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Birchbark Blog

It's Fahrenheit 451 --which book are you?

Louise Erdrich - Saturday, July 07, 2007
My first question to those of you who love books is this: which book are you? Say someone burns all of the books, including My Pet Goat, and we are faced with a famous situation. Each of us must memorize your favorite book. For the rest of your life you will painstakingly memorize and then BE this book. This book will exist through you. But your life will be devoted to muttering and remembering every word written between the covers. And also, this book must be important enough for you to die for it. For if during the memorization process this book is discovered in your possession you will be confined in a place known as LITMO. And although we are told over and over how great those confined there have it, people commit what their keepers call "hanging gestures." -- Louise
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Anonymous commented on 18-Oct-2008 05:00 PM
I'd have to say the obscure and frighteningly long "Kirsten Lavransdatter" an epic novel of mideaval Scandinavia. My other pick would be "Middlemarch," but that is more well known and therefore have more of a chance to be picked by someone else. I read KL the summer between my sophomore and junior years of college and it was the first epic novel I read (not counting Tolkien, but that was broken into several books). I loved the book, I loved the main character, Kirsten, and her determination to lead her own life despite the strictures of her society. And I loved that it was written before that sentiment was at all popular.
Anonymous commented on 18-Oct-2008 05:00 PM
Nabokov's Dozen, a collection of thirteen short stories. "Spring in Fialta" and "That in Aleppo Once" are beautiful, haunting stories of memory and loss.
Anonymous commented on 18-Oct-2008 05:00 PM
Mine would have to be Barry Lopez's River Notes all for the first and last essays...I actually had a summer 20 years ago when I could only bring one book with me for 2 months in Labrador. I brought River Notes and scrawled a few of Robert Penn Warren's poems into the flyleaf. They're still there, preserved like a stem of cottongrass from the meadows.
Anonymous commented on 18-Oct-2008 05:00 PM
Atwood's Oryx and Crake for me.
Anonymous commented on 18-Oct-2008 05:00 PM
Granger, who would you be in Oryx and Crake?
Mark Anthony Rolo commented on 18-Oct-2008 05:00 PM
okay, so i've had this personal fantasy, um, starting with this huge crush i've had on Louise for years...so, the fantasy goes, i'm on this island, right, and i have a choice between Louise, herself or her wonderful, wonderful novel, Love Medicine...i can't keep both on the island, so i tell the gorgeous, classy author to take a swim while i cuddle up with Love Medicine...i am inside her deepest memory ;)
Anonymous commented on 18-Oct-2008 05:00 PM
I honestly could not memorize a book--In the 1970's, I killed too many brain cells in front of stages with my Bic lighter flaming as I yelled "Free Bird" and inhaled whatever was passed my way. So could I do a poem? The Red Wheelbarrow? The lyrics to "Stairway to Heaven" or "Born to Run" or any Ramones song? And though I love Oryx and Crake, no one should wish to be in that book.
Anonymous commented on 18-Oct-2008 05:00 PM
"Little Women" by Louisa May Alcott. Not because it's the greatest book ever - but it's because a book that so many have loved so dearly, despite the dismal pairing of Amy and Laurie at the end (sorry if that's a spoiler for anyone). Besides, I always wanted to "be" Jo. Right?

Or maybe, along the same maybe vein, "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn" by Betty Smith. I remember skipping archery or swimming or some other healthy activity at summer camp in Maine to devote myself to it - having borrowed it from another camper when my own stock of books ran out. Lucky day. How else would I have learned the bizzarely satisfying experience of reading a book that broke my heart? Oh sure, it migh have been some other book, some other camp, some other day, but it happened to be THAT book. So I sobbed like a baby into my coarse gray bunkbed blanket, finally toddling to the con (bathroom) to blow my nose again and again and wash my blotchy face with plenty of cold water before anyone would catch me at it. Oh bizarre bookish bliss.

(Now that I live in Brooklyn, however, let me tell you - the tree that grows in Brooklyn that's supposed to be such a poetic metaphor for struggling against all odds to persevere -the ailanthus -is a real stink weed. )
Anonymous commented on 18-Oct-2008 05:00 PM
Two books came to mind immediately when I read Fahrenheit 451 and considered this question for myself. Both of them are books that had a profound influence on me as a young reader, but probably also as a human. First was Madeleine L'Engle's A Wrinkle In Time. The other is C.S. Lewis's The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. I'm not sure I'd want to live in a world where no one remembered stories of the kind of love that makes those books so powerful. And I would not want the only record of them to be the film versions....
Sandra Sawatzky-Cariou commented on 15-May-2009 11:51 AM
In 1993 I read Vikram Seth's A Suitable Boy, Louis de Berniere's The Troublesome Offspring of Cardinal Guzman and Louise Erdich's Bingo Palace. All were a revelation in epic storytelling and poetic writing. Remarkable for the wit and sorrow woven into the characters. These three books are my beacons. That year I embarked on my own journey of writing, producing and directing off the beaten path films. I would be hard-pressed to choose, they are all beloved.
Lisa commented on 06-Jan-2011 06:07 PM
I've never read a book that came close to "The League of the Ho-de'-no-sau-nee or Iroquois" by Lewis Henry Morgan. Stunning. Native. Old. It is both a novel and a journey into culture and language and location. I found a copy of the treatise, first published in 1851, in a large bookstore at the end of the 'nineties; a paperback edition (with an introduction by William N. Fenton) that was reprinted (aroud 1995) from the (Corinth) 1962 (Citadel) 1975 editions (one volume) with the people drawings on the cover. I mention this because a far more expensive edition appeared in 2010. One volume in entirety, and one and two-volume editions exist--
Lisa commented on 06-Jan-2011 06:09 PM
I've never read a book that came close to "The League of the Ho-de'-no-sau-nee or Iroquois" by Lewis Henry Morgan. Stunning. Native. Old. It is both a novel and a journey into culture and language and location. I found a copy of the treatise, first published in 1851, in a large bookstore at the end of the 'nineties; a paperback edition (with an introduction by William N. Fenton) that was reprinted (aroud 1995) from the (Corinth) 1962 (Citadel) 1975 editions (one volume) with the people drawings on the cover. I mention this because a far more expensive edition appeared in 2010. One volume in entirety, and one and two-volume editions exist--
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The River Wife by Jonis Agee

Louise Erdrich - Tuesday, June 12, 2007
This is the book keeping me up nights. Not suprising since in it a young woman is kept up nights reading the story of Annie Lark, the first in a line of women who marry river men. Annie is easy to love, from the moment we meet her during an earthquake, to her last days--which come all too soon, even after a couple hundred pages. The novel is nearly 400 pages total, so you can live in it a few days, and trust me, there are other River Wives to love. Jonis Agee wrote this full and unforgettable novel over nearly a decade, adding it to her impressive list of books this summer when it offically comes out in July. So satisfying you will wonder why books like this seem so few and far between.
Comments
Anonymous commented on 18-Oct-2008 05:00 PM
Agee rewrites history, with a twist. Rescuing a real-life flood victim through an act of imagination, she paints a moving, rich, and entrancing portrait of the effects of love. Each scene is a perfect vignette, evoking the landscape and ethos of a lost era.
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Boozhoo from BirchBark Books

Louise Erdrich - Friday, June 01, 2007
We are a small, independent bookstore located in the Kenwood neighborhood of Minneapolis. Author Louise Erdrich owns the bookstore which focuses on Native American authors and titles, although not exclusively. We decided it is time we blog about the wonderful books, authors and events we host via our store. Look for reviews and book news from us, coming soon!

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