Aliens in This World

An ordinary Catholic and a science fiction and fantasy fan.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

The Book Meme

Jimmy Akin tagged everybody several weeks back, so I avail myself of his invitation.

1. Total number of books I've owned. Right now I have somewhere in the neighborhood of 2200 books in my apartment. There's probably about 100-150 more at my parents' house. I've probably given away or sold back somewhere around fifty or a hundred books in my let's say I've owned 2500 books. This does not include magazines or non-graphic novel comics.

2. Last book I bought. Oh, come on. Who buys only one book at a time? It's like eating just one potato chip. But my last batch of books included: Caleb Carr's new Holmes pastiche, The Italian Secretary (Good pastiche style, well-written, ultimately pointless and tedious, will never be reread, total waste of cash), and a clearance copy of Pushkin's Button: The Story of the Fatal Duel Which Killed Russia's Greatest Poet by Serena Vitale. (Excellent buy, imaginatively written, well-researched, extremely informative about everything it touches, occasionally pretentious but only with a self-deprecatory smile, not afraid to say 'I don't know but here's the evidence we've got', and obviously good for many rereads.)

3. Last book I read. Volume I of Nodame Cantabile, a music school manga by Tomoko Ninomiya. Excellent stuff, with good characters and some very wise thoughts about how art works and artists create it.

4. Five books that mean a lot to me. Another cruel and unusual question.... Obviously the Bible and Shakespeare and stuff like that go without saying.

1. The Chronicles of Narnia and The Hobbit/The Lord of the Rings. These were the first books I really loved with all my heart, and the first books that really taught me about God and life. Having each read it while in the lower grades gave a great area of commonality to my brothers and I (not to mention our dad and mom, who provided us with the books). We each still read it once every year or so.

2. Larousse Encyclopedia of Mythology, 1959 edition. Back in elementary, I really loved that old TV show Mighty Isis -- not for what it was, but what it tried to be. I wanted to learn more about Egyptian mythology and Isis, so I got my parents to buy this book at the library book sale, on the premise that more must be better. I got a mighty shock, because the Isis of myth and lore was not at all like the DC Comics version. Neither were any of the other gods or spirits of the ancient world. I also got an eyeful of naked primary source art. I still remember reading the book with my hand covering up all those Greek nudes. I learned to really love mythology, but I also learned not to have too many illusions about it. I guess that's why I'll never be a pagan in a creed outworn.

3. A Book of Saints by Mildred Criss, 1956. I think we got this at that same library sale. This book has the best cover: a picture of the Holy Family as if they lived in New England. It was painted by the now-forgotten Catholic artist Lauren Ford. This saint book, and the saint book at my parochial school with all the bright stained glass-colored illustrations, and the book about St. Therese, and the book about Fatima...well, I sometimes think they were my best bits of religious education. The stories in them not only provided you with plenty of different kinds of role models from all walks of life and with all different personalities; they also brought up almost every important religious issue somewhere inside them. You learned that the Sacraments were important and why, and that frequent Communion and Confession were privileges. You learned all sorts of different ways to serve God, and all sorts of different reasons to defy the world. You learned about history. You learned about iconography and hagiology. You learned about God. Excellent, excellent stuff.

4. Preserve and Protect by Allan Drury. I know; you think I mean Advise and Consent. Nope. That's probably a better novel, and certainly a more directly historical and more prophetic one. But Preserve and Protect is the book that first clarified my political ideas and told me that I wasn't the only one who thought such things. So if you ever run across a book that starts with Air Force One crashing and the Speaker of the House becoming president...well, if the author's name is Drury, it's got to be good.

5. The Lord Peter Wimsey series by Dorothy L. Sayers. Not just a good mystery series, but also including large chunks of fun and good advice on life in the modern world.

I, like Jimmy Akin, tag everybody.