Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Tag, I'm It

I figured that this was going to happen.

I am inclined to say that "I don't do this sort of thing," but that's only because I have never been tagged before. Plus, I have spent the last fifteen years working in either a book shop or a library, so I know a thing or two about books. A caveat: I am not a front-to-back reader. I only read what interests me. This means that most of my reading is "bathroom" style reading, even if very little of it is done in that particular chamber. It also means that my reading is almost exclusively non-fiction. So here is my response to this literary survey thingy:

Total number of books owned, ever: Everyone's answer seems to be the same, and mine is no different. I have so many books that I can't even come up with a reasonable estimate. Try working for a major retail bookseller with a decent employee discount and see how many books you accumulate over the course of ten years.

Last book I bought: The Delorme Southern & Central California Atlas and Gazetteer. Some might say that, technically, this doesn't count. But it is a book, and I bought it. My nine year old daughter is vacationing in Long Beach and I thought that she might find this useful. I have had an interest in geography since I was a little boy, and the Delorme series is the ultimate in cartography, as far as I am concerned. Delorme helped me get around Minnesota twice before, and it will help me do so again in about six weeks.

Last book I read: Civilization Before Greece and Rome by Saggs. I actually read this cover-to-cover, though I did just kind of skim through the boring parts. The book that I finished before that, Ancient Iraq by Georges Roux, contained much overlapping material but was presented in a much more interesting fashion.

Five Books that mean a lot to me: I'm not sure that I like the way that this is worded, so I will call it
Five books that have made an impact on my life:

Chicken Little: How many people remember the first book they ever read, without help, cover to cover? This is where it all started, way back when I was three years old. The edition that I had was published over forty years ago, which makes me a spring chicken by comparison.

The People's Almanac 2 By David Wallechinsky and Irving Wallace: Along with its companion volumes in the People's Almanac Series as well as the Book of Lists Series by the same authors, this book taught me that "bathroom" reading was, 90% of the time, much more interesting than reading a book cover to cover.

Henry V by William Shakespeare: After reading this for a college Shakespeare course, I decided to become a history major. The facts (provable and unproven) were much more interesting than political propaganda posing as a work of drama. And so, at around age 20, I came to the conclusion that I preferred non-fiction to fiction, and it's been that way ever since.

Leftism Revisited: From De Sade and Marx to Hitler and Pol Pot by Erik Von Kuehnelt-Leddihn: This one is kind of obscure. The author, best known in America as a contributor to National Review magazine for many years, was born into an aristocratic Austrian family in the waning years of the Habsburg Empire. This book gave me a sense of modern political history from a right-of-center European perspective, and led me towards a better understanding of "left" and "right" in the political sense (hence the logical identification of Hitler as a leftist in the book's subtitle). I don't fear the right wing; I embrace it.

The Embarrassed Believer by Hugh Hewitt: No, seriously! I spotted this when I was working in the religion section during my bookselling days. There were few books on the market that dealt with the question of Christianity's place in the secular world of today. I read the book, and recognized myself. I was embarrassed. (Still am, in some ways.) At the time, I had no idea who Hugh Hewitt was. Several years later I discovered the blogosphere and there he was right in the thick of things.

That's a wrap. Now who am I going to pass this along to? I am rather inspired by the manner in which Sisyphus at Nihilist In Golf Pants handled the last part of the assignment. So in the spirit of the aforementioned Book of Lists, which included Ronald Reagan's list of historical figures he would most like to meet, I am going to do something a little different:

The Ohligarch's 5 20th Century American Presidents He Would Like To Pass This Blogging Assignment Along To:
1) Ronald Reagan
2) Richard Nixon
3) Franklin Roosevelt
4) Herbert Hoover
5) Theodore Roosevelt


Sandy said...

I have a nephew I'd love to rescue from the dark side, would the Leftism book be a good nudge?

Nicko McDave said...

Leftism might help. It worked for me because I was already a conservative, but I would proceed with caution recommending the book to someone across the aisle. Erik von Lederhosen was very European, very aristocratic, and very old world Catholic. Any one of these biases could have put me off before I got past the introduction, but I went into it with an open mind.

For your nephew, I would suggest Modern Times by Paul Johnson. I read that one last year after Mitch Berg raved about it and I regret not having read it ten years ago when I purchased a copy. That might be enough to influence your nephew.

Once he's hooked, you could try von Lederhosen for an "outside the box" perspective.