Wednesday, November 19, 2008

A Literary Quartet

I've been tagged by the friendly fellow libran, Rob, of Inukshuk
Adventure for a literary quartet! This one is short, fun and easy.
Here's the scoop.
List the following:

(a) Fiction book
(b) Autobiography
(c) Non-fiction book
(d) A fourth book of your choice from any genre

Explain why the books are essential reads in no more than 30 words
per book.

Here's mine:

Fiction book. Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak is one novel from
the last century that is a must read. It's rich and beautiful. Pasternak's
poetic passages are a joy, even translated. I can't imagine how lovely
the book would be in its native language.

Autobiography. Three little books come to mind here. Helene Hanff's
Q's Legacy, 84 Charing Cross Road, and The Duchess of
Bloomsbury Street are three in a series of memoirs of a writer and
her love affair with books. They are charming, intelligent and funny. A
must read for bibliophiles.
Non-fiction. Song Without Words, The Photographs & Diaries
of Countess Sophia Tolstoy, by Leah Bendavid-Val is an insightful
look at the personal life and thoughts of the wife of Leo Tolstoy, an
artist in her own right, in the social upheaval of pre-revolutionary
Russia. This might not be an absolute essential, but I was fascinated
by her incredibly heartfelt diary passages, as well as her photography,
which was state of the art in her day.
Book of my choice. Selected Poems of Edna St. Vincent Millay.
This wonderful anthology of her finest works would be my desert island
book. I have to have her near me.

Okey dokey, I'm tagging this bloggy quartet: Bill, Charmaine,
French Fancy, Phil and any of you out there who would enjoy this
meme. The instructions were for me to pick four, but please feel free
to jump on in!! This one is fun!


  1. The old book in the stack is beautiful!

  2. I'm with Betsy..Such artistry in vintage book covers...What a fun meme..I might just jump in on this one as well...

  3. Rebecca, please do! I'm sure you would have some interesting choices! :)

  4. Libras and books. :) I enjoy reading tremendously, but Steph's the one who is passionate about books--Libra that she is.

  5. Oh...this is a fun meme!


  6. Yeah! This is very book wormy! My Napoleon books came in the mail yesterday! I am such a happy camper:)

  7. Such excellent choices Willow, what a perfect meme for you.

  8. Oh Willow, I just knew you would enjoy this one. I love your choices, but am not familiar with Edna St. Vincent Millay, so will have to have a read to know why you love her poetry so.

    Thanks for playing along.

  9. Nice choices on the books.

    I am reading some of the Lewis and Clark journals and books about them. I always find something new and exciting about their journey. We visited a lot of the spots where they camped in 2006, all the way to the Pacific.

    Martha is reading some books about jewelry-making and gemstones.

    Thanks for the visit, and keep the raccoon trap handy,


  10. The old booj likes beautiful...

    But me, I love only "cartoons"...
    See You later Lady Willow...

  11. Fiction - Bridehead Revisited.
    Non-fiction - Word from Wormingford.
    Travel -Arabian Sands.
    Book I couldn't manage without - Complete works of Tennyson.
    Authors of the first three:
    Evelyn Waugh, Ronald Blythe,
    Wilfred Thesiger.
    Tennyson (I come from Lincolnshire, his county) - favourite poem - The Lotos Eaters.

  12. what a treat! You know I adore your book recommendations! I could talk books for hours.

    I also love your Derian tray below. You have a nice daughter, don't you?

  13. Oh, I love Susan Cheever--I first discovered her when I read her book about her dad (John Cheever) and I stayed up all night crying while I finished it. These are great!

  14. "Old Booj"?! Okay, Mr. Radio, I'm going to make you some of my hemlock cupcakes. ;^)

  15. What an interesting quartet of books you chose, Willow. I've never read the Pasternak nor seen the film - I know of its reputation of course but, somehow, just never got around to it.

    thanks for tagging me - can I leave it for a little while though - do you mind? I will pick up the tag one day soon though.

  16. as usual, I'm way behind here - I was thrilled to see the Derian post! I'm a fan - your meme gives me new books to pursue - I have found your recommendations to be spot on, but one of my favorite places to land is on your sidebar - I love all the little bits - snow? - Oh my gosh!

  17. Betsy, that pretty vintage book is a copy of Scott's Poems I bought at my library branch disgard shelf for $2!!

  18. This is fun. I may do it if I have the focus. I have read some of Hanff, and Dr. Zhivago, Edna Millay. The only book new to me is the Tolstoy which sounds fascinating. Thanks for your list.

  19. What an interesting choice of books, and I love your books photo too. I haven't read any of them although I did see the film version of the first. Beautiful movie. Thanks for the list!

  20. I'll be checking our Helene Hanff's booklets soon they sound delightful.

  21. Wow...what a neat deal! I love those old book covers...all the beautiful details!

  22. most interesting .. but I am not surprised since you are one very interesting lady!


