Wednesday, September 28, 2005

... memememememememememe

this is my long-promised book meme, which, as i explained to my best friend last night, has been somewhat frustrating to put together, since every time i sat down to do it, my "last book bought" entry has changed - every time!

now, as i understand it (or as i remember it), the meme consists of (i) total number of books owned in my lifetime, (ii) last book bought, and (iii) five books that have impacted me somehow (not necessarily my five favourite books). so here we go.

(i) total number of books owned in my lifetime: about 1,250.

i arrived at this figure by a kind of circuitous route. before i moved to chatswood from kogarah, i engaged in what can only be called a massacre of my bookshelf. my current library is made up of several semi-discreet sections of books. one section, my "christian" bookshelf, escaped the cull. another section, my cookery bookshelf, also escaped more or less intact, sans one or two books. the rest of my books have been gradually added to over the last sixteen months, by a disturbingly not-small amount (about forty to fifty books, i think...). what arrived in chatswood as "the rest of my bookshelf" amounted to roughly 20% of my books before the cull. say, 180 books. so, about 900, pre-cull. plus the other two bookshelves, that's about 1,050. plus what i'd lost, loaned, sold, before the cull - let's say about 150. that makes about 1,200. plus what i've acquired since my move north of the bridge - let's say 50. that makes about 1,250 books.

notwithstanding comics. add my former comic book collection to that, you're looking at upwards of 2,100 books.

a few interesting things to note. i've bought matthew reilly's book ice station six times now. (can i get a free book, matt?) i've replaced lost-in-loan books in my terry pratchett collection on a few occasions. i finally found the cybernetic samurai after fifteen years of searching for it secondhand.

(ii) last book purchased: edward lear - the complete nonsense & other verse, vivien noakes (ed.)

bought it for $6.95 down from $24.95 from basement books, in the devonshire street tunnel, railway square, sydney. one of the best bookshops insydney, and where you'll find all kinds of cool stuff. were it not for basement books, my ipod would still be another interesting gift i'd never put to use...

two poems from edward lear to give you an idea (if you've never heard a limerick about a man from peru, i suppose)

"She sits upon her Bulbul"

She sits upon her Bulbul
Through the long long hours of night -
And o'er the dark horizon gleams
The Yashmack's fitful light.
The long Yaourt sails slowly down
The deep and craggy dell -
And from his lofty nest, loud screams
The white-plumed Asphodel.

"The Quangle Wangle's Hat" (a fragment)

On the top of the Crumpetty Tree
The Quangle Wangle sat,
But his face you could not see,
On account of his Beaver Hat.
For his Hat was a hundred and two feet wide,
With ribbons and bibbons on every side,
And bells, and buttons, and loops, and lace,
So that nobody ever could see the face
Of the Quangle Wangle Quee.

(iii) five books that have impacted me somehow.

1/ c.s. lewis, the lion, the witch, and the wardrobe - the first fantasy story that i ever really was caught up into, so that i never wanted to stop reading it. i think the original copy that i had was a Christmas gift in 1978, or maybe 1979. i later gave it to my best friend, duc, in maybe 1982, or 1983. this book, along with the rest of the chronicles of narnia, was formative in my journey into the realm of fantasy and science fiction, the wonderful world of s.f.

2/ william gibson, neuromancer - still to this day, i think, the best science fiction novel i've ever read. gibson's vision of a future where the internet is such an integral part of everyday life that he coined the term "the matrix" decades before the film was made that used the matrix as the means for all humans to interact with one another. "cyberspace. a consensual hallucination experienced daily by billions of legitimate operators, in every nation, by children being taught mathematical concepts..." tell me that's not where we're going.

3/ dr. seuss, the cat in the hat - nothing else matches this book for sheer poetry. if i'd never before had a love for rhyme or rhythm, this book alone would have given it me. everyone should read it, everyone should learn to recite it.

4/ robert browning, selected poetry - one of the two poets we studied for the hsc in 1992, browning created characters delivering dramatic monologues, characters who were (apparently) "morally reprehensible". the bishop, the duke and porphyria's lover all showed me the power of story and atmosphere to overcome formal boundaries - the rhyme and rhythm of his poems never stood out for me; they always blended into the background, such that a goal of my own writing has always been (even if rarely if ever achieved) to use traditional forms of poetry with modern and more naturalistic language pattern. ironically, while i loved browning for his characters and form, the poet i loathed while studying her (for whom i now have much respect, gwen harwood) achieved in numerous examples exactly what i wanted to do.

