Booking Through Thursday: Six Degrees of Booking

Now with pictures! (Brilliant idea of Jeanne’s)

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Today's topic was suggested by Mary.

Connect any six books in your library to each other by any way you want. One book will remind you of another because the author's name is similar, a fictional character shows up in someone else's book, another author is talked about by characters in a book, maybe the same friend recommended both books, or whatever. Books from a series count as one entry in your list.

Here goes...

One of the best Christmas presents I had received in recent years was the Norton’s New Annotated Sherlock Holmes from the BF. I adore these beautiful books as they do much more than gather together all of Sir Arthur Conan Doyles’ Holmes stories. The volumes also provides a wealth of background information on the period, delightful illustrations that had accompanied the stories in their original publications, and close analysis/annotation of the tales with the wonderful conceit à la the Baker Street Irregulars that Holmes was every bit a real person and that Watson was indeed the authors of the tales. That lovely fiction of Holme's existance is used by Laurie R. King to form the basis of the Mary Russell mystery novels, which pick up when Mary, an unconventional and intelligent girl living in the Sussex Downs, meets the retired, bee-keeping Holmes. While this set-up is filled with potential contrivances and pit-falls that can drag a novel down the path of being yet another stilted and embarrassingly awkward piece of fan fiction, Ms. King manages to steer clear of all the traps with her engaging writing and believable characterization. The Russell books, in my opinion, are some of the few Sherlockiana works that does justice to the original characters and take the stories in an interesting new direction. In a delightful moment in one of the books, mystery universes momentarily collide and a younger Lord Peter Whimsy, fresh from his scarring war experience, makes a dash across the pages. Lord Peter is, of course, the monocle-wearing aristocratic sleuth from Dorothy Sayers’ books from the first half of the last century. I could enthuse endlessly about her writing, but I will control myself and just say that everyone should read Gaudy Night. At least once. I first encountered mention of Ms. Sayers’ work years ago in the sublimely humorous To Say Nothing of the Dog, by Connie Willis. The book transcends categorizations as it manages to be tale of time-travel, a parody of Victorian melodrama, and a love story all at once. (It is to my eternal dismay that my copy, carefully packed away with some of my most loved books, is still buried somewhere in my parents garage from my rather haphazard move home at the end of college.) Not only does “Placetne , magistra?” play a role in To Say Nothing of the Dog, Jerome K. Jerome’s comical Three Men in a Boat is also a major source of inpiration, both to the main character of the book and to the author, if the misadventures the main character suffers on the river is anthing to go by. Indeed, J., his compatriots, and Montmorency even appear for a quick cameo in the book. Given how much I enjoyed To Say Nothing of the Dog, I of course had to pick up Three Men in a Boat.
One bit of advice for those deciding to read this book: do so on public transportation. In no time at all, you’ll have a nice wide empty berth around you as people sidle away after observing you snort, chortle, and giggle hysterically to yourself continuously. Montmorency the dog from Three Men in a Boat put me in mind of other books with canine characters, or rather, the one book I love that evolves around a canine (sort of) character: Dogsbody, by Diana Wynne Jones. When I talk about my favorite authors and books, Ms. Jones’ name always crops up. Her stories are usually funny, frequently haunting, and always run through with strands of sadness and longing that make the tales remain with one long after the narratives are over. Dogsbody is among the best examples of her writing. I found myself picking it up again for the umpteenth time earlier this week and reading it all the way through yet again in one gulp, laughing and crying all along the way into the wee hours.

And that is my six degrees. How about you?


Blogger Mary-LUE said...

Wow that was great. I have never read Dorothy Sayers but have read a biography about her that was great. I always start and stop Three Men in a Boat much to my English friend Glyn's consternations. To Say Nothing of the Dog I loved. I love Connie Willis in general. I haven't really read any Holmes to speak of, but your post makes me want to read enough to check out the Mary Russell. Again, great job!

9:44 AM  
Blogger Philippa said...

I'm going to stop gushing about how you always make me think I should be reading more, and what you've recommended - immediately, but I'll definitely add Guady Night to my list. My books are staying in alphabetical order for a while, but I was interested to see the threads running across the shelves. Excluding chronological categories, 'Bloomsbury' and Virginia Woolf was perhaps the major theme, which shouldn't have surprised me as much as it did. I couldn't come up with an impressive list of links like yours, though.

11:39 AM  
Blogger Jeanne said...

You have excellent taste in books.

I had the hardest time reading Three Men in a Boat, oh-so-many years ago -- I kept getting stuck at the cheese episode and laughing so hard that I literally couldn't see the pages through the tears in my eyes. It took me quite a long time to actually finish it. I think that one of my favorite quotes is the one about work: "I love work. I can sit and look at it for hours ...."

5:56 PM  

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