Total Number of Books?
Many years ago, I did an inventory and found that I owned 700 books, of which 100 were still unread. I tried to do an updated count last weekend, but I got confused over whether I was at 350 or 450 and I hadn’t even left my basement yet, so I gave up. I’m estimating 1000 books owned and 200 unread.
Last Book Read?
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. I’m inching through the series at a snail’s pace now that school has started, but this one is a surprising favourite of mine. It was perhaps the biggest let-down of the series when it first came out – after all the drama of Voldemort’s return in Book 4, the ensuing Sitzkrieg was infuriating. But every time I read it I like it more: I enjoy the students’ subversion against Dolores Umbridge (especially in light of Neville’s later comments about how bolstered he always was by Harry’s refusal to remain prudently silent), and I like the way the novel exposes the lack of democratic institutions (such as a free press or regular elections) within the wizarding world. I especially enjoy the Owl examinations at the end, the Great Hall filled with students at individual desks, gripping their quills tightly and answering questions like “What is the incantation and wand movement required to make objects fly?” This book places Snape in a newly sympathetic light as the victim of bullying by James and Sirius; there is something terribly poignant about the popular, arrogant Padfoot and Prongs throwing their weight around Hogwarts with so little life and freedom ahead of them.
Last Book Bought?
Mark Helprin, Winter’s Tale, on Jonniker’s recommendation. Haven’t started it yet (see above).
Five Meaningful Books?
I’m tempted to steal Mom-NOS’s selections for this one: she beautifully describes the impact of Paul Collins’s Not Even Wrong and Anne Lamott’s Operating Instructions. It’s tempting, also, to stick with my regulars: Emily of New Moon or Pride and Prejudice. But it doesn’t say “the five MOST meaningful books you’ve ever read” – just five meaningful books. So I’ll try to strike out for some new territory here.
Please Understand Me II, by David Keirsey: Before we started dating, I mentioned to the-man-who-would-be-hubby that I had been looking for this book, an in-depth description of the Myers-Briggs personality types. A week later, he showed up at church with a copy he had just happened to stumble across in his travels. I paid him $20 for it, and he kept the bill, vowing to use it one day either to (a) buy me a ring, or (b) get drunk.
Atonement, by Ian McEwen: This is the book that convinced me (against all previous evidence) that I can actually enjoy recent, highly acclaimed fiction. I picked it up because the title references a major and yet insufficiently understood theological concept, and then I kept reading because the heroine is really Emily of New Moon transplanted into an Agatha-Christie-style 1930s manor house in England. Young introspective writer-wannabe meets detective novel – even all the postmodern experimentation couldn’t quite ruin it for me.
I Suffer Not a Woman: Rethinking 1 Timothy 2:11-15 in Light of Ancient Evidence, by Catherine Clark Kroeger and Richard Clark Kroeger: Obscure though it may be, this book changed my life and made faith possible for me again. The whole book focuses on a single passage in 1 Timothy, explaining it in historical context so that it becomes something other than bewildering nonsense. Also, the book demonstrated that it’s possible to be educated, feminist, and rigorously orthodox.
Rilla of Ingleside, by L.M. Montgomery: All my life I’ve been fascinated by the history of the two world wars, in part because this book convinced me that the Great War was fought by my friends and brothers.
Not Even Wrong: Adventures in Autism, by Paul Collins (I tried to resist; I failed): Nearly two years ago, I picked up this book from the bargain table at Chapters, the first step on a long road of self-doubt and indecision, of trying to understand what autism is and how my knowledge of it can help Bub. The book is satisfyingly quirky in its historical and geographical breadth – it moves, at times unpredictably, from Jonathan Swift and the court of mad King George to Nazi-era Austria and the offices of Hans Asperger. At the heart of it, though, is the author’s son Morgan. I don’t know, to this day, whether I love Morgan so passionately because he reminds me of Bub, or just because Collins is that good a writer.
Mary G of Them’s My Sentiments, Mary Murtz of The Eleventh, Mary, mom of many of Owlhaven and Mary-LUE of Life, the Universe and Everything. (If you’re not named Mary you don’t get tagged, but feel free to get in on the open invitation from Mom-NOS. I did.)
Tuesday, October 02, 2007
Total Number of Books?