Saturday, June 11, 2005

Book Meme

I have been tagged by fellow local poet Mitch over at Blogfonte, a nicely written blog about anime, poetry, civil war history, and everyday life in a small town. Don't worry about his occasional snarls on things political. Mitch is a Burkean classic liberal, not one of those new mind-numbed NeoCons. He actually believes in intellectual discussion. And he gives as good as he gets.

How many books do you own?
Well, that's an interesting question. I have about 7000 books in my apartment, about half of which are science fiction and fantasy. Maybe another 700 or so are poetry, 500 or so are books on Taoism, another batch of similar size are on conspiracy lore. The rest are largely ancient and modern history, scholarly geography, (mostly concerning climate, agriculture and globalization), science and environmental studies. I suspect I am the "mutual friend with a much larger mess" that Mitch alludes to.

I also have about 225,000 books in my used bookshop, Webster's. Whether I own them or not is something you will have to ask the bank.

Last book purchased:

Well, hard to say. These came in the last shipment from B&N, so I guess they are probably the last things I purchased:

  • Will in the World, How Shakespeare Became Shakespeare by Stephen Greenblatt
Greenblatt probably knows more about Shakespeare the man than anyone else alive today.
  • The Atrocity Archives by Charles Stross
Stross is the current hot property in the SF world.
  • Maps of the Imagination: The Writer as Cartographer by Peter Turchi
A book combining my two great passions, geography and writing. How could I pass it up?
  • A Change of Regime By J.N. Stroyer
The sequel to her fabulous contrafactual historical novel, The Children's War. I'm really looking forward to reading this one.

Five (err Six) Books That Mean a Lot To Me:

  • Pablo Neruda's The Captain's Verses Wow. So much emotion in so few words This is the essence of poetry for me. I am also much taken with Wislawa Szymborska's poetry for similar reasons. No spare words. Glorious imagery and thought.
  • Catch 22 by Joseph Heller The first book that I ever read that made me want to figure out the mechanics of how it was written. Just a wonderful amalgamation of character, plot and description. I reread it every year.
  • Beastmaster by Andre Norton This book saved my life as a teenager. It was the first book I ever read where a Native American was the hero. Up until then I really thought that only white folks could be heroes in books. This book and Ms. Norton's other novels with Indian characters gave me hope that a smart half-breed kid could find a place in the world.
  • Mental Maps by Peter Gould The book that made me realize that I was a geographer. I read it in high school, then had the great honor of studying with Professor Gould during my undergraduate days. A marvelous book by an incredibly generous and intelligent man.
  • Andy Goldsworthy: A Collaboration with Nature An awe inspiring book about Goldsworthy and his ephemeral art made from bits of nature, set in natural settings. Twigs, leaves, rocks, mounds of earth, ice, all become part of his pallet. His work pulls me toward that place in nature where we are at our calmest and at one with the world around us.
  • Tao Te Ching by Lao Tsu I've read at least 60 translations of the Tao, but the one I love most, for its glorious poetry, is the Stephen Mitchell. It may not be the most faithful to the ancient texts, but it's the one that speaks the strongest to this particular secular Taoist daily struggling in a western world.

And tag, you're it: ae at arse poetica, heretik at The Heretik, and corndog at corndoggeral


Mitch H. said...

Fred, I know you like to call me a Burkean, but it's not the first term that comes to mind when somebody asks me how I self-classify. In fact, I've been known to call myself a "neocon", but only when provoked.

Have you read the Atrocity Archives yet? After reading a number of Stross's books, I'm coming to the conclusion that I like his fantasy better than his SF. Singularity Sky was kind of... haughty. That new Chronicles of Amber-type series he's doing is much more my speed...

handdrummer said...

The closest thing I can come to a descriptive term for your politics is a 'Scoop Jackson' Democrat. Liberal on most social policies. Centrist economically. Hawkish on defense. But there are so few people with any sense of recent American political history about that most wouldn't get the distinction.

You seem to be far too much of a social libertarian to ever be mistaken for a neocon. I could be wrong, but that's how I see it.

As to Stross, read some of his blog if you want an insight into where he's hesding with the SF. 'Atrocity Archives' is next on the to-read pile. I'll let you know. Haven't gotten to the crosstime travel stuff yet. Is that the Amberian book that you're refering to or is there something new?

The Heretik said...

Oy, now I will have to come up with something new. Thanks for the honor,

Mitch H. said...

Yeah, the "Merchant Princes" books. They're fun, if a little too studiedly self-consciously gonzo. By which I mean that Hunter S. Thompson gets repeatedly quoted. The descriptions of the books in the advertising almost put me off of them, because they made it all sound like a Mercedes Lackey project. That was a mistaken impression.

It's fantastic alternate-world world-striding in the H. Beam Piper vein, with the military history replaced by developmental economic theory. Functionally similar to the situation in Singularity Sky, actually, except the protagonists are much less privileged and libertarian-arrogant than the ones in that book.