I have been asked twice to do this, once by Jean, and by Gail so here goes:

It is difficult from an Ibis cube in Mulhouse, but it wouldn't be much easier from Bedoin. When Julian and I made our first home together we agreed to get rid of doubles (I reluctantly swapping my thumbed sun-cream and coffee stained paperbacks with strained spines for his immaculate hard back first editions) before boxing the rest. Three moves later (from a tiny Sussex tudor cottage with wall space enough for a Farrow and Ball tester pot, to his studio which was covered in unfinished canvasses to our current home) we still do not have a shelf on which to put our books. It's coming soon though, for finally we have wall space enough for both paintings and books. How grown up is that?

....and so this comes from roaming the very short bookshelf of my memory.

How many books do I own?
No idea. Several dozen boxes in the garage.

What was the last book I bought?
'Saturday' by Ian McEwan.
I ploughed through till about aperitif time but he was only just uncorking the bottles and, because he is not Proust, I got bored, impatient, thirsty. I had a free day on tour and desperately needed a good book friend so dumped Perowne mid-saga. However, I have been a McEwan fan for many years and thought 'A Child In Time' was a masterpiece.

What was the last book I read?
Rohinton Mistry's 'A Fine Balance'. I have travelled a fair amount in India and Mistry's writing seems to me to soar with the pathos, the humour, the tragedy and the love of that continent's people whilst illuminating the history and maintaining the mystery. Brilliant.

What five books mean a lot to me?
They were turning points in themselves or they appeared at turning points in my life. Either way I would like to re read all of them, except, of course, the first.

Enid Blyton's 'First Term at St Trinian's'
I know, I know, she is awful and kids these days are, thankfully, much better off with 'His Dark Materials' but this is supposed to be a confessional, right? - and all those midnight feasts were so brill!!...and so when my Mum said would I like to go to boarding school I shrieked "Yes!!!"....and so off I was packed, trunk 'n all, for my first term at the Yehudi Menuhin School which was very dodgy but we did indeed have midnight feasts though there was sadly no lacrosse, and three of my closest friends now were the same girls with whom I feasted and giggled then. The only difference is that now the wine is better, and legal.

(But that one doesn't matter bcause it was rubbish.)

OK here goes for real:

George Eliot's 'Mill On The Floss'
This book had me weeping all over the train to, as I called it then, 'Drizzledorf' where I went to study at th age of seventeen. I was terribly lonely and Eliot was my main and beloved companion (with sporadic help from a certain Helmut) for four years. The book had big sibling thing running through it and it touched me deeply as I tried to figure out my relationship with my own brother.

Stendhal's 'Le Rouge et le Noir'
Could this have something to do with my dream (come true) of marrying a Juli(a)en and living in France? Oh, Julien Sorel.......Then again I quite fancied Bernard Rieux from Camus' 'La Peste' too - all that sexy existentialism. Anything in a beret really.

Louis de Bernieres 'Captain Corelli's Mandolin'
Despite the fact that this book became a three for the price of one job, not to mention a very crappy film, I saw it first. HONEST. The book fairy was perched upon my shoulder in Waterstones when I saw a pretty blue and white cover with painted boats on it by an author of whom I had never heard. "Go on" said the book fairy, and for the next two weeks I was blissed out in its company on a beach near La Rochelle. I mention it here because, for me, De Bernieres writes better about music in fiction than anyone else I know. Most other writers, however accomplished, make me squirm on the topic. He actually makes me want to get out my cello and PLAY.

Mark Epstein's 'Going On Being'
In my twenties if you didn't have therapy you were pants. After my share of kicking and screaming (or, in my case, failing miserably to kick and scream) - much of which I now look on as an extended addiction to drama but without some of which I would probably not be married to a man as lovely as Julian - I was (and am) drawn to Buddhism. Epstein takes the wisdom within Western psychotherapy whilst discarding the drama, and gently marries it with the discipline of the Eastern philosophy. East meets West with knobs on.

And the only book I'd really need on a desert island; the best book ever writ:
The Six Cello Suites by Johann Sebastian Bach.

...and I pass the bouquiniste's baton to:



Baton accepted; details in today's blog post. Thank you for an interesting meme - a rarity in my experience!

Thanks to you and to everyone who did this in an inquiring and self revelatory spirit without getting submersed in jaded pretense. I mean, honestly, if people don't want to do a meme, why can't they just ignore it? Or better yet, why not just have fun with it? How did blogdom get to be so flipping serious?

I'll get to this as soon as I have a few spare minutes...

Thanks for the baton, Ruth. I responded to this meme last week, but without going into any detail on the five (only five?!) meaningful books list. Would you consider my long-winded description today of one of those books as a response to your tag?

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