  23. What a fun meme. It's always great to get ideas from other people's virtual bookshelves. And the new banner...simply fabulous!

  24. Oh, I love Helene Hanff, I used to listen to her writing about NY on Woman's Hour on the BBC. Her "letters from New York" made me want to go there.She loved dogs and walking them in Central Park, I loved her writings about "dog hill".I am sure that there are as many English people who are in love with NY as there are American's who love London, all thanks to Helene.

  25. I'm fascinated by Millay, too.

    I don't know Hanff's works, although the Charing Cross one sounds familiar. They sound like something that would be right up my alley. (I'm not sure why this cliche just popped into my head! Echoes of my mother's voice.)

  26. Not enough hours in the day to read. I keep saving these old classic novels and books of poetry in hopes that someday I will have the time to sit and be consumed...but for now, if I sit in my reading chair with a book, the first page puts me to sleep, suppose it's because it's midnight when I finally sit...hmmm!

    And yes, many have been investigated for spirits...I know they are there, I have been touched by a spirit that liked long hair, in the old mercantile where I had my shop...made me a about the 'willies'.

  27. Always something interesting going on at the Manor House. I love your sidebar that tells the current happenings, too.

  28. Curious to know, Willow, if you;ve ever read Nevil Shute (yes, that IS how he spelled his name) ....?

  29. This meme had WILLOW written all over it. Nice choices!

  30. Amazing choices. And guess what1 I have a biograph of Edna St. Vincent Millay. It's fabulous! I think I will do this meme. Thanks!

  31. Haven't heard of the others but I also adore Dr Zhivago. Rob tagged me for this too but it will take some thought, so well done you for a fast response!

  32. Willow, thank you for sharing your "essential reads"! I could live with all of them, even "Song Without Words", which I don't know yet, it sounds very interesting, though!

    Have you read Leonid Tsypkin's
    Summer in Baden Baden? The title does not give it away, but it is a book about another great Russian writer.

  33. The Sophia Tolstoy book sound fascinating.

  34. David Elliott at Quartet Books has picked up the new D. M. Thomas book, Bleak Hotel. A work of non-fiction, it tells the story of the failed film adaptations of his multi award-winning novel The White Hotel. Optioned immediately on publication in 1981, the project has been dogged by legal battles, duplicitous producers and filming has never started, in spite of the interst of numerous Hollywood stars and famous directors.
    Internet Marketing

  35. David, no I haven't read any of Shutes books. He's Australian, isn't he?

    Jo, is your Millay bio "Savage Beauty" by Nancy Milford? I have it, too, and it's excellent!

    Merisi, thanks for the link. No, I haven't read "Summer in Baden Baden", but it looks like one I would really enjoy. I noticed the London Times review called it a "crazily marvelous" book!

    Olivia, thanks for the heads up on "Bleak Hotel". Sounds fascinating.

  36. Such a glorious book stack.
    I'm a big book junkie(had you guessed?
    Yes, yes for Dr.Z in all his manifestations.
    Some suggestions.
    Fiction: Austerlitz by WG Sebald. Quirky. Either love it or hate it. Meditation on 20th century.
    Autobiography: The Old Century by Seigfried Sassoon.
    Actually, now the very old century (19th.) Growing up in an Anglo-Jewish brahmin family. Sad charming melancholy.
    Non fiction. Bohemians by Victoria Nicholson.
    About people who didn't conform in early 20th century England. Author a friend of mine - but book wonderfully written.
    Extra: Bartlett's Dictionary of Familiar Quotation - good for trivia and inspiration.

  37. Willow,
    Doctor Zhivago the movie is where I proposed to my wife. We have the VHS (I'm old OK?) and still watch from time to time. Now I must get the book and read it on your recommendation.
    84 Charring Cross is a favorite book and movie of mine also!

  38. I loved the movie 84 Charring Cross, unfortunately I did not read the book long I want to do that.
    Same for The doctor Zhivago, yet my mother always advised me toread it.
    Thank you Willow for your beautiful post.

  39. OK, I posted TWO blogs because of your tag. Of course, you know, it could've been four different books if asked on another day!

    I'm going to spend some time creating a new and different tag you you... heh heh heh.

  40. you know I love 84 charring cross road too!

  41. There was one book from your list that called my attention. The one about Sophia Tolstoy. I will check my local library today to see if they have it. I did not even know that she was an artist. Thanks for this tip ;-)!

    Good list. Quick question, the third book from your autobiography list, is that related to the Bloomsbury group? I seem to recall that Virginia Woolf was a member.

    Greetings from London.

  42. Beautiful illustrations!I'm in the mood now for Thanksgiving. Will you be having a crowd for Thanksgiving?

  43. Cuban, The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street is the memoirs of Helene Hanff, a writer as well as a huge Anglophile, who finally made it to London for a long awaited visit.

  44. oh this was fun, willow!! i admire your choices! i'll be jumping in on this one as well.


Inject a few raisins of conversation into the tasteless dough of existence.
― O. Henry (and me)