Thursday, January 19, 2006
I'm writing this ahead of time so I can make a doctor's appointment in the morning, and yet I find myself not in the mood to blog politics....
A while back, I saw on a blog I normally follow a book meme that I thought might be fun to answer on a slow news/time-pressed/ain't-in-the-mood-for-politics kind of day. Sadly, I can't remember whose blog it was. If you recognize this meme, drop me an email and I'll link back to give credit where credit is due. For all I know, five other people did it. I'll assume as much and link back if five others claim it. I could have seen it anywhere and I like to toss links around like they're croutons anyway! (I got the meme from here after googling a couple of phrases I remembered from it.)
So far, no one has tagged me with memes and I don't want to get into that game, so don't tag me now, or at least don't be disappointed if I ignore the tag. I am a moody blogger and the Inner Muse will have no truck with the orders of others, and she even looks askance at the few obligations I take voluntarily.
Having said that, I undertake my first meme, wondering, in light of the fact that I will be linking almost every title back to Amazon, whether some crafty marketer at the Internet book giant got the meme rolling in the first place....
Total number of books owned:
About five hundred. Yes. I have a book fetish and generally will not throw out a book I have read, preferring to keep it as a trophy. But I am nowhere near as voracious a reader as many of my friends. I tend to read in fits and starts, plowing through four or five in a few weeks and then not reading a single book for a month or two.
Last book bought:
The Anti-Chomsky Reader, by Peter Collier and David Horowitz. I bought it as a gift for a progressive gift exchange because I had enjoyed it so much. This book has the distinction of being the only one with a footnote that has made me laugh out loud. I tried to find it in my copy, but came up empty (and don't feel like transcribing it anyway). A linguist was looking for examples that contradicted one of Chomsky's linguistics theories and solicited some from a group of waitresses at a Hooter's. He thanked them, mentioning that establishment by name, in the footnote!
Last book read:
Ignatius Rising: The Life Of John Kennedy Toole, by Rene Pol Nevils, Deborah George Hardy. This is a biography about the author of my favorite comedic novel, the farcical A Confederacy of Dunces. I reread both of these books in one week shortly after Katrina devastated New Orleans, which is the setting of Confederacy, and which I love. I am fascinated by Toole, whose sense of life, as far as I can tell, resembled my own in many ways, but whom, I remind myself from time to time, it is good not to resemble too much.
Five books that mean a lot to you:
(I list these in no particular order.)
A Confederacy of Dunces [link above], by John Kennedy Toole. This is my favorite comedic novel hands down, and was recommended to me by a Marist Brother (of all people) in high school (of all times and places). I have read it something like six times and laughed out loud at several points even on the sixth reading! Its main character is one-of-a-kind, the humor very original and funny on many levels. This novel captures the feel of Toole's native New Orleans very well, despite (or because of?) the fact that its central character is a medievalist and a slob extraordinaire. (I think "slob extraordinare" was from a book jacket or a review, but it's such a good phrase for Ignatius J. Reilly!)
The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien. This is, by far, my favorite work of fantasy fiction. I've read it something like four times.
Philosophy: Who Needs It, by Ayn Rand. I am unusual among Objectivists: I went straight to the philosophy. The fiction was next. This was the first of Rand's works that I read. Incidentally, my favorite of her novels is The Fountainhead.
The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, by Oliver Sacks. This book of clinical tales from the frontiers of neurology was my introduction to neuroscience and to one of my favorite authors. A friend recommended it to me because Sacks often would explain the neurological deficits of his patients with philosophical analogies. Sacks does a masterful job in these explorations of showing what an amazing thing the human mind really is, while not letting us forget that his patients are human beings.
Sacks is a writer's writer. If you love good writing, you'll really enjoy his prose. And if a book about neurology sounds too dry or depressing for you, have no fear. His personal journals and books on botany are excellent reads. His Island of the Colour-Blind is the best of these and, is, I think, where the breadth of his intellect shines best.
An Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man, by James Weldon Johnson. This may seem like an odd choice, but I enjoy the read, am fascinated by the picture it presents of a bygone era, and find its lesson -- that one must not cower from a good fight no matter how hard -- valuable and powerfully put.
Tag five people to continue this meme:
If I'm going to refuse to be tagged, I'm not going to go off and start tagging people myself! Nevertheless, I would be interested in reading the replies of anyone else who wants to participate. I'll happily link back to yours if you wish. Or leave a comment if you don't blog, but want to join the fun.