Saturday, May 28, 2005

Throw the Book at Me

I finally caught one of those blog memes. I’m supposed to answer the following book-related questions:

1. Total Number of Books I’ve Owned. I just counted, and I have a mere 384 books in my apartment. Uh oh, did I just lose my geek cred? I’ve resisted the urge to pump up my score by including books I left in my childhood home, books I keep in my office, books I sold or gave away, books I lent out and never got back, volumes of journals, comic books, and piles of Reason/Maxim/Rolling Stone magazines. I couldn’t accurately count most of those categories anyway.

2. Last Book I Bought. Years ago, I inherited a Britannica Great Books collection from my grandmother, but sadly, it was missing three volumes: Dante, Locke/Berkeley/Hume, and American State Papers/Federalist/J.S. Mill. While visiting New York last December, I managed to find all three at the Strand bookshop (importantly, from the same edition as my set). I purchased them, returned home triumphantly, installed them in the bookcase, and then stood back to survey my complete collec… d’oh! The set was missing Montesquieu/Rousseau, too! I’m still one volume short. Curses.

3. Last Book I Read. And finished, I presume? The much-talked-about Freakonomics, by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner. My brother sent it as a gift. Thanks, Neal!

4. Five Books that Mean a Lot to Me. Not quite the same as my five favorite books. Here goes:
(1) Henry David Thoreau’s Civil Disobedience. Does that count as a book? What if it comes packaged with Walden? Anyhow, I credit CD with my libertarian awakening. Funny thing is, I’d probably disagree with much of it now – too transcendental, insufficiently utilitarian. But read it alongside Lawrence and Lee’s play “The Night Thoreau Spent in Jail.” I promise goose bumps.

(2) Ken Kesey’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. Did you know that most of the asylum’s inmates are there voluntarily? Sometimes the real battle is for self-liberation.

(3) Joseph Heller’s Catch-22. Yes, it’s funny. But did you read all the way to the end? Gave me chills.

(4) Webster’s Dictionary. No, really. I look up, on average, about a word a day. That’s a habit I got from my Dad. I need to get the unabridged version.

(5) Dr. Seuss’s Did I Ever Tell You How Lucky You Are? Mainly a stand-in for all the great Seuss works. (Except for The Lorax, which is highly overrated. “I speak for the trees”? Gimme a break.) Did I Ever Tell You… stands out from the rest because it makes you appreciate how good you have it. For instance, I bet you don’t have a Borfin that shlumps.
5. Tag five people and have them do this on their blog. Five seems a bit excessive, but okay: my brother, my co-blogger, my ex-roomie (who didn’t see fit to invite me into Caesar’s Bath, but I suppose I forgive him), Amy Phillips, and Micha Ghertner.


Neal said...

Forget it, man. I'm not doing that.

Anonymous said...

oh, i just bought 'freakanomics' last week--i hope it's good.
i don't know how many times i attempted to read 'walden.' it was really boring in the beginning so i just never went past the first chapter, and usually i can sit through just about any boring or dense material in fiction.

catch-22 was good, but it must have left quite an impression on you since it's usually a reading assigned in hs.

i used to read the dictionary too; but I stopped that a few years ago sadly. it really is a good habit.

eminem also looks up words in the dictionary for his rap, being the word-smith that he is--i'm totally serious about the word-smith part.


bob orci said...

Catch 22 is my favorite book as well. I read somewhere that Joseph Heller was critized for never having written anything as good since. His reply: "Who has?"

Anton said...

Great Books #43, one of those you lacked, is the only one I have. Maybe I got yours, and I have three counterparts out there somewhere.