May 31, 2005

Book Meme

Ok. Steve tagged me with a book meme, so I guess I gotta.

Here’s where I look like a complete nerd.

# of books I own:

Funny story. K, my older daughter, was in the office the other day, counting. Counting, filing sorting, and categorizing things are often her idea of fun.

K: “34, 35, 36, 37, 38…”

Me: “K, what are you doing?”

K: “Counting the number of books in the house.”

Me: “You should be able to estimate. Figure out how many books are on each shelf and then multiply by shelves to get a rough estimate.”

K: “Oh.”

Me: “How far have you gotten. It sounded like, what, 39? 40?”

K: “Nine hundred and thirty-eight.”

Me: “Huh?”

K: “I’ve counted my bedroom, M’s bedroom, your bedroom and some of the office here.”

Me: “Ah.” I quickly scanned the bookshelves and made an estimate. “look, you don’t have to count all the books. If an estimate is good enough, why don’t we put it at 1,200.

K: “OK, Daddy.”

It’s around there. I hope we never have to move.

Last book I bought:

PHP, MySQL and Apache by Julie C. Meloni. Well, what did you expect?

Last book I read:

I used to read books cover to cover, before I had kids. I also used to read fiction for pleasure more often, historical fiction and just a better variety of books. The last book I finished was Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser. That’s if you don’t count the Manga versions of the books that “Ringu” is based on. I’m currently in the middle of a number of books, including:

  • Positively Fifth Street by James McManus
  • Faithful by King and O’Nan
  • Philosophy for Dummies by Tom Morris
  • America the Book by Jon Stewart

Five Books that Mean A Lot to Me:

This is the part where I say “The Bible” and that Jesus is my favorite philosopher, right?

OK, I have to answer with a real answer, I guess. But I feel fiction and nonfiction are in separate categories. These aren’t necessarily my list of top-rated books. These books just mean something important to me.


  • Dune by Frank Herbert
  • The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett
  • Musashi by Eiji Yoshikawa
  • Firestarter by Stephen King
  • To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee


  • The Ashley Book of Knots by Clifford Ashley.
  • The Demon-Haunted World by Carl Sagan
  • The Gentle Art of Verbal Self-Defense by Suzette Haden Elgin
  • Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman by Richard P. Feynman
  • How to Really Fool Yourself : Illusions for All Your Senses by: Vicki Cobb
    • I’ve never read this book. I saw it in the store when I was a kid and wanted it badly. When I returned later, it was gone. I never saw it again and it went out of print. I believe it is back in print now, but I’ve still never seen it. But I certainly thought about that book a lot.

Comics/Graphic Novels

  • Usagi Yojimbo by Stan Sakai
  • The Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller et al.
  • Amazing Spider-Man #69 “Mission: Crush the Kingpin”
  • The Tick - Ben Edlund
  • TroubleSeekers Issue #1 - Anonymous

OK, I tag Chuck, Maggie to continue this meme. But if you have a blog and you read this, consider yourself tagged and trackback or comment link to your blog entry. If you have no blog you can plan just by leaving a comment.

Why the hell not?

Posted by James at May 31, 2005 10:52 PM
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I like to play along but am blogless.

# of books: That's tough. I haven't seen most of my books in years; sadly they are still in my mom's attic. Maybe 200. I like public libraries because I'm cheap. I only buy books the local library can't quickly/easily get or those I *must* have.

Last bought: Assassination Vacation -Vowell.

Last read: Same as above.

5 that mean a lot to me: To me that means the top 5 that I had to force myself to put down. Because for me reading a book you don't want to put down is almost like having an affair with that book; at that point in my life it consumes me. So in no particular order: Secret History -Tartt, Assassination Vacation -Vowell, Five-Finger Discount -Stapinski, LOTR -Tolkien, 1984 -Orwell.

Posted by: Sharon at June 1, 2005 3:59 PM

No blog so here goes.

How many books. Jeeze I have no clue. 5+ bulging bookshelves full.

Last book bought:

Midshipman Hornblower CS Forrester
Wicked Greg Maguire

Last book read:
Sharpe's Sword Bernard Cornwell

currently reading The Elder Gods David Eddings

Books that mean a lot to me:
Hmm. Not best but mean a lot. I'll put the books I've reread the most

LOTR (trilogy) - Tolkein
Good Omens - Terry Pratchett/Neil gaimen
Atlas Shrugged - Ayn Rand
The Civil War (trilogy) - Shelby Foote
I'm hurting my brain trying todecide on a fifth so I'm going to go with a series and say George R.R, Martin's Song of Ice and Fire series. It's 4 books so far and it's supposed to go 6. Best written fantasy series that isn't LOTR ever.

Posted by: B.O.B.(bob) at June 1, 2005 4:36 PM

"Wicked" was great!

