Friday, August 11, 2006

Book-Reading Meme

1) One book that changed your life.

'The 48 Laws Of Power' by Robert Greene. Okay, it didn't really change my life, and I suspect I came to it too late in life to fully grasp and implement Greene's maxims, but it has rearranged my thinking on many fronts. There's very little that's original, and he relies a bit much on Machiavelli and Sun Tzu, but it's a brilliant exposition of the nature of power: how to get it, keep it, and/or avoid having it used against you.

2) One book you have read more than once.

'A Mencken Chrestomathy' by H.L. Mencken. I first discovered this collection of Mencken's in the early 1990's and I read it cover-to-cover, with mouth agape. Mencken wrote the finest American prose of 20th century, bar none. I have since read it again and again. I own several copies, and keep one on my desk at work; I've even been known to foist a copy on a deserving friend, now and then.

3) One book you would want on a desert island.

'The Complete Works' by William Shakespeare. I've always found Shakespeare to be a difficult nut to crack, and I rarely can find the time to work through the plays. The tales are brilliant, and they are worth dissecting and unpacking. Of course, on a desert island, I'd have nothing but time on my hands, so a copy will be in my gnarled hands when I set sail on my next Three Hour Cruise.

4) One book that made you laugh.

'Parliament of Whores: A Lone Humorist Attempts to Explain the Entire U.S. Government' by P. J. O'Rourke and Andrew Ferguson. I remember O'Rourke's early work in the National Lampoon, where he churned out irreverent and politically-incorrect fare as writer and editor. Later, as a free-lancer for the likes of Rolling Stone and other sundry rags, he would perfect his sly conservative-libertarian observations on the inanities of despots, governments and war. And every so often he'd have a publishing house throw together a collection of his magazine work and, voila: instant best-seller. And buying his books kept me from having to subscribe to Rolling Stone.

5) One book that made you cry.

Honestly? I can't remember. Probably 'Old Yeller' by Frederick Benjamin Gipson. I haven't read it for years, since I was a kid. I should read it again.

6) One book you wish had been written.

'The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn' by Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain). This may not be the best book ever written in English - I'd say that honor goes to Conrad's 'Heart Of Darkness,' on which 'Apocalypse Now' was based - but it's the best novel ever written on American soil. Of late the literary fascists have tried to wave the Hoi-Polloi away from reading it, ostensibly because the 'N' word is used to refer to Jim. Rubbish. It was the first widely-read American novel to give an authentic voice to an African-American character, and emboldened many other writers, white and black, who came in its wake. It's an undeniable work of genius, perfect in every way, often pitched as a kid's book, but it's really for adults.

7) One book you wish hadn't been written.

This one is easy: 'The Communist Manifesto' by Karl Marx. His treatise on the nature of capital and the supposed inevitability of the proletarian revolution has influenced the thinking of men (and women) over the past century and a half, turning otherwise intelligent beings into blathering idiots. The scoundrals and morons who have peddled Marx's crackpot theories have caused no end of mischief, misery and death for hundreds of millions. I'm not in favor of the burning of books, but for this one, I might make an exception.

8) One book you are currently reading.

'Myths, Lies, and Downright Stupidity: Get Out the Shovel--Why Everything You Know is Wrong' by John Stossel. This easy-to-read volume is a libertarian rebuttal to the nonsense that's served up as gospel on so many fronts. I would like to make it required reading for all, but sadly there are way too many who simply wouldn't get it. I'm half-way through it, and when I'm done, I'm going to read it again.

9) One book you have been meaning to read.

'The Bible' by God, with help from various Members Of The Tribe. Okay, I've read it, or rather, I've many parts of it, especially the Psalms and New Testamant. But I've tried several times to start at Genesis and read through to Revelation, and I have never made it past Leviticus in one pass. I really should do that someday, before the Armageddon.


I am tagging exactly no one with this meme, but if the Spirit leads, please feel free to post answers to it on your blog, and either comment or email me, to let me know you've taken up the challenge. I'd enjoy seeing your List O'Books. Happy Reading!

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