24 May 2011

+JMJ+

Confiteor


The first time I joined Top Ten Tuesday, it was to share my list of ten Books I Wish I Had Read in Childhood. What I liked about it was that there were so many common books across the lists. That fascinated me so much that I went through every post and made a tally of all the titles in order to come up with everybody's Top Ten. Allow me to share the results with you now . . .

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll (23 mentions)
Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery (18 mentions) *
The Bad Beginning by Lemony Snicket (12 mentions) *
The Clue in the Old Clock by Carolyn Keene (12 mentions) *
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling (32 mentions) *
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis (29 mentions) *
Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder (13 mentions) *
The Phantom Tollbooth by Norman Juster (11 mentions)
Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak (11 mentions)
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle (11 mentions) *

* These books stand for the whole series

The second time I joined this linky party, I wrote about Books That Were in Such Great Condition That I Bought Them without Knowing When I'd Read Them. It wasn't half as much fun that time around because everyone had such different lists. There was no real point of reference--no shared generational experience.

And so I decided I wouldn't participate in the meme again until another universal topic, like the first one, came along . . . which has happened again this week.

Apparently, lying about books--what one has read, what one hasn't read, what one has enjoyed, and what one hasn't enjoyed--is something everyone can relate to. I admit to telling my share of literary fibs in my youth . . . but I have since reformed. =P These days, any problem I have has less to do with being too ashamed to admit the truth than in having no shame at all.

Yes, I read Romance novels--but not the newer ones because I can't bloody stand "strong women" or "kick-ass heroines" or non-virgins in general. (Save it for the hero, you hussy!) No, I haven't read that Big Important Classic you think I've read. Yes, I actually enjoyed Twilight, although I have fun mocking it, too. No, I didn't at all enjoy A Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. And I think Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is actually superior to Jane Austen's original novel on the essential point of Elizabeth Bennet's character development.

See? Honest to a fault these days! =P But I might as well let you in on my shady past . . .

A Tenner
Books I Simply Let People Assume I Knew Better Than I Did


Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
Assumption by my Grade 4 classmates, who thought I understood it just because I checked it out of the library for a week

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
Assumption by my Grade 6 English teacher, who gave me a near-perfect score on my book report

The Woman Who Had Two Navels by Nick Joaquin
Assumption by my Year 2 Asian Lit teacher, who gave me a perfect score on an essay which, despite being pure BS, she claimed had made her cry

The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
Assumption by my Year 3 Anglo-American Lit teacher, who gave me a score of 120/100 on my 2,000 word "synthesis" of this novel and five others (some of which I did read!)

Prometheus Unbound by P.B. Shelley
Assumption by one of my English professors, who gave me my usual A+ and lots of praise in the margins

De Profundis by Oscar Wilde
Assumption by classmates from uni who believed I finished this because I read every other supplementary text to our unit on Wilde

The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
Assumption by my first class of students, who had no idea I hated this book when I first read it

Don Quixote by Miguel Cervantes
Assumption by my second class of students, who had no idea I stopped reading this text I kept gushing about, after the first few chapters

Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Sea by Jules Verne
Assumption by one student I helped to homeschool, who would only read required texts if he believed I would catch his fudging

Any Play by William Shakespeare I Have Not Yet Read
Assumption by about 90% of the non-English majors I've ever met, after they hear what courses I took in uni

You know . . . a friend was just telling me about an article he read about "confession" in the modern world. Apparently, we care less about forgiveness and absolution these days than about closure and catharsis. And so people who have messed up very badly in ways that have hurt themselves and others (i.e., people who have sinned) are more likely to write a book (Ha!) and promote it on the chat show circuit than to amend their lives with any seriousness. And it really is a part of our postmodern culture.

Well, the above is my own contribution to the idea of "confession as entertainment." (I love irony.)

Image Sources: a) Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte, b) De Profundis by Oscar Wilde

20 comments:

Deb Nance at Readerbuzz said...

What a lovely essay! I enjoyed reading about all your dalliances with lying, whatever it is---confession or not. Thank you!

I hope you will stop and take a look at my post: Readerbuzz.

Anne Bennett said...

Fun. I hope to get back around once you gather up all our data and let us know what books we all lie about the most often. I actually rarely if at all lie about a book, I just keep quiet as to leave a false impression or I seriously can't remember so I act as if I have when it ends up I haven't. If that makes any sense.

Jenica704 said...

Hi! I saw your blog listed on the Top Ten Tuesday linky and I loved your blog's name so I thought I'd come and check out your list. I like the spin you put on the topic and you had a great variety of books!

Grace @ feedingmybookaddiction.blogspot.com
(new follower)

Birdie said...

hahahahaha. I couldn't participate this week because the only books I've ever lied about were of the "not finished for class" variety. I could only think of 3.

LBC said...

I like it. I especially like that it is other people's assumptions, not your omissions.

Come check out The Scarlet Letter's Top Ten Tuesday

Enbrethiliel said...

+JMJ+

Deb -- Thank you! There are more of these deceptive dalliances than I'd like to admit, although my outright lies are very few.

I'll definitely stop by your blog as well.