I wish his other novels (Ugly Stepsister and the Snow White ones) had been nearly as good.

Posted by: Julie at June 1, 2005 5:26 PM

Steve tapped me as well, so I did it over on my blog. :)

Posted by: briwei at June 2, 2005 12:04 AM

I am now reading "Freakonomics" and enjoying it very much.

Here are but a few of the books that I have re-read many times and would recommend to others. I could suck up this entire blog entry, and I can't imagine how many books are in this house. I'm just glad the library is on the ground floor, else, they might cause the floor to collapse.

The Mabinogi, and Other Medieval Welsh Tales by Patrick Ford (Welsh mythology)

Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett

Any book by Terry Pratchett, though the ones featuring the witches are my faves (as Nanny Ogg sings, "A hedgehog can never be buggered at all.").

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, by my favorite, now late, gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson.

Of course, Lord of the Rings trilogy.

All books by David Sedaris are worthy of your time. He is a funny, funny man.

Ok, I'll stop now.

Posted by: at June 2, 2005 8:02 AM

Sorry, that last post was from me. I'm dialing in from home on a borrowed laptop.

Posted by: PattiM. at June 2, 2005 8:10 AM

Geeze-my last comment never appeared.

Julie - I read one other of Maguires books (Lost) and liked his writting but the story wasn't great. i thought I'd give him another try and have heard great things about Wicked. Of course owning it and reading it are two different things. I have about 5 books ahead of it in the pile right now.

Posted by: B.O.B.(bob) at June 2, 2005 8:44 AM

Sharon, how was assasination vacation? I'm thinking of picking it up. I love Vowell's commentary on This American Life and this books sounds pretty interesting.

Posted by: B.O.B.(bob) at June 2, 2005 8:46 AM

I think I tried to read "Secret History," is that the book that takes place at a college in New England, and the viewpoint character is very good at Greek? I absolutely hated it and couldn't finish. I'd like to know what you liked about it if it is the same book. It was supposed to be very good, so I was unpleasantly surprised. I found the whole college atmosphere very false, having attended two different private NE colleges myself. I also didn't like the characters very much. Some of her descriptions were good. She wrote another book which takes place in the rural South, I think, which is her native home, so I thought that one might be better.

Posted by: Maggie at June 2, 2005 10:26 AM

I did it.

That was actually fun, trying to remember books that have been important to me. Certainly hard to narrow it down.

Posted by: Maggie at June 2, 2005 11:08 AM

Yep, Mike did it, and I wasn't able to leave a comment there, so I'll say it here: I love, love, love Jack Finney. Love. "Of Missing Persons" is my favorite short story ever. EVER.

I'm too disorganized to do a book count or list, but I can tell you: definitely Jack Finney for short stories.

And if you can't get enough of Han Solo and/or Hutts, Ann Crispin's Solo trilogy should keep you bloated and happy for a while.

Posted by: Julie at June 2, 2005 12:55 PM

I also couldn't leave a message on Mike's blog and wanted to say I definately enjoyed the Tim Zahn Star Wars books. Definately a guilty pleasure but they are a good read and really well written. When they decide to do more movies (which of course they eventually will, let's hope Lucas let's someone else do them) they should definately base them on these!

Posted by: B.O.B.(bob) at June 2, 2005 1:08 PM

IMHO, Zahn's were the best Star Wars novels. I went through a phase when I read most of them. Zahn's were the ones most like worthy successors to the term "Star Wars Saga."

Other novels were entertaining, but the Zahn books stood out. Thrawn was a great character, too. No stupid names like "General Grievous."

Posted by: James at June 2, 2005 1:23 PM

I "borrowed" James's copies of the Zahn books a few years ago. I still have them. Someday I even plan to read them. :-)

Posted by: Julie at June 2, 2005 1:32 PM

That's OK. I have one of the volumes of Foote's Civil War series, and another of Foote's books which I borrowed from BOB.

Posted by: James at June 2, 2005 1:36 PM

Since I posted "Fear and Loathing," and we're talking about borrowing books, I'll tell you about my non-lending policy: I lost so many copies of "Fear and Loathing" that I no longer loan books--not even to family. That was the book that broke the camel's back. I'd lost other books before, but 4 copies of the same damned book turned me into a non-lender.

My feeling is this: Yes, you're my friend/family member, and I'm recommending a book to you, but you can't have my copy--you'll just have to get yourself to the library or the bookstore.

I had a friend who routinely folded pages instead of using a book mark (Bob, it was Suzanne). This was right around the time I stopped lending, and seeing her do that to a book pushed me to finalize my policy. She had wanted to borrow my copy of Leon Uris's Trinity, and I just happened to find a copy at the swap shed at the local dump, in excellent conditon; I gave it to her rather than let her borrow my copy.

