21 February 2015

Epic Reads Book Tag

Interior with Figures by Gwen John, 1899

The weather where I live has been unseasonably cold to quite an extreme degree, and while I long for the days of sunshine and warmth I'm stuck inside huddled under layers of clothing and blankets. At least it's good weather for curling up with an engrossing book, so I've decided to share my answers to the Epic Reads Book Tag, which I discovered through Kristina Horner's video:

1. If you could invite one author and one of their fictional characters to tea, who would you invite and what would you serve them?

Given the opportunity I would love to have A. A. Milne to tea, and of course that means having Winnie the Pooh as well. For Milne I'd have proper tea things like sandwiches and scones, and for Pooh there would be plenty of honey and a few honeycombs spread lightly with marmalade.

2. What book do you wish the author would write a prequel for?

For years I hoped that Diana Wynne Jones would write one more Chrestomanci story filling in the time between Christopher Chant's adolescence, as seen in Conrad's Fate, and his life married to Millie with two children, as seen in Charmed Life. Christopher is one of my favorite characters that Diana Wynne Jones wrote and I especially loved seeing him as a child and teenager, but unfortunately I'll just have to imagine what happened between those two books since Jones passed away in 2011.

3. Which two characters (NOT from the same book) do you think would make a good couple?

I think that Jane Austen's Marianne Dashwood (from Sense and Sensibility) and Henry Crawford (from Mansfield Park) might be an interesting pairing. Crawford shares some characteristics with Willoughby, but also demonstrates an openness to marrying someone for love rather than money. Of course Crawford's story ends in scandal and disgrace, but really, I'd rather see Marianne end up with just about anyone other than Colonel Brandon.

4. If you ran into your favorite author on the subway and only could say one sentence to them, who is it and what would it be?

Unfortunately my favorite authors are no longer living, so unless I ran into a ghost I couldn't encounter any of my absolute favorites in real life. Out of authors who are still alive and whose work I read, I'd like to tell Alexander McCall Smith that I really enjoy his 44 Scotland Street books and that I think they would make a wonderful television series.

5. What book made you a reader and why?

I've enjoyed books and stories all my life, but I didn't get absorbed in books until I was an upper middle grade reader. One of the first books I read that really gripped me was Jane Langton's The Diamond in the Window, a very unique fantasy adventure that incorporates ideas from the Transcendentalist philosophical movement and includes many references to Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, and Louisa May Alcott.

6. Incendio! Your bookshelf just caught on fire. Which one book would you save?

I'd have to go for my deluxe anniversary edition of Winnie the Pooh. It's no longer in print and extraordinarily difficult to track down online (I discovered this when hunting for the companion edition of House at Pooh Corner), and it's absolutely the most beautiful edition of Milne's work I've seen. The cream-colored pages and illustrations with E. H. Shepard's own colorization are gorgeous, and I love the subtle metallic gold tones on the die-cut cover.

7. Which dystopian world would you want to live in if you had to choose one? Why?

I've hardly read any dystopian fiction, so my options here are limited. I suppose I'd choose the world from Diana Wynne Jones' Witch Week, where magic is outlawed. The secrecy of magic-users and the fact that orphans of convicted witches and wizards are sent to a boarding school together makes the book reminiscent of J. K. Rowling's more-recent Harry Potter universe, but I think that Jones' interpretation of these themes is much more thought-provoking. The balance of light and dark is more complex in Witch Week than in Harry Potter, and I think that Jones is right in portraying a world with a strong division between those who use magic and those who can't as fundamentally unstable.

8. What is your most epic read of all time?

It's difficult to pick a single title, but one of my favorite books of all time is Elizabeth Marie Pope's The Sherwood Ring, which combines history, fantasy, adventure, mystery, and romance. Having all of my favorite elements in one book makes, for me, a truly epic read.

Those are my answers--feel free to share yours in the comments section! Also, if you love books as much as I do, you might want to browse the deluxe paper pennant banners I make for my Etsy shop. Banners themed to Jane Austen, Oscar Wilde, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Anne of Green Gables, The Secret Garden, and Little Women are available!

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