Thursday, August 11, 2005


I've seen a ton of these blog memes, but this is the first one that really intrigued me. Andrew over at Bread & Circuses was kind enough to pass it on to me.

1. Total number of books I have owned:'s hard to calculate this one out, but I'll guesstimate around 500. This includes about 200 that I own right now, and about 300 that I've owned and given away, loaned and not had returned (Mike! When will I get back my copy of Running with Scissors?!), or left at my parent's house when I moved away. I don't buy enough books.

2. Last book I bought:

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, of course, and it was well worth the wait. But before that mandatory buy, I bought Nick Hornby's latest, A Long Way Down solely because I was so utterly blown away by How to Be Good.

3. Last book I completed reading:

Yesterday Will Make You Cry, by Chester Himes.

4. Five books that mean a lot to me:

Under the Net, by Iris Murdoch. Probably one of the first philosophical books I ever read. The protagonist is Jake Donaghue, a writer who struggles to figure out how to express himself and be true to his ideals, whatever those might be. There's a convoluted love square between him, two sisters, and his mentor Hugo (with each person only in love with the person who does not love him/her back.) There are broader existential themes expressed in his conversations with Hugo, but they only add to the story.

Travels with Charley, by John Steinbeck. The ultimate road trip novel about the author's journey "in search of America." Steinbeck was nearly 60 years old when he set out on his trip in a custom-build camper he named Rocinante with his French poodle Charley. Steinbeck crossed the country, meeting and breaking bread with migrant workers, hunters, and friends old and new. I'd actually put almost anything he wrote on this list, but this is an especially good book to sit and savor.

The Little Prince, by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. What can I say? This book transports me. It's a fable about love, loneliness, longing, and loss. It's also an obvious Christian allegory. No matter how you chose to look at it, the book is exquisite. "And now here is my secret, a very simple secret: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye."

Sometimes a Great Notion, by Ken Kesey. This is a huge, sprawling book by the author of "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest." It challenges the notions of family, masculinity, and love, as well as illustrating man's constant struggle against nature. It is not an easy read, but it is utterly absorbing and visceral.

The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, by Tom Wolfe. Wolfe is our finest observer and writer of American culture. Reading books like The Pump House Gang and The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby immersed me so deeply into other eras that I felt lost when I was finished reading and discovered myself in modern times. I have a special affection for this particular book since it led me to read Sometimes a Great Notion after I fell in love with Ken Kesey, one of the Merry Pranksters.

5. What am I currently reading?

Slaughterhouse-Five, by Kurt Vonnegut. I'm ashamed that I've never read it before.

6. Which five bloggers am I passing this on to?

I'll go Andrew's route, and say if you are interested, post a comment or email me, and I'll tag you in.

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