BTW, Trinity is an excellent book, and a perfect summer read. The first chapter can be a bit of a challenge, so don't give up until you get past it. Engaging and very well written.

Posted by: PattiM. at June 2, 2005 1:50 PM

Is there something wrong with the comments on my weblog or is it an understandable reluctance to register for yet another website? I added the TypeKey requirement after I grew tired of fighting comment spam and I haven't had any problems using it since.

Posted by: Mike at June 2, 2005 2:01 PM

It's been working fine for me, Mike, and appears to still be working fine.

Posted by: James at June 2, 2005 2:16 PM

I don't register for anything any more. But I don't blame you for wanting to keep the goat-diapering spam out.

Posted by: Julie at June 2, 2005 2:25 PM

I'm guessing TypeKey has problems with Opera, Safari, OS X Firefox and/or OS X Internet Explorer. Unfortunately, short of spending some quality time in an Apple Store I'm not able to test the Mac options. It is likely that the eight people who have left comments in the past few months are all using Windows.

Sorry to clutter up your weblog with my tech support, James. :-)

Posted by: Mike at June 2, 2005 2:29 PM

B.O.B.(bob): I love Assassination Vacation, it is very funny and entertaining. I am a new fan of Sarah Vowell. I saw her on Letterman or Leno promoting this book and I fell in love with her wit and humor; the book is just as good.

Maggie: Secret History is in fact the same book. I enjoyed the characters (I'm from Fairfield County CT; I grew up poor surrounded by wealth -so I think that 'left out/trying to fit in' aspect of the main character initially appealed to me); they are initially rich and snobby, but you find out their flaws as the book goes on. These flaws make you like or at least feel empathy for them. And of course there a very good twist; I didn't see the end coming. I bought her other book too (The Little Friend) ; I was hoping I'd like it too. But I could never get into it; I started it multiple times and just never cared about the characters.

Posted by: Sharon at June 2, 2005 2:34 PM

Sharon, if you're a new fan of Sarah Vowell, you should listen to "This American Life," a radio show distributed by Public Radio International (PRI). She appears often on this show, and if you like her humor, you're going to like this show.

Check this URL for air times in your location:

Posted by: PattiM. at June 2, 2005 2:49 PM

James - You do? Jeeze I didn't even notice.
Patti- I had a similar problem with The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley. I read the damnded 1st chapter about 5 times before i got past it. It turned out to be a great book though.
Mike- I'm with Julie. Just didn't want to spend the time signing up.
Sharon- You should check out some of Vowell's radio stuff from This American Life. She's great (2nd only to david Sedaris). I think you can listen to a lot of it on line at NPR or PRI or something.

Posted by: B.O.B.(bob) at June 2, 2005 2:53 PM

Sarah Vowell was very entertaining in person at The Boston Public Library a few years ago when she was touring with Jonathan Franzen and other authors to support her book "The Partly Cloudy Patriot". I also saw her on C-SPAN2 the other day at a talk she gave in a San Francisco bookstore.

Ditto about her "This American Life" material. Or you could always rent "The Incredibles".

Posted by: Mike at June 2, 2005 2:59 PM

Ohhhhhhhhh...The Mists of about a perfect summer read!!! Damn you, Bob, now I'm thinking about re-reading that--again--this summer!!

Posted by: PattiM. at June 2, 2005 3:01 PM

Thanks Patti and Bob.

I have been meaning to check out David Sedaris. I also saw and liked him on some late-night show (perhaps Conan, he did a reading from a new book...maybe Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim), plus I like his sister Amy.

Sounds like I need to check out the library and tune into NPR.

I used to listen to NPR nearly everyday (but never heard This American Life); that was before my car radio antenna was broken by a car wash. I miss it so!

Posted by: Sharon at June 2, 2005 3:05 PM

Sharon, That's interesting. Maybe her characters are just hit-or-miss. I was poor at a private school with a lot of rich kids (grade school *and* college), but I completely lost sympathy for the main character when he started lying, and I simply didn't like the other characters. They felt more like caricatures to me. I may have missed the twist, I got really sick of the book and skimmed the rest of it. The whole thing they did that caused the problems in the first place seemed really stupid, probably because I wasn't buying the characters. This is why fiction is not easy to write!!

Posted by: Maggie at June 2, 2005 5:08 PM

Soxfan mentions Philip Pullman on his/her blog--what a great author. I wrote there, so I won't repeat/hog space here.

Posted by: PattiM. at June 2, 2005 5:36 PM

Sorry, but I just remembered another fantastic read: Greenlanders by Jane Smiley. A great book to get lost in, especially during the summer.

Posted by: PattiM. at June 5, 2005 1:01 PM

"This American Life" is also available for download at

Posted by: sarah at June 6, 2005 1:04 AM

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