i got memed!

At last, at last, I am a fully-fledged member of the blog-munity!

Total number of books I’ve owned: Let’s just say – when we moved to California I gave most of them away and stored only the 1000 most essential in Emma’s attic in Kurrajong Heights. I brought about five to San Francisco. Seven years later, there are books coming out of our ears: five tall bookcases jam-packed, plus overflow in Jeremy’s office, in a cardboard box at the end of my bed, and at my work. Anybody want 20 or so books? Seriously. You’re not leaving the house without them. No, they’re a gift, don’t bring them back.

Last book I bought: Julius, the Baby of the World

Last book I read: Secrets & Confidences: The complicated truth about women’s friendships

Last book I finished: The Friend Who Got Away. These are both collections of essays about friends who suddenly up and ditch you, with no satisfactory explanation, leaving you to have nightmares and wake up in tears for at least the next three-and-a-half years. Incredibly cathartic reading, but I could wish that they were published, oh, three-and-a-half years ago.

Five books that mean a lot to me:

* The Jinny at Finmory series, by Patricia Leitch. A girl and her chestnut Arabian, Shantih. These books provided an utter contrast from the Pullein Thompson genre of tedious upper-class bitches on expensive ponies. Shantih was all but unrideable and Jinny was a sulky, introverted painter. The first books I ever read that reflected my black inner life.

* Horse of Air, by Lucy Rees. A girl and her bay Welsh Cob, Brenin. Rees grew up breaking Welsh ponies and now teaches natural horsemanship in Basque country; the teenage protagonist’s breakdown and her recovery through working with the horse are pretty obviously drawn from experience. It’s difficult to overstate the impact of this beautifully written, sharply observed, wise, compassionate novel, which I still reread every couple of years.

* The Witches and Guards books from Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series: Granny Weatherwax is a key role model for me (bad-tempered, meddling bitch) and Sam Vimes’ character just gets more and more complicated and interesting. Sybil’s dragon sanctuary is the origin of the phrase “interchangeable Sarahs and Emmas” to describe what the Americans call barn rats – the kids that hang around the stables, ie me. Whenever I’m sick I reread Pratchett or:

* Almost anything by Georgette Heyer, a mid-century Jane Austen imitator who pretty much single-handedly kicked off the Regency genre of romance novels. Her heroines are generally feisty, self-possessed equestrians, her heroes brusque but kind men with giveaway grey eyes. Sarah Vowell was at the Sydney Writer’s Festival when some boring Australian academic type said of historical fiction: We mustn’t resort to easy entertainments. Vowell said to herself, Entertaining people is anything but easy. Heyer knew that, and never wrote a dull line. And speaking of hist-fic:

* Is Patrick O’Brian’s Aubrey-Maturin series the best novel of the 20th century, or what? (Say “or what” and you’re dead to me. Dead.) What kind of horse does Diana Villiers breed? Arabians. I rest my case.

There – immature enough for you, Quinn?

Five people I’d like to see to do this as well: Mia, Sumana, Bryan,
Shannon and Salome.

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