Secret Mojo Dumbs It Down for You

August 4, 2006

My big mouth gets me tagged.

Filed under: books,Reading — secretmojo @ 2:10 am

Dangit! I first read BlogLily’s meta-meme: a fantasy question & answer session with Terry Gross. I wrote some answers down privately for the heck of it. Then I found Anna’s responses on her blog, and went so far as to click through to TeaBird, who tagged Anna to begin with. All these were sufficient to serve me the “implicit challenge” notice, which I elected to ignore. Until Anna tagged me head on.

All right, then. Here are some answers that would shift like a kaleidoscope if I were asked any sooner or later than I was:

1. One book that changed your life.

The dictionary. Really. It is the entire compendium of books you read that help define your life, and there’s no way I could have gotten through all the books I’ve read without a dictionary. I wore the pages off the sucker reading Richard III, looking up any word that felt suspiciously vague in my brain. Took me about a week to read it. But after that, Shakespeare was both a breeze and a joy.

2. One book that you’ve read more than once.

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, by Douglas Adams. I think I’ve put more hours into that book than he had. On second thought, probably not. But I bet he never knew that page 117 is the page you must turn to in The More Than Complete Hitchhiker’s Guide to re-read the evolution of the number forty-two. (Sorry Anna, this was my private answer well before your post.)

3. One book you’d want on a desert island.

I was going to quip here and say How to Get off a Desert Island, but since some ugly experiences taught me to be skeptical of how-to books, I’ll have to say a large (>800 pp.) compilation of jokes and humorous ditties, because being stranded on a desert island probably sucks.

4. One book that made you laugh.

In God We Trust: All Others Pay Cash, by Jean Shepherd. Any book by Jean Shepherd will do, actually.

5. One book that made you cry.

The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood. At the end, a history professor digs through this extremely sensitive woman’s life as if it were some burlesque pastiche, and that upset me greatly. I finished the book on the train, tears in my eyes, which was very embarrassing. It’s not the saddest book out there, but it’s the only one that made me both cry and seem insane to 15 strangers.

6a. One book you wish you had written.

One Hundred Years of Solitude, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Damn, this book is epically cool.

6b. One book you wish had been written.

I honestly don’t know. I’ll tell you when it comes out. That sounds like a cop-out, but I believe in the generative nature of humanity; there’s no way I could imagine a book without some brilliant chap writing it soon enough, and certainly better than I conceived it to begin with.

7. One book that you wish had never been written.

Perhaps Mein Kampf, but even that documents quite clearly the tendencies of pathological tyranny, so it has some uses, too. Without it, we would have to blindly suffer different holocausts every 50 years, because we’d have a harder time detecting what’s going wrong when it’s going wrong.

8. One book you’re currently reading.

Chicago Noir, edited by Neal Pollack.

9. One book you’ve been meaning to read.

Sharpe’s Tiger, by Bernard Cromwell. For some reason I just can’t get through that book. I hear it’s fantastic, and I’m afraid I might just be too philistine to make it all the way through.

You are tagged now. By reading the above, you have entered into a contractual agreement to answer these questions on your own and furnish a trackback to this post or a URL in the comments directing visitors to your post. If you have already answered these questions on a blog, you are still required to provide a trackback here. If you’d rather track somebody else’s blog back, do so, but ONLY if they have answered the questions themselves. Failing your having a blog, you are required to write your answers in the comments section here or on some other blog that has entertained these questions. Failing having a computer, you are required to write them down privately, and wonder how you accessed this page to begin with. You can be sued an amount not to exceed 20 dirty looks if you do not comply.



  1. Ok, i thought I had tracked back, but apparently I’m technically incompetent. Here’s the link for my response:

    Comment by Jennifer — August 4, 2006 @ 2:12 pm | Reply

  2. Mr. SMJ, I love what you’ve said about the dictionary. I’ve never thought about it like that, but there’s something utterly wonderful about that list of words. Are you a lawyer? There’s something very watertight and scary about that last paragraph. In response, I plan to work in a link to you every chance I can get. I hope that keeps me off your bad list. Best, BL

    Comment by bloglily — August 4, 2006 @ 4:13 pm | Reply

  3. BL, I already covered you by linking to your post. Besides, no links to me are necessary. The fine print only requires comment here (via trackback if you know how) or elsewhere, and is certainly not a coercion to link to me.

    Anyways: [[evil laughter]]!

    Comment by secretmojo — August 5, 2006 @ 5:54 am | Reply

  4. I’m with you on the dictionary… I’m a sucker for those Word of the Day websites. And I really love the Oxford English Dictionary just for understanding how words and meanings evolve.

    There’s just too many books to read (you’ve added a few more).

    Comment by fencer — August 6, 2006 @ 9:36 am | Reply

  5. parostotic augend televox palaetiological bucketing calliopsis rememberer partisanize
    Spanish Properties

    Comment by Doris Best — April 17, 2008 @ 10:24 pm | Reply

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