the music prompt has become a book baton; this time it comes from paul.

total number of books i’ve owned: when i picture the bookshelves i filled and emptied before high school, i imagine it’s got to be something like 2000. our apartment and my office each have a few hundred now, and there are at least a thousand in my mother’s garage in northern california – or there were before she moved, anyway.

last book I bought: a two-dollar copy of clarissa, samuel richardson. that it’s (as previously mentioned) abridged and unreadable is a sign, i think, that i should be reading contemporary stuff: I’m currently on the lookout for tsipi keller’s jackpot.

last book i read: still tearing through until i find you, john irving. getting the impression that this was not the best place to leap into his oeuvre.

last book i finished: apprentice to the flower poet z., debra weinstein, an occasionally amusing satire. i still have a fairly short fuse when it comes to hee-hee novels about academia.

5 books that mean a lot to me:
the golden compass, philip pullman, is tucked away (along with the rest of the his dark materials series) for when my sisters have kids. i love this and its message as much as i hate c.s. lewis’s narnia books (read: a lot).

the hobbit, j.r.r. tolkien, and the lord of the rings. my dad came up with amazing voices when he read these aloud. i wish we’d attempted homemade audiobooks, especially for the grond scene.

infinite jest, david foster wallace. whether or not i liked the book seems unimportant; what matters is that it’s changed my feelings about everything i read before and since.

digesting the child within, john callahan. callahan drew crude, primarily single-panel cartoons syndicated in the los angeles times in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s; many depicted aspects of his life as a wheelchair-bound alcoholic in an intensely offensive way, and showed me how (and why it’s crucial) to laugh at horrible things. how my mom let me have a copy is still beyond me.

where’s dan quayle?, jim becker. i think i asked for this (a where's waldo? parody) as a birthday present in ’91. in retrospect, that was probably the point at which it became impossible for me to think of republicans as three-dimensional people.
5 people i want to see do this: it’s all you again, commenters.


Happy fun ball said...

Total number of books: no idea probably a couple of thousand too.

Last book I bought: Probability and Measure by Patrick Billinsgley.

Book that I'm reading: Moby Dick. Never read it before, which is a shame because it's Fanfuckingtastic.

Last book I finished: War and Peace. Another fantastic book, except for the parts when tolstoy rants about history.

5 books that mean a lot to me:

I've always loved Lolita. It's just so good. What's not to like?

A High Wind in Jamaica, Robert Hughes: Little kids getting kidnapped by pirates. It's good because it's so damn sexual.

Under the Volcano, Malcom Lowry: For when I'm feeling like a hopeless drunk.

Tsuge Yoshiharu, The Man Without a Talent: My favorite comic book of all time. Dark but mystical.

The Lord of the Rings: I don't think much of it now, but it was monunmental for me when I was ten. I was depressed for six months after finishing the series, because I realized that I had to live in the real world and not Middle Earth.

jacob said...

total number of books: i've been much better at exploiting the public library and my parents' collection in recent years, so probably only around 1000 (includes probably 30 "choose your own adventure" books).

last book i bought: "60 stories" by donald barthelme. read the first 15 or so - nearly all excellent, or at least interesting.

last book i read: currently reading "the line of beauty" by alan hollinghurst. winner of 2004 man booker prize. jamesian, but less intimidating and a whole lot of fun. don't be scared off by its mid-1980s british setting or others' attempts to pigeonhole it as gay lit.

last book i finished: "anna karenina". i see this is the summer of tolstoy. took me several months to finish, as i was proposing my dissertation during much of that time, so it was a bit of a disjointed experience. i actually enjoyed levin's character, and his weird political leanings, more than anna.

5 books that mean a lot to me:

"operation shylock" - philip roth. actually, you could subsitute most any roth book here. the writer i can most relate to, in terms of navigating life as an american jew.

"the phantom tollbooth" - norton juster. i think my brother peed on my copy. probably says something that my ideal fantasy land is so academic. not sure how it's aged.

"beyond the classroom" - laurence steinberg (w. b. brown & s. dornbusch). the book that got me interested in educational reform. general thesis is that peer groups have more of an influence on school achievement than parents. led to me working briefly w. dornbusch at stanford.

"tinkering toward utopia" - david tyack & mark cuban. hands down, the best introduction to the history of american educational reform. ideas about policy cycles and institutional trends influenced my thinking enormously as a graduate student.

"e unum pluribus" - david foster wallace. ok, so it's just an essay in "a supposedly fun thing...," but it is the definitive statement on irony in culture. still think about it often.