asked me to do this, so it's his fault.Total number of books I've owned:
a quick scan around the apartment reveals 216 volumes, although:
- That doesn't count comic books
- Omnibus editions that are 2-5 books in one were counted as one
- I have no way of knowing how many books I have owned and haven't kept.
As with CDs, I don't keep a book just because I enjoy it or think it's good (I can always go back to the library, in most cases); I keep them if I think I need to own them due to my wanting to read and re-read them, or if I think I couldn't find it easily again if I ever did want to read/lend it again.The last book I bought:
Thomas Pynchon's great, great The Crying of Lot 49
, which yes I read due to the Yo La Tengo song "The Crying Of Lot G"; but that got me into Pynchon, so who cares why I did it? The library lost the copy I'd read a few years back and I finally purchased my own because I had the money, I really liked the cover art of this edition (mostly white, with red packing-crate lettering and a billboard with a trumpet on it), and I'd been putting it off for a year or so.The last book I read:
Philip K. Dick's Confessions of a Crap Artist
, one of his overlooked non-science fiction works, although now I've moved on to Lee Child's Persuader
; I don't like many action thrillers (or whatever you want to call them) but Child's Jack Reacher series is good fun.Five books that mean a lot to me (in no particular order)
Baruch de Spinoza, Ethic
. I'll stop listing it when it stops being one the most profoundly transcendant experiences I've ever had. But I won't just list five volumes of philosophy here, or yet more Dick and Pynchon - they've all been mentioned by now.
Gene Wolfe, The Fifth Head of Cerebus
. I guess Wolfe technically writes science fiction, but anyone who likes language and story and writing in general needs to read this. I finished it over a long, sleepless night in a hostel in Edinburgh, and I can't wait to read it again, to see if this time I can keep it from outsmarting me. And Wolfe writes some truly gorgeous prose.
glenn mcdonald, The War Against Silence
. Okay, technically it's not a book
per se, but it's at least book length and anyone who reads all of it, #s 1-503 (the last added almost posthumously; but it's not a book, so glenn can add to it whenever he likes), can begin to understand why I bother to write at all, let alone about music. I wish the world was full of people like glenn, although I'm sure he'd be able to point out all the ways in which that's a bad idea. I don't think I "sound" like him, but you can definitely catch echoes.
Judy Jones and William Wilson, An Incomplete Education
. My mom got this from some book club and eventually gave it to me because I kept stealing it. I've got the "Completely Revised"
edition. Some sections (Science) I'd skip for being hard to enjoy and probably at this point out of date, but mostly it just fostered my love of learning. Jones and Wilson are often flip but never mean (see also Anthony Lane), and best of all I can't say this really formed any prejudices; instead it presents itself as something to help you get oriented with, and to come back to for pleasure, but not something to establish dogma. Still a real joy to read.
Peter Dickinson, The Flight of Dragons
. My copy (no dust jacket, huge, crumbling, bound together with red safety tape) actually comes from my grade school library. In the six years I was there no-one else took it out, and I knew the librarian since I was in there all the time, and she gave it to me as a graduation present. I still have it. I suppose the Amazon rundown
gives you an idea, but I cannot describe for you the chill that went down my spine the first time I finished the first chapter, upon the line "in order to fly dragons must have been almost weightless". Doesn't sound thrilling, but in context it was. Wayne Anderson's art is almost as wonderful as Dickinson's writing. This, along with Raymond Brigg's Fungus the Bogeyman
and Will Huygen and Rien Poortvliet's Gnomes
, ignited my childhood imagination.Tag three people and have them fill this out on their blogs
I'd love to see Ben, K, Aaron, Jer, Joy or any of the gang from high school take a crack at this. Or, and I do mean this honestly, anyone I read and/or work with at Stylus (actually... Mike Powell should do this). I'd be equally interested to see pretty much anyone's. If you don't have a site, use the comments. And let me know if you do it elsewhere, will you?