Anne -- Yes, that makes sense. =) A profound and pregnant pause lets listeners fill in their own assumptions. It's too bad that I talk as much as I do because my uncharacteristic silences are a dead giveaway that I don't know what everyone is talking about. =P

Jenica -- Thanks for reading and for following! Most of the books on my list are classics, but they are all over the spectrum, aren't they?

Birdie -- To be honest (Ha!), when I first saw this topic, I thought I wouldn't be able to join, either. While my definition of "mailbox" is suffocatingly literal, but definition of "lying" is nearly Jesuitical. =P (Guess which literary character I borrowed that modifier from!) But then I started reading other people's lists and realised that I could definitely come up with one of my own.

LBC -- In all fairness, I did let them go on thinking their assumptions were true. =P It's like Sophia Loren saying that "Sex appeal is 50% what you've got and 50% what people think you've got." I guess the same can be said for being "well read"!

Thanks for visiting my blog today. =)

readingromances said...

You saw my confessions! I cintribute to the harry potter numbers over there!
Have a great week, thanks for stopping by my blog!

Syrin said...

Ok, I have to ask - what didn't you enjoy about Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy?

Enbrethiliel said...

+JMJ+

ReadingRomances -- It's surprising to see how many times Harry Potter has been cropping up on people's lists! Until now, I assumed that everyone who said they read it and loved it also meant it . . . but apparently, there's heaps of peer pressure to just go along, no matter what you really think.

Syrin -- What I didn't like was the fact that the earth blows up. =P

(There was really no hope for me and the book after that, was there? LOL!!!)

kaye said...

That was a nice essay and I totally agree with your closing paragraph. thanks for stopping by.

Syrin said...

That would be a problem. :)

Lesa said...

What! The earth blows up!! I haven't read it yet! Thanks a lot!
hahahah

I've fibbed plenty but can't recall ever fibbing about a book-- I'm Honest John when it comes to books, I guess.

Enbrethiliel said...

+JMJ+

Kaye -- Thank you for reading and returning the visit. =)

Syrin -- I know, right? LOL!

Lesa -- Don't worry about it. The earth blows up at the very beginning. So my citing it as the main thing I didn't like about the book is kind of like someone saying that Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone became a lost cause after Harry's parents died. =P

My own problem with being perfectly honest (these days, at least) is that I don't want to rain on anyone's parade when he really likes a book and I think it's awful. Some people doing this meme count that sort of silence as a lie, but that is stretching it a little, for me! =)

Jenni Elyse said...

What a great post! I really enjoyed reading your take on this meme. And, I loved reading your "fibs." Thanks for sharing and thanks for stopping by my blog. :)

lisa :) said...

Apparently, we care less about forgiveness and absolution these days than about closure and catharsis. And so people who have messed up very badly in ways that have hurt themselves and others (i.e., people who have sinned) are more likely to write a book (Ha!) and promote it on the chat show circuit than to amend their lives with any seriousness. And it really is a part of our postmodern culture.

Wow. That is incredibly sad but true.

I think all the assumptions about these books though come down to the fact that you're a gifted communicator. Whether in writing or (I imagine) in speech, I would guess that people wouldn't challenge your opinions or thoughts on a work because whatever ideas you present are so well thought out and coherently delivered that people are more likely to smile and nod and say things along the lines of "great point" than to ask you to expand on specific details. (And yes, that is a compliment!)

Enbrethiliel said...

+JMJ+

Jenni Elyse -- Thank you! I appreciate your return visit. =)

Lisa -- I'll take the compliment and thank you very much for it. =)

I am actually proud of my fudging (because it does take brains and some skill, as you know--LOL!), with the only exception being my essay on The Woman Who Had Two Navels. That one was so completely made up that it didn't even fit what little understanding I had of the novel. My thesis was that the two characters who run off with each other in the end are in love . . . and I don't know where that came from because I never once thought that of them!

joy! said...

Haha! Thanks for visiting my TTT! I love yours! Am I correct in guessing you are a fellow Lit major? After too many years in college being forced to read the "good" books, I've learned I really didn't graduate with a BA in English Lit, but a BS. :)

http://ouachitaya.blogspot.com/2011/05/ttt-top-ten-tuesday-66.html

Enbrethiliel said...

+JMJ+

Hi, Joy! =) Yes, I'm a fellow English Lit major--and I love your distinction between a BA and the more accurate "BS"! LOL!!!!

Thanks for returning the visit. =)

Rayna (Libereading) said...

Great list! I almost included The Catcher in the Rye on my list, because I didn't like it at all... But I think I was so disappointed by it that I couldn't keep my opinion bottled up inside and therefore never lied about it. I remember finishing it and thinking, "That's it?" I liked Franny and Zooey much better.

Enbrethiliel said...

+JMJ+

Thanks, Rayna. If it hadn't been for that syllabus, I would never have lied about The Catcher in the Rye . . . but the funny thing is that since I ended up liking it, anyway, I was telling the truth in the end. =P

But I still have a "That's it???" reaction to it. I don't think that will ever change and I wish I knew what Salinger's intentions were.