It was Pastorius at CUANAS who initially tagged us with this meme. It seemed an impossible task. Name one book I was reading? Have never read just one book in my life. Total number of books owned? Don’t want to go there; it would mean looking at the number of books I’ve lost over the years. Five books which mean a lot to me? FIVE??? You’re kidding. I’m finally getting book cases built to hold some of the precarious stacks of things I can’t let go of… and I do let many of them go to the library sales.
Then Fundamentally Right showed up with the same list of questions in hand. All right, all right. But here’s an amended version of this game of tag.
Total Number Of Books Owned Ever:Probably as few as three or four thousand, but maybe eight. Who keeps count? And this doesn’t take into consideration the books I really, really wanted but managed to contain myself and get at the library instead. Someone gave me a button that reads “ I am a bookaholic: if you love me don’t let me buy another book.” As a kid, I read to escape a less-than-optimum life. Reading under the covers at night, hoping the nuns couldn’t see the flashlight, I’d covered all the Nancy Drew books by the time I was eight. Ruined my eyesight in the process.
Read-a-holics cannot resist the printed word: It starts with cereal boxes at the breakfast table or newspapers abandoned in the restaurant booth by whomever ate there before you and continues into reading your high school English lit books the day you get them. This is not virtue. A therapist once posed the question: “so when did you discover that books were a neurotic escape?”
Motto: never leave home without a book. You never know when you might be trapped somewhere with nothing to read. Horrors.
A room without a bookcase is boring. Walking into a room with a bookcase is permission to look at someone’s soul.
Last Book Bought:Books aren’t purchased singly. At the very minimum they come in pairs. The Right Nation (Micklethwait and Woolridge); Donbas (Jacques Sandulescu);Eccentric Culture (Remi Brague); Will and Spirit: A Contemplative Psychology (Gerald May). The list of books in my Amazon shopping cart is eleven. That doesn’t count the ones on the “Buy Later” list. For book-aholics, Amazon’s shopping cart feature is most helpful. Put a book there and sometimes they age out and you lose interest.
Last Book I Read:Have never read just one book at a time. Unlike the virtuous and diligent Baron, who carefully reads a book from beginning to end (including the footnotes and endnotes), I’m usually working on several things at a time, and not always from the first page. At the moment this is the litter on my side of the bed:
The Case for Democracy Natan Sharansky
The War Against the Terror Masters Michael Ledeen
Browser’s Dictionary John Ciardi
Garden Annual Southern Living
Jersusalem Bible, 1967 Reader’s Edition The Usual Suspects
The Book of Common Prayer
Several recent issues of First Things
Right Nation Micklethwait and Woolridge
Box of Rain Robert Hunter
Five Books That Mean A Lot To Me:Probably better off mentioning contemporary authors which mean a lot to me:
Elmore Leonard (no one has a better ear for American speech than L)
V. S. Naipaul
Robert Parker (bon bon books. Yum)
Five Books I’ve Given Away Recently:The Time Traveler’s Wife (Audrey Niffenegger)
I Heard God Laughing (Hafiz)
The Way the World Works (Jude Wanniski)
The Tipping Point (Malcolm Gladwell)
John Boyd: the Fighter Pilot Who Changed the Art of War (Robert Coram)
See why I put off doing this list? It establishes my greed and my attention deficit delusion — the one which allows me to think if I read fast enough, I can catch up.
Who Do I Tag?I hope none of you has been tagged with this one before:
Hot Needle of Inquiry
L'Ombre de l'Olivier
Toe in the Water
Note from Baron Bodissey, who acted as scribe and editor for his lovely wife on this important post:
She left out Jack Vance. How could she leave out Jack Vance? Everyone: go read Jack Vance books.
Don't forget Orson Scott Card, Baron. Especially Ender's Game, which I have given to any number of people and which should be required reading for any boy/man over the age of ten. ~D