Thursday, December 01, 2005

Book Tag

Long, long ago, when I was in a land far away, Imshin tagged me. Because the alternative would be writing my dissertation, I'm finally going to acknowledge it.

Number of books I own: I'm going to quote Imshin on this one - "Are you mad? You want me to count them all?"

Last book I bought: I ordered Robert Jordan's Knife of Dreams and Volume 20 of the SUNY translation of Tabari's History from Amazon at the same time last month. I usually buy more than one at once to take advantage of the free shipping.

Last book I read: That would be Laila Lalami's Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits, I think. I've just started a volume of plays by Christopher Marlowe, but haven't gotten very far.

Five books that mean a lot to me: This is a tricky one. Like Imshin, I feel I should include some holy text such as The Bible, but that seems too easy somehow. So what I'll do instead is focus on influence, and name these as the five most influential books in my life:

The Glass Bead Game, by Hermann Hesse. This feels more like a ritual mention than anything else, as while for ages I gave this top billing, at this point I haven't read it in years. I should check in again and see how it holds up as a challenge the idea of leading a strictly "ivory tower" intellectual life.

Deep River, by Endo Shusaku, with a companion mention of his Silence and The Samurai. These works gave shape to my broad-based spiritual and religious outlook when I was an undergraduate, forming a nice extension of the liberal Franciscanism of my undergraduate school.

The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkein. For one thing, reading epic fantasy is among my favorite leisure activities, and this book was the first. At the same time, I suspect my love of exploring the world has its roots in simple hobbits headed off on grand adventures.

Pilgrim, by Leonard Biallas. Those who like my travel writing will find in here the source of my attitudes, attitudes which extend into the rest of my exploration of life, as well.

I feel like there should be some book that's been crucial to my political views or career, but there really hasn't. So following Imshin's lead, I'll name this history of the United States that was in the Dewey Elementary School library, and that during the 3rd grade I read over and over again. Did it play a role in my career choice? That was a winding road, but the book may have planted the seeds.

Rather than resurrect this, I'll tag some off-line friends who have personal sites.


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