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.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.
(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.