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?


At September 28, 2005 9:42 am , Blogger Kathryn - said...

Hi Doc (can I call you that?). Yay for Pilgrim's Progress - I gather it isn't the abridged one.

I am not a huge reader, so no meme from me!

Kath :)

At October 01, 2005 7:50 pm , Anonymous sylv said...

hey adam - you've reminded me that there are books to read that aren't prescribed texts by lecturers or youth/church! thanks!

At October 02, 2005 6:16 pm , Blogger erika said...

can i link you to my blog, please?


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