1) If you had to pick five books from your bookshelves as examples of the things you like in books, what would they be?
Steven Brust, Dragon
Octavia Butler, Blood Child and Other Stories
Vilhelm Moberg, A History of the Swedish People
Katherine Paterson, Bridge to Terabithia
Dorothy Sayers, Gaudy Night
There are still gaps like crazy, but that's the closest I can get to coverage. Now I am entertaining myself trying to arrive at formulas for my other books based on these: D'Aulaire's Norse Gods and Giants would be about 4/5 Moberg + 1/5 Paterson, for example, and trying to get the proportions just right to get The Dubious Hills from here is kind of amusing. I only got Dragon by getting the other four and then sniffing around what I couldn't get from them.
2) If you had to pick five books to be your only reading material for a significant period of time, what would they be? (I'm assuming this is from my current bookshelves as well.)
The Complete Works of W.H. Auden: Prose
The Sagas of Icelanders
The Complete Works of Shakespeare
Radical Enlightenment: Philosophy and the Making of Modernity, 1650-1750 by Jonathan Israel
Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson
3) This question has intentionally been left blank for you to fill in with any interesting things you might have to say about whether the answers to 1 and 2 are the same, and why/why not.
Heh. Oh, not even close. Because the first is about constructing a holographic representation of sorts, and the second is about what's going to keep me occupied for quite some time. I could read any of the books from question 1 except possibly Gaudy Night between now and going to the symphony tonight, without even reading through dinner with my folks. That would be immensely unsatisfying in a book that was 1/5 of my reading material for a big chunk of time.
I'm more of a rereader than some people, but what I am not is someone who can comfortably reread soon after the initial reading. Even The Nine Tailors, which I love, was not enjoyable to me five months after I'd last read it; I had to wait significantly longer than that. So if I have to pick five volumes to hold me for quite some time, we're looking for the tissue pages, the wrist-wreckers.
(For some reason I now want to write a sort of Sayers-LeCarre-Megan Lindholm thing called The Nine Tinkers. If I ever propose this seriously, I expect some of you to make me lie down until the sensation passes. Or else make helpful suggestions. One or the other.)
4) What distinguishes a Minnesota Autumn from anyone else's?
From anyone else's? Lakes and Ingebretsen's. The smell of the air and the leaves is different with the abundance of lakes and sloughs than when you're in a place with different geography. Also you can go buy a dozen pounds of Swedish meatball meat that's mixed just right so you don't have to fuss with mixing the different ground meats by hand, and that makes fall so much nicer than if you were trying to get the meats to mix evenly with your fingers. We're going to have to do that soon. If I didn't have dinner plans for tonight and tomorrow, I might be pushing markgritter towards the shower so we could get up there yet this afternoon.
But really, the Bay Area's autumn is not the least bit autumnal, to my way of thinking; what distinguishes a Minnesota autumn from that, or from a Miami autumn, is approximately everything.
5) What's the most unusual thing you've ever cooked?
You know, I'm really not sure. When the "one hundred weird foods" meme went around, I was very surprised that spaetzle was the thing from the list that I'd eaten and the most of my friends hadn't. Spaetzle strikes me as incredibly normal. My great-aunts eat spaetzle. My great-aunts also eat pickled pigs' feet, though, so possibly I should have stopped using them as a gauge of normalcy years ago. Despite the fact that I live around other Minnesotans now, I'm going to guess blueberry soup? Maybe? With mango and cardamom. Apple-crab-curry soup might also qualify. Speak up if those sound alarmingly normal to you.