5/ edwin black, i.b.m. and the holocaust - a deeply impacting book for me, which utterly underlined the incredible unlikelihood of a corporation acting out of any motive barring the profit motive. i am gradually entering the world of non-fiction thanks to this and books like richard preston's the hot zone and naomi klein's no logo, and hopefully i won't be limited to books that address what may be called sensational issues, but also less exotic ones as well. sitting on top of my e.e. cummings selected poems 1923-1958 (faber & faber), is a book by edward hirsch, how to read a poem, and fall in love with poetry. these books are gradually awakening in me a desire to read more about the world around me, not in newspapers or magazines, but in researched and considered detail. i don't expect unbiased opinion, but i want to be made to think about what i'm reading, as well as what the writer has written about. if that makes sense.

honorable mentions should go to:
- matthew reilly, ice station
- lewis carroll, alice's adventures in wonderland
- stephen king, it
- clive barker, the books of blood, vol.1-6
- terry pratchett, (everything he's written, basically!)
- john bunyan, the pilgrim's progress
- j.i. packer, knowing God (my own personal everest)
- anne rice, interview with the vampire
- j.r.r.tolkien, the lord of the rings (of course)
- richard adams, watership down
- betsy byars, the cybil war (which condemned me to be a romantic for all time...)

so there you go, that's my book meme. i have no idea who to tag for this. if you've got this far, why not do one yourself?

Friday, September 23, 2005

... grace for dummies?

bible study last night was very good. romans 12:1-8. it made me think about a few things, one bing that i need more to consider the grace shown me in the work of Christ. i know in my head that an incredible price was paid for my life, that i could never repay, but which my heart contantly fails to keep front-in-view. i forget (or ignore) the cost, i forget (or ignore) my complete in ability to repay it, with the knock-on effect that i am overwhelmed sometimes by the fear that i will lose my salvation! how can what i do lose it, any more than i could have gained it in the first place?!

the passage last night, though, makes that truth of assurance the biggest boost and the greatest... obligation. paul says he is a slave of Christ Jesus, under obligation both to the greeks and barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish, not ashamed of the gospel. why not? because it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes. the power of God. it's not just the effect of God's power, the gospel, but it is also the affecting force behind the effect.

i'd not really though that way about it before. so caught up am i in my own fears and worries that i effectively rob the gospel of its power, claiming that my foolishness is greater even than God's ineffable wisdom! how insane is that?!

another thing i've never thought that much about is the guilt paul must have felt about those whose stonings and deaths and imprisonments he'd approved. i can say that i've never actually murdered someone, not even at arm's length; paul had. i'll have to think about that some more. my understanding of grace is so incredibly limited...

Thursday, September 22, 2005

... lunch

i always get a little bit antsy (antsy? don't you mean more antsy...?) if i haven't started lunch by about 1.30pm. when i'm buying lunch, as i did today, my meal of choice is szechuan chicken and fried rice, from padstow inn (112 cahors rd, padstow; ph 9774 2475). their lunchbox is a yummy $6 and the food is always delicious.

i've had a miraculous ten minutes to sit down and ponder my week. last week started out disastrously and improved gradually to the end - i could in all honesty say that friday had been a good day! - this week started out a bit better. i definitely think that much of it is due to my regular Bible reading each morning, reading in a circular fashion through paul's letters to the churches outside rome (gepc1t2t). read in conjunction with the studying we've been doing on romans these last few months, i've found them incredibly helpful. echoes of galatians in romans; being so encouraged by paul's letters to the thessalonians; craving the joy the paul feels for the philippians... these are things i'm continuing to pray for myself, that i can have paul's heart for those he ministers to.

unfortunately, the sinful nature lends itself to being easily distracted (look, something shiny!) and it's easy to turn away to other things and forget the amazing truths of scripture. i read them and wonder that i don't trust in them more, and more solidly cling to them. i sometimes wonder i put more faith in cityrail's timetable than in the truths of the Bible!

like the proverbial chinese meal, half an hour later i feel like i'm spiritually starving. the sad truth is that it's probably not that far from the truth. how many of us, i wonder, read the Bible like a chinese menu, picking the same numbers all the time and not ever feeling as full or nourished as we could be?

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

... yippee-kai-ay...

oh! oh! oh, joy! oh, bliss!

i finally got my copy of the new ikea catalogue!!!

life's sweet, and heaven is where the ikea furinture doesn't need instructions!