Day By Day© by Chris Muir.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Picking up on a great book meme

Kathryn, at Suitable For Mixed Company, came up with a great meme, which seems to be sweeping the blogosphere. She was kind enough to tag me, but I've been so behind with things that only now am I taking a crack at it. Okay, let me admit the truth: I've actually been procrastinating on this one. As you'll see below, it's about books for high school students. My problem is that my reading tastes tend to materials written before 1950, and I doubt that the books I like would have much resonance for your average high schooler. Still, this is my meme, so I can create a high school student in my image, who would like the books I liked. So, here goes: "Imagine that a local philanthropist is hosting an event for local high school students and has asked you to pick out five to ten books to hand out as door prizes. At least one book should be funny and at least one book should provide some history of Western Civilization and at least one book should have some regional connection. The philanthropist doesn't like foul language (but will allow some four-letter words in context, such as expressed during battle by soldiers). Otherwise things are pretty wide open. What do you pick?" 1. One funny book. When I was a high schooler, one of the books that always made me laugh uproariously was Cheaper by the Dozen, by Frank Gilbreth and Ernestine Gilbreth Carey. If you know of this book only through the scary bad movie of a couple of years ago, than you've been badly misled. The book, written by a brother and sister, recalls their childhood years in the early 20th Century. Their father was Frank Gilbreth, one of the first efficiency experts, and their mother was an engineer (an incredibly rare career for a woman at that time). Having decided to have 12 children, the couple applied Dad's efficiency ideas to child rearing, with often hilarious results. It's a great book, especially if your reading tastes pre-date the 1950s. 2. One history of Western Civilization book. My hands-down winner in this category is Max Dimont's book, Jews, God and History. The book takes one from pre-history through Herzl's Zionism, filtering Western world history through the Jews, and Jewish history through the history of the Western world. It's just a wonderful book, especially as it explains how interlinked the two histories how, and how strongly each affected the other. It was written in 1961, but is, to my mind, a timeless book. 3. One regional book. I can't think of a single book I've read, or would recommend, that falls in this category. 4. And all the other books I'd urge on high schoolers. I would urge on them all of Jane Austen's works, so that they could learn about manners and comedy; Louisa May Alcott's books, since they are warm, amusing morality tales; the Harry Potter books, which I think rightly deserve their growing place in the canon of modern classics; the Narnia books, which are wonderful religious allegory and morality works (as you may have gathered, moral lessons matter to me, especially when framed as rip-roaring good entertainment); and a little known book called Sarah, by Marguerite Harmon Bro, about a gifted young woman growing up in a small town in Minnesota before, during and after WWI (another strongly moral book). And now, taking a page out of Gail's book, rather than tagging specific people, I hereby tag anyone who's reading this post and wants to participate in this meme.