Posted by: deirdrea | January 5, 2009

Snow leopard — and WLS learns, the Holiday Assignment.

Snow leopard, originally uploaded by deirdrej.

Hi, everybody!

Isn’t this an amazing pose? My twin sister and I went down to the Bronx Zoo this afternoon — ostensibly to see the special holiday exhibit — but there are SO many marvelous creatures there that we got seriously sidetracked. Which was good! There’s this wonderful snow leopard exhibit, for instance. Isn’t he a beautiful animal? And what a stretch!

Speaking of stretching — time to exercise my mind a little, I guess. I have been mulling over J. Sexton’s IMPOSSIBLE pre-holiday question: “what are your 10 favorite books?” Man, that’s impossible — isn’t it? It’s easier to just have one favorite book, or a hundred. But I’m going to go ahead and list a few. Here are some books that I seriously love, that I will definitely read more than once, and that had a big impact on me. (BTW, I think you can also find most of them listed on my Librarything page.

So… some of my favorite books are….

1. The Lord of the Rings, by JRR Tolkien. This book has SO much in it! I fell in love with it when my Dad read it to me — I was maybe 8 or 9 at the time — and that was without understanding half of it. Even now, when I read it, I still discover new things. By reading and re-reading it, I developed a love of nature and countryside, and also of language. (In fact, I think it’s Tolkiens fault that I took historical linguistics in college!) Besides, Sam Gamgee has got to be one of the best heroes in all of literature! (Excuse me, all you Peter Jackson fans — and yes, I love the movies, too, although they don’t hold a candle to the books, but anyway. Frodo is NOT the hero. And neither is Aragorn. SAM RULES!)

2. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking GlassAnother book I fell in love with when I was about eight. What fascinated me then — and still fascinates me now — is how perfectly Carroll captures the atmosphere of a dream. BTW, I liked “looking glass” better than “wonderland” back then, and I still do!

3. Jane Eyre I was a bit older when I first read this one — about 12, I think. But it’s another one I can easily read more than once. Melodramatic? Yes! But very compelling, and what a wonderful character Jane is! The consummate girl power book!

4. Kai Lung’s Golden Hours How to describe this? Imagine Sheherazade as a young Chinese man with a very clever and resourceful girlfriend, and an amazing gift for storytelling. It’s great!
Engaging, and very funny (imo). You’ll like it if you like the style — and here’s a sample. One of the characters is describing an exceptionally beautiful woman:

“…after secretly observing the grace of her movements, the most celebrated picture-maker of the province burned the implements of his craft, and began life anew as a trainer of performing elephants.”

I feel sure somehow that Terry Pratchett must have read Ernest Bramah. In any case, I love them both!

5. Cache Lake Country This book made a huge impression on me. Again, I read it when I was a bit too young — but I loved it! Passages from it have stayed with me all my life (particularly the scene of the wolves in the snow at full moon — awesome!) Plus, it has great illustrations — always a plus, with me.

6. Loitering With Intent I’m not sure I could say which is the greatest of the late, great Dame Muriel Spark’s many wonderful books — but this is one I really love!

7. A Wrinkle in Time Another favorite from my childhood. I just reread it recently, and it’s as good now as it was then. Meg Murray rules!!

8. A River Runs Through It Just a beautiful book. That’s all I can say. Really!

9. Cautionary Tales I LOVE comic verse, and these are some of the best ever! Deliciously absurd, but pointed! Here’s a quote — from the Moral Alphabet, in which every letter gets a verse with a Moral.

B stands for Bear. When Bears are seen
Approaching in the distance,
Make up your mind at once between
Retreat and Armed Resistance.

A Gentleman remained to fight —
With what result for him?
The bear, with ill-concealed delight,
Devoured him, Limb by Limb.

Another person turned and ran;
He ran extremely hard:
The Bear was faster than the Man,
And beat him by a yard.


Decisive action in the hour of need
Denotes the hero, but does not succeed.

10. The King of Attolia Megan Whalen Turner’s 3rd “Queen’s Thief” book is the best one yet. And they are extraordinary.

But wait! I’ve already gotten to 10, and I have so many more favorite books. Ursula Leguin hasn’t made it onto the list yet, and neither has C.S. Lewis. Or Flann O’Brien, or Dorothy Sayers, or Adalbert Stifter, or Hartmann von Aue, or Jane Goodall, or… actually there’s next to no non-fiction. Which I read all the time, and love! (especially if it’s about nature or animals) And no serious poetry …. …… aargh!

Well, John, I agree, this was next to impossible to do! But I did enjoy the attempt, and I hope everybody who reads this does, too!

Goodnight, everyone! More later,




  1. What a beautiful shot of a snow leopard! A FIRST price photo, I would say 🙂

  2. Thank you so much, Birgitte!

    I was very lucky, I think! But the snow leopards are beautiful and very playful, especially in this cold, snowy weather! They were rolling on their backs and dashing after each other, just like kittens playing in a barn!

    Happy 12th night to you, and thanks for writing!


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