard Kipling, Kim--the old Lama is a touching stalwart figure and his love for his Hills and for Kim always makes me cry. And the short story, “The Last of the Winnebagos” by Connie Willis. I am tearing up now, just remembering it.

6. One book you wish had been written

The Doomsday Book by Connie Willis.

7. One book you wish had never had been written

Mao Tse-tung, The Little Red Book

8. One book you are currently reading

Dead in the Water by Dana Stabenow

9. One book you have been meaning to read

Founding Brothers by Joseph J. Ellis

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